Is Freshpet Select good for dogs? You’re probably wondering just that, and as an experienced, proud raw feeder I’d say nope.
However, I can’t even begin to tell you how surprised I was to see a freezer in the pet food aisle of our local country grocery store the other day!
My first thought was “shut the front door, they’re selling raw dog food here now?!”
Well, almost, but not quite. Said freezer was filled with dog & cat food made by Freshpet who sell “fresh pet meals”.
I had heard the name of the brand somewhere before, but hadn’t looked into it yet. Since the food was right there in front of me, I figured now would be a good time, so I blindly reached in for one of their rolls.
I grabbed the Freshpet Select Chunky Beef with Vegetables & Brown Rice Dog Food Recipe. Once I was home, I took a closer look at my personal pièce de résistance, the ingredient list. After all, I had to find out if Freshpet Select is good for dogs.
Disclaimer: Some links in this post are affiliate links.
Is Freshpet Select good for dogs? Let the ingredients speak!
We’re looking at a total of 35 ingredients of the Chunky Beef with Vegetables and Brown Rice kind. First impression – wow, that’s a lot. As in too many.
Beef, Chicken, Beef Liver, Eggs
OK, so I loved seeing Beef, Chicken, Beef Liver, & Eggs. Awesome, because that means that we’re actually talking about animal protein as opposed to plant based protein!
And as far as eggs are concerned – they are a great, inexpensive, and complete source of protein. That’s because they contain all 8 essential amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of protein. They also contain lots of minerals & vitamins like iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, thiamine, folate, and riboflavin.
Unfortunately, there were also several ingredients I didn’t love seeing:
Hm, ok – not sure why beef broth was added. It has low nutritional value and I certainly would have liked to see the add-on “low sodium”.
It would have been a different story had Beef BONE Broth been added. If you have a little extra time on your hands, check out my homemade recipe for bone broth: Bone Broth Recipe For You & Your Dog.
Peas are a plant based protein source. As such, it doesn’t come with all of the amino acids found in animal protein sources. They also contain lectins, which are carbohydrate-binding proteins.
That makes them more on the indigestible side of things, contributing to gas, so I didn’t love seeing that ingredient. I don’t have anything against carrots per se, except the way in which they were included in this recipe: whole pieces of carrot as opposed to puréed ones.
That’s because dogs lack the enzyme necessary to break down plant cell walls, so the only way for them to absorb the nutrients from vegetables and fruits is for us to break those walls down for them, ideally by puréeing them.
If you watch the video promoting Freshpet, you’ll notice that Dr. Katy points out that their food contains fresh vegetables that are visible when slicing the roll. However, that also means that those vegetables have NOT been puréed and that our dogs can’t absorb their nutrients. I suspect that this is done because it looks better.
Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Soy Flour, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors
I don’t believe in feeding grains because they are of no nutritional value to dogs. They’re also known to cause allergies in many pups.
I’ve also learned that the vast majority of soy is genetically modified and contains high levels of the pesticide RoundUp. Read more on soy in Rodney Habib’s article Soy In Pet Foods: The Unwholesome Truth.
Carrageenan has harmful gastrointestinal effects on animals, and what exactly are natural flavors? Many natural flavors contain MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which is a flavor enhancing excitotoxin, causing dopamine production.
Food Additive Carrageenan – Why Is It Used in Freshpet Select?
Do you notice that the Freshpet Select roll keeps its shape, even when sliced, in above picture? That’s because carrageenan is a common food additive used as a thickener in processed foods. Apparently it’s a cheap way of keeping a food thick and from falling apart when it’s sliced.
More On Carrageenan
Carrageenan is extracted from the red seaweed Chondrus Crispus aka Irish moss and has no nutritional value.
According to a study (click to read study) presented by Joanne K. Tobacman, MD, associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, carrageenan has harmful gastrointestinal effects on animals. It was tested on guinea pigs, rats, monkeys, mice, rabbits, and ferrets.
Being a raw feeder, I most definitely understand a dog’s need of calcium for skeletal health. After all, my dogs get raw meaty bones regularly as part of their raw dog food diet. I just wonder where the calcium carbonate is derived from in this recipe?
My guess is that it comes from bone meal. Bone meal is nothing other than ground animal bones which might very well come from roadkill or euthanized livestock.
According to a great article on fellow raw feeder Kimberly Gauthier’s website KeepTheTailWagging.com bone meal
a) is frequently imported from other countries (which ones? maybe China?)
b) is manufactured using high heat which makes it difficult for dogs to digest and gain the phosphorus/calcium benefits, and
c) doesn’t have the perfect phosphorus/calcium ratio
Synthetic minerals and vitamins
Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Iodate, Biotin (Vitamin B7 Supplement), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1 Supplement), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2 Supplement), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride(Vitamin B6 Supplement), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9 Supplement), Niacin (Vitamin B3 Supplement), Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin 12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement
These are a lot of synthetic minerals/vitamins/salts and point towards quite a highly processed food. That’s despite the company’s claim of cooking it at lower temperature than cooking kibble.
Did you know? The process of cooking food destroys many of the naturally occurring minerals and vitamins in meats and plants.
By the way, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine editor in chief, Dana Scott, most synthetic vitamins are manufactured in China. Read more on her insightful article EVERYTHING You Wanted To Know About Choosing A Dog Food.
Update and BTW: I received my Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist certificate from Dogs Naturally Magazine in early 2020.
I Fed My Dogs The Freshpet Select Roll I Purchased
In case you were wondering if I did the deed and fed Missy & Buzz the Freshpet Select roll – yes, I did. I paid $5.29 for it after all and applied the concept “waste not, want not”.
Now, let me be very clear, I won’t purchase this line of Freshpet food again, but feeding it once won’t kill the pups.
It’s the cumulative exposure to questionable ingredients over months and years that wreaks havoc on our dogs’ immune systems. This can ultimately make them very sick and shorten their lifespans.
I fed the roll over the course of about 5 days and mixed it in with the raw dog food I currently have in the freezer. TEFCO’s beef green tripe from Raw Canine Foods and pre-made, balanced ground raw dog food from Darwin’s Natural Pet Food (duck & chicken).
Healthier Dog Food Alternatives to Freshpet Select
To be fair, I do have to mention that Freshpet has several other pet food lines, one of which is actually a raw dog food line. I didn’t find out about the Vital Raw option until I did some research about the brand online. Vital Raw is grain-free and comes in two protein choices (chicken & beef).
The ingredient list is still longer than I’m used to seeing in the raw dog food brands I order and have ordered from, but it’s certainly a vast improvement over the gently cooked Freshpet Select roll I purchased.
I personally recommend the following raw dog food brands
That’s because I’ve purchased from all of them since I made the switch from kibble to raw in 2015 and have been beyond impressed with their food:
Good to know:
One of the easiest ways to dip your toes into raw feeding waters is with the Variety Pack for Beginners from Raw Paws Pet Food. You can save 15% on your order with my affiliate discount code K9Savings at checkout.
By the way, I checked to see if our grocery store carries the Freshpet raw line, but unfortunately it’s not part of their featured products. From what I’ve read online it would seem like the larger pet retail stores like PetCo and PetSmart are the only stores that sell the Vital Raw.
Is Freshpet Select good for dogs? Final thoughts!
Ok, so I wasn’t overly impressed with the ingredient list of the Freshpet Select roll given that it contains a lot of synthetic supplements and unnecessary ingredients I don’t want my dogs to be exposed to on a regular basis.
In my personal opinion, I’d have to say that no, Freshpet Select is not good for dogs. I personally wouldn’t buy it again. I also wouldn’t recommend to feed it on a daily basis, especially not to dogs who are prone to allergies and food related sensitivities.
After all, “fresh pet meals” are not raw dog food.
However, let’s not overlook the fact that the healthier pet food movement DOES seem to be growing. Finding a freezer filled with refrigerated pet food in a rural grocery store that sells the cheapest, crappiest pet food imagineable is a clear indicator of where the billion dollar pet food industry is headed.
I can’t wait to see what the pet food market will look like five and ten years from now!
Make your own raw dog food with these recipes
If you’re curious about raw dog food recipes you can make at home, you may want to check out my e-book!
Introducing “20 Raw Meals for Dogs“, the raw dog food ebook for dog parents who want their pups to thrive and be the healthiest version of themselves!
Use discount code Blog for $3 off.Join the K9sOverCoffee Community today! Get your free raw dog food recipe, excerpted from “20 Raw Meals for Dogs”!