In this article you will find:
- What is Dehydrated Dog Food?
- What’s the Difference Between Air-Dried and Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
- Best Dehydrated Dog Food Brands
- 1. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
- 2. Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Recipe
- 3. The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe
- 4. Addiction Steakhouse Beef & Zucchini Entrée
- 5. I and Love and You Stir & Boom Raw Raw Beef Boom Ba Dinner
- 6. Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe
- 7. Stella & Chewy's Stella's Super Beef Meal Mixers
- 8. Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets
- 9. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Formula
- Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dehydrated Dog Food?
It may seem like a simple task, but deciding on the right pet food for your canine companion can be challenging considering the endless options.
Would you go for dry or wet canned food? How about a raw diet? Could you combine the convenience of serving dry kibble with the nutritional benefits of raw food? The answer is yes. That’s where the best dehydrated dog food plays a pivotal role.
And as a discerning dog owner, we know you only want the best for your pup. So, we’ve also made a list of the best dehydrated dog food brands that you can try today.
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What is Dehydrated Dog Food?
In simple terms, dehydrated foods are foods with no moisture, or foods from which almost or all of their water content has been removed.
The dehydration process preserves the food and retains the essential nutrients, natural vitamins, and minerals that are present in its ingredients.
Dehydration is an ancient form of preserving food, and it mimics the natural preservation by sunlight. For centuries people used dehydration as a means to maintain the health and long life of the foods that they eat to survive.
By slowly heating and removing the moisture of the food, the growth of microorganisms is prevented. This also stops the food from going bad or getting spoiled even for years after the pack of dehydrated food was opened. Similar principles apply when cooking and drying meat for human consumption.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR BEST DEHYDRATED DOG FOOD
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What’s the Difference Between Air-Dried and Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
As mentioned above, dehydrated dog food is a minimally processed dietary option wherein the food has had the moisture removed from it to prolong its shelf life and retain more of its nutrients.
And there are several methods used to achieve the desired outcomes, but the term dehydration is most commonly linked to air-dried, and freeze-dried foods. To make things even more complicated, some producers differentiate these two methods and dehydration.
So, to make things clearer, below are separate definitions of each method used in dehydrating foods.
Dehydration is when raw ingredients are exposed to low heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for extended periods. During this process, water evaporates from the food. Also, heat is used in the process, so the food cannot be considered raw.
However, the heat that is used is also not hot enough to cook the food. This means that the food retains the same levels of essential nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes as raw food.
The food is frozen to eliminate any remaining moisture from the ingredients. It is not necessary to cook the food before being stored, thus maintaining it at an ideal natural level.
To achieve the desired result, all ingredients are mixed before freezing. The moisture is extracted by combining low temperatures with high pressure.
Freeze-drying causes the water in the frozen food to phase from solid to gas (sublimate) and bypass the liquid state of the food.
By doing this, consumers are assured that the food never reached temperatures above freezing. As a result, the risk of microbial growth or nutritional degradation is greatly reduced.
What’s more, the process of sublimation in freeze-drying keeps the cell structure of the freeze dried dog foods intact, so, you can expect to see a less shriveled appearance compared with air-dried foods.
Air drying raw pet food removes its moisture using evaporated air. This is the same procedure as dehydration, but it is completed without adding heat. Airdried foods can therefore sometimes be called “dehydration.”
Air effectively reduces oxidation of the natural products, or it significantly reduces any damage to the nutrients in the natural ingredients.
This means that your dog is getting almost all of the benefits of a raw diet. Also, compared with freeze-dried dog food, air-dried foods contain more moisture, so, they appear more saturated.
Best Dehydrated Dog Food Brands
- The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
- Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Recipe
- The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe
- Addiction Steakhouse Beef & Zucchini Entree
- I and Love and You Stir & Boom Raw Raw Beef
- Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe
- Stella & Chewy's Stella's Super Beef Meal Mixers
- Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets
- Orijen Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried
1. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Dehydrated Chicken, Organic Barley, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Oats
The Honest Kitchen is a household name in dehydrated dog foods. They are known for producing human-grade pet foods containing premium human-grade ingredients that have been dehydrated gently, leaving their natural flavors and nutrients for the pets to savor and enjoy.
This whole grain high-protein recipe, in particular, features premium recognizable ingredients with dehydrated free-range chicken as the number one ingredient.
It’s also made in a human-grade facility in the US following 100% human-grade standards. This only means that it contains higher quality and safer ingredients, just like you would expect from the food that you eat.
What’s more, this delicious meal offers complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs, puppies, and adult mothers (gestation/lactation) of all breeds and sizes.
It is also devoid of corn, wheat, soy, meat by-products, and artificial preservatives. And unlike other dehydrated foods, this rehydrates 4x its weight, which means a 10-lb box of this recipe can already make 40-lbs of food.
- Complete and balanced meal for dogs and puppies
- High-protein and features human-grade ingredients
- Made in human-grade facilities in the USA
- Natural with added nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients
- No preservatives, by-products, or fillers
- A 2-lb box makes about 8-lbs of wholesome homemade food
- Can be served alone as a complete meal or as a topper
- A bit pricey, but you have the option to make it a topper
- Some dogs don’t like it – it can be due to its appearance, smell, texture, and/or taste
2. Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver, Lamb Kidney
Manufactured by ZiwiPeak, an award-winning pet food manufacturer of 100% natural food, this recipe contains 96% meat, organs, bones, and New Zealand mussels.
The brand is known for its air-dried dog food recipes, which do not need rehydration before feeding. The food contains more moisture than kibble, but it’s completely safe, clean, and easy to handle.
Apart from its clean and meaty quality ingredients, this natural dog food only uses ethically- and sustainably-sourced wild-caught fish and free-range meats. No added hormones, antibiotics, or growth promotants were used in any of them.
What’s more, this air-dried dog food formulation has a high protein content (43%) to provide your pup with all the energy he needs to fuel his daily activities and all the nutrients he needs for proper muscle development and maintenance.
This dog food recipe has a 4.7 stars out of 5 rating from 277 satisfied dog owners. A dog’s natural craving is for meat and a whole-prey formulation takes care of that.
Many buyers have reported that if their dogs were feeling particularly picky, this dog food is something their pets can never say no to.
The dehydrated dog food can work as a topper or a full meal. Since this grain-free dog food has a softer and thinner food form than kibble, it’s an ideal meal for pups of all life stages and breeds.
- High protein content
- Clean ingredients
- Grain free and nutrient dense
- With 10% superfood inclusions
- Sustainably and ethically-sourced meats and fish
- Has a slight fishy smell
3. The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Potatoes, Dehydrated Spinach, Dehydrated Carrots
The Honest Kitchen is a company of pet lovers dedicated to helping pets live a healthier life through the intake of natural, wholesome food that only uses ingredients with integrity.
This grain-free and gluten-free recipe is ideal for dogs with allergies and food sensitivities. It features dehydrated turkey as its first ingredient, and it is free from common allergens like wheat, white potatoes, corn, soy, GMO, artificial preservatives, and meat by-products.
Just like all recipes made by The Honest Kitchen, this is made in a human-grade kitchen in the USA using human-grade ingredients. And it uses a time-honored dehydration technique to retain the food’s natural vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
- Ideal for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomach
- Same advantages as the whole grain recipe
- Can be expensive
- Some says it smells like mowed grass, with the consistency of a pea-soup
4. Addiction Steakhouse Beef & Zucchini Entrée
Top 5 Ingredients: Beef, Potatoes, Carrots, Coconut Oil, Flaxseed
Addiction’s obsession with nutrition is what drives them to share the best of New Zealand with all the pets worldwide.
Today, they are the largest pet food company in one of the world’s least populated countries, and they continue to produce high-quality and nutrient-rich pet foods for cats and dogs around the world.
Satisfy your dog’s natural craving for meat and level up his happiness with the mouth-watering goodness of New Zealand free-range beef paired with the invigorating taste of zucchini.
This air-dried dog food offers your pup the goodness of raw ingredients with the convenience of dry food. And with visible chunks of beef, this recipe is without a doubt, made for promoting peak performance in adult dogs.
- Made in New Zealand, the world’s cleanest place to produce pet foods
- Beefy recipe, combined with nutrient-packed superfoods
- Contains coconut oil that is good for your dog’s coat health and skin
- Free from – grains, fillers, wheat, soy, artificial colors, artificial flavoring, steroids, and artificial hormones
- Grain-free, gluten-free, pea-free
- A bit cheaper than other premium dehydrated dog foods
- May have some issues with picky dogs
5. I and Love and You Stir & Boom Raw Raw Beef Boom Ba Dinner
Top 5 Ingredients: Beef, Sweet Potatoes, Yellow Split Peas, Carrots, Dried Egg Product
“I and Love and You” offers the ultimate raw dog food experience to canines with all the flavors and nutritional benefits of raw meats, fruits, and vegetables.
And as a founding member of the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition, the company is committed to providing high-quality dehydrated foods while embracing sustainable practices.
They implement best practices reflective of green living, which in the long run benefit the environment, small businesses, local communities, and businesses.
This wholesome, real-food recipe has up to 32% protein with free-range beef as the first ingredient along with eggs, sweet potatoes, carrots, flaxseeds, and a lot more.
In addition to being gluten-free and grain-free, this recipe does not contain bad stuff that can make your pup ill, making it a perfect warm and delicious meal for dogs with allergies and sensitivities.
What’s more, the low glycemic index of its ingredients helps promote healthy weight, while omega fatty acids help support a shiny and healthy coat.
- 100% raw, with free-range beef as the first ingredient
- Made for all life stages
- Grain-free and gluten-free
- No fillers, preservatives, and other bad stuff
- Contains superfoods such as ginger root, flaxseeds, and kelp
- Low glycemic index, which is ideal in promoting healthy weight
- Made using sustainable practices
- A bit pricier than other bestselling brands
- Some dogs don’t seem to digest the food well
6. Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Whole Egg, Broccoli, Apples
Sojos, a Minessota-based family-owned business has been making healthy pet foods and trips since 1985.
And their proven “raw made easy” recipes are now chunkier and meatier, and still use the same real, farm-fresh ingredients that deliver awesome taste, aroma, and nutrition.
This easy-to-prepare mix features USDA-approved freeze-dried meat, and human-grade air-dried fruits and vegetables, minimally processed to deliver uncompromised nutrition to your furry companions.
This complete and balanced diet is engineered to provide optimum nutritional benefits to promote easy digestion, support his immune health, skin and coat, and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Offers complete and balanced meal; just add water and serve
- No soy, fillers, artificial colors or preservatives, and nothing from China
- Natural dog food with added vitamins and minerals
- Made in the USA
- A bit pricy
- May have some issues with picky eaters
- Despite being loved, some dogs experience an upset stomach after eating it
7. Stella & Chewy's Stella's Super Beef Meal Mixers
Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Tripe
Kickstart your dog’s kibbles with a powerful boost of nutrition and flavor with this meaty and tasty topper.
This recipe of Stella & Chewy’s Raw Food Meal Mixers starts with real raw beef for its first five ingredients, making it a high-protein topper perfect for satisfying your dog’s natural craving for meat and umami flavor.
You can mix this nutritious recipe with your dog’s favorite dry food or canned food, or you can serve it as a complete meal.
This gluten-free and grain-free raw food is formulated to mimic your dog’s natural diet, and it’s perfect for canines with sensitive stomachs and allergies.
- High-protein, gluten-free, and grain-free recipe
- Single source animal protein – grass-fed beef
- No added hormones and antibiotics
- Natural with added vitamins and minerals
- Complete and balanced nutrition for dogs
- Handcrafted in the USA using the finest ingredients
- Helps support healthy digestion, strong teeth and gums, promote vibrant skin and coat, and enhances your dog’s stamina and vitality
- Can be served as is, or rehydrated with warm or cold water
- Can be used as a topper, or served as a whole meal
- Expensive than most dehydrated dog foods
- Strong smell and some dogs don’t like it
- Some dogs experience stomach upset after eating it
8. Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets
Top 5 Ingredients of New Recipe: Chicken (with ground bone), Chicken Livers, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Kale
Primal Chicken Nuggets Freeze-Dried Dog Food offers your hungry canine buddy a tasty, complete and balanced meal with the benefits of a safe and wholesome real raw food diet – minus the mess and the hassles of preparing the food from scratch.
This high-protein recipe is packed with naturally derived vitamins and minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and naturally-occurring enzymes that all work to help get your dog to thrive and live a happy and healthy life.
What’s more, it is crafted in the USA using the world’s finest ingredients. And it is free from steroids, antibiotics, hormones, corn, wheat, soy, lentils. Hence, it is also a great diet for dogs with allergies, and sensitivities.
- Hormone and antibiotic-free chicken is the base of this recipe
- Gluten-free and grain-free
- Complete and balanced freeze-dried raw diet
- Some dogs easily get bored with the recipe
9. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Formula
Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken Ground With Bone, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Whole Herring, Eggs
Orijen’s biologically appropriate freeze-dried dog food lets your pup enjoy the benefits of raw a diet in dry form. You can serve it as a complete meal just by adding warm water, or crumble the medallion and sprinkle it over your dog’s favorite dry or wet food.
This original recipe is made with free-run poultry, and wild-caught fish and eggs, ensuring that each bite is packed with 90% premium animal ingredients.
It’s also packed with non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and botanicals, and it is grain-free and gluten-free, which makes it an ideal raw diet for dogs with sensitivities.
- High-protein, grain-free, gluten-free, non-GMO
- Can be fed as a topper or as a complete meal
- Made in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients
- Packed with omega fatty acids, EPA, DHA, calcium, and phosphorus
- 90% premium animal ingredients
- Some dogs don’t like it
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dehydrated Dog Food?
After reading a few dehydrated dog food reviews, and learning more about this dietary option, we hope you’ve already decided whether this type of diet is for your dog or not.
To help with this important decision, and guide you with what brand will work best for your dog, we’ve made this buying guide. Let’s start with the benefits of dehydrated dog food.
Benefits of Dehydrated Dog Food
Dehydrated food offers multiple advantages, both for the manufacturers and your dog. Dehydration is a cheaper way to store foods and it helps in reducing waste.
This cuts the cost of the production of food by enabling food manufacturers to spend time, effort, and money focusing on sourcing high-quality food ingredients.
Quality foods made from premium ingredients are key to your puppy's good health. Although drying locks more nutrients in the process than any production method, these nutrients should be present in the ingredients first. Hence, dehydrated foods typically contain good meat cuts, fruits, and vegetables of high quality.
Having said all this, it’s clear that the main benefit of dehydrated dog foods is that they retain most of the nutrients that are already present in their ingredients. Aside from this, dehydrated dog food also offers the following advantages:
- They are easier to serve than raw meat. Simply add water to rehydrate the food and wait for a few seconds. Because of how convenient dehydrated foods are, they are also great when you are traveling with your dog. This way, you can breathe well knowing that your dog is eating a complete and balanced meal even if both of you are on the go.
- You don’t need to refrigerate them, and they have a longer shelf life.
- Dehydrated foods are also lighter and easy to store. For instance, a 2-lb box of The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food could make 8-lbs of food.
- Dogs love them because they are meaty, flavorful, and they also have a pleasant texture that can be adjusted by changing the amount of water that you are adding to each serving. Hence, they are great for picky eaters.
- Dehydrated dog foods are also free from fillers, meat by-products, grains, and artificial preservatives. This means that they are less likely to upset your dog’s digestive system. Also, many dehydrated foods are grain-free and gluten-free, making them a great option for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.
Downsides of Dehydrated Dog Food
Now, that you’ve seen the brighter side of this diet, it’s time to open your eyes to its disadvantages:
- Dehydrated dog food is made with premium ingredients, so, you can expect that they also come at premium prices. This is also one of the reasons why some pet parents prefer using dehydrated foods as toppers, instead of serving them as full meals to their pets.
- Despite its benefits, real raw meat also comes with some risks. Some veterinarians are concerned that a few raw foods that feature uncooked meat may harbor harmful bacteria, which could have been killed when cooked conventionally. Dehydrated foods are usually heated at a temperature that could kill the presence of pathogens – so, air-dried and freeze-dried foods pose more risks. Because of the susceptibility of raw foods to bacteria, we don’t recommend feeding dehydrated foods to immunocompromised dogs or if you have a baby at home.
- Some dehydrated dog foods have higher fat content, so, it’s still a great idea to always read the label.
More Tips in Choosing the Right Dehydrated Dog Food for Your Pup
When choosing the right dehydrated dog food for your canine companion, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for his expert advice and recommendations. And as mentioned above, don’t forget to check the label.
Pet food brands in the US must contain the product name, the name, and address of the manufacturer, the list of ingredients, guaranteed analysis, net product weight, feeding guidelines, and a statement of nutritional adequacy.
Also, look for the statement “complete and balanced diet,” which means that the dehydrated food has met the minimum nutritional standards set by the AAFCO. Avoid products that contain artificial preservatives, artificial colors, generic fat sources, sweeteners, and meat by-products.
When it comes to the ingredients, the food should contain premium animal proteins of around 18-25%. Some dog owners may have second thoughts about the fat content of the food, but at the end of the day, fat is still important to your dog’s health. Healthy fats should make up about 15% of your dog’s diet.
Carbohydrates are a fast source of energy for dogs, and they also keep your pup full. They support healthy bodily functions and help to keep your dog active. Ideally, dog food should contain 30 to 70% of complex carbohydrates from natural sources.
Some dog foods and special diets also contain additional ingredients, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. It’s best to talk to your vet to know more about your dog’s current health status and whether or not he needs these added nutrients in his diet or not.
Dehydrated pet food is ideally suited to ensure your dog is fed wholesome foods that are safe to store and can be easily prepared. Dehydrating dog food also means they don't break up easily, which means they have longer shelf life without the need for preservatives.
But is it for your dog? Well, you can give it a try. Again, feel free to consult your vet if you have more questions, or if your dog has an underlying medical condition that makes it more challenging to pick the right food.
Nonetheless, if you want a more convenient way to serve safe, and real raw food to your dog, dehydrated dog food can be your best option.