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FREEZE-DRIED VS. DEHYDRATED DOG FOOD: WHICH IS BETTER?
While shopping for dog food, you may notice the immense product varieties in stores. Among the most popular categories are dehydrated and freeze-dried dog food. Many people think both are the same, but what is the difference between freeze-dried vs. dehydrated dog food?
Mainly, both types had their moisture extracted one way or the other. However, they may differ in texture, nutritious value, rehydration methods, and their shelf life. In all cases, it’s always best to discuss the food options with the vet to determine which is best for your beloved floof.
We have previously written an article on the differences between freeze-drying and dehydrating food, but in this article, we go through the two types of dog food in detail, discussing all the pros and cons of each one. So, keep reading to get all the information you need.
What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
Freeze-drying is one of the most effective techniques for preserving food, recently developed to fit modern needs. It works by removing moisture from food under extremely low temperatures, which helps retain its nutritional value.
During this process, the food remains inside a vacuum chamber after freezing. By raising the temperature slowly (but not enough to melt the ice), the water inside the food turns into gas directly. This process is known as sublimation.
Mostly, the vacuum helps eliminate any vapor formed from the ice, leaving behind the food with no moisture. Finally, the freeze-dried food is packaged in a way that keeps it safe from air and moisture to preserve it for as long as possible.
Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Safe for Dogs?
Yes, freeze-dried dog food is relatively safe.
It is safe for dogs to eat all sorts of foods for a balanced diet. As long as the food is minimally processed, high in nutritional content, and cooked to remove harmful bacteria, it is safe for dogs to eat.
As pet parents, it is important for your pets to eat good-quality dog food to ensure they are healthy and have energy.
Although a freeze-dryer is able to freeze-dry raw foods to keep them for long-term storage, it is not recommended to feed freeze-dried raw foods to dogs. Generally, the type of freeze-dried foods pet owners give to their dogs are raw foods, but this could be harmful to their pets.
Dog foods that have been cooked remove harmful bacteria; however, the freeze-drying process does not kill all bacteria present in raw food. Although dogs are more resilient than humans to bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria found in freeze-dried raw meat, you may still want to cook the meat to make it safer for your furry friend.
Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Healthy for Dogs?
Yes, freeze-dried dog food is a healthy option because the process doesn’t contain any use of heat. Therefore, it doesn’t affect the carbs, fats, or proteins inside the food. As a result, freeze-dried foods retain over 90% of their original nutritional value.
Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Dog Food
As long as it’s properly sealed and stored, freeze-dried dog food can last anywhere from 20 to 25 years. For comparison, dog food in its original packaging lasts 18 months. However, to make sure freeze-dried foods can last up to 25 years depends on several factors, such as the ingredients used inside, packaging, and storage conditions.
To help extend the shelf life of freeze-dried dog food, you should store it in an airtight container away from direct sunlight and moisture. Keeping the food items in a mylar bag or 5-gallon food-grade bucket would be an ideal place to store them.
In all cases, your dog should consume the freeze-dried food within a month of opening the package.
Pros and Cons of Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Freeze-dried pet food is increasingly becoming a popular option among pet parents. And for good reasons, we already discussed how it’s safe for pets and can be stored for a long time.
However, like any other type of product, freeze-dried dog food has some pros and cons. Check out a few of them.
- Long Shelf Life (Before Opening): One of the best qualities of freeze-dried dog food is not having to worry about it becoming bad quickly. This gives you the option to stock a few bags of freeze-dried dog food for up to 25 years.
- Nutritional Value: Unlike cooking, which strips many nutrients from the food, the slow process of freeze-drying helps maintain these nutrients. This ensures your dog gets all the essential vitamins, minerals, etc.
- Texture Options: Some freeze-dried dog food and treat products are intended for use as is. On the other hand, other types require rehydration. This gives you the freedom to choose the type your dog prefers.
- Limited Additives: High-quality freeze-dried dog food contains fewer artificial additives and preservatives than other types. The food also undergoes minimal processing, maintaining its natural state to the maximum.
- Convenience: Some think that giving your dog raw food mimics the natural type of diet its wild peers get. Yet, it takes a lot of time and effort to manage such a diet. Conveniently, freeze-dried dog food gives you the best of both worlds.
- Cost: Unlike traditional kibble or canned dog food, freeze-dried food can be quite pricey. That’s especially notable if you have a large dog breed. Even with more than a few options in the market, the less expensive one is still overly priced.
- Short Shelf Life (After Opening): Once opened, the shelf life of freeze-dried dog food is relatively short. Moreover, it can be susceptible to moisture, mold, or bacteria if not stored properly.
- Unusual Texture: If your dog is a picky eater and can’t get used to different textures easily, freeze-dried food may not be a suitable option. It may be harder or crunchier, especially if your dog is accustomed to wet food.
- Limited Availability: Depending on your location, it can be challenging to find a wide variety of freeze-dried dog food. This limits your ability to provide your dog with diverse flavors and ingredients.
What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?
Although it shares the same concept as the freeze-dried version, dehydrated dog food loses its moisture through a different process. Dehydration involves evaporating the moisture content of the food by exposing it to low heat for a long time.
In such conditions and with proper air circulation, the food becomes dry without reaching the point of cooking. Yet, some nutrients can get damaged during the process due to heat exposure for a prolonged period of time.
Is Dehydrated Dog Food Safe for Dogs?
Sourced from reputable brands, dehydrated dog food can be safe and nutritious for your dog. The process of dehydrating plays a tremendous role in killing many of the unsafe bacteria inside the food.
Is Dehydrated Dog Food Healthy for Dogs?
Dehydrated dog food is a convenient option that undergoes minimal processing and retains valuable nutrients. That’s especially applicable if you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional kibble.
All you need is to follow the guidelines regarding proper transitioning, rehydrating, and ensuring a balanced diet for your furry friend.
Note: Dehydrated foods typically retain about 60-70% of their original nutrients.
Shelf Life of Dehydrated Dog Food
Dehydrated dog food in its original packaging can last up to 2 years, given that it’s appropriately sealed in vacuum packages and stored in a cool, dark place. Such a period also depends on the brand and the ingredients used to make that food.
Keeping it in a mylar bag or food-grade 5-gallon bucket can help extend the shelf life and protect it from the elements. Properly storing dog food can protect the quality of the food for a long time.
Pros and Cons of Dehydrated Dog Food
Now that you know what dehydrated dog food is, we can go through the pros and cons of choosing such a food option for your dog.
- Minimal Processing: The slow dehydrating process helps retain the natural integrity of ingredients. This makes it a less processed option compared to other common dog food types, like kibble.
- Long Shelf Life: Due to the minimal moisture content, dehydrated dog food can last long. This reduces the need for artificial preservatives and the risk of spoilage.
- Convenience: Giving your dog dehydrated food is far more convenient than a raw diet. It takes much less storage space and helps eliminate all the hassle involved, including shopping, washing, and prepping.
- Great Taste and Digestibility: Dogs often like the textures and taste of dehydrated food. Consequently, it encourages better eating habits. Furthermore, such food reduces the accompanying frequent irritability because it doesn’t contain unwanted additives.
- Customizability: Dehydrated dog food allows you to add many ingredients according to your dog’s dietary requirements. What’s more, it comes in a variety of appealing flavors.
- Cost: Like freeze-dried dog food, the dehydrated type can also be expensive. Plus, it’s not as widely available as traditional kibble or canned food.
- Rehydration Issues: Most dehydrated dog food requires rehydration before eating, which may not be the most convenient for traveling. Additionally, achieving the exact water ratio for perfect rehydration consistency takes time.
- Storage Requirements: Improper storage under certain conditions can cause dehydrated dog food to become stale and lose nutrients.
- Nutritional content: Dehydrated pet food retains about 60-70% of its original nutritional content. This is because exposure to heat for long periods of time ages the food and removes much of the nutrients.
Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food
In general, freeze-dried dog food and dehydrated dog food are similar to some extent. Both kinds went through processing to extract the moisture. When comparing the two types, some differences may arise, including:
- Moisture Percentage: Freeze-dried dog food has a low moisture percentage of about 1%. Contrarily, dehydration only removes a maximum of 90–95% of the moisture.
- Rehydration Time: For those who prefer to rehydrate their dog food, it helps to know that freeze-dried food rehydrates much faster (two to three times faster) than dehydrated dog food.
- Nutritional Value: Since freeze-dried dog food doesn’t utilize heat during the drying process, it maintains much more nutritional value than dehydrated food.
- Price: In terms of cost, the dehydrated type of dog food is often cheaper, more diverse, and more available than freeze-dried varieties.
When it comes to comparing freeze-dried vs. dehydrated dog food, it’s hard to pinpoint a solid winner. That’s because each type has certain pros and cons.
You might find that freeze-dried dog food is more expensive and less accessible than the dehydrated version. Yet, both products offer extended shelf life, decent nutritional value, and convenience.
In all cases, you should discuss your dog’s health and needs with the vet before switching to a different type of food.
If you are interested in learning more about freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods, find related articles on Soulful Prepper.
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.