PRODUCT MAY HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED
VF Complete Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The VF Complete product line includes twelve kibbles. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- VF Complete Puppy Formula
- VF Complete Senior Formula
- VF Complete Active Adult Formula
- VF Complete Performance Formula
- VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula
- VF Complete Holistic Puppy Formula
- VF Complete Weight Control Formula
- VF Complete Large Breed Puppy Formula
- VF Complete Holistic Weight Control Formula
- VF Complete Large Breed Adult Formula (3.5 stars)
- VF Complete Adult Turkey and Rice Formula (3 stars)
- VF Complete Adult Chicken and Rice Formula (3 stars)
VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
VF Complete Holistic Adult Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, rice flour, beet pulp, rice bran, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of linoleic acid), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of linoleic acid), natural chicken flavor, flax seed, dried vegetables (carrot, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach), dried egg product, brewers yeast, dried cranberries, fish oil, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, lecithin, dl-methionine, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation extract, Yucca schidigera extract, garlic, dried cheese, chondroitin sulfate, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, niacin, biotin, manganous oxide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||13%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||29%||45%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient is rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The fourth item mentions beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The fifth ingredient lists rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
The sixth 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.
The seventh ingredients lists chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
After the natural flavor, we find flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
Following the dried vegetables, we note the inclusion of dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly.
Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual 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 product.
With four notable exceptions…
First, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
Thirdly, this food also 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.
And lastly, this VF Complete dog food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
VF Complete Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, VF Complete Dog Food looks like an above-average kibble.
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 29% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. This controversial supplement made us question ourselves in awarding this favorable rating.
Menadione-phobic consumers may wish to pass on this product.
VF Complete Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a more economical kibble from the same company may want to check-out our review of Enhance Dog Food.
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
05/23/2010 Original review
12/23/2010 Review updated (unable to locate website)
07/23/2013 Product has been discontinued
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩
07/23/2013 Last Update