Freeze Dried Dog Food: What You Need To Know

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis

If you’ve ever wondered about freeze-dried dog food, you might have thought it was a different type of dog food that maybe needed refrigeration. Or you might think it’s like astronaut’s ice cream (you know—the stuff you see in science museum gift shops?) and it’ll dissolve right in your dog’s mouth. The truth is, there are a lot of benefits to freeze dried dog food, and a lot of reasons dog parents prefer it.

Freeze Dried Dog Food: What Is It?

In a couple of words, freeze-dried dog food is dog food that has had all of its moisture removed. Doing so makes it shelf-stable so it’s more convenient for retailers to carry and pet parents to buy. Freeze drying dog food is a great way for manufacturers to offer pet parents portable foods that can sit for a bit (like a kibble). Still, freeze dried dog foods offer the benefits of a raw food diet for dogs.

What Is The Difference Between Freeze-Dried Dog Food And Kibble?

Kibble (dry food) is typically made from coarsely ground meal (and/or grains) and goes through a pretty intense heating process to make it shelf-stable. While that shelf-stability is convenient for pet stores and pet parents alike, unfortunately, the heating process often removes nutrients and minerals from the initial ingredients. You may be paying premium dollars for a premium food, but the nature of the process kibble goes through simply reduces some of the nutritional content for your dog.

Freeze drying dog food, on the other hand is a different process. When you freeze dry dog food, it’s considered a low-temperature dehydration process. You freeze the food (typically whole ingredients, not meal) and lower the pressure of the food as you do. Before the food solidifies as frozen, ice and moisture is sucked out in a multi-step drying process. Simply adding water rehydrates the food for consumption and frankly, humans have been doing this for generations to keep foods shelf-stable during critical times in history.

It’s important to note, though, that all dehydrated dog food is not freeze-dried dog food. Sometimes, dehydrated dog food has the moisture removed with a warm air process instead of a freezing process that uses lower temperatures to eliminate moisture. It’s the freezing process that preserves the nutrients in freeze dried dog foods and allows freeze dried dog foods to be shelf-stable like a typical kibble, while still full of nutrient dense pieces that help your dog optimize his body through digestion.

Five of our favorite freeze dried dog foods:

1. Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Chicken Dinner Patties

Your dog will drool like a fool over Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Chicken Patties. Made from sustainably-sourced ingredients and using a raw, single-source protein, you can trust this recipe of 95% cage-free chicken, organs and bones. It also has 100% certified organic fruits and veggies giving your dog all sorts of raw goodness with convenience and portability. Made in the USA, in individual batches, your dog will want it to be dinner-time all day long.

2. Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Cranberries Freeze Dried Food

Want to help give your dog great gut health in every bite? Check out Nulo’s Freestyle Grain-Free Turkey Recipe with Cranberries. It has 82% turkey, organs and bone for the protein your dog needs but it also has GanedenBC30. That’s a pretty impressive probiotic that will help support his digestive system and overall immunity every time he eats. Not to mention, the freeze-dried process locks in all the delicious nutrients for your dog’s taste buds to go wild for. It doesn’t have any corn, wheat, artificial preservatives, colors, flavorings or soy either.

3. Primal Lamb Formula Nuggets

Primal (along with Stella & Chewy) uses the HPP pasteurization process we outlined above when handling the raw meat in their wholesome formula. They source premium ingredients and combine them for a high-protein ratio that allows your dog to have optimal nutrition intake. The nuggets just need a little water and they make GREAT toppers for picky dogs. Made with lamb that’s antibiotic-, hormone- and steroid-free, it also has fresh ground bone for calcium supplementation.

4. Orijen Freeze-Dried Original Recipe

Beloved for years, Orijen’s Original Freeze-Dried Dog Food is one that we continue to recommend. It uses premium, whole animal ingredients from free-run turkey and chicken as well as wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs to power its protein punch. It’s 90% animal ingredient–including meat, organs, cartilage and bone and it’s designed for the way dogs have evolved in their eating patterns as our domestic canine friends. Reliably sourced from producers that you can trust, Orijen is always a favorite in the freeze-dried pet food market.

5. Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Nuggets

Steve’s offers 100% hormone- and antibiotic-free raw meat for their freeze-dried formula. They source fresh, pesticide-free raw fruits and vegetables, as well as cod liver oil, coconut oil, flaxseed and raw goat’s milk to help your dog’s microbiome thrive.

Can Raw Dog Food Be Freeze-Dried Dog Food?

You may wonder how raw dog food can still be considered raw if it is actually freeze-dried dog food that’s gone through a low-temperature dehydration process. Animal experts consider freeze-dried dog foods ‘raw’ in that your dog receives the same benefits he would as if you were feeding ‘fresh’ raw foods to him. The ingredients are raw (nothing ground nor kibble-processed). Like flash-freezing whole vegetables for humans, the ingredients offer incredible nutritional content.

The nutrient content in freeze dried dog foods is considered the same as in a comparable raw dog food because the low-temperature dehydration preserved all the nutrition. In some instances, freeze dried raw dog foods go through a high-pressure processing (HPP) process to battle bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli. HPP is a pasteurization process that preserves nutrient content as a raw diet would, but protects your dog from the dangers of those bacteria (and the symptoms they bring along) because they’ve been processed to eliminate them.

In effect, if you’re a dog parent who wants to give your dog the benefits of a raw food diet but are concerned about the possible bacteria contaminations that sometimes accompany those diets, freeze dried dog food is a great option.

What Benefits Do Freeze-Dried Dog Foods Have For My Dog?

Because freeze dried dog food diets are technically raw food diets, your dog will get the benefits of a raw diet. YOU get the benefit of having a shelf-stable and lightweight dog food that is typically more convenient to buy.

Freeze dried dog foods are minimally processed, so you can be sure that the nutritional content of each ingredient goes straight to your dog and the best part for your dog? The freeze-drying process preserves the tastes of the ingredients. For fussy eaters particularly, freeze dried dog foods are a great way to ensure they get the nutrition they’re supposed to be getting because they scarf it up. Some dog parents use freeze dried dog foods as full meals in those situations. Other times, freeze-dried dog food toppers are a great way to help spice your dog’s diet up and give them some variety and nutritional content boost.

Freeze-dried dog food provides minimally processed nutrition for dogs which appeals to pet parents seeking an alternative to plain kibble. Excelling in taste, freeze dried dog food can be used as a full meal for fussy eaters, or a tasty topper for all dogs to add an element of variety to their meals.

Why Should I Consider Freeze Dried Dog Food For My Dog?

As we’ve said, freeze-dried dog foods are great options if you have a picky eater. Yes, dogs can be picky eaters, and just like you’d want for your little human—you want your dog to get nutrients and fuel from their food. Freeze dried dog foods offer your dog that nutrition in a tasty, hard-to-pass-up form.

But that’s what’s also great about it for you as a pet parent too. If you give your dog freeze dried dog food, you’re giving them the benefits of a raw diet but without having to worry about preparing fresh meat (or the bacteria that may accompany raw foods) each day.

You can find freeze-dried dog food just about anywhere these days, and because it’s shelf-stable, it’s convenient to store a bit too.

The truth is that while you may want to prepare and cook whole, fresh foods for your dog, that just may not be feasible. Or, if you’re traveling and that’s not feasible, freeze dried dog foods can be the perfect option because the drying process turns fresh foods into smaller, lighter and shelf-stable options. And because freeze-dried foods meet the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), you can trust that you’re giving your dog the nutrition he needs.

Best, you can choose to give your dog high-quality ingredients—organic, grass-fed meats, etc.- in freeze dried form and save money at the same time.

You can find freeze-dried dog food in patties, toppers, kibble and more. Some pet parents use it for full meals each day while others simply add to a kibble diet for some variety. However you choose to use freeze dried dog food, it’s easy to rehydrate with some warm water, which can help ensure extra hydration for your dog.

For many dog parents, freeze dried dog food is convenient, full of nutrition and full of taste their dogs love. An option that allows shelf-stability but the benefits of raw food at the same time, see what your dog thinks of freeze dried dog food. We bet he’ll give you a high-paw!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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