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What Is Freeze Dried Dog Food?

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on November 1, 2023

Dog nutrition has evolved over the years, with pet owners continually seeking the best options for their furry companions. Amid the myriad of choices available, freeze-dried raw dog food stands out for many due to its nutritional benefits and convenience. But what exactly is this type of food, and what sets it apart? Dive into the world of freeze-dried raw dog food to better understand its essence and advantages.

1. The Basics: Defining Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Freeze-dried raw dog food is a type of pet food that undergoes a special preservation process called freeze-drying or lyophilization. The method preserves raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients without compromising their nutritional content, resulting in a lightweight, shelf-stable product that maintains much of the fresh food’s original qualities.

Related: Best Freeze Dried Dog Foods Reviewed


2. The Freeze-Drying Process

At its core, freeze-drying involves three main steps:

  • Rapid Freezing: Ingredients are first frozen quickly, forming small ice crystals.
  • Vacuum Sublimation: Under vacuum conditions, the ice transitions directly into water vapor without passing through a liquid state.
  • Final Drying: Any remaining moisture, typically bound to the food, is removed at slightly elevated temperatures.

This process retains the cellular structure and nutritional profile of the ingredients, unlike other preservation methods that may degrade nutrients.

3. Nutritional Advantages

Freeze-dried raw dog food provides several nutritional benefits:

  • High Protein Content: The freeze-drying process preserves the protein structures, ensuring a rich protein source for dogs.
  • Natural Vitamins & Minerals: Unlike some cooking processes, freeze-drying maintains the majority of natural vitamins and minerals present in the raw ingredients.
  • Enzyme Retention: Enzymes, crucial for various biological processes, remain active in freeze-dried foods, aiding digestion.

4. Safety and Hygiene

One might wonder about the safety of consuming raw meats. The freeze-drying process, while preserving the food’s nutrient content, also makes it inhospitable for many bacteria and pathogens that might cause spoilage or illness. However, it’s essential to handle and store the food correctly to ensure its safety.

Related: We Test 11 Freeze Dried Dog Foods for 30 Days. Here’s Our Findings

5. Versatility in Serving

Freeze-dried raw dog food is versatile. You can:

  • Serve Dry: Suitable for dogs that prefer crunchier textures.
  • Rehydrate: Adding water restores some of the food’s original texture, making it more similar to fresh raw food.

6. Storage and Shelf Life

One significant advantage of freeze-dried raw dog food is its extended shelf life. Without moisture, the environment is unfavorable for microbial growth. Properly stored in a cool, dry place, and sealed airtight, this food can last for years.

7. Environmental Impact

Freeze-dried raw dog food’s lightweight nature reduces transportation emissions. Plus, its long shelf life can lead to less food waste, making it an environmentally friendly choice compared to some alternatives.

8. Potential Drawbacks

While freeze-dried raw dog food offers many benefits, there are potential drawbacks:

  • Cost: The freeze-drying process is energy-intensive, leading to higher prices than traditional kibble.
  • Rehydration Time: If your dog prefers rehydrated food, you’ll need to allocate time for this step.

9. How to Transition to Freeze-Dried Raw Food

When introducing a new diet to your dog, it’s essential to do so gradually to prevent digestive upset. Mix a small amount of freeze-dried food with their current food, increasing the proportion of freeze-dried content over 7-10 days.

10. Finding the Right Brand

Several brands offer freeze-dried raw dog food, each with its unique recipes and ingredient combinations. Look for:

  • Transparent Ingredient Lists: Understand what you’re feeding your dog.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensure the brand adheres to safety and quality standards.
  • Nutritional Balance: Check for a well-rounded nutrient profile suitable for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.


Freeze-dried raw dog food merges the rich nutritional profile of raw diets with the convenience of dry food. Understanding its features and benefits can help dog owners make informed decisions, ensuring their pets receive both delicious and nutritious meals. As with all dietary choices, consultation with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist is always recommended to ensure the best outcomes for your furry friend.

What Are The Benefits of Freeze Dried Food Compared to Kibble or Canned Foods?

Freeze-dried dog food offers several benefits over kibble or canned options due to its minimal processing and preservation methods. The freeze-drying process retains the nutritional content of the food without denaturing the proteins, as is the case with cooking, which makes it a “live” food, comparable to a raw diet but without the associated risks of foodborne pathogens​1​​2. This type of food is often made from higher-quality ingredients than kibble, which sometimes contains lower-quality meat and by-products, whereas freeze-dried food often includes high-quality meat, vegetables, and fruits​3​.

Moreover, freeze-dried dog food is appealing for its taste and is especially suitable for fussy eaters, either as a complete meal or as an added topper to enhance the flavor of regular meals. Since it is minimally processed, it provides a diet that is closer to what dogs might eat in the wild, with most of the original nutrients and enzymes intact​4​.

Additionally, while kibble and canned foods undergo cooking processes that eliminate pathogens, making them safe, they can also lead to the loss of some nutritional elements. Freeze-dried food strikes a balance by being safe like kibble, as the freeze-drying process removes moisture which inhibits the growth of bacteria, while also preserving the quality and nutritional content of raw ingredients​2​.

This combination of safety, quality, and minimal processing makes freeze-dried dog food an excellent choice for pet parents looking for nutritious and convenient feeding options that align closely with a natural canine diet.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

1. What exactly is freeze-dried raw dog food?

Freeze-dried raw dog food is made by freezing raw ingredients and then reducing the surrounding pressure to remove the moisture content through sublimation. This process preserves the food without cooking, maintaining its nutritional integrity and offering a shelf-stable product that is convenient for dog owners to store and serve.

2. How does freeze-dried food compare nutritionally to kibble or canned dog food?

Nutritionally, freeze-dried food is superior to kibble or canned food as it generally contains higher quality ingredients with more intact nutrients. The freeze-drying process avoids high-heat cooking, which can denature proteins and reduce the bioavailability of certain nutrients found in raw ingredients.

3. Is freeze-dried dog food safe from bacteria and pathogens?

Freeze-dried dog food is considered safe because the freeze-drying process effectively reduces moisture that bacteria and pathogens need to thrive. However, it is crucial to handle it properly and rehydrate it with clean water to maintain its safety.

4. Can freeze-dried raw food be the sole diet for my dog?

Yes, freeze-dried raw food can be a complete diet for dogs if it is formulated to meet all of their nutritional needs. It’s important to choose products that are labeled as “complete and balanced,” which means they meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

5. How long does freeze-dried dog food last after opening?

Once opened, freeze-dried dog food can last for weeks if stored properly in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. It’s important to consult the product’s packaging for specific storage instructions and expiration dates to ensure freshness.

6. Do I need to rehydrate freeze-dried dog food before feeding it to my dog?

While freeze-dried dog food can be fed dry, rehydrating it with water can make it easier for your dog to eat and digest. Additionally, adding water helps to ensure that your dog is consuming adequate moisture with their meals, which is beneficial for their hydration levels.

7. Is freeze-dried food suitable for all ages and breeds of dogs?

Freeze-dried food can be suitable for dogs of all ages and breeds, but it’s essential to select a formula that’s appropriate for your dog’s life stage, size, and any specific dietary needs. Always consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your individual dog.

8. How do I transition my dog from kibble to freeze-dried food?

Transition your dog slowly by mixing increasing amounts of the freeze-dried food with their current kibble over several days. This gradual change helps prevent digestive upset and allows your dog’s system to adjust to the new diet.

9. Can I use freeze-dried dog food as treats or toppers?

Absolutely, freeze-dried dog food is versatile and can be used as a treat or a topper to enhance the palatability and nutritional value of your dog’s regular meals. This can be especially beneficial for picky eaters or to add variety to a dog’s diet.

10. What are the environmental benefits of freeze-dried dog food?

Freeze-dried dog food is lightweight and has a longer shelf life, which reduces the need for preservatives and decreases waste. Furthermore, its light weight can lead to lower transportation emissions compared to heavier, moisture-rich foods.


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