Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Food

Green Acres Kennel Shop is very excited to be offering the Carnivore Meat Companies Vital Essentials® line of frozen and freeze-dried pet foods, snacks, and treats.

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 is a big seller in other stores, if we are not comfortable with 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. This is the same time Vital Essentials helped us bring Dr. Richard Patten to town to present two free seminars on pet nutrition.

At the end of July, Paula and I went to visit the Vital Essentials plant in Green Bay,

Vital Essentials VP Kevin Malnor, Paula Hanson & Don Hanson
Vital Essentials VP Kevin Malnor, Paula Hanson & Don Hanson

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 Lanny, Kevin, Erica and others!


What We Like About the Vital Essentials® Company

  • PIONEERS – Raw food for pets is a relatively new market segment, but Vital Essentials roots in the raw food for pets business goes back to 1968 and they have been involved in the meat industry for even longer. They are a pioneer in the raw pet food industry and know what they are doing.
  • FAMILY OWNED & OPERATED – Vital Essentials is family owned and operated, and is a complete pet food company; 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 produce a better product and are more committed to their retailers and end-users, you and your pets. We prefer working with companies that have control over the entire manufacturing process. Many companies without a manufacturing facility turn the production of their food over to another company, maybe even the lowest bidder. That is kind of like grandma having some big conglomerate try to make her famous yeast rolls. I know that would disappoint me. My point is, this, if the owner of the company does not actively supervise the selection of raw materials and the preparation of the food, how much control do they have over the quality of the food? I like that the owners of Vital Essentials monitor the quality of their food every day.
  • 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, rather than as a pet food company. We like that description and its focus on pets.
  • THEY KNOW MEAT & NUTRITION – Vital Essentials® understands that dogs and
    Freshly Ground Beef Patties Being Flash Frozen
    Freshly ground beef patties being flash frozen

    cats are carnivores that need meat in their diet and do not need soluble carbohydrates in the amounts found in most pet foods. With their extensive experience in the meat processing industry, they know and understand that the manner in which livestock is raised and handled is critical to their foods nutritional value, and choose only the best raw materials for their product.

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.”

  • QUALITY INGREDIENTS – The ingredients that go into Vital Essentials products are all sourced from America’s heartland. They use only USDA certified and inspected animal protein. No foreign ingredients go into any Vital Essentials products. Nor do Vital Essential products contain; added hormones or antibiotics, added fillers or flavorings, artificial preservatives or coloring, synthetic vitamins or minerals, or rendered by-products. Vital Essential products do contain whole meat, organs, and bones and are free of gluten and grain.
  • NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS – Vital Essentials diets are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
  • INNOVATIVE PROCESSING – Vital Essentials exclusive VE Freeze-Drying process retains all the active nutritional elements and allows the food to be safely and conveniently stored without refrigeration. Their 48 hour “slow” VE Freeze-Drying process locks in vital nutrients without cooking the RAW meat. The fresh, life-sustaining nutrients are NEVER lost during the VE Freeze-Drying process.
  • INNOVATIVE PACKAGING – Vital Essentials freeze-dried foods and treats are packaged in bags impervious to oxygen, once sealed, and are flushed with nitrogen before the bag is sealed to remove all oxygen from the package. This keeps the food fresher.
  • QUALITY STANDARDS – Vital Essentials products are made in a USDA Certified facility which means that they are packed under the continuous inspection of the USDA. Additionally, they are FDA registered and inspected, EU Certified and are also compliant with FSSC 22000 and the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). Paula and I had to read and sign-off on quality procedures before we could take the plant tour. We have visited other plants where that was not required. The quality standards at Vital Essentials are obviously very high, as they should be.
  • 60 DAY GUARANTEE – The Vital Essentials 60 day consumer satisfaction guarantee gives you the freedom to try their products risk-free. If your pet has a hard time switching to Vital Essentials or just doesn’t like a certain protein you can return the product to the store where purchased for a full refund.


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. Because these foods are so simple and natural, they are an ideal choice for a pet that is 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 multiple protein options available from Vital Essentials make that very easy.
    • DOGS – Flash frozen options are available in the following proteins; beef, chicken, duck, fish, rabbit, turkey and wild boar. Freeze-Dried options include; beef, chicken, duck, fish, rabbit, and turkey.
    • CATS – Freeze-dried options include; beef, chicken, duck, fish, and turkey. Watch for flash frozen options for cats coming soon!
  • MULTIPLE FORMATS IN FROZEN AND FREEZE-DRIED PRODUCT – 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. If you have several large dogs, the Vital Essential chubs will be your most economical choice. If you have a smaller dog, you might find the mini-patties or nibblets to be the most convenient. 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 the frozen food. We feed mostly frozen but always keep freeze-dried on hand for those times where we have not prepped frozen food ahead of time. Muppy loves either.
    • DOGS – Vital Essentials frozen entrées are available as; nibblets 2oz mini patties, 8oz patties or 5lbs chubs. Freeze-dried entrées are available as toppers, mini-nibs, nibblets, mini-patties, and patties.
    • CATS – Freeze-dried entrées are available as toppers and nibblets. Watch for flash frozen options coming soon!
  • EASY TRANSITIONS – It is often beneficial to switch a pet to a new food slowly, Vital Essentials offers 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 pets existing food, either at every meal or at a frequency that is within your budget. Even if you do not feed a raw diet on a regular basis, your pet will benefit and enjoy you the addition of toppers on an intermittent basis.


What We Like About Vital Essentials Treats & Snacks

Vital Essentials takes the same approach to their treat and snack products as they

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

do their food. Their freeze-dried training treats make an excellent choice for a high-value training treat. The snacks and frozen raw bones are an excellent alternative to less healthy choices like rawhides and plasticized dental treats.

  • DOG TREATS – Freeze-Dried options include; beef nibs, beef tripe, chicken breast, chicken hearts, duck nibs, minnows, rabbit bites, turkey giblets, and wild Alaskan salmon.
  • CAT TREATS – Freeze-dried cat treats include; ahi tuna, chicken breast, chicken giblets, duck liver, minnows, rabbit bites, wild Alaskan salmon.
  • FREEZE-DRIED DOG SNACKS – Bully Sticks, Beef Tendons, Turkey Necks, and Salmon Skins are available as nutritious, snack options for your dog.
  • FROZEN BEEF BONES – If you like including fresh frozen bones in your pets diet, you can rest assured that Vital Essentials prepares their spare ribs, center cut arm bones, and knee caps so that they are both safe and nutritious.
  • TRIPE – Green Tripe is a great source of probiotics, calcium, digestive enzymes, and much more. Tripe promotes a healthy digestive system and boosts a pets’ immune systems. It is a super food for dogs and is available as frozen nibblets and patties or as freeze-dried I add a few nibblets to Muppy’s dish at almost every meal.

What We Like About Vital Essentials Raw Bar

Muppy enjoys a freeze-dried duck neck from the VE Raw Bar for her 5th birthday
Muppy enjoys a freeze-dried duck neck from the VE Raw Bar for her 5th birthday

The VE Raw Bar™ is an exciting new concept and Green Acres Kennel Shop is proud to be one of the first retailers to offer these healthy snacks for our pets. At the Raw Bar, you will find eleven exotic freeze-dried snack selections (chicken necks, duck necks, duck feet, turkey necks, turkey wings, turkey tails, pig ears, cod skins, salmon skins, bully sticks, and braided bully sticks.)  VE snacks give your pet an added boost of vitamins, protein, and stimulation while helpings keep dogs’ teeth strong and healthy. From our perspective, this is a far better option than a plasticized dog treat. Muppy gives the VE Raw Bar 5 Woofs, her highest rating.


Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense –

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

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (

What do you feed your pets? –

Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton –

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellotti

Web Sites

Vital Essentials Website –


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