What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food? Is It Better Than Dehydrated Dog Food?

There are so many dog foods available today that it’s hard to keep up with all the new trends. As pet parents, we want the best for our furry friends, especially when it comes to nutrition.

Finding the best dog food for your pet can be a daunting experience; however, with the help of your veterinarian, you can come to a decision on the best food option.

You might have heard about freeze-dried dog food or even dehydrated dog food, but what’s the difference between them? Are they better than wet or dry food?

Here’s what you need to know about freeze-dried dog food and dehydrated dog food so you can be better informed in making your decision.

What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?

Freeze-dried dog food is food product that undergoes a process where it is dehydrated under a low temperature in order to maintain quality and increase the shelf life of the product.

In the process of freeze-drying, the product is frozen, the is pressure lowered, and the ice is removed by a process called sublimation (the process where a substance such as ice goes from the state of solid to a gas, essentially skipping the state of a liquid).

Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food as Good as Raw Dog Food?

The question of whether freeze-dried dog food is as good as raw dog food is based upon your own preference when it comes to preparation and cost.

Freeze-dried dog food is a part of a line of raw, meat-based foods that have ingredients from food animals that are not cooked. The only difference between freeze-dried dog food and raw dog food is that freeze-dried dog food has undergone a process to remove most of the moisture in the product.

Nevertheless, in the freeze-drying process, nutrients are maintained. In addition, the appearance of the product is maintained and some bacteria may be killed.

In terms of cost, the extra step of processing the food product through freeze-drying may make it more expensive than raw dog food diets.

Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Safe?

Freeze-drying dog food may reduce some bacteria; however, some bacteria survive the process.

Check the website of the dog food that you are considering to determine the processes used in creating their freeze-dried dog food. You can also search for any previous recalls that they may have had with their foods.

Dogs should not be given raw food if they are immune-suppressed or have severe illnesses. Additionally, if a household has members that have young children (under 5 years), elders, immune-compromised persons, persons planning pregnancy, or persons that are pregnant, freeze-dried dog food can be a concern for health safety.

Proper hand washing and prevention of cross contamination are important for those who prefer a raw diet for their pet.

What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?

Dehydrated dog food undergoes a process where the moisture is removed by evaporation to increase shelf-life.4 Both processes of dehydration and freeze-drying increase shelf-life; however, freeze-drying involves dehydrating a product under a lower temperature.

Is Dehydrated the Same as Air-Dried Dog Food?

Dehydrated dog food is the same as air-dried dog food.

Essentially, air-drying is a method of dehydrating or removing much of the moisture in the food. In dehydrated dog food, moisture is removed slowly by low heat. It is unknown if the quality of nutrients are highly affected by the dehydration process.

Just like the freeze-drying process, dehydration may reduce some bacteria; however, some bacteria survive the process.

Do You Have to Add Water to Dehydrated Dog Food?

The addition of water to dehydrated dog food will depend on the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Following the instructions on the feeding directions is important in order to prepare the food correctly.

Which Is Better: Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, Canned, or Wet Dog Food?

Some pet parents and veterinarians may report seeing an improvement in coat, skin, and behavior, and a decrease in medical conditions and odor in dogs eating raw meat diets. However, scientific assessment has not been done to evaluate these possible benefits.

Whether you decide to feed freeze-dried, dehydrated, canned, or dry dog food depends on:

  • Pet safety

  • Family safety

  • Whether the diet is balanced and complete

  • Practicality for you to feed consistently

  • Cost

Some common freeze-dried food options include:

Every animal, household, and pet parent is different. What is appropriate for one dog may not be appropriate for the next. Consult with your primary veterinarian or board-certified veterinary nutritionist to determine what will be best for you and your pet.



  1. Freeze-drying. (2020, November 27). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeze-drying
  2. Freeman, L. M., Chandler, M. L., Hamper, B. A., & Weeth, L. P. (2013). Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat–based diets for dogs and cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243(11), 1549-1558. doi:10.2460/javma.243.11.1549
  3. Stogdale L. (2019). One veterinarian's experience with owners who are feeding raw meat to their pets. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne60(6), 655–658.
  4. Food drying. (2020, September 02). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_drying


Kristie McLaughlin, DVM, MPH, CPH


Kristie McLaughlin, DVM, MPH, CPH


Dr. Kristie McLaughlin is a native Floridian whose passion for animals began as a child on her grandparents’ farm in Jamaica. She has...

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