This post is sponsored by Dr. Marty Nature’s Blend dog food. You can read our review of this freeze-dried food to learn more about how it is made and our experiences with it.
Though this post is brought to you by a freeze-dried food, I wanted to help you understand the differences between freeze-dried and dehydrated, present the pros and cons, and make a choice that’s right for your dog.
Both are excellent choices, much better than kibble, and can make a difference in your dog’s health. You should know what makes them different before you try something new with your dog’s diet, whether you want to make a switch, add a new food to your rotation, or use a healthier food as a nutritious topper to serve with her regular diet.
Which Is Closer To Fresh Food?
Dehydrated dog food is processed at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys anything living in your dog’s food – including bacteria and enzymes. It’s not considered raw, though it’s not quite cooked, either.
Freeze-dried dog food, on the other hand, is frozen, and then the ice is removed through a process called sublimation. All of the moisture content is converted from solid to gas. There is no cooking involved in this process, so all of the vitamins and nutrients are preserved.
Bacteria and live enzymes are unable to grow on freeze-dried food because there is no moisture, but some survive and will start to grow again when you moisten the food.
Whether freeze-dried is “raw” or not is a matter of semantics, I consider it to be raw because it is still “alive,” and should be treated as raw once you rehydrate it.
Which Is Better For Your Dog?
Both freeze-dried and dehydrated dog foods normally meet AAFCO standards and are complete and balanced. They contain all of the essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs in her diet.
If you can find the AAFCO seal on the bag, or “complete and balanced,” it’s suitable for everyday feeding, and you don’t have to feed anything else with it.
So, though dehydrating food does break down some of the food’s nutritional value, it still must meet those guidelines. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about a dog getting those basic vitamins and nutrients on any commercial diet.
However… those nutritional guidelines cannot account for how your dog’s body metabolizes those vitamins and nutrients. We want to feed dog food that is easy to digest so your dog can actually use the nutrients in their food, not just convert it to poop.
Since freeze-dried dog food is closer to the raw meat that our dogs evolved to eat, and it contains some active enzymes once rehydrated, it’s going to be somewhat easier for your dog to digest and break down into usable nutrients.
Which Has A Longer Shelf Life?
Dehydrating removes anywhere from 70%-95% of the moisture content in food – less if you’re doing it at home, and more with commercial dehydrators.
Freeze-drying, on the other hand, removes 98-99% of the moisture content from food.
Moisture is the worst enemy of your dehydrated or freeze-dried food. It is the lack of moisture that keeps bacteria from growing, and the food from spoiling.
So, if you keep your food in a dark, clean, dry place, it’s going to last a long time whether it’s dehydrated or freeze-dried. Since freeze-dried food is drier, it has a longer shelf life.
But we’re talking a difference of years – as in, 10 years vs 20 years, so this isn’t a major differentiator for the average household.
Which Is Easier To Store?
Dehydrating “shrinks” the dog food, while freeze-dried basically keeps the same volume while removing water weight.
A month’s worth of dehydrated food and freeze-dried food weigh about the same, but the dehydrated food will take up less space. So, dehydrated food actually wins when it comes to storage space.
If you’re traveling, you might want to bring dehydrated food. When it comes down to it, though, freeze-dried takes up about the same amount of space as kibble, so it’s fine for storing in cupboards as you would any other food.
Which Takes Longer To Prepare?
Freeze-dried foods rehydrate more quickly. However, total rehydrating times vary based on whether your dog likes their food totally soaked, whether the food is in powder or pellet form, and the temperature of the water.
Use warm water to rehydrate freeze-dried food, but not too hot, because you don’t want to cook it. I like to use hot sink water. You can also rehydrate enough for up to three days and store any rehydrated food in the fridge.
Dehydrated nuggets take a long time to rehydrate – they stay tough and leathery for up to ten minutes. Dehydrated powdered food, I find, rehydrates in about the same amount of time as rehydrated pellets like Nature’s Blend, about three minutes.
Which Tastes Better?
Since freeze-dried food quickly returns to the texture of fresh food, and retains more flavors, dogs seem to like it more. It’s also easier to use to coat other types of food like kibble to make it more palatable.
Dogs seem to love dehydrated food, too. My dogs seem to like both equally.
Want To Try Dr. Marty Freeze Dried Dog Food For Free?
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