[Updated March 22, 2018]
I said in last month’s article on dehydrated dog food diets that I hadn’t discussed dehydrated diets for quite some time in WDJ, and that I was surprised by the increase in the number of companies that now offer these products. What I didn’t realize at the time was that many of the companies that I am familiar with as makers of frozen raw diets now offer those products in a freeze-dried form. I learned this when, after I finished that last issue, I took a trip and toured a number of manufacturing facilities where raw frozen diets are produced. Turns out, every frozen raw dog food manufacturer I visited also makes freeze-dried diets.
And why not? In almost every case, the formulas that the companies freeze-dry are exactly the same as their raw frozen foods; they just freeze-dry the food instead of freezing it.
Freeze-drying is a simple, but energy-intensive process; it’s costly. But freeze-dried foods have a longer shelf life than their frozen counterparts, are light and compact (making shipping much more affordable than shipping frozen foods). And, oddly, some dogs who don’t like raw diets snap up freeze-dried foods like they are treats.
In fact, that’s exactly how some pet owners utilize these “complete and balanced” diets – as treats, rather than as a sole diet, due to their relatively high price. I have to say, though, after seeing these products made in a variety of facilities, that the manufacturing process of these diets is very close to the process used in making a home-prepared raw diet, with fresh, wholesome, and very lightly processed ingredients – well worth the cost.
The companies and products described in the table (PDF link below) are ones I should have included in last month’s article. I toured the production facilities for three Wisconsin-based companies, and discuss this at greater length.
Due to an editing error, there was one nonsensical sentence in last month’s article. It should have read, “Dehydration alters the cellular structure of meats, fruits, and vegetables much more than freeze-drying.” The appearance and taste of foods are less affected by freeze-drying than by dehydration, largely because higher temperatures are used to dehydrate foods; they are actually lightly cooked by the heat of drying.
Nancy Kerns is Editor of WDJ.