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Vital Essentials Dog Food Review (Freeze-Dried)

Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Freeze Dried Dog Food

Review of Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Dog Food


Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Vital Essentials Freeze Dried product line includes the 19 raw 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 Essentials Beef Dinner Patties 4.5 A
Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs 3.5 A
Vital Essentials Beef Mini Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Beef Nibblets 3.5 A
Vital Essentials Beef Patties 3.5 A
Vital Essentials Chicken Dinner Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs 5 A
Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Chicken Nibblets 5 A
Vital Essentials Duck Dinner Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Duck Mini Nibs 5 A
Vital Essentials Duck Mini Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Nibs 5 A
Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Salmon Mini Nibs 5 A
Vital Essentials Turkey Dinner Patties 5 A
Vital Essentials Turkey Mini Nibs 5 A
Vital Essentials Turkey Mini Patties 5 A

Recipe and Label Analysis

Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

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

Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 39% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 18%

Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef liver, beef lung, beef fat, beef stomach, beef kidney, herring oil, mixed tocopherols (preservative), vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.7%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis36%32%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%35%18%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%60%13%
Protein = 28% | Fat = 60% | Carbs = 13%

Ingredient Analysis

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.1

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

The second ingredient is beef heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to us humans, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.

The third ingredient is beef liver, an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The next ingredient is beef lung, which is a protein-rich organ meat that’s also low in fat.

The fifth ingredient is beef fat. Beef fat (or tallow) is most likely obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, beef fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is beef stomach, also known as tripe. Tripe usually consists of the first three chambers of a cud-chewing animal’s stomach. As unappetizing as it may seem to us humans, tripe is favored by dogs. The meat itself can sometimes include the stomach’s contents, too.

The seventh ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.

From here, the list goes on to include a few 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 Vital Essentials product.

With 2 notable exceptions

First, we find herring oil. Herring 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, herring 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, Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Food looks like an above-average raw product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 39%, a fat level of 35% and estimated carbohydrates of about 18%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 52% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 13% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

Which means this Vital Essentials product line contains…

Above-average protein. Near-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 an abundance 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 pets on a low-fat diet.

Our Rating of Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Dog Food

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried is a grain-free raw dog food using a generous amount of named meats and organs as its source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Vital Essentials Dog Food
Recall History

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

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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More Vital Essentials Brand Reviews

The following Vital Essentials dog food reviews are also posted on this website:

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.


  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

01/08/2022 Last Update

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