Vital Essentials frozen raw dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Vital Essentials product line includes 5 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.
- Vital Essentials Beef Entree [A]
- Vital Essentials Duck Entree [A]
- Vital Essentials Rabbit Entree [A]
- Vital Essentials Chicken 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
Ingredients: Beef, beef tripe, beef lung, 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 denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||56%||35%||2%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||40%||59%||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 beef lung, a protein-rich organ meat that’s also low in fat.
The fourth ingredient is ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.
The fifth ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The sixth ingredient is beef heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.
The seventh ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.
The eighth 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 ninth 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.
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 mention of added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list, but we’re reassured to find a detailed list of naturally present nutrients on the company’s website.
Vital Essentials Raw Frozen Dog Food Review
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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 53% and a mean fat level of 35%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 5% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 65%.
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.
Vital Essentials is a 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.
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
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.
- Vital Essentials Dog Food Recall | April 2018 (4/16/2018)
- Vital Essentials Dog Food Recall | February 2018 (2/24/2018)
- Vital Essentials Dog Food Recall | January 2016 (1/15/2016)
- Vital Essentials Dog Food Recall of 2015 (7/7/2015)
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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Dog Food Coupons
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
12/15/2018 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩