Features April 2018 Issue

The Best Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Foods of 2018

Freeze-dried dog food tends to be high-quality and high-cost. Because they are light-weight and shelf-stable, freeze-dried dog food is particularly handy to bring on road trips with your dog.

Are you looking for the most expensive way to feed your dog? Probably not – but if price is no object, the products we’ll describe here are very high-quality foods that are extremely shelf-stable (in many cases, without the use of any preservative, or with a natural preservative only). Many are made with organic ingredients; many are made with certified humanely raised and/or grass-fed meats. All of the diets are made with a high inclusion of meat; some contain as much as 95 percent animal muscle meat, organ meat, and raw ground bone.

Most of the other ingredients in freeze-dried dog food diets are raw and/or very lightly processed. All the freeze-dried raw diets we reviewed are grain-free – not because we think grains are inappropriate in these foods; it’s the food manufacturers who seem to have decided that raw feeders won’t buy a product that contains any grain.

Many people who feed home-prepared or commercial raw diets to their dogs when they are home replace this diet with a freeze-dried raw food when they travel, or when the dog is left with a sitter who doesn’t want to deal with a fresh or frozen raw diet.

Benefits of Freeze-Dried Dog Food

In addition to being raw and lightly processed, freeze-dried dog diets offer other benefits:

1. Freeze-dried food stores longer than kibble.

Very low-moisture foods such as these products can be stored at room temperature (in unopened packages) without spoilage or rancidity – much longer than kibble. That’s because most freeze-dried diets contain about three to five percent moisture; conventional kibble generally contains about 10 percent moisture. The less moisture there is in a food, the less biological activity can occur.

2. Dogs love the taste of freeze-dried raw food.

When rehydrated, these foods are highly palatable to most dogs. It may be due to the concentration of flavor in freeze-dried food ingredients or their minimal processing. Dogs with poor appetites (like very senior or chronically ill dogs) may accept these foods when nothing else appeals.

3. Really good ingredients in freeze-dried dog food.

As a generalization, the makers of these products are targeting the top end of the market and have an extraordinary commitment to sourcing top-quality ingredients.

freeze dried dog food

Freeze-dried dog foods can serve as really powerful and very handy training rewards, as they are super palatable and yet not greasy or smelly (so they can be hidden in a handler’s pockets without staining).

Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food is Still Raw Dog Food

Though it should be obvious, it bears repeating that all of the products included in this review are made with freeze-dried raw meats. Raw diets aren’t for every dog or owner. Cooked foods may be safer for immune-compromised individuals. Some dogs digest cooked foods better.

bravo! freeze dried raw dog food

That said, freeze-dried foods don’t seem as “raw” as raw-frozen or fresh raw foods, but it’s important to understand that they are, in fact, uncooked. Freeze-drying removes so much moisture from the ingredients that it stops the biological action (decay) in the food, with less damage to the meat’s natural enzymes or vitamins than cooking temperatures cause. When the foods are rehydrated, the biological activity of any pathogenic bacteria that might be present in the food can resume.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 contains zero-tolerance policies for products that test positive for pathogenic bacteria. For this reason, some of the manufacturers of freeze-dried raw foods subject their products to a “kill step” known as high-pressure processing (also known as high-pressure pasteurization, and in any case abbreviated as HPP); they don’t want to risk increased surveillance or recalls from food control officials.

k9 natural freeze dried raw dog food

The owners of some companies, however, believe so strongly in the benefits of raw foods, that they refuse to use a kill step. Instead, they rely on the quality of their ingredients and their own food “hazard analysis and critical control points”(HACCP) plans to prevent selling contaminated products. They understand that the FSMA policies are present to protect dogs and their owners, and that today’s human food supply does sometimes contain pathogens – but they also have observed that most healthy dogs can thrive on raw foods that may contain some pathogens (few healthy dogs have trouble with Salmonella, for example, though Listeria and e. Coli are another story). And, importantly, they engage and educate their consumers about these facts.

There are food-industry experts who feel strongly that HPP is a very safe technology, and others who worry that it may alter foods on a molecular level. We feel fine about HPP; we’ve been to HPP plants and observed the raw dog food before, during, and after treatment and have confidence that it is not harmed or made unsafe to feed. On the other hand, we respect the right of owners to feed raw foods that have not undergone a kill step – as long as they are informed about the risks to which they are subjecting themselves and their dogs.

Some of the companies utilize a “test and hold” program whereby finished products are tested for pathogens and not released for sale until results indicate the products are uncontaminated.

Varieties of Freeze-Dried Dog Food

The freeze-dried foods on the market are diverse in content, appearance, and form. Some are very high in protein and fat – there are even products that contain more fat than protein! – while others compare in these respects to high-end kibble. Always check the guaranteed analysis when switching to a product in this category, particularly when feeding a dog who needs to be on a lower-fat diet.

Most of these products are meant to be rehydrated with water before serving, though the products that come in small cubes can be fed as treats without rehydrating. In general, though, adding water will bulk up the food, making it more filling for your dog, as well as easier to digest.

vital essentials freeze dried raw dog food

Some of the products are very powdery, which makes them turn into a sort of mush (or gruel, depending on how much water you add) when rehydrated. Some are powdery with large chunks of identifiable dehydrated meats, fruit, and/or vegetables – either an advantage (if your dog enjoys the contrast in taste and mouth-feel) or a disadvantage (if your dog seeks out only the chunks or mush and eschews the other).

Typical Freeze-Dried Dog Food Ingredients

On the table that starts on the next page, we have listed the ingredients for one variety of each company’s food. When a chicken variety was available, we used the ingredients of that variety, so you could compare relatively similar product offerings.

The Price of Freeze-Dried Dog Food

We’ve listed prices for the largest size of the products that are available; the larger sizes are generally the most economical (if that can be said at all of this category).

Because the cost of these products is so high, we imagine that few people feed them full-time, especially if their dogs are large or many. We would most likely use them only for a small dog, on a short-term basis while traveling, as training treats, to jump-start the recovery of a sick dog, or to extend the life of a chronically ill dog.

WDJ’s Approved Freeze-Dried Dog Foods: 2018

Note About the Reviewed Products:  Please note that we are including only products that are made with freeze-dried meat in this review. In previous years, we examined diets that contain freeze-dried and dehydrated meats in the same review. There are so many of these products now that we will review them separately this year.

Also note that we are discussing only diets that are “complete and balanced”  as per the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. Products that are meant for “supplemental or intermittent feeding only” are not included in this review.

PRODUCTS LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY THE NAME OF THE COMPANY THAT MAKES THEM. 

PRODUCT & COMPANY INFO NOTES INGREDIENTS PRICE
BRAVO HOMESTYLE
Bravo Pet Foods
Manchester, CT
(866) 922-9222
Three grain-free varieties are available: beef, pork, and turkey.

All the varieties contain 38% protein and 8% to 13% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Bravo Homestyle Beef variety contains: beef, beef liver, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beef hearts, beef kidney, beef spleen, green beans, cranberries, dried eggs, tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, dried kelp, turmeric, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, salt, mixed tocopherols (preservative), zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract $76 - $104 / 6 lbs.
LIBERTY FREEZE-DRIED
Buckley Pet
Boulder, CO
(303) 666-1070
Three grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, and lamb.

All the varieties contain 45% protein and 36% to 42% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Liberty Chicken variety contains: chicken, chicken liver, chicken heart, chicken gizzard, squash, chicken necks, apples, carrots, broccoli, eggs, ground flaxseed, inulin, blueberries, cranberries, apple cider vinegar, dried kelp, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, salmon oil, fish oil, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, mixed tocopherols $35 - $40 / 20 oz.
ORACLE GRAIN-FREE
ORACLE WHOLE GRAIN
Dr. Harvey's
Atlantic Highlands, NJ
(866) 362-4123
Oracle Whole Grain comes in beef, chicken, and fish varieties. Each contains 27% protein and 16% fat.

Oracle Grain-Free also comes in beef, chicken, and fish varieties. They range from 27% to 29% protein and 12% to 14% fat.

All of these products are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Oracle Whole Grain Chicken formula contains: chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, flaxseed, whole egg, rolled oats, barley, spelt, tricalcium phosphate, broccoli, green beans, spinach, beets, cabbage, celery, pumpkin, kelp, coconut, blueberries, bananas, parsley, dried yeast, lecithin, alfalfa, fenugreek, fennel, ginger, peppermint, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, manganese proteinate, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, mixed tocopherols $65 - $77 / 6 lbs.

$70 - $80 / 6 lbs.
FRESH IS BEST
Fresh is Best
Milwaukee, WI
(866) 617-7735
Three grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, and turkey.

All the varieties contain 42% to 52% protein and 21% to 30% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages. 
Fresh Is Best Freeze-Dried Chicken variety contains: chicken, chicken hearts, chicken livers, chicken gizzards, yams, apples, kale, collards, bone meal, dried kelp, vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acids chelate, manganese amino acids chelate, copper amino acids chelate, thiamin mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement $14 / 8 oz.
ARTISAN
MACANNA
PUREFORMANCE
VALOR
Grandma Lucy's
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
(800) 906-5829
Grandma Lucy’s has four lines of grain-free, freeze-dried foods. Each line features a unique carb source or carb combination: Artisan: potatoes, celery, and carrots; Macanna: pinto beans, hemp hearts, and carrots; Pureformance: chickpeas; Valor: quinoa. Each line has two to five varieties, and each product contains 25% to 37% protein and 13% to 17% fat.

All the Grandma Lucy’s products are complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, with the exception of the Pre-Mix Formulas; these are for supplemental feeding only.
Artisan chicken formula contains: chicken, potatoes, flax, carrots, celery, apples, blueberries, cranberries, garlic, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, iron proteinate, calcium carbonate, phosphorous, zinc proteinate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, potassium chloride, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, magnesium chloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin The least expensive varieties are
$80 / 10 lbs.

The ones with more exotic protein sources (i.e., bison, salmon) are
$146 / 10 lbs.
K9 NATURAL
K9 Natural
Christchurch, New Zealand
(855) 596-2887
Five grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, lamb, and venison, and a puppy variety.

All the varieties contain 23% to 33% protein and 37% to 43% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages. (Note: Each variety contains more fat than protein.)
K9 Natural Chicken Feast variety contains: chicken, eggs, flaxseed flakes, hoki oil, brown kelp, New Zealand green mussel, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, potassium sulphate, dried kelp, apples, pears, salt, vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, sunflower oil, magnesium oxide, selenium yeast, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, beta-carotene, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement Chicken:
$100/ 2.75 lbs.

Venison:
$140 / 3.3 lbs.

Beef, Lamb:
$196 / 8 lbs.

Puppy:
$110 / 3.5 lbs.
BACKCOUNTRY RAW MEAL MIXERS
Merrick
A div. of Nestle Purina
Amarillo, TX
(800) 664-7387
Three grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, and salmon.

All the varieties contain 40% protein and 10% to 18% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for adult dog maintenance.
Backcountry Raw Chicken variety contains: deboned chicken, chicken liver, dried potatoes, potato protein, chicken broth, gelatin, dried kelp, salt, mixed tocopherols, potassium chloride, apples, carrots, blueberries, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, potassium chloride, copper amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride $28 / 12.5 oz.
INSTINCT RAW MARKET
Nature's Variety
St. Louis, MO
(888) 519-7387
Instinct recently discontinued its Raw Market Blends and Raw Market Nuggets in packaging meant to supply meal-sized amounts. It will continue to sell the Blends in a 5.5-ounce package, for use as a treat or as something you can mix into your dog’s meal; though the products are complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, they won’t be priced for daily use.

These foods range from 34% to 35% protein and 26% - 28% fat.
Instinct Raw Market Blend Chicken variety contains: chicken (including ground chicken bone), chicken liver, chicken heart, apples, sweet potatoes, peas, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, salmon oil, montmorillonite clay, organic carrots, organic pears, tricalcium phosphate, organic butternut squash, potassium chloride, cod liver oil, salt, dried kelp, yeast culture, choline chloride, taurine, organic cranberries, zinc proteinate, mixed tocopherols, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, rosemary extract Price not yet available / 5.5 oz.
NORTHWEST NATURALS
Northwest Naturals
Portland, OR
(866) 637-1872
Like many of the other companies here, Northwest Naturals also makes frozen raw diets for dogs. Its freeze-dried products are made by freeze-drying, rather than freezing, its frozen products. All recipes are grain-free and complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.

Six varieties of patties are available, and range from 41% to 63% protein and 15% to 34% fat.
Northwest Naturals Chicken variety contains: chicken, ground chicken bone, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, romaine lettuce, egg, ground flaxseed, fish oil (a blend of wild caught Alaskan fish oils from salmon, herring, and pollock), apple cider vinegar, blueberry, cranberry, inulin, dried kelp, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, ginger, parsley, garlic, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, mixed tocopherols, vitamin D supplement $21 / 12 oz.
NULO FREESTYLE FREEZE-DRIED RAW
Nulo
Austin, TX
(512) 476-6856
Five grain-free varieties are available: beef, duck, lamb, salmon & turkey, and turkey. Many organic ingredients are included.

All the varieties contain 40% to 44% protein and 26% to 29% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Turkey variety contains: turkey, turkey necks, turkey heart, turkey liver, cranberries, apples, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach, parsley, apple cider vinegar, ground flaxseed, dried kelp, inulin, salt, dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product, potassium chloride, salmon oil, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, mixed tocopherols, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, vitamin D3 supplement $34 / 13 oz.
OPEN FARM FREEZE-DRIED RAW
Open Farm
Toronto, Ontario
(833) 399-3403
Four grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, salmon & beef, and turkey. Many organic ingredients are included and only certified humanely raised meats are used.

All the varieties contain 41% to 42% protein and 31% to 33% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Open Farm Freeze-Dried Chicken variety contains: Chicken with ground bone, chicken livers, chicken necks, chicken hearts, carrots, blueberries, squash, montmorillonite clay, sunflower seeds, cranberries, salmon oil, spinach, kale, pumpkin seeds, chicory root,dried kelp, coconut oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, turmeric, mixed tocopherols, spirulina, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, choline, zinc amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, selenium yeast $30 / 13.5 oz.
PRIMAL FREEZE-DRIED
Primal Pet Foods
San Francisco, CA
(866) 566-4652
Eight grain-free varieties are available: beef, chicken, duck, lamb, pork, rabbit, turkey & sardine, and venison. Many organic ingredients are included.

All the varieties contain 37% to 59% protein and 22% to 38% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Primal Pet Foods Chicken variety contains: chicken, chicken necks, chicken gizzards, organic kale, organic carrots, organic squash, chicken livers, organic broccoli, organic apples, cranberries, blueberries, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, montmorillonite clay, organic parsley, organic apple cider vinegar, salmon oil, organic coconut oil, organic quinoa sprout powder, dried organic kelp, alfalfa, vitamin E supplement, mixed tocopherols $31 - $39 / 14 oz.
SOJO'S COMPLETE
SOJO'S WILD
Sojourner's Farm, LLC
Minneapolis, MN
(888) 867-6567
Sojo’s Complete comes in five varieties; Sojo’s Wild comes in two. All of the varieties except for the Complete Puppy variety are complete and balanced for the maintenance of adult dogs only. The Puppy variety is complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages. The Complete products range from 24% to 28% protein and 12% to 16% fat. The Wild products range from 38% to 40% protein and 16% to 21% fat. Sojo’s Complete Turkey variety contains: turkey, sweet potatoes, whole egg, broccoli, apples, flaxseed, cranberries, celery, turkey liver, tricalcium phosphate, basil, pumpkin, ginger root, dried kelp, zinc sulfate, vitamin E acetate, ferrous fumarate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid Sojo’s Complete $90 / 7 lbs.

Sojo’s Wild
$82 / 4 lbs.
STELLA & CHEWY'S FREEZE-DRIED PATTIES
STELLA & CHEWY'S MEAL MIXERS
Stella & Chewy's
Oak Creek, WI
(888) 477-8977 x100
Stella & Chewy’s makes its grain-free, freeze-dried diets in patties (nine varieties), “Meal Mixers” (grape-sized nuggets, available in five varieties), and “Super Blends Meal Mixers” (like Meal Mixers, but with additional “superfoods” added). All of the products are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages. These foods range from 36% to 50% protein and 24% - 40% fat.

S&C’s uses humanely raised, cage-free birds, grass-fed animals, and many organic ingredients.
Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties variety contains: chicken with ground bone, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, pumpkin seed, potassium chloride, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic beets, sodium phosphate monobasic, organic carrots, organic squash, organic apples, organic blueberries, choline chloride, dried pediococcus acidilactici fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium longum fermentation product, taurine, tocopherols, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, iron sulfate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, niacin, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese proteinate, thiamin mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement “Meal Mixers” $38 - $39 / 18 oz. 

Patties $46 - $50 / 25 oz.
STEVE'S FREEZE-DRIED
Steve's Real Food for Dogs
Cottonwood, UT
(801) 432-7478
Three varieties (beef, pork, and turkey) are available.

All varieties contain 49% to 51% protein and 31% to 37% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Steve’s Freeze-Dried Turkey variety contains: ground turkey, turkey necks, celery, turkey liver, romaine, watermelon, turkey hearts, bell peppers, raw goat’s milk, flaxseed, dried kelp, cod liver oil, coconut oil, inulin, sesame seeds, sea salt, mixed tocopherols, eggshell membrane, dicalcium phosphate $33 / 1/25 lbs.
STEWART RAW NATURALS
Stewart Pet
Morraine, OH
(800) 635-2044
Seven nugget varieties (beef, bison, chicken, chicken & salmon, lamb, turkey, and “puppy”) and two patty varieties (beef, chicken) are available.

All varieties contain 30% to 47% protein and 26% to 44% fat and are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Stewart Raw Naturals Chicken variety contains: chicken, ground chicken bone, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, egg, ground flaxseed, inulin, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, blueberry, cranberry, dried kelp, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, whole ginger, whole parsley, whole garlic, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, mixed tocopherols, vitamin D supplement Nuggets:
$18 - $25 / 12 oz.
$31 - $36 / 24 oz.

Patties:
$14 - $17 / 11 oz.
TRUDOG
Trupet, LLC
Oldsmar, FL
(800) 476-8808
Two grain-free varieties are available (beef and turkey).

The products contain 41% to 46% protein and 15% to 28% fat. They are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Trudog Turkey variety contains: ground turkey with bone, turkey heart, turkey liver, herring oil, mixed tocopherols $26 - $30 / 14 oz.
VITAL ESSENTIALS
Vital Essentials
Green Bay, WI
(800) 743-0322
Vital Essentials makes its grain-free freeze-dried diets in patties (beef), mini patties (beef, chicken, duck, turkey), nibblets (beef, chicken, turkey), and “mini-nibs” (beef, chicken, duck, turkey).

The products contain 45% to 51% protein and 22% to 27% fat. They are formulated to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages.
Vital Essentials Mini Patties Chicken variety contain: ground chicken with bone, chicken heart, chicken liver, herring oil, mixed tocopherols, d-alpha tocopherol Patties:
$50 / 1.875 lbs.

Mini patties:
$21 - $26 / 1 lb.

Nibblets:
$24 - $26 / 1 lb.

Mini-nibs:
$24- $28 / 1 lb.
TRUFOOD MAKE IT FRESH
Wellpet
Tewksbury, MA
(800) 225-0904
Four grain-free varieties are available (beef, lamb, salmon, and turkey).

The products contain 21% to 25% protein and 8% to 13% fat. They are formulated to be complete and balanced for the maintenance of adult dogs.
Trufoods Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, and Cranberries variety contains: turkey, sweet potatoes, whole egg, chickpea flour, flaxseed, carrots, cranberries, potatoes, apples, turkey liver, tricalcium phosphate, fenugreek seed, pumpkin, kelp, parsley, rosemary, coconut, kale, ginger root, broccoli, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous fumarate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid $80 / 7 lbs.
WHOLE LIFE LIFEBITES
Whole Life Pet Products
Pittsfield, MA
(877) 210-3142
Three grain-free varieties are available (chicken, duck, and salmon).

Each of the products contain 49% protein and 25% fat. They are formulated to be complete and balanced for the maintenance of adult dogs.
Wholelife Lifebites Chicken variety contains: chicken, sweet potato, chicken liver, peas, carrots, apples, blueberries, pumpkin, yogurt, tricalcium phosphate, flaxseed, chia seed, vitamins and minerals (zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, potassium iodide, thiamin mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement) $15 - $20 / 16 oz.

Have YOU Tried Freeze-Dried Foods?

When they have been rehydrated, freeze-dried foods that are sold as human treats (such as strawberries, bananas, and papayas) taste remarkably similar to (or even better than) their fresh, moist counterparts. This is due to the speed and low temperature of the freeze-drying process, as compared to any sort of dehydration process; freeze-drying concentrates the flavor of foods.

Does this matter to your dog? You’d have to offer him different products to find out, but our guess would be that he will enjoy them very much. In our experience, even sick, fussy, and stressed dogs get pretty enthusiastic about freeze-dried foods very quickly. We know many trainers who use freeze-dried meats as training treats in their classes; the products tend to draw out even highly stressed or distracted dogs.

We regard these products as our “ace in the hole” when nursing sick foster puppies back to health. Sick puppies often stop eating, which causes low blood sugar and endangers them further, so if you can find something that will tempt them into eating even just a few bites, they have a better chance of recovering. When a pup won’t eat even canned food or formula, often they will eat a few bits of rehydrated freeze-dried foods.

Nancy Kerns is editor of Whole Dog Journal.

Comments (20)

---Shelf Life ?
---Emergency food supply (with a long term shelf life).

Shelf Life would be helpful. I'm looking for a long term shelf life for emergency food supply.

Should I be looking at dehydrated instead of freeze-dried?

Posted by: Finn2t | August 10, 2018 3:47 AM    Report this comment

Hi, Do you know about the Real Meat Company. It is an air dried food that is 90% meat. I think it is in between raw and freeze dried. No fillers, low carbs, no legumes etc. Here are the ingredients in the beef.
Ingredients
Beef, Beef Lung, Beef Liver, Ground Beef Bone, Vegetable Glycerin, Pumpkin, Inulin (from Chicory Root), Mixed Tocopherols (used as a preservative), Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Parsley, Rosemary, Selenium Yeast, Copper Proteinate, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Manganese Proteinate, d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate (source of Iodine), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin D3 Supplement.

Posted by: Amelia | August 4, 2018 8:53 PM    Report this comment

Honest Kitchen is not included in the above list because it is a dehydrated food, not freeze-dried. As stated in the blurb before the list, WDJ will be doing a list for dehydrated food later in the year.

Posted by: LindaH1946 | August 4, 2018 12:19 PM    Report this comment

I use Honest Kitchen periodically, adding it to my dog's kibble. He gets bored easily so I switch things in his kibble periodically to prevent this. Since it's sold by Whole Foods Market, a huge supplier, and a local canine health food market in town, I'm wondering why you didn't include it in this article. Someone else asked this also, but I don't see your reply.

Posted by: Lauriel | July 27, 2018 9:35 AM    Report this comment

Do you know anything about the product RAWBBLE? It s a freeze dried raw diet dog food as well. I got a few free samples and am considering using this as part of my dog's meal. Thanks!

Posted by: 4PPT | June 17, 2018 5:36 AM    Report this comment

yes the honest kitchen not mentioned due to not being Raw.. and not looking for Raw fed. there are dehydrated that are not raw..raw not something i want to chance with pancreatitis, past opinions are it is not best for the disease. but there are a few companies, THK to mention one, that are not raw, are human grade, and low fat options for the dogs that have pancreatitis. am I missing a category list that is fresh/dehydrated, or even homecooked prepped, but not Raw??

Posted by: shubb | May 27, 2018 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Smallbatch has a freeze-dried line. Were they not reviewed or did they not make the "approved" list? It would be helpful to know whether a food was reviewed and didn't make the list vs. not reviewed at all.

Posted by: Asha | April 13, 2018 5:20 PM    Report this comment

Any reason why Orijen freeze dried is not on your list?

Posted by: Amelia | April 11, 2018 4:58 PM    Report this comment

I bought Tylee's Beef Recipe Human-Grade food last year from Chewy. The food looked good with real broccoli stalks in it. My dog ate it for a few days then gave up on it. Has anyone else tried this food and if you have please tell me how you and your dog liked the food please. Thanks.

Posted by: Peanutsmom08 | April 8, 2018 11:51 AM    Report this comment

I am wondering why Orijen freeze dried is not on your list.
Thanks for all the research and helpful information over the years

Posted by: Beezer | April 8, 2018 6:45 AM    Report this comment

I haven't tried Kiwi Kitchen, however, I have fed Ziwipeak. Then I found Only Natural Pet's MaxMeat which is like Ziwipeak and Kiwi Kitchen. It was rated higher by Dogfoodadvisor.com

The Only Natural Pet MaxMeat is available in free range beef, cage free chicken, and free range lamb/cod combo. You can get it online only.

Posted by: Lani | April 4, 2018 9:51 PM    Report this comment

Great article. However, it is mentioned that some companies use HPP when producing their raw freeze-dried formulas, but in reviewing the food listings, I don’t find any reference to which ones use this technique to help ensure raw food safety. I have a dog undergoing chemotherapy. It would be most helpful to know which raw freeze-dried foods are produced using HPP and, therefore, should be safe for an immune compromised dog. Ditto which companies have a “test and hold” program.

Posted by: Pulimama | April 2, 2018 4:16 AM    Report this comment

I don't see Honest Kitchen listed. Why is that? Thanks.

Posted by: Melanie Walker | April 1, 2018 6:00 PM    Report this comment

Hi, I sell freeze-dried products and have found Nulo to be the best followed by Wysong. With both of these products, I have not found them to turn into mush unless you add water to them. They come in the shape of a cube that has a storage life of about 1 year. Of course, that would be in a dry cool place such as our regular pantries. The best way to feed your dogs would be to vary the textures of your food to them, yes even if you home cook. I start out rotating food such as dry dog food, canned dog food, and raw freeze-dried products. These are more costly, but you get what you pay for if you want trash like natures choice, blue diamond, Purina you are not doing your dog any favors and may actually be hurting them. I want to feed my dogs the best so I make them the food and also feed them they dry, canned, and freeze-dried food. I may be obsessive but I really care for my dogs. I have recently food The Honest kitchen human grade dehydrated food base mix where I can add and determine with a vet how much protein my dogs get. I use an online store called dogparentsonline.com because I feel they really care about my dogs.

Posted by: pokobbaby1@aol.com | April 1, 2018 5:47 PM    Report this comment

Dear Srimoyee,
Thanks for the tip about Kiwi Kitchen. I regularly shop Chewy.com because, for my needs, they have the greatest assortment. Hopefully they will sell Kiwi Kitchen in the future. It looks like a good product. I also like Ziwi Peak and NRG out of Canada.

Posted by: Christy | April 1, 2018 5:43 PM    Report this comment

A VERY important point is NOT made here in the analysis above, and the reason I feed K9 Natural when not feeding my own organic and homemade raw. The ingredients are sourced and the food is made in New Zealand. This translates into non- cafo grass-fed meats as well as no gmo's and a host of other toxins allowed here in the US, but not in New Zealand. This certainly should deserve mention when comparing and analyzing the healthiest foods for our pets!!!!!

Posted by: Donnasandy | April 1, 2018 4:39 PM    Report this comment

I was reading about the freeze dried foods and noticed that it comes in very small quantities, can you tell me how many ounces it takes to make a pound of food after rehydrating?

Posted by: d_bray4@yahoo.com | April 1, 2018 11:53 AM    Report this comment

I have a 9 yr. old, gluten-intolerant Irish setter who has been unable to eat gluten-free kibble for the past couple of years because it caused chronic anal gland impaction. So she’s been on a locally produced raw food diet (Jeffrey’s, made here in San Francisco). During our annual vacation stay in West Marin, we feed her canned sardines mixed with scrambled eggs—what she gets at home when we can’t get to Jeffrey’s. As a one-day substitute, she loves this, but on our 5-day vacations she refuses it after a day or two. So freeze-dried raw foods sound ideal for us. Thanks!

Posted by: califgrl | April 1, 2018 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I used Sojo's for years, until my three dogs started throwing up little black chunks. Turns out they were beef chips that would not rehydrate, even though I let the mix soak overnight. Plus the mix looked slimy. Tried another bag with the same results. After doing some research, turns out WellPet bought the Sojos brand. I suspect the formula on the beef variety may have been changed. I contacted the company with my concerns but did not receive a reply. I am now feeding Honest Kitchen and Stella & Chewy.

Posted by: MizScarlett | April 1, 2018 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Our puppy is very picky with food and it was hard to get him to finish his meals. We tried kibble mixed with water, adding bone broth, canned food, etc. and it would work for few weeks. Around 6 months back, I started adding raw food as topper and he has been consistently finishing his food and he is always excited about food. Right now his food is a 50/50 mix of kibble and freeze dried raw (rehydrated), and I rotate between Stella & Chewy, Primal and Kiwi Kitchens. Kiwi Kitchen appears to be quiet expensive, but after doing the math on cal/cup the price looked better or comparable to Stella and Primal. I would be interested in knowing what WDJ and other readers thinks of Kiwi if they have tried it.

Posted by: srimoyee | March 29, 2018 11:36 PM    Report this comment

New to Whole Dog Journal? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In