Vital Essentials Dog Food (Raw Frozen)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Vital Essentials frozen raw dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Vital Essentials product line includes 7 raw frozen 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.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

The Vital Essentials raw frozen products are available in pet patties, mini pet patties, chubs and some are available as nibblets.

  • Vital Essentials Fish Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Beef Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Duck Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Rabbit Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Chicken Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Wild Boar Entree [A]
  • Vital Essentials Turkey Entree (3 stars) [A]

Vital Essentials Beef Entree was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Vital Essentials Beef Entree

Raw Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 56% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 2%

Ingredients: Beef, beef tripe, ground beef bone, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidney, beef blood, beef fat, herring oil, d-alpha tocopherol

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis15%9%NA
Dry Matter Basis56%35%2%
Calorie Weighted Basis40%59%1%
Protein = 40% | Fat = 59% | Carbs = 1%

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 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 and sometimes even includes the stomach’s contents, too.

The third ingredient is ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.

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

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

The seventh ingredient is beef blood, which consists mostly of water. And although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to humans, blood is naturally rich in protein (albumin), vitamins and minerals.

The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is 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.

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 one notable exception

Except for the vitamin E, we find no added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list. We would assume these essential nutrients are provided by the food ingredients in the recipe.

Vital Essentials Raw Frozen Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Vital Essentials raw frozen 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 56%, a fat level of 35% and estimated carbohydrates of about 2%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 55% and a mean fat level of 32%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 5% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

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 an abundance of meat.

Bottom line?

Vital Essentials is a meat-based raw dog food using a generous amount of named meats and organs as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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.

Vital Essentials Dog Food
Recall History

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.

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

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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Special 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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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Notes and Updates

07/25/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials