Freshpet Vital Grain Free Dog Food Review (Refrigerated Rolls)

Rating:

Freshpet Vital Grain Free rolled dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Grain Free product line includes 7 rolled dog foods.

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

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Puppy Recipe (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Turkey Recipe (3 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Multi Protein Recipe (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Beef and Bison Recipe (2.5 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Poultry Recipe Small Breed [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Multi Protein Recipe Small Breed (3 stars) [A]
  • Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish Recipe (3 stars) [A]

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Freshpet Vital Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Whitefish

Rolled Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 38% | Fat = 33% | Carbs = 21%

Ingredients: Salmon, ocean whitefish, fish broth, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, carrageenan, natural flavors, salt, minerals (dicalcium chloride, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), potassium chloride, sunflower oil, inulin, 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) = 2.1%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%33%21%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%58%15%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 58% | Carbs = 15%

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 ocean whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.

This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.1

The third 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 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 lists blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The seventh ingredient is 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.

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 three notable exceptions

First, 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.

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 Rolls
Dog Food Review

Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free dog food rolls looks like an above-average refrigerated product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 38%, a fat level of 33% and estimated carbohydrates of about 21%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 34%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 17% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 83%.

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

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing an abundance of meat.

However, with 58% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 27% 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.

Bottom line?

Freshpet Vital is a grain-free refrigerated dog food using a generous amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

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. Adapted by The Dog 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

08/26/2019 Last Update