What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
Freeze drying is a dehydration or water removal process that is used to preserve food. This process involves lowering the temperature of food and then adjusting its pressure, and later raising the temperature.
While this sounds complicated, it is tried and tested and has been proven to preserve more of the nutritional content of food than traditional dehydrating.
Some brands produce similar products through a technique called air drying. This technique is very similar to freeze-drying but doesn’t the sub-zero temperatures. As these products are almost identical, we are going to also include them in this article.
The result of this process is food that will not spoil and is an incredibly dense source of nutrients. This density means that it is exceptionally flavorful, and the best equivalent comparison for humans would be Jerky.
Why Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food So Expensive?
The primary reason that freeze-dried dog food is expensive is that it requires large portions of meat and fish ingredients to produce. Meat and fish ingredients are almost always the most expensive component of dog food.
Not only do freeze-dried dog foods require large portions of these ingredients, but the freeze-drying process reduces the weight of these ingredients substantially, as much as 75%.
What may seem like a small 6oz bag of freeze-dried dog food may have required almost two pounds of raw meat and fish.
In addition to the above, freeze-dried dog food tends to be produced by the more premium brands. These brands often use better quality ingredients, which tend to come from more expensive sources.
Also, many of these brands often choose to use unusual ingredients or unique ingredients in their recipes.
Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb For Dogs
There can not be a discussion of freeze or air-dried dog food without including Ziwi Peak. The New Zealand-based brand produces fantastic quality air-dried dog food range and is one of the leaders in this niche market.
One of the brand’s most appealing traits is that they source all of its ingredients from humane, ethical, and sustainably managed farms.
This is one of the key selling points of ultra-premium brands such as Ziwi Peak, whose customers are informed and concerned about animal welfare.
The brand is based in New Zealand, so it will come as no surprise that Lamb features prominently throughout their product offering, and the above-shown recipe is one of its most popular.
However, they have expanded their range in recent years and now have some non-Lamb recipes, including a recently launched Chicken recipe.
Another consistent trait of Ziwi Peak’s air-dried recipes is the use of organ meat ingredients.
Organ meat ingredients, such as Liver, Heart, and Lungs, are advantageous to dogs because they provide high levels of several beneficial vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in traditional meat cuts.
In addition, these organ meats add a significant amount of palatability and flavor that makes most dogs drool, which is something that is often overlooked when selecting a dog food recipe.
If you would like to read more about Ziwi Peak, be sure to check out our in-depth Ziwi Peak Brand Review.
Orijen Original Review
Orijen is one of the best-known players in the premium pet food market, and one many pet owners will be familiar with seeing on pet food store shelves.
The brand is based in Canada and is best known for its high-quality ingredients and incredible nutrition. They also have a well-known sister brand known as Acana.
Most of Orijen’s dry food recipes include 10+ sources of meat and fish, which is unprecedented and translates to excellent proportions of protein and fat.
You can learn more about Orijen, including its full product range and information on its ingredients and nutrition, in our Orijen Brand Review.
Orijen took its time branching out into some varieties of dog food, like wet/canned food, but it branched out into freeze-dried food quite early on.
They have had a small range of core freeze-dried recipes ever since, including the above Original recipe.
The Original recipes are a common theme throughout Orijen, and they focus on poultry ingredients such as Chicken and Turkey.
However, other ingredients are included, such as Herring and Eggs. This mix of poultry and fish may not suit all dogs, but all the ingredients are nonetheless highly nutritious and are packed with animal-based protein and fat.
An interesting observation is that there are some plant-based ingredients in Orinen’s recipe, whereas other brands have none.
This selection of plant-based ingredients includes the use of small quantities of Pumpkin, Collard Greens, Carrots, and Apples.
Pumpkin is well-known for its beneficial traits and can aid some dogs thanks to its abundance of dietary Fiber. This Fiber can help dogs regulate their digestion and stools to be more consistent.
Instinct Raw Boost With Real Beef Review
Nature’s Variety Instinct is a brand that repeatedly features in our reviews and recommendations, and for a good reason.
Their combination of ingredient quality, nutritional proportions, and price makes them one of our favorites.
They are also easy to get your hands on and can commonly be found at large retail pet food stores like PetSmart as well as large online sellers like Chewy and Amazon.
You can learn more about Instinct in our Instinct Brand Review.
While we are usually discussing one of Instinct’s dry dog food recipes, they are actually best known for their raw and semi-raw recipes.
These recipes are a unique offering and best described as a hybrid between traditional kibble and freeze-dried dog food.
This combination allows dog owners to keep their costs reasonable and have easy access to their dog’s food while still allowing them to benefit from the superior nutrition and taste offered by freeze-dried food.
The formula contains Beef, Chicken, and Whitefish, which are all high-quality meat and fish ingredients that can provide a plentiful supply of protein and fat.
The recipe is able to provide a minimum of 35% protein and 21% fat which is an impressive sum, far above most dry food recipes.
These legume ingredients are found in almost all of Nature’s Variety Instinct’s dry dog food recipes.
Finally, the formula also includes a small portion of Flaxseed to help boost the level of the Omega Fatty Acids.
K9 Natural Beef Feast Review
K9 Natural is another New Zealand-based brand and could be easily compared or equated to Ziwi Peak.
Similar to Ziwi Peak, K9 Natural uses very high-quality ingredients that are sourced from New Zealand and are suitable for human consumption.
They also use an in-house animal nutritionist to ensure that their recipes meet dogs’ nutritional needs.
With these incredibly high standards, you can expect their recipes to come at a high cost, but for some, it is worth the consideration.
Read more about this alternative to Ziwi Peak in our K9 Natural Brand Review.
While K9 Natural also has Lamb-based recipes, we’ve chosen to highlight something slightly different in a Beef-based recipe.
With 90% of the recipe being made from Beef-based ingredients, it provides an incredible minimum of 35% protein and 37% fat.
Just like Ziwi Peak, K9 Natural makes extensive use of organ meat ingredients. Examples of this in the above recipe include Beef Liver, Beef Tripe, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, and Beef Spleen.
This mix is sure to contain a vast range of beneficial vitamins and minerals in high proportions, as well as a unique and varied flavor to keep dogs interested and begging for more.
Sojos Complete Freeze-Dried Lamb Review
While Sojos may not be a household name in the pet food world, they come from an established source.
Unlike some of their sister brands, Sojos does not produce traditional dry dog food and instead specializes in freeze-dried and dehydrated dog food.
Their unique Mix-a-Meal recipes first caught our eye and are designed to be mixed with a “base” food rather than be a single source of nutrition.
This base could be traditional dry dog food, or it could be homemade food such as rice or vegetables, which is valuable flexibility.
However, they also have more traditional freeze-dried dog food recipes, including the above.
There are five freeze-dried meat ingredients available in the range, which are Turkey, Beef, Lamb, Chicken, and Turkey & Salmon.
Similar to Orijen, their recipes are not exclusively meat or fish ingredients and they contain an expansive range of plant-based additions.
This particular contains small portions of Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Peas, Flaxseed, Celery, and even Banana.
This use of vegetables provides a portion of carbohydrates and fiber and helps to keep the overall cost of the recipe down, far below the cost of brands like Ziwi Peak or K9 Natural.
Learn more about Sojos, including whether it has had any recalls or the full range of ingredients they utilize in our Sojos Brand Review.
Zeal Canada Gently Air-Dried Salmon Review
Canada seems to be an incredibly popular spot for freeze-dried dog food, with Orijen not being the only brand to be a player in this market.
Zeal Canada is a relative newcomer, but their offerings are impressive nonetheless. Despite what the name may imply, their products are available in the United States from sites like Chewy.
Their offering of freeze-dried dog food is one of the most straightforward available. The recipes include almost no significant ingredients outside of their primary meat or fish ingredient.
While we are big fans of other meat ingredients like organs, some dogs do not enjoy these, which puts Zeal in an excellent spot.
For example, the above Salmon Recipe only includes Salmon, Bamboo fiver, and a few other minor preserving/flavoring ingredients.
A recipe like this may be perfect for a dog who needs a limited-ingredient diet thanks to severe allergies or sensitivities.
Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Duck Recipe With Pears Review
Nulo is a staple brand that has been around since 2009 and is best known for its high-quality dry dog food recipes.
However, like many of their competitors, they have branched out into other areas, including raw, freeze-dried dog food.
There are currently five freeze-dried raw recipes on offer, and this range covers off all the regular meat and fish ingredients, such as Beef, Turkey, and Salmon.
While many freeze-dried recipes have tiny ingredient lists, Nulo’s offering instead has an extensive list.
This ingredient list includes a variety of duck ingredients such as Duck, Duck Necks, Duck Heart, Duck Wings, and Duck Liver.
While a long list of organ meat ingredients in freeze-dried dog food is typical, there is also a large number of plant-based ingredients present in minimal quantities. Examples include Pears, Squash, Green Beans, Carrots, Blueberries, and more.
These ingredients should not cause concern, though. They will add a small portion of carbohydrates, Fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Rawbble Pork Recipe Review
Rawbble, which is owned by Bixbi, is a new brand in the freeze-dried space, but that does not mean they should be discounted. They have a particularly large range of recipes that utilize ingredients that many other brands miss.
One example of this is the above Pork recipe. Pork is a meat ingredient that is very rarely used in freeze-dried recipes.
The ingredients in the recipe are few, with the primary ingredients being Pork, Pork Liver, and Pork Bone. While Pork Bone may sound intimidating, it is not to be feared and is a natural part of a dog’s diet.
There are no notable plant-based ingredients present in Rawbble’s freeze-dried recipes, which could make them perfect for those dogs’ allergies or for dog owners who want to add their own vegetable or grain ingredients.
If you’d like to learn more about the Rawbble brand, head on over to our review here.
Dr. Marty Pet’s is a brand that you will not find on the shelves of your local pet food store. However, you may have seen some of their famous advertisements.
The brand is hugely popular thanks to its connection with Dr. Marty, and there are thousands of dog owners who are fanatics.
We recommend you check out our Dr. Marty Pet’s review page for more information on the Veterinarian and his brand.
The proportions of protein and fat in this recipe are very satisfactory and would be suitable for dogs of all activity levels.
Moreover, the protein and fat are provided by whole meat and fish ingredients, such as Beef, Turkey, and Salmon. These ingredients are an unusual mix, but they are highly digestible and very suited to dogs.
Flaxseed is an excellent plant-based source of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which many believe can provide several health benefits. This addition will combine the natural level of these fatty acids from the meat and fish ingredients.
While some might be concerned by the inclusion of Pea Flour, the portion present is very small and is not worthy of concern.
The addition of other minor fruit and vegetable ingredients could also prove advantageous, thanks to the vitamins and minerals they can provide.
Stewart Raw Naturals Chicken Recipe Review
Stewart Raw Naturals is another lesser-known brand but their recipes caught our eye. They are very similar to others in this article, with a mix of meat, organs, and minor plant-based ingredients.
They have a moderate range of freeze-dried food that includes Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Lamb, and Salmon recipes. They also have a freeze-dried recipe designed for puppies, which is quite rare.
The above Chicken recipe uses a mix of Chicken, Chicken Bone, Chicken Liver, and Chicken Gizzard as its primary ingredients.
Gizzards are often misunderstood and can be a beneficial addition. Read more in our article Giblets in Pet Food, Everything You Should Know.
The minor plant-based ingredients we mentioned are Cantaloupe, Carrots, Broccoli, and Romaine Lettuce.
Some of these are unique and are rarely found in dog food. While they may provide some minor nutrition, it will be minor, given their portion size.