Quality varies greatly from one freeze-dried dog food to another, so it’s important to learn how to distinguish a good dog food from a bad one. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best dry dog foods on the market.
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Made with the freshest raw ingredients, freeze-dried food offers a protein- and nutrient-rich alternative to conventional wet and dry dog food. This food is gently freeze-dried to remove moisture, rendering the product shelf-stable for convenience.
Because freeze-dried food is shelf-stable, it generally doesn’t require the use of artificial preservatives. A quality recipe contains plenty of animal-based proteins and healthy fat with limited carbohydrate content. It tends to be a pricier option, but the quality makes it worthy of your consideration.
Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food Formulas in 2023
Now that you’ve been introduced to the basics about freeze-dried dog food, take a look at some of the options we recommend.
Company HQMt. Maunganui, New Zealand Parent companyZiwi Ltd
While it technically isn’t a freeze-dried formula, this air-dried recipe from Ziwi Peak offers species-appropriate nutrition and shelf-stable convenience. This recipe contains 96% meat, organs, bone, and New Zealand mussels in a high-protein, low-carbohydrate formula. It is designed to be fed as-is and may not rehydrate as well as freeze-dried food.
Company HQGreen Bay, Wisconsin Parent companyCarnivore Meat Company
Formed into bite-sized nibs, this freeze-dried dog food also works well as a meal topper. Fresh beef is the first ingredient, followed by beef heart, liver, lung, fat, stomach, and kidney, all derived from beef. Herring oil provides an animal-based source of omega-3s and finishes up the short list of main ingredients. This is a protein-packed, single-source protein formula.
Company HQAlberta, Canada Parent companyChampion Petfoods
Formulated for use as a complete diet or meal topper, this freeze-dried formula from Orijen is crafted with 100% free-run chicken and turkey, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught herring and flounder. It’s full of flavor and high-quality animal protein but very low in carbohydrates.
Company HQAustin, Texas Parent companyNulo Pet Food
This nutrient-dense freeze-dried raw formula from Nulo is inspired by whole prey nutrition. Fresh turkey is the primary ingredient, supplemented with additional protein and essential nutrients from turkey necks (also a source of ground bone), turkey heart, and turkey liver. This is a single-source protein formula and it is supplemented with probiotics to support digestive health.
Company HQLincoln, Nebraska Parent companyM.I. Industries
Compared to Instinct’s Original dry dog food, this freeze-dried formula contains three times more beef and organs. It features fresh beef as the main ingredient with beef liver, kidney, and spleen as well as a limited list of plant-based ingredients. This formula is higher in carbohydrates than we’d like, but it still contains a fairly short ingredient list, and it is a single protein formula.
Company HQMilwaukee, Wisconsin Parent companyStella and Chewy’s LLC
Shaped into easy-to-portion patties, this freeze-dried formula from Stella & Chewy’s features fresh beef and beef organs as the primary ingredients. An assortment of organic fruits and veggies provide supplemental fiber and natural sources of key nutrients with probiotics for digestive support.
Company HQRancho Santa Margarita, California Parent companyGrandma Lucy’s
This freeze-dried fish formula from Grandma Lucy’s contains fresh pollock as the first ingredient and a single source of high-quality animal protein. Chickpeas, flax, and an assortment of fruits and veggies make up the rest of the ingredients list, along with a few synthetic nutrient supplements. Overall, it provides a decent source of animal protein but is higher in carbohydrates than other foods on this list.
Company HQMinneapolis, Minnesota Parent companyWellPet, LLC.
Simple to soak and serve, this freeze-dried formula from Sojos features fresh beef and whole egg to provide plenty of animal-based protein. An assortment of vegetables and herbs provide supplemental sources of essential nutrients as well as digestion-boosting dietary fiber. A single pound of Sojos freeze-dried food rehydrates to up to 5 pounds of fresh food.
Company HQFairfield, California Parent companyPrimal Pet Foods Inc.
This beef formula from Primal is a single-source protein recipe, making it a great option for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities (as long as they can tolerate beef). Beef hearts, beef livers, and ground beef bone make up the majority of the ingredients list with a few organic fruits and veggies thrown in. The carbohydrate content could be lower, but its still a high-protein recipe.
Freeze-dried food retains the nutritional value of raw meat
Contains kelp as a natural source of essential nutrients
Doesn’t contain fillers, by-products, or artificial additives
A good source of omega-3 fatty acids
What We Did Not Like
Low protein content
Low in moisture
Contains plant-based proteins
Freeze dried dog food requires rehydration, which is time-consuming
The brand has had multiple recalls over recent years
Some dogs may be allergic to fish
Price Vs Overall Score Comparison
Why Should You Trust Us
As dog parents ourselves, we understand how hard it is to choose the right wet dog food with so many recipes available in 2023. So how do you navigate past marketing claims to get real facts?
That’s where we come in. With over 3817recipe reviews, Pet Food Sherpa is the largest database for dog food recipe reviews overseen by a vet nutrition specialist.
Our team has analyzed over 300 Freeze-Dried dog foods and selected the 10 best recipes, we then used our pet food algorithm to determine the scores for each recipe.
You should keep in mind that no single Freeze-Dried food is right for all dogs. Instead, use our list as a research tool to help you make a better-informed decision on your dog’s diet.
Freeze-Dried Dog Foods - What you Need to Know
1. What is freeze-dried dog food?
Freeze-dried dog food is prepared using a technique that involves freezing fresh food to remove moisture. The food is quickly frozen at very low temperatures and then the ice crystals are vacuumed out, rendering the product low in moisture and shelf stable. Because freeze-dried food is so low in moisture, it is recommended that you rehydrate the product before feeding it to your dog.
One thing to keep in mind about freeze-dried food is that it is technically raw food. This type of food is made with raw ingredients, but the freeze-drying process helps eliminate some of the potential for foodborne pathogens. Freeze-dried food can be stored at room temperature in its original packaging for months, even years, and opened food is good for about 30 days.
2. Is freeze-dried raw food good for dogs?
Freeze-dried food is a very nutritious option for dogs. As is true for any type of food, the quality is determined by the ingredients and nutritional composition. That being said, however, freeze-dried dog food tends to offer higher quality than the average dry food.
Many freeze-dried dog foods are made with higher inclusions of animal protein and, in many cases, a single source of animal protein. This makes many recipes a great choice for dogs with food allergies and sensitivities to certain animal proteins. Due to the freeze-drying process, this type of food doesn’t require as many carbohydrate fillers or thickeners as traditionally extruded dry food.
The main caveat with freeze-dried food is that it is very low in moisture. It’s recommended that you rehydrate the product with water or broth before feeding it to your dog to ensure that he gets the moisture he needs for optimal hydration.
3. How do I rehydrate freeze-dried dog food?
It is very easy to rehydrate freeze-dried food – you just add water. Freeze-dried food can also be rehydrated with broth or other liquids like goat milk. Just make sure whatever you’re using to rehydrate the food doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients like onion or garlic.
Most commercial freeze-dried dog foods will provide instructions for rehydrating the food. Generally speaking, however, you just add your dog’s portion to his bowl then add the liquid. In most cases, an equal proportion of food to water works well.
It typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes for freeze-dried cat food to rehydrate, though the timing may vary by recipe. Large freeze-dried patties may take longer to rehydrate than smaller nibs or nuggets. Again, you should refer to the feeding instructions on the package. Once the dog food has been rehydrated it should be treated like wet dog food and not left out for more than 4 hours.
4. Is freeze-dried raw dog food safe?
A raw diet can be incredibly nutritious for your dog, but it isn’t without risks. There is always some degree of risk for bacterial contamination with raw foods but following safe food handling procedures is very easy. Always wash your hands after handling the food along with any utensils you use to serve it.
The main concern with freeze-dried raw dog food is bacterial contamination, the most common culprits being E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. Fortunately, the freeze-drying process helps decrease the number of pathogens in the raw ingredients, but some may still survive freeze-drying. Unprocessed and homemade raw foods may have lower rates of contamination than commercial freeze-dried foods.
5. Can freeze-dried food cause problems for dogs?
For the most part, freeze-dried dog food is considered safe, and it can provide many nutritional benefits for your dog. Quality varies by brand and by recipe, however, so some formulas may be better than others. A recipe that contains too many plant-based ingredients, especially low-value grains like wheat and corn, won’t be as good for your dog as one primarily composed of meat, organs, and bone.
It’s also important to note that the process of freeze drying removes the moisture from the raw ingredients. This helps kill bacteria and makes the product shelf-stable, but it robs the food of essential moisture. Dogs require moisture in their diet for proper hydration, so it’s best to rehydrate your dog’s freeze-dried food before feeding it to him and provide plenty of fresh water.
While commercial freeze-dried diets are generally formulated for nutritional adequacy, homemade raw diets come with a risk for nutritional imbalance or deficiencies. If you’re going to feed your dog raw or freeze-dried raw food, make sure to choose a recipe formulated by a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist.