In the wild, dogs would have eaten a raw diet of predominantly meat and fish. Many owners wish to replicate that diet as closely as they can because they feel that this will provide the best nutrition for their dog’s metabolism. However, a raw diet is not that easy to achieve. The next best thing is a freeze-dried dog food where the food is still raw but has had most of the moisture taken out of it so that it will last.
In general, freeze-dried dog foods are made with exceptionally high-quality ingredients and are at the high end of the dog food market which means that they are not cheap. You will find free-range and wild caught sources of animal protein and organic vegetables. As always, there will be a wide choice. To help you make a decision, here is our guide to the best freeze dried dog food.
This recipe is packed with simple, minimally processed raw foods. It has a minimum of 40 % crude protein and 36 % fat. Every quarter cup delivers 58 kcal or energy for your dog. The primary sources of animal protein are turkey with ground bone, turkey liver and turkey gizzard.
There is plenty of healthy fiber and probiotics to maintain a healthy digestion. Micronutrients and antioxidants are provided by the superfoods including organic squash and organic blueberries. Vitamins have been added for overall health. This food is completely free from grains and gluten and has no hormones or antibiotics in it.
Minimum of 40 % crude protein
36 % fat for energy
Turkey is the main source of protein
Packed with vitamins and probiotics
Made with organic fruits and vegetables
Grain and gluten free
Made from cage-free animals
Has a strong odor
May contain bone fragments
There is plenty of protein (27%) and fat (15%) in this freeze dried food which delivers 378 kcal per cup serving. It provides a complete and balanced diet for your dog. The primary protein source is pork which has been freeze dried and added to this are air-dried split peas which are a highly digestible carbohydrate.
There are plenty of added vitamins and minerals for overall health and flaxseed for omega oils. It contains no cheap soy fillers and has no grains or gluten. It is also free from artificial colors and flavors.
Packed with 27 % protein
Fat content is 15 % for energy
Added vitamins and minerals
No grains or gluten
Contains no cheap fillers
No ingredients from China
Good for GI problems
A bit watery for some dogs
Large chunks of vegetables cannot be digested by some dogs
A full 78 % of this food is made up of chicken, chicken organs and chicken bone; in total there is a minimum of 37 % protein. The chickens used in the recipe have been raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones so it is completely natural. The remaining 22 % is made up of produce and food supplements so you will find organic broccoli, organic kale and organic carrots on the ingredients list. These provide plenty of micronutrients and antioxidants to prevent cell damage.
There is salmon oil and coconut oil to provide omega oils which nourish the skin. It contains no corn, wheat or soy. To serve primal freeze dried dog food, you just add water.
78% of the content is chicken and chicken products
37 % protein
Salmon oil provides omega oils
Organic kale provides antioxidants
Dogs love it!
Great for dogs with sensitivities
Promotes a shiny coat
You may have to crumble it up for smaller dogs
Feeding guide is not that accurate
This little bottle of whole chicken protein treats has been produced right here in the US and could be just what you are looking for to reward your dog naturally. There are no concerns about artificial ingredients because the only ingredients are chicken, water, sodium phosphate, salt and carrageenan. The chickens used in this product have been raised without the use of antibiotics.
The chicken has been freeze dried to produce a pure protein treat that has the texture of real meat and is nutrient-rich. Each treat delivers 8 calories and can be used as a healthy reward for good behavior. These freeze dried dog treats can also be crumbled as a meat topper.
Pure protein treats
Made from real chicken
No by-product meal
Chicken raised without antibiotics
Has a great aroma and taste
Not too many calories
Texture of real meat
Some consistency issues
Fat content of some pieces is high
There are very few ingredients in this wholesome and natural freeze-dried dog food. The protein content is very high (41 %) and there is plenty of healthy fat for energy (28 %). To provide complete nutrition that is close to a wild dog’s diet, there is ground turkey with bone, turkey heart and turkey liver. The turkeys have been raised in the US and are cage-free.
There is Herring oil which provides plenty of micronutrients including omega oils. This food is naturally hypoallergenic and very easy to digest so it keeps your dog’s breath smelling fresh. It can be fed to dogs of all ages and has no grains or fillers.
41 % protein
28 % healthy fat
Omega oils from Herring oil
Great for dogs with food allergies
Suitable for all ages
Made from cage-free turkeys
There are no vegetables in it
May contain bone particles
Made right here in the US from only high-quality ingredients, this freeze-dried dog food is suitable for all life stages and is completely grain-free. It contains 26 % protein and 13 % fat. Your dog will get 438 kcal per cup of food. Chicken is the primary ingredient and it has been produced without the use of antibiotics or hormones.
There are also potatoes, carrots and celery which deliver vitamin A, potassium, niacin and vitamin B. The cranberries and blueberries provide a range of antioxidants which are great for the immune system and can help to prevent urinary tract infections.
26 % protein
13 % fat
Vegetables for vitamin A and potassium
Antioxidants to support the immune system
All natural ingredients
Very natural product
Dogs love it
Can contain bone fragments
This premium freeze-dried dog food is based on several parts of the chicken carcass to give an authentic raw diet. It includes chicken meat, ground chicken bone, chicken liver and chicken gizzard. It has a total of 45% protein. There is also 26% fat and 6 % fiber. Added to the meat content, there are loads of nutritious fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, carrots and broccoli.
There are plenty of nutritional supplements added to the natural foods to promote general good health. These include fish oils which provide omega oils, vitamin E, potassium chloride and iron proteinate. There are no grains or gluten in the recipe.
45 % protein
6 % fiber
Vitamin E and potassium chloride
Made from poultry that is USDA inspected and antibiotic-free
Free from grains for dogs will allergies
Gives your dog plenty of energy
If you don’t rehydrate it correctly it can make your dog ill
Tends to form crumbs in the packet
There’s nothing but goodness in this freeze-dried dog food that you reconstitute by simply adding water. It’s made from turkey and delivers no less than 26 % crude protein. It also contains 12 % fat. The carbohydrate content is made up of sweet potatoes and is easy to digest. There are superfoods such as broccoli and cranberries to provide multiple micro-nutrients and antioxidants.
The flax seeds provide omega oils and there are vitamin E and vitamin D3 supplements. This recipe contains no soy, no by-products and no cheap fillers.
26 % crude protein
12 % fat
Carbohydrates that are easy to digest
Omega oils provided by flax seed
Easy to take with you when you are out
Gives dogs loads of energy
Supports frequent bowel movements (poops)
Some dogs don’t like the odor
Has large chunks of vegetables which take a while to rehydrate
This natural food is for dogs of all ages. A full 90% of the content is made up of meat protein and fat sources which include venison, duck, whole steelhead trout, bison, elk and quail which have all been ground with bone so it includes meat, organs and cartilage for complete nutrition. There is also duck liver and duck heart. Added to this, there is 10% fruits, vegetables and botanicals which include spinach, pumpkin and carrots. These super foods provide antioxidants to help the immune system.
There are chicory root and dandelion root which are probiotics and support a healthy digestion. The recipe of this orijen freeze dried dog food contains no grain or potatoes and no GMO ingredients.
Made up of 90 % meat for plenty of protein
10 % fruits, vegetables and botanicals
Pumpkin and spinach provide antioxidants
Prebiotics supplied by chicory roots
Satisfies a dog’s appetite
Dogs love the taste
Will dry out if you don’t seal it
May be a bit dry to use as a food topper
The large protein content (45 %) of this food for small breeds is provided by high quality meat sources including chicken that has ground bone in it. There is also chicken liver and chicken gizzard so it is close to what your dog would eat in the wild when they catch prey. The fat content is also high at 28 % so this suits energetic dogs. There are loads of micronutrients provided by the fresh fruit and vegetables including organic blueberries, organic spinach and organic broccoli.
The added supplements provide plenty of calcium for strong bones and probiotics for a healthy digestion. There are omega oils for a vibrant coat and nourished skin. There are no grains or gluten in the recipe and the chicken is from cage-free birds.
45 % protein content
28 % fat content
Micronutrients provided by superfoods
Omega oils for a vibrant coat
Limited ingredients and easy to digest
Ingredients are responsibly sourced
Promotes fresh breath
Upsets the stomach of some dogs
May be more suitable as a meal topper
Freeze drying is a method of preserving dog food so that it will remain fresh down the supply chain until it reaches your door.
The process of freeze drying is quite complicated and the scientific name for it is sublimation. The raw ingredients are placed in a pressurized chamber and are frozen solid. Both the temperature and pressure are carefully controlled so that water is extracted from the food – this is sublimation. The ice converts straight into water vapor so there is no liquid phase. It is a slow process but it is very good at preserving nutrients and protein structures which makes the food both highly nutritious and shelf stable. When you want to feed the food to your dog, you crumble it and rehydrate it with water.
You will find that many freeze-dried foods are made with very high-quality ingredients and they tend to be quite expensive. Most of the ingredients could be organic and the meat sources are usually humanely raised, free-range, grass-fed animals. These foods have a lot of meat in them so the protein content is high. There is sometimes also organ meat and/or ground bone. The ethos behind freeze dried dog food is that the ingredients should be very lightly processed so they are close to the diet of a wild dog.
Buying a freeze-dried dog food is very like buying any other food. It is important that you check out the nutritional analysis and the ingredients list. Here are the main things that you should look out for.
The protein content of most freeze-dried foods is very high because they contain so much meat. This is great for most dogs but check with your vet in case it is not suitable. Also, check that the source of the protein is high-quality. You may prefer cage-free farmed animals and those that have been raised without using any hormones or antibiotics.
The fat content of this type of food also tends to be high. This provides a lot of energy for an active dog. However, if your dog has a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to select a brand that has a lower fat content.
The fruits and vegetables in dog food deliver valuable fiber and micronutrients. However, some freeze-dried foods are almost purely meat. If you would like your dog to have plenty of botanicals as part of a balanced diet, choose a brand that contains these elements and is not just meat.
The main benefit of freeze dried dog food is that it is only lightly processed. This means that the natural constituents of the food do not get damaged in the way that heating them will do. Many nutrients are heat-sensitive and this is why raw food is so good for us and for our dogs. However, not everyone is able to feed their dog a raw diet and raw diets do not suit all dogs. Freeze-dried foods are the next best thing.
The other benefit of freeze dried raw dog food is the long shelf that it has. You can store them for longer than you can store most kibble. Because they have an extremely low moisture content, they can be stored at room temperatures and they will not spoil or go rancid. Once the packet is opened, they will start to deteriorate. They achieve this because they only contain between 3-5 % moisture. Regular kibble usually contains around 10 % moisture. When the moisture content is low, there is little biological activity and the food does not spoil.
A further benefit of freeze-dried raw dog food is that it tastes fantastic and dogs love it! The process of freeze drying the food has the effect of concentrating the flavor – the processing is minimal and so it tastes very like the raw product. This can be a big bonus for dogs who are picky eaters or who have lost their appetite through age or a chronic illness.
Take a look at our Dog Food for Picky Eaters.
Finally, these foods tend to be made with exceptionally high-quality ingredients. They are expensive but they are packed with the best ingredients. You can expect organic fruit and vegetables and meat from free-range farms. Most of the meat sources will have been raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. These products tend to target the top end of the market.
Dehydrated dog food is sometimes referred to as dried dog food and this is not the same thing as freeze-dried food. Dehydrated dog food manufacturers use raw ingredients and remove moisture by heating them at a low temperature. This helps to preserve the nutritional content of the food. We use a similar technique when we are making beef jerky or kale chips at home.
The main difference between the two is the temperature at which the process takes place. Freeze dried foods are frozen during the process of dehydration. Dehydrated foods have their moisture removed at a higher temperature so that the moisture evaporates. Some dehydrated dog food and some freeze-dried foods need to have water added to them before they are served but others do not. However, your dog always needs a bowl of fresh water nearby.
A: Before you make any changes to your dog’s diet, including a switch to a freeze-dried diet, you should always check with your vet to make sure that it is suitable for your particular dog. There may be some circumstances, for example a chronic illness, that makes a freeze-dried diet unsuitable.
On the whole, freeze-dried diets are very safe to give your dog. Change over gradually from your regular food and if there are any adverse reactions, talk to your vet. In general, they are made from very high-quality ingredients but you can’t assume this. You still need to check out the ingredients list and make sure that the protein and fat content are suitable for your dog and that they have a range of micro-nutrients.
A: Freeze-dried foods are considered to be a raw product. This is because the ingredients have not been treated with a temperature that would be high enough to cook them. Dehydrated foods have been exposed to a higher temperature and therefore they would not be considered raw.
Raw food is generally nutritionally superior to heat processed foods but it does present a greater risk to humans. Don’t forget that the meat that is used in the production of this food has come from animals who could be carrying pathogens. Because it has not been heat treated, it could have survived the manufacturing process. Therefore, be very careful about how you are handling it. Always store it away from human food, use separate utensils and always wash your hands thoroughly after you have handled it.
A: Freeze-drying and air-drying are both methods of treating food so that it will last for longer. Food that has had its moisture content drastically reduced, cannot support the growth of spoilage organisms and will have a longer shelf life.
The method for producing freeze-dried dog foods involves freezing the ingredients and then putting them in a powerful vacuum at which point the temperature is raised slightly. The water in the food then sublimates which means that it changes directly from ice into water vapor and leaves the food. It never turns back into liquid and it separates from the solid material which is left behind in the food. During the process of freeze-drying, around 97% of the total moisture content is removed. Therefore, most freeze-dried foods must be rehydrated carefully before they are served to your dog.
Air-drying uses a slightly different method. The raw ingredients are placed in drying chambers. Air is continually circulated over the food and so the moisture content slowly and gradually evaporates. At the end of the process, around 85 % of the moisture content of the food will have been removed.
Our top pick of the best freeze dried dog food is full of minimally processed raw foods. It has a minimum of 40 % crude protein and 36 % fat delivering 58 kcal per quarter cup.
It contains turkey with ground bone, turkey liver and turkey gizzard as well as fiber and probiotics to maintain a healthy digestion. Micronutrients and antioxidants are provided by organic squash and organic blueberries. There are no grains or gluten and it has no hormones or antibiotics in it.