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Instinct vs Vital Essentials

Instinct vs. Vital Essentials

In this comparison article for Instinct vs Vital Essentials, we'll highlight the key differences between these two pet food brands. To properly compare Instinct and Vital Essentials, we'll use up-to-date nutritional and price information.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best pet food brand for your pet. Factors such as ingredient quality, guaranteed analysis, product safety, brand history, and cost are among the most important factors to consider.

Throughout this Vital Essentials vs Instinct comparison, we've utilized average data to make general comparisons. If you'd like to see individual product reviews, visit our Instinct Review Page or Vital Essentials Review Page.

Guaranteed Analysis: Vital Essentials vs. Instinct

According to AAFCO, all pet food labels must provide a guaranteed analysis of nutrient content. The analysis must provide guaranteed minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture.

All percentages used in this comparison are averages reported on a dry matter basis.

Instinct Dog Food vs. Vital Essentials Dog Food

Dry Dog Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Crude Protein 35.5% 51.7%
Crude Fat 20.3% 26.4%
Crude Fiber 4.6% 2.2%
Wet/Canned Dog Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Crude Protein 45.0% 53.4%
Crude Fat 25.1% 33.1%
Crude Fiber 8.1% 6.6%

Crude Protein Comparison For Dog Food

Protein is an extremely important part of your dog's diet. Without sufficient protein, dogs can develop a wide-range of serious health problems.

Vital Essentials dry dog foods clearly provides more protein than Instinct. In fact, the difference between the protein content is roughly 16.22%, which is a significant amount. Similarly, Vital Essentials wet dog foods provide significantly more protein than Instinct wet foods.


Crude Fat Comparison For Dog Food

Dietary fats serves a multitude of roles in the proper development and function of our canine companions. Here are some of the benefits (not exhaustive):

  • Help produce prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation among other critical functions.
  • Aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Improve skin and coat health
  • Improve the palatially of your dog's food

Instinct dry recipes contain 6.04% less fat than Vital Essentials dry recipes. This difference in fat content is a notable difference between Vital Essentials and Instinct. In addition, Vital Essentials wet dog foods also provide more fat than Instinct wet foods.


According to our average data, Vital Essentials typically provides less fiber than Instinct. However, this difference is relatively small and doesn't represent a significant difference between the two brands. For wet dog foods, Instinct and Vital Essentials provide roughly the same amount of fiber.

Instinct Cat Food vs. Vital Essentials Cat Food

Dry Cat Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Crude Protein 44.4% 51.9%
Crude Fat 20.4% 18.2%
Crude Fiber 4.1% 3.3%
Wet/Canned Cat Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Crude Protein 48.2% 60.9%
Crude Fat 24.4% 28.6%
Crude Fiber 8.8% 3.7%

Crude Protein Comparison For Cat Food

Protein is an extremely important part of your cat's diet. Without sufficient protein, cats can develop a wide-range of serious health problems.

The table shows that Instinct provides far less protein than Vital Essentials. The difference in protein content is roughly 7.53%. In addition, Vital Essentials wet cat foods also provide more protein than Instinct wet foods.


Crude Fat Comparison For Cat Food

There are many ways in which dietary fat contributes to the overall health of our feline friends. Here is a short list of benefits provided by fats (not exhaustive):

  • Aid in the digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Improve the health of skin/coat
  • Slow the growth of yeast infections
  • Slow the development and spread of certain type of cancers.
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure

If you look at the average percentages of crude fat, you'll notice that Instinct typically guarantees 2.22% more fat. This is a fairly small difference between Instinct and Vital Essentials, but still worth mentioning. In addition, Vital Essentials wet cat foods also provide more fat than Instinct wet foods.


Both brands provide roughly the same amount of crude fiber. For wet cat foods, Instinct provides more fiber (about 5.12% more).

Instinct Pet Food Ingredients vs. Vital Essentials Pet Food Ingredients

Here are some of the controversial ingredients used only by Instinct.

Garlic
Canola Oil
Pea Protein
Tomato Pomace
Dried Tomato Pomace
Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid)

We believe that certain pet food ingredients are linked to adverse health affects; these ingredients are classified as harmful.

Here are some of the harmful ingredients used only by Instinct.

Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex

Product Safety: Recall History of Instinct & Vital Essentials?

Instinct has been recalled 2 times.

  • July 24, 2015: Salmonella
  • Feb. 15, 2013: Pieces of clear plastic in bag

Vital Essentials has been recalled 4 times.

  • July 8, 2015: Listeria monocytogenes
  • Jan. 15, 2016: Salmonella
  • Feb. 24, 2018: Salmonella
  • April 16, 2018: Salmonella

Price Comparison: Which Brand Is More Expensive?

Dry Dog Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Per Pound $3.37 $31.04
Per Calorie $0.0018 $0.0141
Dry Cat Food Instinct Vital Essentials
Per Pound $4.60 $38.64
Per Calorie $0.0024 $0.0220

The average cost-per-lb is heavily influenced by the varying amounts of moisture present in each brand's food products (wet vs. dry food, dry vs. freeze-dried food, etc). However, the average cost-per-kcal eliminates the influence of moisture. Therefore, the average cost-per-kcal is the better metric to consider.

If you'd like to calculate the average cost-per-day or cost-pet-year of feeding Instinct or Vital Essentials, input your pet's weight into our cost analyzer widget.

Averages price data can identify whether or not there exists a significant price difference between two brands. However, the actual price that you'll pay for Instinct or Vital Essentials will depend on your shopping habits.

Pet owners who use our price comparison feature typically save more than 25% off retail prices for Instinct and Vital Essentials. In addition, we currently have some great coupons for our readers.


Disclosure: PawDiet has an affiliate relationship with stores featured (or linked-to) in this article. We are compensated for referring customers. Thank you for shopping with our retail partners!

Where To Buy Instinct Pet Foods

You can purchase Instinct pet foods from the following stores:


125 Recipes In-Stock Today

97 Recipes In-Stock Today

89 Recipes In-Stock Today

33 Recipes In-Stock Today

Where To Buy Vital Essentials Pet Foods

You can purchase Vital Essentials pet food products from these retailers:


43 Recipes In-Stock Today

43 Recipes In-Stock Today

13 Recipes In-Stock Today

21 Recipes In-Stock Today

Type Of Pet Foods Available

Product Instinct Vital Essentials
Dry Dog Food 31 Recipes
Wet Dog Food 19 Recipes
Dog Treats 30 Treats
Dry Cat Food 16 Recipes
Wet Cat Food 18 Recipes
Cat Treats 8 Treats

Compare Pet Food Prices Across Multiple Pet Stores