Finding the perfect dog food is no easy task. What one dog likes, another may hate. Some dogs have special dietary needs or conditions like irritable or sensitive digestive systems. Knowing just what food to pick from all the options on the market is a formidable undertaking. One option more and more canine owners are looking into is freeze-dried dog food.
Freeze-dried dog food can be the path to balanced nutrition for some dogs. This option for dog food is beneficial for canines for a few different reasons. Not every pet owner has heard of freeze-dried foods. Most products in this category are quite tasty and provide dogs with a high-quality diet of natural ingredients and balanced nutrients.
We are taking the mystery out of it with our reviews of these 7 freeze-dried dog foods. We know it takes time and effort to wade through all the options, and we did the research for you. Read on to learn more about some of the best products on the market.
Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food At A Glance
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What Is Freeze Dried Dog Food?
Freeze-dried dinner might not sound super appealing to us humans, but for dogs, it is truly a delicious treat. This food is made by freezing food to an extremely low temperature, below freezing, until it is solid. Once the food is frozen, it is placed in a vacuum chamber where the temperature is increased very slowly, which draws the remaining moisture out of it. This process is not as harsh as some other methods of preparation. The food’s taste, smell, and texture remain undisturbed, and it retains most of its nutritional value. Freeze-drying makes the chow very light, and it stays in easy-to-eat chunks.
These meals can be fed to dogs as is or rehydrated. The process removes between 90 and 95 percent of the food’s moisture content without harsh methods that break down nutritional value or take away from the fresh taste dogs love.
Even in ancient times, humans used fire, sun, sand, and smoke to dry out their foods and keep them nonperishable for as long as possible. Freeze drying can be traced back to the Incas, who lived in the Mountains of Peru near Machu Picchu. They would use the freezing mountain air to their advantage, laying out fresh potatoes covered in cloth overnight. In the morning, they would smash the frozen food to remove extra water, then let them freeze again. After doing this for several days, they created a freeze-dried potato called chuño.
The process was further developed during World War II to aid in sending fresh blood and medication to treat the wounded from the United States to Europe. It is a fairly new process as far as modern food preservation goes.
Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food
Dehydrated dog chow is similar to freeze-dried in that moisture is removed from food to preserve it. However, the processes and results are quite different. Dehydration uses high heat and extremely hot air to remove moisture. The water is cleared from the air, which helps things dry even more. Often dehydrated products are reduced to a powder and need rehydration to eat. Keep in mind that dehydrated options can be tougher, denser, darker in color, and have a rougher texture than freeze-dried foods.
Dehydrated pet foods have 98 to 99 percent of the moisture removed from them. The vitamin and nutrient content is broken down much more. Smell, aroma, and taste are also all affected. Be careful to read products and all their labels thoroughly before purchasing. These two products often end up near each other on the shelf and can be confused for being the same thing.
Why Freeze Dried?
There are many benefits to freeze-dried canine food that draw owners to choose it for their pups. This is not because they love spending a ton of cash on dog food. Freeze-dried is one of the priciest options.
For those who have no budgetary concerns, it is often said to be the best choice. Benefits of freeze-dried dog food include:
- Top quality, fresh ingredients are used.
- It tastes delicious. Dogs thoroughly enjoy the unfiltered, natural taste, texture, and flavor.
- It’s versatile. It can be fed as is, mixed with kibble, or rehydrated. Treats are also available.
- Suitable for all life stages, nutritionally balanced.
- Fits in with a raw diet but is safer and free of bacteria.
- Extremely helpful for dogs with digestive issues and allergies.
It is also extremely shelf-stable and can be stored for a very long time, staying fresh much longer than kibble or fresh, human-grade raw diets. Stored properly, it does not spoil or go rotten nearly as fast as raw, nor will it go stale like large bags of kibble. This is a huge part of why the taste is so good.
Ingredients To Look For
Any food dog owners feed their pets should be nutritionally balanced. This means that food should be made from high-quality ingredients and contain the correct levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients canines need to grow strong and stay healthy.
All dogs must have a highly nutritious diet, regardless of the type of f diet they are being given. There are some common ingredients every canine food should have. Always look to the AAFCO guidelines to see if a product offers the appropriate level of nutrients for your pup.
Whole Meats & Proteins
Protein is essential for a canine’s health. It is what gives them energy, builds muscle, and keeps the body strong. Protein is vital in the development of everything from muscles, bones, skin, nails, and development. Canines cannot store excess protein in their bodies, so they always need this to be replenished. High-quality animal meats are the best source of these good proteins.
Dogs need 22 amino acids, half of which their body cannot make. These essential amino acids must come from their diet. High-quality protein should always be the first ingredient in dog foods. Whole meats like chicken, beef, fish, lamb, and duck are some common meats used. One advantage to freeze-dried chow is that it is made from specific animal-sourced meat and does not have any by-products like meat derivatives or poultry meals. Meat also provides minerals, vitamins, and fats, and dogs love the taste.
Canines need healthy carbohydrates as part of their diets to provide glucose and power them with energy. While carbohydrates are not vital, they add some elements that meat does not. These are found in vegetables and some fruits. Potatoes, peas, lentils, grains, rice, and sweet potatoes are all tasty, highly nutritious ingredients.
Omega Fatty Acids
Dogs need dietary fatty acids in their diet as they provide essential elements like energy and promote healthy growth and development. Fatty acids support brain, eye, skin, and coat health. Fatty acids also support bone and joint health and are important for the overall health of a canine. They play a part in fat-soluble vitamin absorption, help regulate inflammation, and serve a significant role in the structure of cell membranes. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are two of the most important. These can be found in fish, poultry, and meat.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, which is essential to a canine’s digestive system. They also provide a boost for the immune system and help fight off disease and infection. These are sometimes included as part of a dog’s diet or can be added in as a nice treat. Learn more about the different fruits and vegetables that dogs can and cannot eat.
Glucosamine is a compound that is important in cartilage and is a crucial element of joint health in canines. This compound is more present in high-quality dog chows. Some dogs will need supplements as they age or if they are a large breed. Owners should discuss supplements with their veterinarian before adding them to a dog’s diet.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals in a dog’s diet support them in many ways. Just a few of the most important benefits are listed below.
- Vitamin A works to bolster the immune system.
- Vitamin B12 is essential in supporting the nervous system.
- Vitamin D regulates things like calcium and phosphorus.
- Vitamin C & E are antioxidants and support overall health.
- Vitamin K works to metabolize calcium and helps prevent blood clots.
- Iron carries calcium throughout the body.
- Calcium and phosphorus are essential in bone structure.
- Zinc works to promote healing.
Importance Of Water
Hydration and drinking enough water are other pivotal parts of a dog’s health. Freeze-dried products remove the moisture and, unless rehydrated, do not provide enough moisture. Make sure always to offer dogs plenty of water. Try to stick to about one ounce of water per pound of body weight. Adding extra broth or water to dry or wet chow is a great way to get more vital moisture into your dog’s diet. This is not always the case for freeze-dried dog products. Always follow the rehydration instructions to ensure they are being served properly.
Best Freeze-Dried Foods
Canine chow comes in a plethora of flavors and varieties. These include some for puppies and aging dogs. We reviewed 7 of the best freeze-dried dog food options available.
Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw
- Raw freeze-dried formula.
- For puppies and adult dogs.
- High protein, 85% from raw animal ingredients.
- Grass-fed, wild-caught, humanely raised proteins.
- Ready to serve complete nutrition.
- Organic certified fruits and vegetables.
Open Farm makes a delectable selection of dog foods, including a raw, freeze-dried formula. A high-protein formula that is ready to serve right from the package. 85% of the protein in these comes from natural animal ingredients and organic fruits and vegetables. Proteins include humanely raised beef and pork, grass-fed lamb and poultry, wild-caught Pacific salmon, and no rendered poultry or meat meals.
Nutrient breakdowns of all their products are available on the company website. Food can be served as is or mixed with water. They also provide feeding guidelines for adult dogs and puppies.
We love that meals are intended to be served as a complete meal. Flavor options include a Sur& Turf, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Turkey, and Chicken.
Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers
- Cage-free, wild-caught, and grass-fed proteins.
- Whole meat products, no meat meals.
- Organic vegetables and fruits.
- Can be a mixer or a complete meal.
- Developed for all life stages and breeds.
- Formulated to support whole body health and aid in digestion.
Stella & Chewy’s makes several flavor varieties. They use grass-fed, cage-free, and wild-caught proteins. Fruits and vegetables are 100% organically certified. These are freeze-dried raw foods made with very high-quality ingredients. This is sold as a meal mixer or topper, and it can be used as a complete meal, except for the Savory Salmon & Cod flavor. Recipes promote improved appetite, digestion, immune system, and physical appearance.
These products are unprocessed and use no artificial preservatives or colors. Flavors include Chewy’s Chicken, Dandy Lamb, Duck Duck Goose, Purely Pork, Savory Salmon & Cod, Stella’s Super Beef, and Tantalizing Turkey. Grain-free options are available. They also make a Superblends recipe that offers a boost of superfoods and antioxidants. Stella & Chewy’s is developed for all canine life stages and breeds.
We love that the meal mixers are formulated to support whole body health, coat and skin, healthy digestion, and more. This brand works to ensure allergy-free ingredients and foods that pups digest easily. Instructions on rehydration and straightforward and easy to find. Freeze-dried raw patties and other options are also available.
Best Grain Free
- Grain-free recipes.
- Chicken and chicken organs are free of antibiotics, hormones, and steroids.
- Certified organic produce.
- Organic minerals and unrefined vitamins.
- Can be fed to all ages.
- Helps maintain proper weight and healthy digestion.
Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried is one of our top choices for grain free. Primal makes several flavor options that are pretty tasty and popular with pets and owners alike.
The chicken nugget formula is made with antibiotics, hormones, and steroid-free chicken and chicken organs. Certified organic produce, organic minerals, and unrefined vitamins fortify the recipes. Recipes are formulated after raw ancestral diets.
We love that these recipes are developed to be high in protein and taste delicious. They are developed to help maintain proper weight and boost overall health. You must add liquid such as water, bone broth, or goat milk. One tablespoon of moisture per nugget served. It can be fed to adults, puppies, and pregnant females.
Best For Small Dogs
Stella & Chewy's Raw Lil' Bites Itty Bitty Beef Small Breed
- Single protein, 95% grass-fed beef.
- Small breed formula.
- Added probiotics.
- No added hormones, antibiotics, gluten or fillers.
- Raw food, great taste, small sizes.
- Naturally sourced ingredients.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Lil’ Bites Itty Bitty Beef Recipe Small Breed Dog Food is made specifically for smaller breeds. Formulated with optimal nutrition in a bite-sized form, perfect for smaller breeds. A single protein diet for easy digestion offers complete nutrition for all life stages.
Raw meat formula is high in protein with no added hormones, antibiotics, gluten, or fillers. 95% grass-fed beef, organs, bones, and organic fruits and vegetables. Added probiotics for better overall health.
We love that this small breed recipe is packed full of natural ingredients to support improved appetite and digestion. Also good for relief from allergies, healthy skin and coat, healthy teeth and gums, along with greater stamina and vitality. All naturally sourced ingredients.
Best For Large Dogs & All Sizes
360 Pet Nutrition Complete Meal Adult
- Contains nutritious organ meat.
- High-protein formula.
- For adult dogs.
- No fillers or preservatives.
- High Omega-3 recipe.
- Supports whole body health.
360 Pet Nutrition Freeze-Dried Raw Complete Meal for Adult Dogs, High Protein formula is great for large breeds and dogs of all sizes, even giant. This is a complete nutrition formula for adult dogs. This chow supports overall health, with quality ingredients and nutrients to promote whole body health.
No unnatural fillers, cereals, or grains. No artificial preservatives or additives. Proteins include beef, chicken, salmon, whitefish, beef liver, chicken liver, and chicken heart. Freeze-dried raw food supports heart health, bone, and joint health.
We love that it contains high protein and omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health. Delicious flavor, as well as plenty of other treat and supplement options. Must rehydrate to serve.
Best For Puppies
Stella & Chewy’s Dinner Patties Perfectly Puppy
- Created especially for puppies.
- Raw, freeze-dried patty.
- High protein formula.
- 95 % grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon.
- 100% organic fruits and vegetables.
- No fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties – Crafted for Puppies is a raw food patty developed just for puppies. Using whole-prey ingredients, including grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon, these patties are protein-rich and taste delicious. They are made of 95% salmon, beef, organs, and bone, including beef liver. All produce is 100% organic. These patties are tasty and packed full of high-quality nutrients.
Supports whole body health with fiber, probiotics for digestive support, and taurine for heart health. Omega fatty acids from pumpkin and fenugreek seeds for skin and coat support. Grain-free recipes with no fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. Suitable for all ages, even though it is designed for a growing puppy’s nutritional needs.
We love that it’s an excellent choice for dogs with allergies, as it aids healthy digestion and supports strong teeth and gums, vibrant skin, coat, stamina, and vitality.
Best Adult & Senior Dogs
Sojos Complete Senior
- For aging dogs.
- Soak and serve formula.
- Turkey, whole eggs, and salmon.
- Easy to digest.
- Supports heart, joint & bone health.
Sojos Complete Turkey & Salmon Recipe Senior Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw is formulated to support aging dogs. It is stocked full of nutrients that support heart health, the immune system, bone and joint health, digestion, and more. Nutrients like fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin support the needs of aging pets.
This meaty flavor and smooth texture are super appealing to older dogs. These options are grain-free, raw, pea-free, non-GMO, and use all-natural ingredients. Sojos also makes options for active adults. No preservatives, fillers, or soy are used. Easy to prepare and feed your pup. Just soak and serve. One pound of freeze-dried product yields up to 5 pounds of fresh food.
We love that the recipes are designed to promote digestion, energy, and appetites in older dogs. This option includes turkey, whole egg, and salmon, as well as whole eggs, sweet potatoes, cranberries, turkey liver, and more tasty, natural ingredients.
Freeze-dried dog food is a great option, but it will not be right for every canine and owner. Some dogs need a breed-specific formula or may have different medical and digestive issues requiring a certain kind of chow. Grain-free foods work best for some canines, whereas raw diets are preferred by others. Always be careful not to allow a dog to overeat or have lots of human snacks. This behavior can lead to canine obesity, which is often the first step to lifelong medical concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is freeze-dried food good for my dog?
Freeze-dried food is exceptionally good for dogs. This is due to the high quality of ingredients used and preparation methods. Ingredients are not broken down or altered. It is very flavorful and can also be a great addition to a dog’s diet. Dogs do not need to be fully on this diet to reap the benefits.
Is freeze-dried dog food expensive?
Yes. Freeze-dried dog food is expensive because of the high caliber of ingredients used, as well as going through the process. If money were no object, it would be the choice of many pup parents, as it is one of the best quality options and has impressive nutritional content. There are many options to choose from, and owners can always add it in small doses to their dog’s diet without fully switching over.
Do all freeze-dried dog foods have to be rehydrated?
Not all freeze-dried foods need to be rehydrated. This varies by brand and product. Some can be fed to your dog as is, and others need rehydration. Always read product labels and follow rehydration instructions for the best results and the highest nutrition for your pup.
Freeze-dried dog food is a highly nutritious, delicious option for canines. It is on the more expensive side, so it may not be easy for every owner to feed it to their dog every day. Even just as a treat or meal topper, it can be an excellent addition to canine meals. It is super nutritious, made from high-quality ingredients, and very fresh. Products and recipes vary, so reading nutrition labels and statements is especially important. Following serving recommendations and instructions are necessary for freeze-dried dog chow. Always discuss specific nutritional needs for your pup with your veterinarian.