[Updated September 28, 2017]
It has been a while since we reviewed dehydrated diets – long enough that there have been quite a few additions to the pool of companies who make and sell this type of dog food. It’s increasingly popular, for a lot of reasons.
For one thing, “raw diets” are increasingly popular, too, and most of the products in this category incorporate raw animal proteins in their formulations. People who believe in the superiority of canine diets that include raw meat (often referred to as biologically appropriate or evolutionary diets) can use a dehydrated or freeze-dried food as a convenient replacement for their dogs’ fresh, home-prepared or commercial frozen raw diet.
Whether it’s dehydrated or freeze-dried, raw meat doesn’t seem so, well, raw. Most of us don’t think of beef jerky as raw meat, either, but it actually is. The drying process (and, in jerky, the use of salt and nitrates) “cures” the meat, altering its appearance and texture and concentrating its flavor – and, significantly, halting the biological action (decay) in the food – with less damage to the meat’s natural enzymes or vitamins than cooking temperatures would cause.
If you read the descriptions of each product listed in our Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Dog Food Review, you will note that some contain “air-dried” or “dehydrated” (same thing) or freeze-dried ingredients. The difference in nutritional content of foods processed in either manner is negligible. However, dehydration alters the cellular structure of meats, fruits, and vegetables much more than dehydrating, more radically altering their appearance and taste than freeze-drying. Rehydrated, freeze-dried ingredients taste remarkably similar to their fresh, moist counterparts. Does this matter to your dog? You’d have to try different products to find out.
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