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Vital Essentials Dog Food Review

Vital Essentials Dog Food Review

Vital Essentials Dog Food
Vital Essentials Dog Food Review

Company HQ

Parent company

Carnivore Meat Company

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Type of food

Freeze-Dried Dog Food, Wet Frozen Dog Food
Nutrient Value 87%
Quality of Ingredients 97%
Recall History 25%
Price 50%
Customer Experience 76%
Manufacturing Method 70%

Where to buy



  • High protein content
  • All recipes are free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives


  • Some recipes contain plant-based protein
  • The brand has been previously recalled
  • Price is above market average

Vital Essentials Dog Food Review


Vital Essentials is a raw pet food company that specializes in freeze-dried and frozen formulas. Their dog foods contain minimally processed raw ingredients with no artificial additives.

In this review, we’ll discuss Vital Essentials’ product range, ingredients, recall history, customer reviews, and feeding tips for their unique raw diet approach.

Overview of Vital Essentials

Vital Essentials was founded in 2009 by veterinarian Dr. Connie Ziekman and food scientist Peter Pritchard. It’s based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Their mission is to provide raw whole-food nutrition modeled after a dog’s natural ancestral diet. Vital Essentials believes gently freeze-drying raw meat, organs, bones, and produce best preserves nutritional integrity.

They use transparent, carefully vetted sourcing from ethical farms and suppliers in the USA. All Vital Essentials products are manufactured in their own USDA, FDA, and FeedSafe-approved facility.

Pros of Freeze-Dried Dog Food

There are many touted benefits of feeding dogs freeze-dried raw food like Vital Essentials:

  • Retains more nutrients than cooking or canning
  • Convenient storage at room temperature
  • Pre-portioned servings for easy feeding
  • Can be rehydrated with water
  • Long shelf life up to 2 years
  • Promotes dental health from chewing

Cons of Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Yet there are also some notable downsides:

  • Very expensive compared to kibble
  • Can initially upset dogs’ stomachs
  • Quality issues if not stored properly
  • Must transition gradually from kibble
  • Risk of pathogenic bacteria if handled improperly
  • Dogs may refuse taste or texture

So while nutritious, freeze-dried raw diets like Vital Essentials may not work for all dogs or budgets.

Vital Essentials Product Lines

Vital Essentials offers an array of freeze-dried raw dog food formulas, as well as some frozen raw items.

Freeze-Dried Raw Formulas

Their main product line is freeze-dried raw food in various protein recipes:

  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Salmon
  • Rabbit
  • Goat
  • Herring
  • Tripe
  • Pork

There are grain-free and limited ingredient formulas for dogs with allergies. Some recipes are enhanced with nutritious superfoods.

Frozen Raw Food

In addition to freeze-dried, Vital Essentials has some frozen raw dinner patties and food toppers. These require refrigerated storage.

Raw Coated Kibble

For a hybrid diet, they offer freeze-dried raw coated kibble formulas. These provide crunch and convenience of dry kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces mixed in.

Treats and Toppers

Vital Essentials’ treats lineup includes products like Freeze-Dried Minnows, Beef Lung Slices, Chicken Hearts, and Lamb Liver.

They also have freeze-dried raw food toppers to mix into kibble for added nutrition.

Ingredient Analysis

When reviewing Vital Essentials’ ingredient lists, all of their formulas emphasize single-source animal proteins and organs as the first ingredients.

Meat Ingredients

Their meat sources come from livestock animals like beef, bison, lamb, goat, pork, turkey, duck, and chicken. For fish, they use salmon, minnows, herring, and other wild-caught varieties.

Vital Essentials incorporates organ meats like liver, kidney, tripe, and heart to mimic whole prey nutrition. Bone-in meats also provide edible bone.

Produce Ingredients

Their freeze-dried recipes blend in an array of fresh fruits and vegetables like:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Squash
  • Cranberries

This produces provides antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, and carbohydrates.

Supplemental Ingredients

To finish out their nutrient profile, Vital Essentials includes:

  • Digestive enzymes
  • Prebiotics
  • Dried kelp
  • Montmorillonite clay
  • Omega-3s
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin E
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Coconut oil
  • Cod liver oil

They avoid artificial preservatives, thickeners, and cheap fillers.

Recall History

Like any raw pet food company, Vital Essentials has faced some FDA actions and recalls related to potential pathogens.

FDA Warning Letter

In 2010, Vital Essentials received an FDA warning letter concerning misbranding and labeling issues with their raw frozen cat food. No recall was issued.

Vital Essentials stated they took immediate corrective actions to bring their products into full compliance.

Listeria Recall

In July 2021, Vital Essentials voluntarily recalled a batch of VE RAW BARF® Bites due to possible listeria contamination. No illnesses were reported.

They determined the source was a microbial issue at one of their meat suppliers. Safety procedures were reviewed to prevent recurrence.

Aside from these isolated events, Vital Essentials upholds rigorous food safety protocols and regular batch testing at their facility. Their recall history is relatively minor.

Vital Essentials Dog Food Reviews

Reviews for Vital Essentials are generally very positive but the cost is prohibitive for some owners.

Positive Feedback

  • Owners like the clean, simple whole food ingredients
  • Helps resolve allergy issues for some dogs
  • Small stool volume from highly digestible nutrition
  • Convenient storage and feeding
  • Attentive customer service

Negative Feedback

  • Much pricier than kibble or canned dog food
  • Quality issues if bags aren’t sealed properly
  • Picky dogs may reject taste or texture
  • Some concerns about bacteria risks

Vital Essentials earns rave reviews for their nutrient-dense formulas from freeze-dried raw ingredients. But the premium pricing is outside some budgets.

Feeding Guide

Follow these tips for transitioning your dog onto Vital Essentials’ raw food diet:

Serving Size Recommendations

Vital Essentials provides feeding guides on their website based on your dog’s weight. Expect to feed around 2-3% of body weight for freeze-dried, or 1-2% for frozen raw. Adjust amounts based on appetite and body condition.

Transition Tips

Mix a little Vital Essentials raw food with your dog’s current diet, slowly increasing the ratio over 2-3 weeks. This gradual switch prevents stomach upset.

Storage and Handling

Once opened, keep packages sealed and store in a cool, dry place away from temperature extremes. Discard any spoiled food. Practice safe raw food handling.

Follow vet advice on how long to feed the raw diet, especially for dogs with medical conditions. Check stool quality when transitioning.


Overall, Vital Essentials offers a premium lineup of nutritious freeze-dried and frozen raw dog foods. Their clean formulas packed with quality meat, organs, and whole food ingredients cater to dogs’ evolutionary needs. Yet the high cost and preparation precautions may deter some owners. Talk to your vet to see if a lightly processed raw diet could benefit your pup.

Brand Overview

Vital Essentials is a family-owned company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The product line features raw food and treats for dogs and cats. In addition, Vital Essentials offers hemp chews for dogs and a range of supplements for dogs and cats.

How Much Does Vital Essentials Dog Food Cost

We’ve compared Vital Essentials dog food price to the other dog food brands in our database.

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Food Price Comparison

Brand AvgMarket Avg% From the Avg
Price per oz$2.67$2.63+2%
Price per 100 kcal$1.99$1.83+9%
Price per day$1.20$1.10+9%

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Food is priced above the average market price for dog food.

Vital Essentials Nutrient Profile Comparison

We’ve compared Vital Essentials dog food recipes nutrient profile to the other dog food brands in our database.

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Brand AvgMarket Avg% From the Avg
DM Protein51.39%44.10%+17%
DM Fat26.28%26.39%-0%
DM Fiber4.05%4.66%-13%
DM Carb18.28%24.57%-26%

Recall History

The following list (if present) shows all dog food recalls related to Vital Essentials Dog Food Review since 2011. If no recalls are listed, no recall events have been reported.

Vital Essentials – Pet Foods (07/08/2015). Read FDA Report.

Vital Essentials – Frozen Chicken Patties Entree for Dogs (01/15/2016). Read FDA Report.

Vital Essentials – Freeze-dried beef nibblets for dogs (02/23/2018). Read FDA Report.

Vital Essentials – Dog/pet food Freeze-Dried Beef Toppers and Frozen Beef Chub (04/15/2018). Read FDA Report.


Is Vital Essentials a dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food?

Vital Essentials uses a freeze-drying process, not dehydration, to gently remove moisture while preserving nutrients.

Where are Vital Essentials dog food products made?

All Vital Essentials formulas are manufactured in their own USDA and FDA-audited facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Does Vital Essentials require refrigeration or freezing?

Their freeze-dried foods can be stored at room temperature. But their frozen raw products must be kept refrigerated or frozen.

Can you rehydrate Vital Essentials freeze-dried food?

Yes, their freeze-dried nuggets or patties can be rehydrated with water before feeding to make a moist meal.

What is the shelf life of Vital Essentials raw dog food?

Unopened freeze-dried bags last up to 2 years. But check dates to ensure freshness, and reseal opened packages tightly. Discard if any spoilage.


To ensure the data that Pet Toys Store provides to the owner of the pet accurate and useful, we have refer to the sources:

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