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- Freeze-dried raw dog food is mainly raw meat and other food components which have undergone a dehydration process in low temperatures to remove its moisture.
- Fresh dog food is made by cooking high-quality ingredients without any sort of preservatives.
- Fresh vs freeze dried pet food: Both are made with the same ingredients. When it comes to preparation, one is cooked and then served, while the other is dried and kept in the fridge to extend its shelf life.
In the fresh vs freeze-dried raw dog food debate, the general consensus among pet parents is that whole, unprocessed meals are better than their dried dog food counterpart. Both fresh and freeze-dried dog food have high nutritional value—they just have slight differences in how they are prepared.
Even with this however, I still often get some questions on how a balanced meal for a dog should be served. Do you cook your own dog food each time? Or should you make these meals by batch, freeze dry them, and then serve as needed? How do fresh vs freeze-dried raw dog food compare?
Below, I wrote an overview for pet owners who are torn between these two different methods of meeting your dog’s food nutrition.
Fresh vs Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food
When it comes right down to it, fresh and freeze dried pet food may be made with the exact same ingredients. One is served as soon as its made while the other is dried and kept in the fridge to extend its useful life. I understand why it must be hard to pick which one is better, but generally, the dog owners’ lifestyle with your pet and his dietary needs should dictate your decision. To further help you, here’s the pros and cons of each:
Pros and Cons of Fresh Food
- A raw diet is often likened to fresh food, but they’re not always the same. Raw foods typically serves uncooked fresh meat while fresh food may be cooked. If cooked, serving fresh food to your dog lowers the risk of pathogens or bacteria in the meal.
- Fresh pet food is packed with flavor and your dogs thrive on the taste. It’s perfect for picky eaters who may not like kibble because of the texture.
- Fresh and raw diets are something you can make at home without the need for specialized equipment. This makes it cheaper in terms of preparation. However, the ingredient themselves may change the overall cost of the dog foods. While getting certified organic produce is healthy for your dog, the cost may be a little more compared to dry kibble.
Preparing fresh meals for your pet can be time intensive. If you have a busy life, you may need to set aside a few hours of your time each week to prepare the meal or subscribe to dog food delivery services. Also note that fresh meals also run the risk of pathogens. Also note that food loses some of this nutrients when exposed to heat. B vitamins and vitamin C tend to run off with water and the cooking process can dilute their effect.
Pros and Cons of Freeze-Dried Pet Food
- Freeze dried pet food have a long shelf life. When frozen raw or even cooked, the meal can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. This makes it possible for pet foods to be prepared in large batches and just thawed out as needed.
- Freeze dried food is essentially dehydrated dog food prepared through cold temperatures. The lack of moisture makes it more shelf stable for longer periods of time. In order to put back the moisture, you simply have to add water to the pet food.
- Dehydrated food tends to retain all the health benefits that come with whole food. In fact, it contains at least 90% of all the micro nutrients of the fresh version. Even better, most of the freeze dried foods are obtained at peak ripeness for optimum nutrition.
- The freeze drying process includes the use of a vacuum chamber which effectively dries out the food but still retain its natural state. Before serving, all you have to do is re-introduce moisture by adding water. This gives the food the same water content as fresh meals which actually helps your dog feel fuller, faster.
- Dried food can be made with zero starch added into the dog’s diet. With a generic dog’s kibble, a large part of the ingredient would be starch. This is actually one of the secrets why dry food has an extended shelf life. With freeze drying however, you get the added shelf life while providing your do with a grain-free fare.
Of course, freeze-dried dog food has some drawbacks. A common issue is that the process of freeze drying the food is expensive. You will need specialized equipment to get the job done and the initial cost may be shocking.
There’s also the worry of pathogens which is common when it comes to a raw diet. Freeze-drying dog food should be an extra step of killing off the bacteria.
Which is Better? Fresh vs Freeze Dried Dog Food
Of the two, freeze dried seems to be the better option when it comes to the consistency of nutrients and the ease of serving the food. Note though that to sustain your dog’s healthy skin and happy disposition, the content of the food matters more than anything. A complete and balanced diet of fresh meals will be better than freeze dried meals with zero nutritional value. However, you must know how much fresh food to feed a dog to give Fido the most benefit.
So what should you do when offered a variety of dog meals by different pet food companies? You always look at the ingredient list before anything else. Ideally, the recipe should be formulated by a board certified veterinary nutritionist. At the end of the day, you always want to serve your dog a diet that matches their unique needs  perfectly. A complete and balanced meal is only possible if you make adjustments based on the dog’s breed, his activity levels, his life stage, and any health conditions he may have. To start, check if the food meets AAFCO standards .
Frequently Asked Questions
Is freeze dried raw as good as raw for dogs?
Low temperature dehydration process is generally seen as a healthier alternative to other cooking methods such as air drying or warm air dehydration. Compared to a raw pet food however, the distinction really lies on the ingredient list and the preparation. Typically, freeze dried has lower chances of containing pathogens.
Is freeze dried raw dog food better than kibble?
Compared with kibble, freeze dried dog foods is definitely the better option. Kibble tends to contain starch and has a decreased nutritional value.
Which is better for dogs: dehydrated or freeze dried?
Opt to feed freeze dried to your dog if given the option. This is because freeze dried food retains more nutrients and with a wider variety. This is because not all organic fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated, but practically all of them can be freeze dried.
Is freeze dried raw food actually raw?
No. Freeze-dried dog food brands are different from raw feeding or raw diets. Despite the name, they’re also nothing like frozen food. Being able to feed raw basically means giving your pet the exact meal they would naturally get in the wild. With freeze dried however, you’re stripping the food of the moisture content.