Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Dog Food Review (Refrigerated Rolls)

Freshpet Vital Balanced Chicken Nutrition Dog Food

Review of Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Refrigerated Rolls Dog Food

Rating:

Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition product line includes the 2 rolled dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product Rating AAFCO
Vital Balanced Nutrition Chicken Recipe 4 A
Vital Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe 3 A

Recipe and Label Analysis

Vital Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.


FreshPet Vital Balanced Nutrition Turkey Recipe

Rolled Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

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

Ingredients: Turkey, turkey liver turkey broth, carrots, eggs, brown rice, spinach, rice bran, carrageenan, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), natural flavors, potassium chloride, inulin, fish oil, celery powder, salt, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid), peas

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.3%

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%

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.1

Turkey is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

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

The third ingredient is turkey broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

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

The fifth ingredient lists eggs, which are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The sixth ingredient 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 seventh ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 91.

The eighth ingredient is 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.

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 Freshpet product.

With 5 notable exceptions

First, 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.

The article, The Carrageenan Controversy, published in Scientific American, does a good job of addressing this topic.

Next, flaxseed oil is one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.

In addition, 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.

Next, we note the use of fish oil in this recipe. Fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.

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.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition dog food rolls appears to be an above-average refrigerated product.

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 38% and a mean fat level of 31%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.

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

Which means this Freshpet product line contains…

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas this looks like the profile of a rolled product containing a significant amount 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.

Our Rating of Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition Refrigerated Dog Food

Freshpet Vital Balanced Nutrition is a grain-inclusive rolled dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Has Freshpet Dog Food Been Recalled?

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Freshpet.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

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Important FDA Alert

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References

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition
  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

03/31/2021 Last Update