Did you know that dry dog food loses nutrition as it goes through the baking process? Whereas other processing methods such as dehydrating retains all of pet food's nutrition (1). Dehydrating dog food is simply the process of removing all of the water from the food. This allows manufacturers to sell raw dog food brands with a shelf life of about 12 months.
Table of Contents
- Dehydrated Dog Food (Air-dried) vs Freeze-dried vs Dry Kibble
- Benefits of Dehydrated Dog Food vs Dry Kibble
- The Best Dehydrated Dog Food Brands (Top Rated)
- 1 The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Dog Food by The Honest Kitchen
- 2 Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Super Meal Mixers by Stella & Chewy’s
- 3 Wellness CORE Air Dried Dog Food (Natural) by Wellness Core
- 4 Sojos Complete Natural Raw Freeze Dried Dog Food Mix by Sojos
- 5 Primal Freeze Dried Dehydrated Dog Food by Primal Pet Foods
- How Air-dried and Freeze-dried Dog Foods are Made?
- The Bottom Line
The best dehydrated dog food brands provide almost same nutritional benefits as the raw dog diet without some of the drawbacks. It's also easier to prepare – you don't have to deal with raw meat and vegetables, and the preparation time of dehydrated dog foods is significantly faster.
Below are some of the best dehydrated dog food brands we've liked over the years, and their analysis:
|The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic...||4,595 Reviews||$63.69||Buy on Amazon|
|Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Chewy's Chicken...||6,742 Reviews||$39.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Wellness Natural Pet Food 88508 Core Tender Bites...||1,120 Reviews||$28.49||Buy on Amazon|
|Sojos Complete Natural Raw Freeze Dried Dog Food...||280 Reviews||$89.37||Buy on Amazon|
|Primal Pet Foods Freeze-Dried Canine Chicken...||942 Reviews||$31.99||Buy on Amazon|
Dehydrated Dog Food (Air-dried) vs Freeze-dried vs Dry Kibble
Even though raw dog food diets have been getting attention for the many benefits they provide, there are also some disadvantages of feeding your dog food raw diet, whether it's completely fresh and natural, or coming from these best dehydrated dog food brands (3).
This topic remains highly debatable among vets and scientists who are still arguing whether raw dog food is better than commercial dry kibble. However, they all agree that the cooking process of dry kibble loses more nutrients than dehydrating pet foods (4).
The bottom line is that while no dog food is 100% perfect, dried raw dog food is better than commercial dry dog food brands due to its higher nutrient content after processing.
There are two methods of dehydrating and drying dog food, and one is better than the other:
- Freeze-dried dog food
- Air-dried dog food
While we know that either drying method is still better than cooked dry kibble, freeze-dried dog food is superior to air-dried dog food for one reason: it's less damaged.
Benefits of Dehydrated Dog Food vs Dry Kibble
The main benefit is the fact that dehydrated dog food (whether freeze-dried or air-dried) retains most of its nutrients, while the cooking process of dry kibble that uses high temperatures destroys most of the nutrients in pet food (5).
Furthermore, many veterinarians agree that dehydrated dog food is also better for digestibility. When discussing dehydrated raw dog food, Dr. Karen Becker (DVM) says the following:
“I also like this type of food for its digestibility and also for the different protein sources available… It’s a great choice for animals with gastrointestinal sensitivities or that are recovering from GI surgery.” (source)
Unless you choose to feed your dog specific sensitive stomach foods, freeze-dried dog food brands may be the best choice for your pet. There are other benefits to using any of the top rated dehydrated dog food brands, especially when compared to home raw meals.
- Freeze-dried dog foods are easier for canines to digest;
- They offer the water content of canned food with more health benefits;
- It's easier to prepare than natural raw food meals;
- Dehydrated dog food has longer shelf life than raw food;
- No refrigeration required;
- They offer more diverse protein sources than most other commercial kibble;
- These's little to no loss of vitamins and minerals during the cooking process.
Before you start feeding your dog either one of these recommended dehydrated dog foods, speak with your veterinarian. Switching your dog to a new diet is an important step that should not be taken lightly. It needs to be done gradually and while monitoring your pet. Let's now review some of these best dehydrated dog food brands and see how they differ from the popular dry dog food brands.
The Best Dehydrated Dog Food Brands (Top Rated)
1 The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Dog Food
by The Honest Kitchen
PROTEIN 24.5% min
FAT 14.0% min
FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 8.0% max
Dogs are born omnivores but they thrive on a diet largely consisting of meat, supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables. This human-grade dehydrated dog food diet from The Honest Kitchen supports the dog’s natural high-protein requirements with its ingredients: chicken, duck, turkey, or beef.
This is 100% human-grade natural dog food with minimally processed organic ingredients to retain their calories and proteins as nature intended. The food has a soft consistency that makes it ideal for all breeds and sizes. This food is made in the USA with locally-sourced ingredients and in an FDA approved plant.
When your finicky dog starts itching and suffers from diarrhea from his current diet, it may be helpful to transition them to dehydrated dog foods. That’s exactly what dog owners with similar issues have resorted to and came out the wiser. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Grain Dog Food stabilizes a dog's digestive tract and improves the dog’s coat. It tends to stop itchy spells or loose stools.
2 Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Super Meal Mixers
by Stella & Chewy’s
CRUDE PROTEIN 48.0% min
CRUDE FAT 28.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 5.0% max
50 kcal/1/4 cup
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Super Meal Mixers is likely to satisfy your dog’s natural craving and need for meat. It offers over 90% real raw meat, organs and bones crammed in a freeze-dried raw dog food formula. It’s available in flavors of chicken, turkey, beef and seafood. All of the ingredients are guaranteed 100% all natural and organic, including naturally-sourced fruits and vegetables.
Their recipe is carefully formulated with minimal processing to preserve the natural nutritional value of real raw meat, and it provides dogs the highest levels of animal protein and superior grain-free nutrition. Whether served as a whole meal, topper, or snacks and treats, most dogs enjoy the flavor. This is especially effective for dogs with no appetite who are likely to consume this with gusto.
Our experience was a healthier skin and coat, increased energy levels and improved bowel movements after the switch. This best dehydrated dog food is produced in the USA in Chewy’s own kitchen. Preparation is done in small quantities to ensure that they remain as close to their original form and of the highest quality as possible. This way, pets receive top quality nutrients vital to their growth and development.
3 Wellness CORE Air Dried Dog Food (Natural)
by Wellness Core
CRUDE PROTEIN 31.0% min
CRUDE FAT 21.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.0% max
MOISTURE 20.0% max
Wellness Core has come up with a unique formula like no other raw dog food brand – chicken and turkey goodness packed in one recipe. Let your dog relish the wholesomeness of minimally-processed and air-dried dog food that retains superior-quality raw proteins, nutrients and flavors.
With a Wellness Guarantee backing and 100% produced in the USA, it boasts of an all-natural grain-free recipe composed of over 70% choice proteins and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced meal.
This best dehydrated dog food brand is also available in a Whitefish & Salmon variant and a special formulation for puppies. We especially like this dehydrated food for older dogs with teeth and digestion issues because of its texture: tender, succulent and highly digestible.
When feeding according to instructions, expect the dog get their weight under control, have higher energy levels and normalize their digestive problems. Considering that it’s on the pricey end, some dog owners use it only to top regular meals or for snacks to make it last longer. Whether they’re using it as a complete dog meal or only as topper, they all find it very easy to serve and there’s no re-hydration needed.
4 Sojos Complete Natural Raw Freeze Dried Dog Food Mix
CRUDE PROTEIN 28.0% min
CRUDE FAT 12.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
Simply mix this freeze-dried dog food meat chow from Sojos with lukewarm water, stir thoroughly and allow 15 minutes to thicken, and then serve. An 8-pound bag produces 40 pounds of all-natural, raw and high-protein dog food your pet will enjoy and crave for. You can choose from any of the four different delicious variants of turkey, beef, goat, and lamb. These were carefully prepared one batch at a time inside Sojos’ kitchen in the USA to ensure that it’s safe from harmful contaminants.
We also took special note of the ingredients list in this product: it’s all real foods instead of chemically sounding names usually found on other dog food packages. When re-hydrated, we were able to actually identify the meat, vegetables and fruits. Sojos dehydrated dog food is highly digestible and our dogs’ bowel movements have normalized after transitioning to this diet.
Other dog owners who have been using Sojos dehydrated dog foods attest to the product’s effectiveness in dealing with two of the most common issues affecting dogs – digestion and allergy. They've also noted that after this recipe was included in their dogs’ diet, pets developed a leaner frame, more toned muscles, and shinier coats. The food is pricey, but it does not cost as much as other brands similar to it.
5 Primal Freeze Dried Dehydrated Dog Food
by Primal Pet Foods
CRUDE PROTEIN 37.0% min
CRUDE FAT 37.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 1.0% max
MOISTURE 2.0% max
Here’s Primal Pet Foods freeze-dried dog food formula that contains 100% human-quality ingredients made in the USA and sourced from New Zealand and across the country. It’s an all-natural raw food recipe packed with high levels of protein, essential oils, enzymes, and fortified with natural vitamins and minerals. All these ingredients were processed minimally to retain their wholesomeness. This top rated dehydrated dog food is available in seven different flavors: Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Pork, Lamb, Venison, and Beef.
All the recipes are grain-free with no soy, wheat, corn, gluten, additives or preservatives, for a quality and wholesome freeze-dried raw pet food. This could be an appropriate formula for owners of dogs with dermatitis or other skin maladies. That said, we think it's still a little too expensive.
Primal dehydrated dog food is made in the USA, contains no grains, and is made with meats that are free from antibiotics and hormones. Some dogs love these nuggets dry and crunchy while others prefer the tender moist tastiness when rehydrated. Either way, they will take in the same high-quality nutrients that help prevent allergy and abdominal problems, among other benefits.
How Air-dried and Freeze-dried Dog Foods are Made?
Let me briefly walk you through the process of how these best dehydrated dog foods are made, which will also explain why freeze-dried dog food or, alternatively, air-dried dog food, is better for dogs.
Air-dried dog food uses low temperatures which help to extract all moisture from raw dog food. Most air-dried dog foods are prepared in about 140º F to 180º F temperatures.
The problem with this is because the process takes longer, which exposes meat to potential spoilage due to oxidation. This doesn't necessarily mean that all air-dried dehydrated dog foods may be spoiled, but theoretically, this is what happens.
Air-drying dog food also slightly cooks it (not as much as dry kibble cooking process does) which may impact the nutritional content of these foods, particularly altering meats, fats, fruits and vegetables contained in dehydrated raw dog food. This is not good.
Freeze-dried dog food, on the other hand, uses a process that is significantly quicker and it also uses lower temperatures for drying dog food.
This process results in the least (if any) damage to the nutrient content in pet food, meaning that all raw dog food nutrition – vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins – remain in tact and will be consumed and absorbed by the dog to eats it.
On top of that, freeze-dried dog food will also retain most of its natural raw dog food flavor and aroma as a result of this fast-drying and freezing process. This means that for most dogs, freeze-dried dog food will also be more appealing.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, there is no 100% ideal dog food currently on the market. In order to make it, some adjustments need to be made: nutrients will be lost, or it will involve certain risk.
However, if we were to rank all types of dog food, raw dehydrated dog food would come out on top due to its higher preserved nutrient content over dry kibble.
When comparing air-dried dog food vs freeze-dried dog food, the latter is also better. So make sure you always seek out ingredients in dog food that have been freeze-dried.
References and Further Reading
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