Review of Freshpet Vital Grain Free Refrigerated Dog Food Rolls
Freshpet Vital Grain Free rolled dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 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.
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Beef and Bison Recipe||1.5||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish Recipe||4||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Turkey Recipe||4.5||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Puppy Recipe||4.5||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Multi Protein Recipe||4.5||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Multi Protein Recipe Small Breed||3||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Poultry Recipe Small Breed||3.5||A|
|Freshpet Vital Grain Free Chicken Recipe||5||A|
Recipe and Label Analysis
Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish 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 Salmon and Ocean Whitefish
Rolled Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, fish broth, spinach, cranberries, ocean whitefish, sweet potatoes, lentils, sunflower oil, pea protein, carrageenan, natural flavors, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), celery powder, potassium chloride, salt, inulin, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.2%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||38%||29%||25%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||53%||19%|
The first ingredient in this dog food 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 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 spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score1 of 91.
The fourth ingredient includes cranberries, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
The fifth ingredient lists ocean whitefish. This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.2
Whitefish is a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast and is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The sixth ingredient lists sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The seventh includes lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient is 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.
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 4 notable exceptions…
First, we find 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.
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.
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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free dog food rolls appears to be an above-average refrigerated product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 32%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 19% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 78%.
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.
However, with 53% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 28% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal. In addition, this same finding also prevents us from awarding the brand a higher rating.
Our Rating of Freshpet Vital Grain Free Refrigerated Dog Food Rolls
Freshpet Vital is a grain-free refrigerated dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Has Freshpet Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Freshpet.
No recalls noted.
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
Get Free Recall Alerts
Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.
More Freshpet Brand Reviews
The following Freshpet dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Freshpet Dog Food (Brand Summary)
- Freshpet Nature’s Fresh Dog Food Review (Pouch)
- Freshpet Nature’s Fresh Dog Food Review (Refrigerated Rolls)
- Freshpet Select Dog Food Review (Rolls)
- Freshpet Select Meals Dog Food Review (Pouch)
- Freshpet Select Stews Dog Food Review (Tubs)
- Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Dog Food Review (Refrigerated Rolls)
- Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food Review (Pouch)
A Final Word
The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.
However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.
For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
- 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 ↩
- Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
05/09/2021 Last Update