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10 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Freeze-dried dog food is prepared through a three-step process: cooking, drying, and packaging.
  • Freeze-dried food is considered raw as no heat is applied during the process.
  • Freeze-dried dog food is healthier and safer compared to dehydrated dog food.
  • Freeze-dried dog foods have increased shelf life and retain their nutritional value.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Practicing small pets and equine veterinarian and junior teaching assistant in Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Wednesday 20 March 2019
Last updated on
Wednesday 20 September 2023
Freeze-Dried Dog Foods – Reviews, Guide, Pros & Cons
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Freeze-dried dog food is made by removing moisture from raw ingredients through a process called sublimation. Sublimation is when a solid turns directly into a gas without passing through a liquid state. Freeze-drying dog food is made by first freezing the raw ingredients, such as meat, fruits, and vegetables. The frozen ingredients are then placed in a vacuum chamber, where the water in the food is converted into vapor and removed.

The freeze-drying process is done at very low temperatures, which helps preserve the food’s nutrients. Freeze-dried dog food is typically shelf-stable for several years without refrigeration or preservatives.

Over the last decades, the pet food industry and its giants have disappointed the general audience with hundreds of recalls. So, it was a matter of time until new brands with more ethical goals joined the party. However, freeze-dried dog foods are in the higher bracket in terms of pricing.

10 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods

A lot of brands and manufacturers of pet foods make empty promises. We all know that by now, right? Well, freeze-dried dog food brands tend to be a little more ethical in what they offer. The process itself is healthier. However, not everybody can afford freeze-dried pet foods – replacing your regular kibble is very pricey!

1. Furry Wonder Immune Boost

Pros

  • High protein content
  • Includes antioxidants from cranberries
  • Contains coenzyme Q10 for cardiovascular health

Cons

  • Two sizes available only
FurryWonder Immune Boost

Furry Wonder Immune Boost‘s Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey & Chicken Recipe provides an exceptional nutritional meal for your beloved canine. This freeze-dried recipe showcases nature’s goodness in every bite with an impressive 89% protein content derived from turkey and chicken – encompassing meat, organs, and bone to add micronutrients to the meal. Complementing the meaty richness, the addition of fruits and vegetables makes up 11% of the meal, ensuring a balanced diet. Completely grain-free and crafted to boost your pet’s immune system.

The spotlight in this product undoubtedly shines on its 89% turkey and chicken raw meat, organs, and bone blend. It doesn’t just stop at providing a rich source of protein but moves a step further. The turkey content, a lean protein, aids in muscle development, giving your furry friend the strength they need. Moreover, the protein from the turkey ensures they’re brimming with energy and staying in the pink of health. 

Another notable component, cranberries, comes packed with antioxidants, working relentlessly to elevate your dog’s immune system and shield it from many diseases. Diving deeper into its health benefits, the food also touts cardio and vision care. Thanks to the inclusion of coenzyme Q10, your dog’s blood vessel function can be significantly optimized, leading to improved blood flow and stabilized blood pressure. The carrots, rich in beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), also serve as a beacon for eye health, ensuring your dog’s vision stays sharp and clear.

Whether you’re looking for a full-fledged meal or a nutritious enhancement to your dog’s current food, FurryWonder Immune Boost serves both purposes seamlessly. Its key ingredients – Turkey & chicken raw meat, organs, bone, carrot, cranberry, and the essential coenzyme Q10 – harmoniously merge, offering a dietary experience that’s as flavorful as it is health-promoting.

2. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw

Pros

  • Made with organic grass-fed meats
  • Suitable for picky dogs
  • Free from additives and preservatives
  • Promotes healthy teeth, gums, and coat

Cons

  • Some customers received crumbled dog food
  • It is pricy

Organic, grass-fed meats mixed with a selection of healthy veggies, animal bones, and fruits, Stella & Chewy’s is one brand obsessed with making mealtime swell for dogs. They will love this if you’ve got a picky pooch on your hands. This is available in Chicken, Lamb, Turkey, Beef, Salmon & Cod.

It is as good as homemade, prepared with very little processing, and is raw and thus healthy! The food contains 100% real food with no additives and claims to provide your fur baby with the essential nutrients needed for good stamina, healthy gums, teeth, and coat, and a good immunity buildup. It’s easy to store & quick to serve!

3. Orijen Freeze-Dried Regional Red Formula

Pros

  • Gives complete and balanced nutrition
  • Contains organ meats, flesh, and cartilage
  • Has fiber for a healthier digestion

Cons

  • Some bags have crumbled treats
  • It is expensive

This one-pot wonder believes in feeding dogs with whole animal meats for optimum nutrition. Each serving would contain organ meats, cartilage, and flesh of fresh farm-sourced animals like Angus beef, free-range wild boar, lamb, bison, herring, and pork. Apart from the meats, each portion also has a generous helping of berries, veggies, and seeds – aiming at the pet’s all-around development.

This is a one-for-all formula that can be fed to dogs of all stages – making it very convenient and fuss-free for pet parents. The addition of berries helps to cleanse out the dog’s system, while veggies add fiber.

4. Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze Dried Dog Treats

Pros

  • Has a single animal protein source
  • Made with 100% human-grade experience
  • Free from GMOs and artificial flavors

Cons

  • Some chunks are extremely dry
  • Not recommended by dog trainers

Stewart Pro-Treat is a brand that focuses on single-protein dog treats. The meals usually consist only of liver sourced from the meats of either pork, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, or duck. They also have meals consisting of chicken breast or wild salmon meat.

Stewart Pro-Treats prides itself in using 100% human-grade ingredients sourced from credible resources and gently processed. Their list of ingredients promptly proclaims that they include everything that dogs need and nothing that they don’t need – so artificial flavors, GMOs, and sodium are all out.

Having been in the industry for over 40 years, they’re one of the pioneers of freeze-dried dog foods.

5. Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Food Topper

Pros

  • Made with cage-free chickens
  • Easily digestible
  • Free from artificial flavors and preservatives

Cons

  • Not suitable for picky eaters

If your dog is on a commercial dog food diet, it is always a good idea to add an extra fistful of nutrition to his meals. While natural food toppers like berries, canned sardines, or even raw veggies are good– Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Booster makes for a good swap for when you’re busy. These are free from preservatives or artificial flavors and high in taste and nourishment.

Sourced from cage-free chickens, the meat is of superior quality and fortified with agents that can help build your dog’s immunity. These are not only easy to digest, but they also aid in the digestion of food to a great extent.

6. Primal Freeze-Dried Dog Formula

Pros

  • Made with organic ingredients
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Contains essential amino acids

Cons

  • Hard to break apart
  • Too expensive for the content

Primal appeals to the organic side of things for pet parents who wish to feed their dogs hormone and antibiotic-free meats. It also boasts a plethora of naturally-forming vitamins and minerals. The meats for all their products are sourced from ranches and farms within the US or New Zealand – so you can rest assured that they are of excellent quality.

They lay a lot of stress on providing dogs with the necessary amino acids and fatty acids to build your pet’s biological functions while taking the stress off of your shoulders of grinding and measuring out the foods for them.

7. Wellness CORE 100% Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Pros

  • Contains high-quality protein
  • Free from additives and artificial flavors
  • 100% meat

Cons

  • Some packs arrived with crumbled pieces
  • Strong fishy smell

Feed your pet the best meats grown and bred in the USA. Wellness CORE tries to source meats from the home ground to keep the quality bar high. These packets, available in flavors like boar, salmon, turkey, and beef, assure superior taste and fine-grade meats with no additives or flavors.

To keep them as fine as possible, these meals are 100% meat, with no veggies or fruit added. Perfect for the dog that dislikes veggies. This product is also great for introducing your dog to raw meats, minus the mess.

8. Stewart Raw Naturals Fresh To Home

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Low carbohydrates
  • Has a variety of flavors

Cons

  • Has a strong smell
  • Some packs have lots of powder

Available in chicken and salmon options, Stewart Raw Naturals focuses on a dog’s primal instinct – to hunt and eat. They have formulated the food product by backward integrating what the dogs would need and like instead of what is good for dogs.

These foods are high in protein and low in carbs, making them ideal for all breeds. They come in as many as seven flavors, so you can do rotational meals without worrying about what to feed your pet. This product can be used as a main meal in itself or can also be given as a food topper to whatever you are feeding your dog for an extra power-packed punch of nutrition.

9. Northwest Naturals Raw Freeze-Dried Reward Treats

Pros

  • Contains organ meats, muscle meat, fruits, and vegetables
  • A balanced meal
  • Convenient packaging

Cons

  • Some packs are full of crumbs and dust
  • Inconsistent quality

Made from beef sourced from American farms, the entire manufacturing process of Northwest Naturals Rewards Nuggets takes place in the USA. This lessens the chances of any food degradation or contamination. It combines muscle meat, organ meats, veggies, fruits, and bones into a mix your dog will love.

A balanced meal comes in easy-to-store and easy-to-feed packets, especially on the go. The packaging also suggests that these could work as great training rewards. They are easy to break apart, so that you can control the portions yourself.

10. K9 Natural Freeze Dried Dog Food

Pros

  • As good as home-cooked meals
  • Provides complete nutrition
  • High on probiotics

Cons

  • Contains crumbled pieces

The K9 Booster allows you to feed your dog what you want without compromising on nutrition. This product is great for those pet parents who either feed their dogs home-cooked meals or commercial dog food. Essentially a meal booster, this product can be mixed into your dog’s meals for added nutritional value. It gives every meal a power-packed punch but doesn’t lose focus on taste as well.

Made with lamb meat, this booster is high on probiotics and an excellent starter for dogs transitioning from cooked to raw meals. If you’re looking for a product that can acclimatize your pet to raw, freeze-dried meals – this is it!

What is freeze-dried dog food?

Freeze-dried dog food is freshly cooked, with its moisture content completely removed, rendering it dry and long-lasting.

This process works because the microorganisms that rot our food need water to survive. Thus, removing all the water from pet food through this process makes the food immune to rotting and gives it a longer shelf life. Meat, vegetables, and poultry are common ingredients that get freeze-dried.

The food, after freeze-drying, is carefully packaged in temperature-controlled packaging material, which makes it last for years sometimes. This type of pet food is an excellent standby product for when you cannot prepare fresh food for your dog. Simply replenishing the food with some freshwater can turn the food back to normal and edible. The best part about freeze-drying is that the nutrients in the food remain intact, making the meal highly nutritious and sufficiently nourishing for your dog.

How is freeze-dried food prepared?

Freeze-drying is made using a three-step process:

  1. Cooking – fresh dog food, including chicken, lamb, turkey, duck, beef, and even veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots are cooked
  2. Drying – foods are placed on shelves inside the freeze-drying chambers, and the temperature is slowly lowered, making it extremely icy within
  3. Packaging – foods are packaged into special moisture-resistant bags, allowing the food to stay intact and fresh for around 12 months

The second step, the freeze-drying process, isolates the molecules in the food. Then, it is exposed to slight heat and a strong vacuum. This causes the water content of the food to evaporate and sucked out of the chamber. The food inside is left dry while leaving its nutritional value unchanged.

Is freeze-dried food considered raw?

Freeze-dried food products that have not been cooked before the process are raw.

Contrary to popular belief, dog food processed in some way does not mean it has been cooked. Food is cooked when heat is applied to it. No heat is applied in this process – only the moisture content is reduced to nil.

Because this type of food is to be eaten after hydration, the product returns to the same form as before the process. Which makes it raw, even after restoring moisture to it.

Freeze-dried vs Dehydrated dog food

This argument is fairly common owing to the final byproduct we get using both these processes.

But are they really the same?

Dehydrated foods use heat application to dry the food out while freeze-drying is done by letting the water vaporize and then slowly sucking it out. It is a slightly more complex process.

Freeze-drying removes close to 99% of the moisture content in foods.

Both methods are used to make the food last longer and make it convenient to transport. Both processes involve the removal of moisture, making them lightweight also. However, research suggests that freeze-drying, a relatively new process compared to dehydrating, is a much healthier and safer way to do this.

There are plenty of reasons that put freeze-drying is a healthier process than dehydration.

Moisture Content

Freeze-drying removes up to 99% moisture. Dehydrating removes about 90% of moisture. This could lessen the shelf life of a dehydrated product as this is directly linked to how much water is in the end product.

Rehydration

Freeze-dried foods rehydrate faster than dehydrated products. Adding water to both will restore them to their original form, but freeze-dried products get there faster.

Nutrition and Flavor

Freeze-dried products retain their nutritional value to a great extent, while dehydrated products lose some of their nutrition owing to high heat exposure. Flavour and aroma retention are higher in freeze-dried products. Dehydrated products tend to lose their luster and taste slightly flat.

Texture

Dehydrated products also tend to become leathery and dense, while freeze-dried products instantly bounce back to their original form, shape, and texture. Overall, both textures are still above anything else available on the commercial market – kibble or canned foods.

How to store freeze-dried pet food?

At large, freeze-dried pet food is stored in mylar pouches – a material derived from polyester resin. These pouches block sunlight to a great extent, preventing heat from entering the package and affecting the food. These pouches also lock moisture outside, thus keeping the food product safe and usable for many years. If your pet food is stored in mylar pouches, you can leave it outside at room temperature and also in a dry place away from direct harsh sunlight.

Another popular method of storing freeze-dried pet foods is in cans. Not your normal cans, but nitrogen-packed, airtight ones that work by vacuuming all the oxygen from inside and flushing it clean with nitrogen. Without oxygen, microorganisms cannot survive, making the food immune to rotting or degrading.

How long can freeze-dried food be stored?

Unopened cans and pouches of freeze-dried pet food can have a shelf life of over 30 years. But once opened, they start degrading. How fast they rot depends upon a lot of factors like the quality of the food when it is exposed to oxygen and the quality of air that is being opened.

The more pollution, the more microorganisms in the air and the faster the degradation. If you wish to open the packet but only use half of it, store them well. Putting them into Ziploc bags works well. To go further, you could also use a straw to suck out all the air and seal it.

Stella & Chewy’s, Orijen, Stewart Pro-Treats, Primal-Pet-Foods, and Wellness CORE are the most popular freeze-dried dog food brands.

The market for these products is widening owing to concerned pet parents who are muche more aware of their pet’s needs. They understand that their dogs need optimum nourishment. At the same time, this nourishment must come from convenient foods for them to feed. Slaving over a hot stove or waiting for frozen meats to thaw isn’t an option in today’s busy life. Enter the world of freeze-dried foods: they are raw, hygienic, have longer shelf lives, are easier to store, and provide way more nutrition than your average commercial dog food!

Top Freeze-Dried Dog Foods – Reviews, Guide, Pros & Cons
Top Freeze-Dried Dog Foods – Reviews, Guide, Pros & Cons

One comment on “10 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods”

  1. Wendy McKenney

    There are a few others that are more cost effective to feed and extremely high quality : Dr Marty’s which, on subscription, is reasonable. And Real Meat Co. makes great food at a great cost and it comes in sizes up to 10# bags.

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