Our pet dogs rely on us to provide a complete and balanced diet that will optimize their long-term health. As pet parents, we want nothing more than to give them the best nutrition possible. So as much as we can, we try to keep up with all the new trends that will improve our pet’s diet and health in general.
However, with the myriad of dog food options available in the market now and then, it’s often hard to choose. For instance, one of the growing trends these days is raw food diets. You’ve probably found yourself many times in the raw pet food section but get confused with the variety of raw food on the shelf.
Raw food diets come in different types, and we’re highlighting three of them here. Below are some of the things you need to know about dehydrated raw, freeze-dried raw, and frozen raw dog food. Knowing their key differences can help you make more informed decisions for your dog’s diet.
Why a Raw Food Diet?
Raw food diets have kept dogs happy and healthy for hundreds of years. But when processed pet foods came in and became popular, they were not used anymore. Raw food was rediscovered and has grown in popularity over the last decade. It has been known to have several health benefits for dogs, aside from being easy to use.
Nevertheless, one of the reasons pet owners cite for feeding their dogs a raw diet is that it is a more natural diet, which usually consists of muscle meat, organ meat, and bones. It can also include raw eggs, some dairy, vegetable, and fruit materials. Raw dog foods can be dehydrated, freeze-dried, or frozen, and each type may vary in processes, nutritional value, texture, and serving.
Dehydrated Raw Dog Food
Raw dog food can be dehydrated, one of the oldest methods used to preserve food naturally. Basically, it is done by removing the water or moisture from the raw ingredients in a low-heat drying method. Such a process maintains the original nutritional value of ingredients intact and reduces the possible growth of any microorganisms that are dangerous to dogs.
Below are some of the benefits of raw dehydrated dog food.
Dehydrated raw food becomes more nutritious and tastier. With that, it can be a fantastic choice for dogs with gastrointestinal sensitivities. The dehydration method aids the digestive process to begin, making it easier on the digestive tract of a dog.
A box of dehydrated food may often indicate that it’s ten pounds worth of meals. But the ten-pound bag can almost quadruple once you start using it. You’d be surprised that it can last for months, depending on your dog’s size. But in many cases, you’ll feed your dog less food when you’re giving them dehydrated raw food.
This type of raw food diet is easy to prepare. In many cases, you only have to add warm water and let it sit for three to four minutes to rehydrate the food before feeding it to your dog. It’s also convenient to carry and store since it doesn’t require any freezing or special care before you’re ready to use it.
Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
This freeze-dried raw dog food also undergoes a water or moisture removal process to preserve the ingredients. But unlike the dehydrated raw food, warm air is not used to remove moisture in freeze-dried raw food. Instead, it is done by freezing the raw ingredient, then lowering the pressure to allow the frozen water in the food to evaporate without thawing or cooking.
The following are among the benefits that you can get from a free-dried raw diet.
The key advantage of free-dried food is that the nutrients are more intact than the dehydrated pack because it doesn’t use any heat. Essential nutrients like enzymes, fats, and probiotics retain their quality better. The natural taste of the food is also more preserved because it is used without extensive processing.
A freeze-dried raw diet is often good for at least a year, although some may last up to five. You must check the sell-by date on the package. But in most cases, you’ll have to use it within a month once you open the package and let air in.
Free-dried dog food is extremely shelf-stable. You can just keep it on the shelf at room temperature, making it easier to store. Because it’s also portable and lightweight, a free-dried diet is great for camping or backpacking with your dog.
Frozen Raw Dog Food
Raw dog food can also be frozen. It is just like storing your food in the freezer. Although serving instructions may vary by brand and specific diet, preparation often involves thawing and the frozen food ingredients and possibly rehydrating it. Make sure to check out the feeding instructions and proper storage on the package of the specific food you’re purchasing.
Highlighted below are some of the benefits of feeding your dog a frozen raw diet.
A frozen raw diet comes closer to the natural diet of your dog’s wild ancestors. Because freezing also helps to maintain the food’s full nutritional value, it’s also a healthy option for your dog. But of the meats used in frozen dog food, chicken has the most complete amino acid profile. If your dog is allergic to chicken, look for other meat choices.
The shelf-life of an unused bag of frozen raw is typically up to one year in the freezer. But don’t forget to check out the package and not exceed the printed expiration date. Nevertheless, raw dog food can stay as long as one year in the freezer, depending on the specific type of food ingredient.
Keeping raw dog food frozen is the easiest way to prevent food contamination. But of course, you’ll need room to store it in the freezer and thaw it before serving it to your dog. In terms of convenience, it may not be an excellent option when you’re into camping or traveling.
What Raw Dog Food Should You Feed Your Pet?
There is not much difference between dehydrated, freeze-dried, and frozen raw dog food in terms of nutritional value. Through minimal processing, they are all preserved without additives. But what you should be feeding your dog should not only depend on their benefits. It would still be best to consult with the vet, especially if your dog has a health condition.
Courtney John is a freelance writer for animal and pet care for over a decade now. She is also a volunteer dedicated to animal rescue and welfare, working for different organizations all over town. She lives with her two adopted cats and rescue dog.