Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food Review (Pouch)

Rating:

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food in pouches receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Grain Free product line includes the 3 pouched dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Vital Grain Free Small Breed (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Vital Grain Free Beef Recipe with Lamb (4 stars) [A]
  • Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg [A]

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Small Breed was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Small Breed Recipe

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 43% | Fat = 32% | Carbs = 16%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, carrots, sweet potato, pea protein, egg, cranberries, pea fiber, natural flavor, ocean whitefish, salt, vinegar, dicalcium phosphate, spinach, inulin, beta carotene, minerals: (potassium chloride, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), celery powder, vitamins: (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.1%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis16%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%32%16%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%57%12%
Protein = 31% | Fat = 57% | Carbs = 12%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The third ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The fourth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The next ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient lists eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The seventh ingredient includes cranberries, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The eighth ingredient is pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With 2 notable exceptions

First, we find inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Pouched Dog Food Review

Based on the ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average moist product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 43%, a fat level of 32% and estimated carbohydrates of about 16%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 30%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 19% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 69%.

Which means this Freshpet product line contains…

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical moist dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein, this looks like the profile of a dog food containing a significant amount of meat.

However, with 57% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 31% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.

Bottom line?

Freshpet Vital Grain Free is a moist dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Freshpet Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Freshpet. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

A Final Word

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Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

Notes and Updates

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

12/24/2019 Last Update