Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Food

< Updated 18JUL21 >

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This post was originally written in August of 2016 after my wife Paula, and I toured the Carnivore Meat Company plant in August of 2016. We continue to offer Vital Essentials® line of frozen and freeze-dried pet foods, snacks and treats at Green Acres Kennel Shop. It is also one of the foods we feed our personal pets. I have updated the post to reflect Vital Essential’s current offerings and to include links to two new podcasts recorded in July of 2021.

As you probably know, Green Acres is pretty persnickety when it comes to adding a new food line. Just because a manufacturer or distributor wants us to sell their VE_Logo_Primary_webproduct does not mean we automatically say “Yes” and allow their products on our shelves. Even if we know a pet food brand is a big seller in other stores if we are not comfortable feeding that food to our pets, we will not sell it at Green Acres Kennel Shop.

We first started looking at Vital Essentials in the fall of 2015, requesting information on the company and the products. After carefully reviewing the information provided, we were very impressed and took the next step; to try the product with our pets. We were extremely pleased with our pet’s reaction to the food and decided to add Vital Essentials to our offerings at the end of April of 2016. At the same time, Vital Essentials helped us bring Dr. Richard Patten to town to present two free seminars on pet nutrition. You can view one of those

Vital Essentials VP Kevin Malnor, Paula Hanson & Don Hanson

seminars as a video at

At the end of July 2016, Paula and I visited the Vital Essentials plant in Green Bay, WI. After meeting with the company President and marketing, quality, and production team, we are even more pleased to have Vital Essentials as part of our product line-up. Thank you for your hospitality and openness!

What We Like About the Vital Essentials® Company

  • PIONEERS – The commercialization of raw pet food for pets started to take off in the early 2000s. However, Vital Essentials’ roots in the raw food for pets business go back to 1968. They are a pioneer in the raw pet food industry and continue to be an innovator. In November of 2020, they received their second consecutive award from Pet Independent Innovation. Vital Essentials FUSION Dinner Patties were recognized as the Frozen/Raw Dog Food Product of the Year.
  • FAMILY OWNED & OPERATED – Vital Essentials is family-owned and operated. They create the formulations, purchase the raw ingredients, produce, package, and sell the food. From our twenty years of experience in this industry, we have observed that smaller companies like Vital Essentials make a better product and are more committed to their retailers and end-users, you and your pets.
  • PET FOCUSED – Vital Essentials only provides meat products for pets. They are not in the business of making candy, baby formula, or jam like the conglomerates in the pet food industry; Mars, Nestle, and Smucker’s. During our visit, company President Lanny Viegut indicated that he views Vital Essentials more as a meat shop for pets than a pet food company. We like that description and its focus on pets.
  • COMMITTED TO SOURCING QUALITY INGREDIENTS – Vital Essentials recognizes that their products’ quality depends on the farmers that raise the animals that are the raw ingredients for their food and treats. That is why they make sure that those animals are fed species-appropriate diets free of; added antibiotics and hormones, artificial preservatives or coloring, rendered by-products, added fillers or flavorings, and synthetic vitamins or minerals. In addition, their suppliers operate under the auspices of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.
  • THEY KNOW MEAT & NUTRITION – Vital Essentials® understands that dogs and
    Freshly Ground Beef Patties Being Flash Frozen
    Freshly ground beef patties being flash frozen

    and cats are carnivores that need meat in their diet and do not need soluble carbohydrates in the amounts found in most pet foods. In addition, with their extensive experience in the meat processing industry, they know and understand that how meat is handled is critical to their food’s nutritional value. For that reason, No meat is hung to dry, and all meat is flash-frozen within 45 minutes of slaughter.

  • COMMITTED TO QUALITY AND SAFETY – Vital Essentials complies with the Global Food Safety Initiative FSSC 22200. They were the first company in the raw pet food category to receive this certification. This means that their product packaging must list ALL ingredients; additives, preservatives, antioxidants, and color. Unlike US regulations, no ingredients can be hidden. By meeting this standard, Vital Essentials products are fit for human consumption.
  • INNOVATIVE PROCESSING – Vital Essentials proprietary 48-hour “slow” Freeze-Drying process locks in vital nutrients without cooking the raw meat. The fresh, life-sustaining nutrients are NEVER lost. It allows the food to be safely and conveniently stored without refrigeration.
  • INNOVATIVE PACKAGING – Vital Essentials freeze-dried foods and treats are packaged in bags impervious to oxygen. Each bag is flushed with nitrogen before the bag is sealed to remove all oxygen from the package. This keeps the food fresher.
  • THEIR MISSION – We love the Vital Essentials® mission: “We believe that every dog and cat in the world; regardless of financial means, urban or rural, deserves the opportunity to have access to the finest food available. We also believe that, other than natural prey, we provide the most healthy, delicious, innovative and biologically appropriate, commercially available pet food in the world. Therefore, we will leverage our God-given talents, passion and resources to do whatever is necessary to ensure that every dog parent or cat parent who wants us or needs us will have a convenient and effective mechanism to access and procure our “World Class” pet food and treats, in the United States and around the world.”

What We Like About Vital Essentials Food

  • SINGLE PROTEINS – The Vital Essential entrées are made with a single animal protein. This is critical if your dog has food insensitivities or intolerances. Also, because these foods are so simple and natural, they are an ideal choice for a pet intolerant or “allergic” to certain food ingredients.
  • MULTIPLE PROTEIN CHOICES – Green Acres has been an advocate of rotating your pet’s diet for many years. The numerous protein options available from Vital Essentials make that very easy.
    • DOGS – Flash-Frozen options are available in the following proteins; beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, salmon, and turkey. Freeze-Dried options include; beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, and turkey.
    • CATS – Flash-Frozen options are available in the following proteins; chicken, duck, rabbit, and turkey. Freeze-dried options include; beef, chicken, duck, pork, rabbit, and turkey.
  • Depending on the size of your pet and the number of pets in your home, it is helpful to have various formats of food in different sizes available. You might prefer to feed frozen at home because it is less expensive but choose to use freeze-dried when you travel because it needs no refrigeration but is still as nutritious as frozen food. We feed mostly frozen but always keep freeze-dried on hand when we have not prepped frozen food ahead of time. Muppy loves either.
    • DOGS –Vital Essentials frozen entrées are available as patties. Freeze-dried entrées are available as toppers, mini-nibs, nibblets, mini-patties, and patties
    • CATS
    • Flash-frozen options include; patties and tubs. Freeze-dried entrées are available as toppers, mini-nibs, and patties.
  • EASY TRANSITIONS –It is often beneficial to slowly switch a pet to a new food; vital Essentials offer many different options for transitioning to their product. One of the easiest ways to do so is with their freeze-dried toppers. All you need to do is sprinkle some of the topper on your pet’s existing food, either at every meal or at a frequency that is within your budget. Even if you do not feed a raw diet regularly, your pet will benefit and enjoy the addition of toppers on an intermittent basis.

What We Like About Vital Essentials Treats & Snacks

Don Learning to roll a cod skin so it can be freeze dried for the VE Raw Bar

Vital Essentials takes the same approach to their treat and RAW BAR products as they do their food. Their freeze-dried training treats make an excellent choice for a high-value training treat. Likewise, the items found on the Raw Bar are an excellent alternative to less-healthy options like rawhides and plasticized dental treats

  • Freeze-Dried options include; beef liver, beef nibs, beef tripe, chicken breast, chicken hearts, duck nibs, lamb, minnows, rabbit bites, turkey giblets, and wild Alaskan salmon.
  • CAT TREATS – Freeze-dried cat treats include; ahi tuna, chicken breast, chicken giblets, chicken hearts, duck liver, minnows, rabbit bites, wild Alaskan salmon.
  • FREEZE-DRIED DOG SNACKS – bully sticks, chicken necks, cod skins, duck heads, duck hearts, duck necks, moo sticks, pig ears, pig snouts, turkey necks, and salmon skins are available as nutritious snack options for your dog.
  • FREEZE-DRIED CAT SNACKS –chicken necks, cod skins, duck heads, duck hearts, duck necks, and salmon skins are available as nutritious snack options for your cat.
  • TRIPE – Green Tripe is an excellent source of probiotics, calcium, digestive enzymes, and much more. Tripe promotes a healthy digestive system and boosts a pets’ immune system. It is a superfood for dogs. I add a few nibblets to Muppy’s dish at almost every meal.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
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 Green Acres Pet Nutrition Resources Page –

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition –

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Food

Video The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
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 Vital Essentials Pet Food-Part 1-The Company-17JUL21 –

 Vital Essentials Pet Food-Part 2-The Company-24JUL21 –

Podcasts-Two Conversations with Animal Nutritionist Dr. Richard Patton

Web Sites

Vital Essentials Website –


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