If you’re thinking of changing your dog’s diet, this is the post for you. Weighing the options between freeze-dried raw dog food vs raw food diets can be overwhelming.
There are a lot of questions to consider before diving in, especially if your dog has only ever eaten kibble. By the time you’ve finished reading this post you’ll have a sound understanding of the pros and cons of both choices.
You’ll understand the differences between freeze-dried versus raw dog food. Most importantly, you’ll have a better understanding of which choice is right for your dog.
Doggy Diets – The Pet Owner’s Dilemma
Before owning a furry pet, it is impossible to imagine the immense amount of love you can have for them. Dogs fill our hearts with lots of happiness, love, and companionship. They are family, and it is only reasonable that we provide them the best care we can in every way.
There are a lot of dog food choices on the market. The most common types include canned food and dry kibble.
Regardless of their popularity, canned dog food and dry kibble may not be the best options for your dog. Many brands contain highly processed foods, chemicals, artificial dyes, and little to no beneficial nutrients.
You may be questioning the difference between a freeze-dried food product versus dehydrated dog food vs a raw dog food diet. Before we get too far into this post, I think it’s fair to offer a few short definitions:
Raw Dog Food
This is fresh food in a natural state. It is not cooked or processed in any way. Raw muscle meat forms the basis of this diet. In order to enhance the nutritional benefits of raw food, organ meat, ground bone, and fresh vegetables are often added to the diet.
Raw Meat Diet Controversy
Some people swear that a raw meat dog diet has vastly improved their dog’s health. Dog’s fed a raw meat diet may benefit from shinier coats and healthier skin. It’s thought that a raw meat diet improved dental health and provides dogs with increased energy.
It’s important to understand that raw meat alone will not provide dogs with a balanced diet. For optimal health, raw diets should include:
- organ meat
- muscle meat
- whole or ground bone
- raw eggs
- fresh, organic fruits
- dairy products like yogurt
If you’re considering going raw, remember that freeze-dried dog food is still raw…it just has the moisture removed. It’s perfectly fine to buy commercially prepared food. If the food meets the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, you can be sure the food is complete and balanced.
Dehydrated Raw Dog Food
This involves a slow and steady process of using warm air to remove water from raw ingredients.
Dehydration helps preserve the food while maintaining some of its nutrients and enzymes. Your dog still gets the benefit of a raw food diet. Dehydrated dog food does not need refrigeration.
It’s important to rehydrate the food before feeding to your dog. To do this, measure out your dog’s food for the next day and put it in a container.
Use warm water to cover the food and let it sit all night. The next morning, the dry food will have absorbed the water making it easier to serve your pooch.
This is the best and safest way to go if you want to feed your dog raw without the concern of harmful pathogens.
Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Freeze-dried food preserves even more of the nutrients than dehydrated food. The food goes through a water removal process using warm air to remove the moisture.
First, the food is frozen. After the water in the food has turned to ice, it goes through a vacuum chamber that turns the ice into vapor. Since the liquid phase is bypassed, the nutritional content of the food remains intact.
Bonus: Freeze-dried meats keep their proteins, amino acids, and other nutrients intact.
Six basic nutrients essential for optimal dog health.
Protein is a building block in every dog’s diet. Raw meat is a great source of protein and will strengthen your dog’s muscles as well as its immune system. Raw meat also contains many micronutrients and fats to benefit your pet’s overall health.
Healthy fats are a necessity in every dog’s diet. By healthy fats, we mean food that contain Omega-3 oils. Some of these choices include:
- extra virgin cold pressed oils like olive, avocado, flaxseed or hempseed oil
- whole eggs
- fatty fish including farmed & wild salmon, herring, mussels, sardines, trout, and other types of fish.
- seeds including chia seeds, flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and hemp
Healthy fats will give your dog healthy skin and fur.
Water is essential for life for pet owners and pets. Water keeps the metabolic process running efficiently. It helps to digest food, maintain brain function, encourages healthy poops, and basically keeps his/her body running smoothly.
A balanced diet helps your dog fight disease, maintain good health, and keeps energy levels high. In addition to protein, dog’s need a variety of vitamins and minerals. For example, calcium and collagen are essential for healthy bones and joints.
One way to make sure your dog gets these nutrients is by feeding ground bones.
When added to a raw food diet, ground bones can provide added nutrients including calcium and phosphorus.
Fruits and vegetables contain all sorts of essential vitamins and minerals! Vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus are a few of the essential vitamins and minerals that every healthy pup needs. Thankfully, they can all be found in fruits and vegetables.
Carbohydrates help maintain a healthy gut. With the fiber found in carbs, your pet will be able to consume and digest their food easily while absorbing the nutrients that they need. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes can be used to boost a dog’s diet.
Some carbs, like the ones that come from cereal grains, should be cooked enough for healthy digestion. Raw potatoes contain solanine, a compound that may be toxic to some dogs.
What is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
Surprisingly, human food has been freeze-dried since the 15th century! In fact, the majority of food consumed by astronauts and the military is freeze-dried. In recent years, freeze-dried dog food has become increasingly common.
The Creation of Freeze-Dried Dog Food
The process of freeze-drying dog food involves a dehydration process. First, the food is frozen. Once the water in the food turns to ice, it is then turned into water vapor or gas. This is done through a strong vacuum chamber that prevents the ice from returning to the liquid phase .
In doing this, the moisture is removed from the food while keeping the structure of the food intact. The benefit of freeze-dried food is its longevity. It can sit on a shelf for years without going bad. Freeze-dried food has almost no water which means that microorganisms (like the ones that cause e. coli) can’t survive.
Freeze-dried food is minimally processed and will contain all its natural nutrients, color, and flavor. Once the foo completes the freeze-drying process, it is very dry, low in weight, and keeps its original shape.
Benefits of Freeze-Dried Food vs Raw Meat Diets
Dealing with raw meat can be tricky and worrisome for a pet parent. However, meat is essential to a dog’s diet as it provides protein and fat. This results in lots of energy for play time, strong muscles, and healthy, shiny fur.
With freeze-dried meat, your dog will receive the benefits and you won’t need to worry about the potential sickness you could receive from handling raw meat.
Some benefits of freeze-dried dog food include:
- longer shelf life
- easy to pack and light enough to carry anywhere
- maintains all of its natural nutrients
- higher in nutritional value than dry food (kibble)
The only “disadvantage” of freeze-dried dog food is the cost. You will pay more upfront. However, it may be worth the cost because it lasts longer. This type of food is so pure that your dog may be satisfied with less.
Raw Dog Food Diets
A raw food diet consists of non-processed foods and is practically the type of diet that we feed ourselves and our family.
Various meats, including organ meats, fruits, and vegetables are a part of a raw food diet. When compared to dry kibble or canned dog food, a raw food diet will provide essential nutrients that your pet needs to live a happy and healthy life.
Benefits of Raw Dog Food
There is a lot of room for flexibility in terms of a raw food diet for your dog. Though there are companies that sell packaged meals that consist of raw food, it is fairly simple for a pet parent to create their dog’s meals on their own.
No one knows your dog as well as you do, but it is important to do some research on the best foods to feed your dog based on their breed, health issues and needs.
Because of the health issues or concerns that your furry pet may have, a raw food diet may be the best option. Pet parents won’t need to worry about their dog’s allergies or intolerances because they are able to customize each meal for their pet.
Since you will be feeding your pet whole foods, it will receive all the benefits from the nutrients in the foods.
Disadvantages of Raw Dog Food
Similar to freeze-dried dog food, a raw food diet will be pricier than a standard dry kibble diet. Apart from the price, there is some risk when it comes to raw food. If not handled properly, or left at room temperature,raw meat can cause serious sickness (including e-coli).
According to the FDA, a two-year study screened over 1000 samples of pet food for bacteria. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) studies 196 samples of commercially available raw dog food (and cat food).
Of the 196 raw foods analyzed, 15 of them came back positive for Salmonella and 32 were positive for Listeria. Humans who contract food-borne illnesses like Salmonella (food poisoning) experience diarrhea, fever, pain and cramping. In rare cases, it can be life-threatening.
To prevent food-borne illness when handling raw pet food:
- thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling the food and after touching surfaces that have come in contact with it
- clean and disinfect all surfaces that have in contact with raw meat
- freeze raw meat until ready to use
- immediately cover and refrigerate unused raw food
- don’t let your dog lick your face
If you are a busy pet parent, keep in mind that a raw food diet for your dog will take some time out of your day. Not only will you be preparing the meal, but you will also need to clean and disinfect the area, tools and food bowls that were used to prevent any spread of bacteria.
The best way around this is to buy good quality, commercially prepared raw pet food.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Spoiled Meat!
Although dogs have different digestion systems than we do, it’s not a good idea to feed your dog spoiled meat. Feeding your dog meat that is obviously spoiled can create more problems than its worth.
Find out more by reading: 5 Common-Sense Reasons Not to Feed Your Dog Spoiled Meat
What Can My Dog Eat?
Dog owners have hundreds of questions over what types of foods they can feed their dogs. This goes way beyond dog food nutrition. People are curious about feeding their dogs everything from molasses to tacos.
In fact, you may have some of these same questions. If you do, check out these hand-picked posts:
Which Choice is Best For Your Dog
Ultimately, you should consult a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist for the best advice. Every dog has different needs, especially specific breeds. Underlying disease, allergies, and food sensitivities will dictate the best diet to use.
At the end of the day, you have to choose the best quality dog food that you can afford. There are quality dry and wet foods on the shelves these days.
Whichever type of diet you choose for your dog, it’s important to ensure it’s balanced and nutritionally sound. Look for the stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Don’t Leave Your Decision to Chance
Instead of booking an appointment, driving to the veterinarian’s office, and potentially being charged more than necessary, consider an educated opinion from a veterinarian online. For as low as $50, you can consult with a licensed veterinarian who specializes in pet nutrition.
I’m an affiliate with Vetster which means that if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. The commission earned helps me to continue offering valuable content for pet owners like you.
Vetster is an app that is easy to use. You can use it no matter where you live. The best part is that you can quickly get sound medical advice on just about any area of interest. That includes advice about your dog’s diet.
It doesn’t cost anything to set up an account and they offer 24/7 peace of mind. Whether it’s a question about nutrition, or a panicked call late at night because your dog got into some chocolate, Vetster is there.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. Nutrition is a complicated subject that can’t be summed up in one post. Hopefully, this post was able to give you a better understanding of the pros and cons of a raw food diet vs a freeze-dried diet.
Sometimes it’s not an all-or-nothing decision. Many pet owners feed their dogs a combination of raw meat and commercially prepared dog food! As always, your veterinarian is the best source of dietary information for your dog.
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