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The Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food: The Benefits of Dehydrated Food!

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astronaut-ice-creamHave you ever had astronaut ice cream? That dry, room-temperature treat offered at science centers and space camp?

Although little more than a novelty, these snacks are made with the same technology used to prepare food for space travel – by removing the water, the food weighs less and takes up less space.

Called freeze-drying, the process used to create these treats is also used to create freeze-dried dog food.

Many dog owners are curious about these foods, and are considering making the switch to them. Read on to learn about the ins and outs of freeze-dried foods; we’ll even recommend five great options for those who decide to make the switch.

Quick Picks: Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Freeze-Dried Dog Food Benefits: Why Do Fans Love It?

There are several benefits to feeding your pooch freeze-dried dog food, including:

  • High Quality Ingredients. Freeze dried diets are typically comprised of an extremely impressive slate of ingredients, including muscle meat, organs and ground bones (some also include freeze-dried fruits and vegetables). Most are entirely grain- and gluten-free, and very few are made with artificial additives.
  • Raw Diet Alternative. Many freeze-dried feeders begin doing so as an alternative to providing a raw diet. Raw diets can be difficult and laborious to assemble and prepare, and the regular handling of raw meat is a serious and unnecessary risk for most families. But by using a freeze-dried diet, raw food devotees can enjoy greater convenience and safety.
  • Long Shelf Life. Additionally, freeze-dried foods often have ridiculously long shelf-lives, which makes them handy to keep around for emergencies. For example, you don’t want to run out of dog food if you find yourself snowed in for a week or if you live in a hurricane-prone region, in which the grocery store shelves completely empty every time a storm threatens.
  • Dogs Simply Adore Freeze-Dried Food. Aside from everything else, most dogs find freeze-dried foods to be drool-inducingly delicious. In fact, some people use them as healthy (if somewhat high-calorie) treats.

Note that some dogs will produce much less waste after switching to a freeze-dried diet, thanks to the lack of unnecessary fillers. Much more of the food is converted into new tissue and energy.

What Are the Downsides to Freeze-Dried Foods?

The single greatest problem with freeze-dried foods (and dehydrated foods to a lesser extent) is their expense – every product on the market is very pricey when compared to dry (cooked) kibble.

However, it is important to remember that most dehydrated foods swell to 3 to 5 times their original size, once rehydrated – so don’t be thrown off by their small packaging!

Since freeze-dried dog food can get quite pricey, a lot of owners end up using freeze-dried foods as “toppers,” by serving them with other, more affordable foods. Do note that some manufacturers discourage this kind of use, so be sure to consult the feeding instructions before using a food in this manner.

What’s the Difference Between Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Foods?

Although freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are broadly similar products, and are both comprised of raw foods that have had the bulk of their water removed, they do differ in several key ways.

Dehydrated Foods

With dehydrated food, the water is removed from food by simply placing the food in a low-heat environment for an extended period of time.

This is the same drying process that many people use at home to make jerkies and dehydrated fruit treats. In this process, the water begins as a liquid and is turned into a gas, which then slowly diffuses from the food.

The use of heat is noteworthy, as it tends to cause the food to undergo a few structural changes. Whether or not this has a negative impact on the nutritional content of the food is not yet known, but raw food devotees often consider this an important distinction.

 Freeze-Dried Foods

By contrast, freeze-dried foods are not heated at any point in the manufacturing process.

The freeze-drying process begins with already-frozen foods, which are then placed in large machines that lower the atmospheric pressure around the food. This causes the water to sublimate (transition from ice directly to gas) and diffuse out of the food.

This means that freeze-dried foods have not been cooked at all – a fact many raw-food feeders greatly appreciate.

Additionally, because the food’s structure remains largely intact (aside from shrinkage), the ingredients still resemble their original shape. This makes it easy to look at a pea, for example, and know exactly what it is.

Freeze-Dried Foods vs Totally Raw Foods

Owners may also find themselves wondering about the difference between freeze-dried dog food and raw dog food.

Really, most freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are made with raw meat. However, the removal of water as part of the freeze drying and dehydration process makes it possible to store these foods safely without refrigeration. Bacteria require moisture, so by removing the bulk of the water from the foods, they aren’t as likely to spoil.

So, while freeze-dried raw and dehydrated raw dog foods often resemble typical dog foods (some are a bit more like a bag of uncooked oatmeal), truly raw dog food require packaging like the raw meats you buy at the grocery store – they’re essentially the same thing.

You can’t store completely raw dog food without refrigeration, and even with refrigeration, these types of raw foods are only going to remain safe for a finite period of time. So, there aren’t very many commercially produced raw (with moisture) foods on the market, and those that are available will be sold in the refrigerated section of your local pet store.

Note that you’ll need to practice very sound hygiene whenever you are handling raw meats. Be careful to avoid cross-contamination and always wash your hands with soap and water once you’re finished.

What to Look for in a Good Freeze-Dried Food

There a number of characteristics for which you should look in any dog food freeze-dried or otherwise. Additionally, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when contemplating making a switch.

  • The best freeze-dried foods feature ingredients that contain plenty of omega fatty acids. Some of the most common ingredients used in this capacity include salmon and flaxseed, as well as assorted vegetable fats, fish meals and oils.
  • Most freeze-dried foods are comprised primarily of meats and minerals, but many of the very best recipes also include antioxidant- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Some of the most common examples include cranberries, blackberries, blueberries, spinach, parsley and carrots.
  • Although it is rarely a problem when seeking out freeze-dried foods, make sure that you avoid any that contain artificial colors, flavors or additives. These types of ingredients not only invalidate much of the reasoning behind feeding raw food, they can trigger food allergies too.
  • Whenever possible, select foods made in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or Western Europe. These countries maintain stricter quality control standards and regulations, which helps ensure your dog’s food will arrive untainted by dangerous or unhealthy pollutants or unidentified ingredients.
  • Avoid low-quality, economy products just in order to save a few bucks. Price is always an important consideration when buying expensive, high-quality dog food, and it makes perfect sense to save a few bucks when you can. However, going cheap can be dangerous with freeze-fried foods; one way manufacturers can try to lower costs is through cheaper packaging – if the packaging does not remain airtight, moisture can seep in, leading to bacterial growth.

6 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food: Reviews & Ratings

If you think you are ready to try out freeze-dried foods for your pup, consider going with one of the following five recipes.

1. Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Grain Dog Food

Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Chicken Dog Food Box, 10 lbHonest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Dog Food is a premium pet food, made with only human-grade ingredients. Because it is a dehydrated product, you’ll want to mix this with warm water before offering it to your pet. This also means that each bag contains much more food than you’d think – once rehydrated, a 10-pound bag will make 40 pounds of food.

Price: $$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Made with free-range chicken and whole, organic grains
  • Contains no by-products, preservatives or GMO ingredients
  • Made in the USA

PROS: Most dogs seem to like the taste of Honest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Food, while most owners love feeding their dog a food made with human-grade ingredients. The ingredients are all diced very finely, which provides a great consistency, and you can even make the food thicker or soupier, depending on what your dog likes.

CONS: A few owners complained that the food seems to have relatively little meat in it, but the food’s protein content is within the standard range for these foods. Additionally, some owners noted that this food does not last long after mixing – if your dog doesn’t eat it quickly, it can harden, making it more-or-less inedible.

Ingredients: Free-range chicken, organic barley, potatoes, organic flax, organic oats, green peas, carrots, bananas, parsley, organic kelp, celery, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate.

2. Buckley Liberty Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Buckley Liberty Freeze Dried Dog Food/Food Topper And Mixer, Lamb, 10 OunceAbout: Buckley Liberty Freeze-Dried Dog Food is an affordably priced freeze-dried food that is made from an impressively nutritious slate of ingredients. In addition to vitamin-rich organ meats, Buckley Liberty is made with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables to provide top-notch nutritional value.

This formula features only lamb meat and organs, which may be especially desirable for owners looking to avoid more traditional meats like beef and chicken.

Price: $$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Can be fed as-is as a treat, or rehydrated and served as a meal
  • Contains no corn, soy, wheat or fillers
  • Made in the USA, with only ingredients sourced from America

PROS: Most owners reported that their dog absolutely loved the taste of Buckley Liberty, regardless of how picky they normally were. While some owners use this product as their dog’s primary food, many others use it as a topper for their dog’s normal food. Additionally, this food features not only antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, but it is made with multiple supplemental sources of omega fatty acids (salmon oil and flaxseed).

CONS: The only downside to Buckley Liberty most owners cited was the cost, but this is a common complaint among most freeze-dried diets. In point of fact, Buckley Liberty is one of the more affordable choices, and given its impressive ingredient list, it provides exceptional value for the category.

See Ingredient List

Ingredients: Lamb Heart, Lamb Liver, Ground Lamb Bone, Squash, Apples, Carrots, Broccoli, Eggs, Ground Flaxseed, Inulin, Blueberries, Cranberries, Apple Cider Vinegar, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Salmon Oil, Fish Oil, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative).

3. Orijen Freeze-Dried Adult Dog Food

Orijen Freeze-Dried Adult Original Formula, 16 oz About: Like the rest of their stellar products, Orijen’s Freeze-Dried Recipe is a great-tasting food that most dogs simply love.

Owners tend to appreciate the excellent ingredient list, which not only includes nutritious proteins, but several antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables as well.

This recipe’s first five ingredients are all meat, which is quite impressive for any dog food and is a solid sign of quality.

Price: $$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Made without corn, soy, wheat or any other glutens or grains
  • Manufactured solely in Orijen’s Alberta, Canada kitchens
  • Protein-heavy recipe means that this food has a low glycemic index

PROS: By and large, dogs appear to love the taste of Orijen Freeze-Dried Food, and owners loved the ingredients. In fact, many dogs who had previously rejected grain-free foods found Orijen to be perfectly palatable, whether used as a stand-alone food or as a food topper.

CONS: Most owners who tried Orijen Freeze-Dried Food were quite pleased, but a few noted palatability problems with their pup. Additionally, as with most other freeze-dried foods, many owners complained about the high price of the product.

See Ingredient List

Ingredients: Chicken (ground with bone), turkey (ground with bone), whole herring, chicken liver, chicken heart, whole eggs, spinach greens, pea fiber, turkey liver, turkey heart, whole flounder, ground whole sunflower seeds, whole pumpkin, butternut squash, whole carrots, whole cranberries, whole blackberries, whole blueberries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, brown kelp, mixed tocopherols (preservative), chicory root, dandelion root, summer savory, peppermint leaf, ginger root, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate.

4. TruDog Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood

Real Meat Organic Dog Food - Feed Me: Freeze Dried Raw Superfood for Optimal Canine Health and Natural Longevity - All Natural - Balanced Nutrition - No Filters, No Grain - Just Add Water (Beef, 10oz)About: TruDog Freeze-Dried Superfood is a straight-forward freeze-dried dog food that provides maximum nutrition, from a rather limited number of ingredients. Thanks to the inclusion of several organ meats and tasty fat, most dogs find TruDog Freeze-Dried Superfood very palatable.

This recipe’s first 9 ingredients feature meat and meat organs –  if your dog loves beef, he’ll go bananas over this recipe. This formula also features one of the most limited ingredient lists we’ve ever seen, making it a great choice for owners looking to prevent canine food allergies.

Price: $$$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Made with free-range, grass-fed beef, raised in Wisconsin
  • Organic, all-natural and hypoallergenic formula provides the nutrition your dog needs and nothing else
  • Contains no grains, fillers, preservatives or artificial flavors or colors
  • Made in the USA

PROS: Most dogs simply loved TruDog Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood, and most appeared to transition to the food without suffering any type of digestive upset. Some owners reported that their dog’s coat condition improved after making the switch, which is likely due to the lack of artificial colors and flavors, or the inclusion of omega fatty acids.

CONS: As with every other freeze-dried food in this survey, most owners complained about the product’s high price. Additionally, some owners were disappointed that the recipe doesn’t include any fruits or vegetables.

See Ingredient List

Ingredients: Beef, beef tripe, beef lung, ground beef bone, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidney, beef blood, beef fat, herring oil (natural source of vitamin D), mixed tocopherols (natural antioxidant), d-alpha tocopherol (natural vitamin E).

5. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Market Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Meal Blends

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Market Grain Free Chicken Recipe Meal Blends for Dogs by Nature's Variety, 1 lb. BagAbout: Nature’s Variety Freeze-Dried Meal Blends are chock full of great ingredients that taste great and provide the nutrition that your dog needs. While they are some of the more expensive freeze-dried options on the market, they use several organic ingredients, which gives their owners more peace of mind.

Price: $$$$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Grain- and gluten-free recipe provides your dog with the high-protein content he needs to stay healthy
  • Comprised of 76% chicken and liver, with the remaining 24% being comprised of fruits, vegetables and vitamins
  • Made entirely in the USA
  • All chickens used in the recipe were raised on cage-free farms

PROS: Most dogs love the taste of Nature’s Variety Freeze-Dried Meal Blends, and owners love the idea of feeding their dog a food made with such great ingredients. Many owners even noticed improvements in their dog’s health, including better coat and skin condition and a small amount of weight loss.

CONS: The biggest flaw in Nature’s Variety Freeze-Dried Meal Blends is the high cost. In fact, this is one of the priciest options in an already expensive category. However, the individual ingredients and collective recipe more than offset this high price point.

See Ingredient List

Ingredients: Chicken (including Ground Chicken Bone), Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Pumpkinseeds, Blueberries, Salmon Oil, Montmorillonite Clay, Organic Carrots, Organic Pears, Tricalcium Phosphate, Organic Butternut Squash, Potassium Chloride, Cod Liver Oil, Salt, Dried Kelp, Yeast Culture, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Organic Cranberries, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Rosemary Extract

6. BIXBI Rawbble All-Natural Freeze-Dried Dog Food

BIXBI Rawbble Duck, 12-OunceAbout: BIXBI Rawbble is a very affordable option when compared with most other freeze-dried dog foods. Even at such a low price, BIXBI Rawbble is packed full of nutritious ingredients and formulated to have a taste and texture that most dogs love.

This formula features only duck meat and organs – since duck is a relatively uncommon protein for dog food, this recipe is especially ideal for owners looking to avoid more popular protein sources like beef and chicken, in order to combat dog food allergies.

Price: $
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Made in small batches with only USDA-certified animal proteins to ensure freshness and quality
  • All ingredients made and sourced in the USA
  • 98% of the recipe is comprised of muscle meat and organs; the other 2% contains healthy oils, pumpkin, vitamins and minerals

PROS: Most dogs found Rawbble delicious, whether they are fed it as a treat, topper of primary food. Owners love the inclusion of omega-fatty-acid-rich herring oil, and several noted improvements in their dog’s coat and skin condition.

CONS: The primary complaint most owners had about BIXBI Rawbble was the high price, but this is actually one of the most affordable products in the freeze-dried food category. Additionally, although BIXBI Rawbble is formulated to be used as a meal, it should not be used for large breed puppies.

See Ingredient List

Ingredients: Duck, Duck Heart, Duck Liver, Duck Gizzard, Pumpkin, Coconut Oil, Herring Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Liver Extract, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative)

***

Do you feed your dog a freeze-dried diet? Do you use it as a treat, topper or primary food? What types of changes in your dog’s health or behavior have you noticed since making the switch? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Last update on 2019-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author Ben Team

Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.

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Leave a Comment:

17 comments
Judith Oakes says June 17, 2017

Would love to try your dog food, 1dog is diabetic, 1 had a kidney removed, 1has Cushing’s disease and low thyroid. Any suggestions for the 3 of them? They are poms….

Reply
Ben Team says June 18, 2017

Ouch! So sorry, Judith. I’d talk to your vet about your pack and try to start with a base diet that addressed all of their varied needs. Let us know what he/she suggested!

Reply
Eddie Eidinger says June 9, 2018

Didn’t mention the honest kitchen dog food any information on them

Reply
    Meg Marrs says June 9, 2018

    Thanks, we’ll work on adding them to the list!

    Reply
Jennifer Gardner says June 15, 2018

I loved feeding my Boston terrier a freeze dried diet. I have used all of these plus a couple other brands and she loved them all. I believe switching your dog’s protein a couple times a year improves their immune system and improves their health over all. Unfortunately, after years of eating freeze dried raw, my dog developed pancreatitis. I do not believe that it was because of her diet but instead a medication that she was put on. I have stopped the medication but, the damage was already done. I want to go back to a freeze dried raw diet but, I cannot find one that is low enough in fat. The medication was developed to be a long term, non-steroidal drug to help dog’s with allergies and other skin conditions. It worked by turning off the dog’s immune system and therefore, the animal has no reaction. It makes me so mad that vets readily give this to our beloved pets.

Reply
    Laura says January 18, 2019

    Can I ask what medicine? My son’s German Shepherd has allergies and vet switched from steroids to a newer non-steroidal Med (Apoquel) and we believe that is what led to her cancer at 7 yrs old. We wish we had done some research before agreeing to the switch. I believe It turned off her body’s natural defense against cancer cells. We weren’t aware of the risk…we mistakenly trusted the vet and lost our previous girl. We got puppies recently and we are going completely raw diet and limited vaccinations. So far they’ve been eating Blue Ridge puppy mix and Grandma Lucy mix-in. They love it.

    Reply
Leta Jensen says July 11, 2018

Hi Steve. My Maude is a 14 year old female, Scottish terrier. I started feeding her Dr Marty freeze dried food., two months ago. She loved it, immediately lost extra weight and her troubled coat is looking better. She was raised on Blue Buffalo, as were her two pack mates (all Scottie’s). We lost both of them within a month of each arch other. (14 and 9 Year’s of age.) This was horrific for both Maude and I. Thus the change in food. I’m determined to eek very extra minute I can out of her. Dr Marty’s was the first freeze dried food that We have tried. On further researching, I have found very little on reference for this product. Compared to others, that is. I would love a product that I can simply purchase over the counter. Your opinion please, on a comparable freeze dried product. Thank you.

Reply
Karen L. Dunlap says July 30, 2018

Just saw infomercial on Dr. Marty’s Nature’s Blend freeze dried dog food, do you have any comments or reviews on this dog food? Thank you in advance…

Reply
Toni says July 31, 2018

Honest kitchen was the first one mentioned to the person who inquired.. But I’ve tried a couple and some too liquidy/fine.. Or just kibble that has dehydrated fruits and veggies that has to go back cuz dogs don’t want to eat it

Reply
    Meg Marrs says August 1, 2018

    We actually updated the article recently to include Honest Kitchen! Sorry to hear your pups didn’t like it Toni.

    Reply
Nancy says August 25, 2018

Thanks for the Great review.

Reply
Howard Agranat says August 27, 2018

I’ve heard several favorable reports about Dr Marty Pet Food. Any reason why you didn’t rate that brand?

Reply
    Meg Marrs says August 27, 2018

    We can’t get to them all, but thanks for the suggestion. We always try to look further into user-suggested foods when we do updates.

    Reply
Barbara says September 11, 2018

Can you recommend any ingredients to use in freeze dried dog food. I just purchased a home freeze dryer.

Reply
Jan says September 16, 2018

I feed Bravo Freezed dried raw Turkey, wondering why you did not mention it….?

Reply
Denise says January 21, 2019

Excellent unbiased and helpful review

Reply
Barbara says January 21, 2019

I have my own freeze dryer so thanks but no thanks.

Reply
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