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Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food Review (Refrigerated Rolls)

Mike Sagman

By Mike Sagman

Updated: March 21, 2024

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Which Freshpet Vital Grain Free Recipes Get Our Best Ratings?

Freshpet Vital Grain Free rolled dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Grain Free product line includes the 8 rolled dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Recipe and Label Analysis

Freshpet Vital Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.


Freshpet Vital Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Recipe

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

40.9%

Protein

15.9%

Fat

35.2%

CarbsCarbohydrates

Ocean whitefish, fish broth, salmon, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, pea protein, sunflower oil, lentils, carrageenan, natural flavors, celery powder, salt, potassium chloride, inulin, paprika,choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, riboflavin, biotin, calcium pantothenate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid,dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate


Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1%

Red denotes any controversial items

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is ocean whitefish. Ocean fish, this item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.1

Unfortunately, the phrase “ocean fish” is vague and does little to adequately describe this ingredient. Since some fish are higher in omega-3 fats than others, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this item.

In any case, fish meat is naturally rich in the eleven essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

The second ingredient is fish broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common component in many canned products.

The third ingredient is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.

The fourth ingredient includes spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 91..

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

The sixth ingredient is blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The seventh 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 eighth ingredient includes 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.

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 Freshpet product.

With 5 notable exceptions

First, we find sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

Next, we note the inclusion of 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.

In addition, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

The article, The Carrageenan Controversy, published in Scientific American, does a good job of addressing this topic.

Next, this recipe includes sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.

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.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free dog food rolls appears to be an above-average refrigerated product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 40.9%, a fat level of 15.9% and estimated carbohydrates of about 35.2%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 28.5%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 22.6% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 70%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils and pea protein, this still looks like the profile of a rolled dog food containing a notable amount of meat.

Our Rating of Freshpet Vital Grain Free Refrigerated Dog Food Rolls

Freshpet Vital is a grain-free moisture-rich dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

Freshpet Vital Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to Freshpet through April.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

Get Free Recall Alerts

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More Freshpet Brand Reviews

The following Freshpet dog food reviews are also posted on this website:

Sources

1: Adapted by The Cat Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials

2: Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

A Final Word

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