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 5 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 Turkey Recipe [A]
- Freshpet Vital Grain Free Puppy Recipe (4.5 stars) [G]
- Freshpet Vital Grain Free Beef and Bison Recipe (3 stars) [A]
- Freshpet Vital Grain Free Chicken, Beef, Salmon and Egg (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
Ingredients: Salmon, ocean whitefish, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, carrageenan, salt, natural flavors, sunflower oil, inulin, dried ground broccoli, dried ground pomegranate, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, minerals: calcium sulfate, dicalcium phosphate, zinc proteinate, potassium chloride, iron proteinate, tricalcium phosphate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.2%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||39%||35%||18%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||60%||13%|
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 spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 91.
The fourth ingredient includes cranberries, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
The fifth ingredient lists blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient is carrageenan, 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 seventh ingredient is salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.
However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.
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
Rolled Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Grain Free Rolled Dog Food looks like an above-average 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.
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 84%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical rolled dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a rolled product containing a notable amount of meat.
However, with 60% 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.
Freshpet Vital Grain Free is a meat-based rolled dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
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.
Freshpet Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free recipes and dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
02/10/2018 Last Update
- Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- 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 ↩