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Freshpet Vital Pure Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Freshpet Vital Pure product line includes two raw 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.
- Freshpet Vital Pure Raw Beef Grain Free Recipe [M]
- Freshpet Vital Pure Raw Chicken Grain Free Recipe [M]
Freshpet Vital Pure Raw Beef Grain Free Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Freshpet Vital Pure Raw Beef Grain Free Recipe
Raw Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef liver, spinach, cranberries (dried), dried citrus pulp, dicalcium phosphate, water, celery powder, dextrose, sea salt, inulin, dried Pediococcus acidilacticii fermentation product, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, minerals: zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||43%||39%||10%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||64%||7%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The third ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 91.
The fourth ingredient includes cranberries, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
The fifth ingredient is citrus pulp. Citrus pulp is a by-product obtained from the waste of citrus juicing operations. This item is most likely included here for the usual benefits of dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
The seventh ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most moist dog foods.
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, dextrose is a crystallized form of glucose — with a flavor significantly sweeter than common table sugar. It is typically used in pet food as a sweetener and as an agent to help develop browning.
Without knowing a healthy reason for its inclusion here, dextrose (like most sugars) can be considered a nutritionally unnecessary addition to this recipe.
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 Pure Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Pure Dog Food looks like an above-average raw 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 43% and a mean fat level of 39%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 10% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 92%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing a significant amount of meat.
However, with 64% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 29% 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 Pure is a grain free meat-based raw dog food using a significant amount of beef or chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 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 diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
02/11/2018 Last Update
- “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 8/11/2016 ↩
- 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 ↩