Healthy Dog Snacking at the Vital Essentials Raw Bar

One of the pet food brands that gained my trust after I switched my dogs Missy & Buzz over to a raw diet in 2015 is Vital Essentials (VE). I first came across Vital Essentials at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando in 2016 and really enjoyed seeing the products they had on display. (This post is not sponsored.)

Vital Essentials offers pre-made, frozen raw dog food meals that come in a variety of shapes (patties, chubs, mini patties, nibblets). They also make freeze-dried raw snacks for dogs.

I bought Vital Essential’s frozen nibblets a few times at an independently owned pet retail store when I ran low on raw food for the pups. And last year I purchased their freeze-dried snacks on a regular basis from the Vital Essentials Raw Bar at the same store (VE Raw Bar).

It ended up being one of Missy’s & my favorite activities when her progressing cancer had slowed her down to the point that she couldn’t go on longer walks anymore. To make up for it and keep her mentally engaged, we’d go on car rides instead, and one of our favorite destinations was Naturally Unleashed in Fayetteville, NC. It has a VE Raw Bar inside the store.

Coming across VE for the first time at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, FL in 2016

One time, Missy helped herself to a pig ear while I was checking out. Her brother Buzz was behaving and sitting nicely, but Missy, being the slave to her stomach that she is, put up her front paws onto the VE Raw Bar display area that was right behind me and pulled a pig ear out of its display container.

I apologized profusely to the checkout clerk who just grinned from one ear to the other…of course I ended up paying for Missy’s pig ear and also bought one for Buzz. There was no way that I’d be mad about her behavior. It actually made me happy to see she was still strong enough to do a little shopping on her own.

Missy posing in front of the VE-Raw Bar at Naturally Unleashed

Different Proteins from the VE Raw Bar

As the name “Bar” suggests, Vital Essentials offers a variety of freeze-dried dog snacks, all sourced & made in the USA:

  • Duck Feet & Necks
  • Chicken Necks
  • Turkey Necks, Wings & Tails
  • Pig Ears & Snouts
  • Beef Pizzles & Weasands
  • Salmon Skins
  • Cod Skins

Different Sizes & Price Points

As you can tell from the list above, the snacks from the VE Bar are whole cuts of freeze-dried, raw meat that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are also different price points, so there’s something in there for every size dog and wallet.

Smaller items like the chicken necks & duck feet are between $1-$1.50, while larger items like pig ears, bully sticks, and duck heads are between $2-$4.50.

Missy’s & Buzz’s favorites were duck heads and pig ears, and both were the perfect size snack for the pups.

Freeze-dried duckhead vs raw duckhead

Benefits of Vital Essentials Raw Bar items

Besides being sourced & made in the USA, all Vital Essentials Raw Bar items are made without the addition of any:

  • hormones
  • antibiotics
  • fillers
  • flavorings
  • preservatives
  • colors
  • or synthetic vitamins & minerals.

Knowing this has become super important to me as a dog mom and provides the peace of mind that my money was well spent on healthy, single-ingredient doggie snacks as opposed to highly processed ones where you can’t be sure what’s really in them. (See my post on DIY dehydrated dog treats.)

Missy enjoying a freeze-dried duckhead in the car

I’m one of those people who wants to know what goes into my dog’s body, and who will read the ingredient list of any bag of dog treats or food that I purchase. The beauty of single-ingredient treats of course is that there is no list of ingredients, but only a single one!

While I didn’t need to avoid any protein sources with Buzz, I knew that Missy did poorly with lamb. I found out that she was allergic to that particular protein after having taken a bioenergetic scan from a company called Pet Medella.

It doesn’t get any easier avoiding a specific protein source than with single-ingredient treats, so if you’re aware that your pooch doesn’t do well on lamb, don’t go for the lamb weasand but buy a turkey tail instead (or any other protein).

Of course, these snacks also keep your dog’s teeth clean and help entertain him when you need a little break, especially the bull pizzle and pig ear. They’ll last even longer if you pop them into the freezer overnight, or even for just a few hours. They might also make a good motivator for crate training if your pup is food motivated.

Vital Essentials is great for transitioning to raw dog food

The Vital Essentials Raw Bar items are a great option to dip your toes into raw feeding waters. You won’t have to deal with thawing, cutting and portioning out larger cuts of raw meat and can get used to handling feet, heads, hearts etc. in a firm, dry shape.

I don’t think the VE Raw Bar items existed back in 2015 when I made the switch to raw; at least I don’t remember seeing them anywhere. I definitely would have started feeding them to make the transition easier on me!

Missy & Buzz posing with VE Freeze-Dried Minnows & Wild Alaskan Salmon Rings

By the way – the beauty of freeze-dried treats is that they don’t require to be rehydrated at all. They can be fed as is, so it really doesn’t get messy.

Where to buy the VE Raw Bar items

I checked Amazon to see if any of the VE Raw Bar items are available online, but the only one I found were freeze-dried bully sticks. The VE bar items are mainly a retail thing, so you’ll have to check the company’s store locator to find a retail place that carries the brand and their Raw Bar snacks.

I did, however, find several other freeze-dried Vital Essentials’s treats on Amazon:

Vital Essentials Chicken nibs

Truth be told and all health benefits aside, I honestly enjoy spoiling my pups, and seeing them drool in anticipation of their delicious doggie snacks gives me the greatest joy.

I’m always excited when I find out about a dog food brand whose products my pups go bonkers for, and Vital Essentials has checked off that box big time.

Learn more abut the brand’s products here. (This post is not sponsored.)

How do you spoil your dog?

Do you have a favorite raw dog food or dog treat brand? Let us know in the comments!

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee

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