Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition (Tubs)

Rating:

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Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition tubbed dog food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition product line lists two tubbed recipes, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Lamb Recipe
  • Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Chicken Recipe

Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Lamb Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Lamb Recipe

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 27% | Fat = 27% | Carbs = 37%

Ingredients: Lamb broth, lamb, chicken, chicken liver, ground oats, carrots, barley, egg, peas, natural flavors, spinach, salt, rice bran, guar gum, caramel color, vinegar, potassium chloride, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, minerals: zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, niacin, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, calcium iodate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis6%6%NA
Dry Matter Basis27%27%37%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%51%29%
Protein = 21% | Fat = 51% | Carbs = 29%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The second ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2

The third ingredient is chicken, another quality raw item. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.3

Both lamb and chicken are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fourth ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fifth ingredient includes ground oats. Oats are naturally rich in dietary fiber, B-vitamins and low in gluten.

The sixth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The seventh ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth ingredient includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The ninth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the 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 two notable exceptions

First, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.4

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

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
Balanced Nutrition Tubbed Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition tubbed dog food looks like an above-average wet 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 27%, a fat level of 27% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 36% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 96%.

Below-average protein. Above-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

However, with 51% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 21% 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.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition tubbed dog food is a meat-based wet product using a moderate amount of lamb or chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not 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.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned and is not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers. 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 certain online retailers when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.

In any case, it is always our intention to remain objective, impartial and unbiased when conducting our analysis.

For complete information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Notes and Updates

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned and is not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers. 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 certain online retailers when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.

In any case, it is always our intention to remain objective, impartial and unbiased when conducting our analysis.

For complete information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Notes and Updates

09/05/2016 Last Update

  1. As of 9/5/2016
  2. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  4. Consumer Reports February 2014