The 7 Best Freeze Dried Dog Foods (2021 Reviews)

Traditional kibble is not always the best choice for our canine companions. Ingredients used to make kibble are processed using intense heat, which can reduce both the flavor and nutrient quality in the food. To counteract this, manufacturers often add ingredients for flavor and nutritional value, which may or may not come from natural sources. This can lead kibble and other processed diets to be problematic for dogs with allergies or sensitive digestion.

Because of this, many have looked to a freeze-dried, raw diet to provide food that a dog’s system can better respond to. If you’re in the market for freeze-dried dog food, we’ve provided a list of options as well as a comprehensive buying guide to help you through the process. We reviewed hundreds of products and tens of thousands of verified reviews to choose these 7 best freeze-dried dog foods.

Our Picks for the Best Freeze Dried Dog Food

1. K9 Natural Freeze Dried Dog Food

k9 natural freeze dried dog food

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K9 Natural is a freeze-dried, raw dog food made with high quality meats, fruits, and vegetables. The ingredient list is short and easily understood, meaning it’s suitable for dogs that require a limited diet, or are gluten-free or dairy-free. This particular option is made with ethically sourced New Zealand lamb, though K9 Natural also comes in beef, chicken, and salmon varieties.

Key Features:

  • Freeze-dried, raw dog food
  • Made with ethically sourced New Zealand lamb
  • Grain-free and non-GMO
  • Contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • No fillers: no potatoes, rice, wheat, or gluten products
  • Also comes in beef, chicken, and beef & salmon

Pros:

  • Simple ingredients: 90% lamb (meat, organs, bones), 5% egg and green lipped mussel, 5% fruits/vegetables/vitamins & minerals
  • Can be used as a complete meal or as a topper on kibble for additional taste
  • Can be served dry or rehydrated
  • 100% money back guarantee

Cons:

  • Grain-free product may not work for some pet parents

2. Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Dog Food – Duck

vital essentials freeze dried dog food

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Vital Essentials Duck Mini Nibs is an all natural freeze-dried dog food made without fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives. The ingredient list is limited: USDA certified duck, herring oil, and natural vitamin E. It can be also used as a topper or as a standalone complete meal.

Key Features:

  • Freeze-dried, raw dog food made with duck
  • Made without grains, gluten, or fillers
  • All natural; made without artificial flavors or colors, and meat raised without hormones or antibiotics
  • Limited ingredient formula suitable for dogs on specific diets (ingredients are: duck, herring oil, natural vitamin E)

Pros:

  • Made in the USA, with strictly American sourced ingredients
  • Single source protein
  • Can be fed as a kibble topper, complete meal, or as a treat
  • Meets AAFCO nutritional standards for every life stage

Cons:

  • Grain-free product may not work for some pet parents
  • Pricier compared to other freeze-dried options

3. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Beef Meal Mixers

stella and chewy's raw beef freeze dried dog food

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This Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried meal topper is a solid choice made with farm raised, grass fed beef. It’s also completely all natural, and doesn’t contain hormones, artificial ingredients, or fillers.

Key Features:

  • All natural freeze-dried, raw dog food
  • Made with grass fed beef
  • Intended to be a meal topper, but also meets the nutritional guidelines to be used as a complete and balanced food source
  • Also comes in chicken, turkey, and seafood options

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • All natural; made without added fillers, grains, hormones, or antibiotics
  • 95% meat based, 5% organic fruits & vegetables and vitamins

Cons:

  • Contains more ingredients compared with other options, so pet parents should specifically read the list if their dog is on a limited diet

4. Sojos Complete Freeze Dried Dog Food – Turkey Recipe

sojos complete turkey freeze dried dog food

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Sojos Complete is a freeze-dried, raw dog food that acts as complete and balanced meal once rehydrated. All you have to do is add water, and the food will plump up to a stew with chunks of meat. Sojos is made in the USA (in Minnesota), and includes only natural ingredients.

Key Features:

  • Complete and balanced meal that’s freeze-dried — just add water
  • Human grade ingredients, including meat, fruits, and vegetables
  • 1.75 pound bag makes 10 pounds of food after hydration; 7 pound bag makes 40 pounds of food
  • Also available in turkey, beef, and lamb options

Pros:

  • Made in the USA in small batches
  • Meets all AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult dogs
  • Grain free, non-GMO, and made without fillers
  • Includes zinc, vitamin E, vitamin D3, folic acid, and other vitamins
  • All natural with no preservatives or additives

Cons:

  • Food has chunks of meat in it, so may be difficult to eat for smaller breed dogs
  • Expensive compared to regular kibble

5. Nulo Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food

nulo freestyle raw dog food

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Nulo Freestyle is a freeze-dried dog food that combines all-natural meat, produce, and vitamins with a probiotic for improved digestion.

Key Features:

  • Freeze-dried, grain free, raw dog food
  • Comes in beef, duck, lamb, salmon, and turkey varieties
  • Meets all AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages, including puppies
  • Available in 5 and 13 ounce bags

Pros:

  • Can be served as a topper, treat, or complete meal
  • Made in the USA in a USDA inspected facility
  • Includes probiotics to aid in healthy digestion

Cons:

  • Grain free, which may not work for some pet parents
  • On the pricier side of options

6. Primal Freeze Dried Chicken Dog Food

primal chicken freeze dried dog food

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Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets is one of the highest rated freeze-dried foods available. It’s made with all natural chicken, certified organic produce, salmon oil, and a number of essential vitamins and minerals.

Key Features:

  • All natural freeze-dried, raw dog food
  • Ingredients are 78% natural chicken, 22% certified organic produce and vitamins
  • Made without grains, gluten, or fillers
  • One 14 ounce bag makes 3 pounds of food once rehydrated

Pros:

  • Made in the USA with ingredients sourced from only the US and New Zealand
  • All natural chicken raised without antibiotics, steroids, or hormones
  • Can be used as a complete and balanced meal, or just as a topper for improved taste

Cons:

  • A pricey option, especially if you have a bigger dog that eats a large quantity of food
  • Grain free may not work for some pet parents

7. Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Toppers

instinct rawboost freeze dried dog food

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Instinct Raw Boost Toppers is a top choice for freeze-dried food to add to your dog’s existing kibble diet. In addition to pieces of beef or free range chicken, the blend includes freeze-dried apples, sweet potatoes, peas, and blueberries. Similar to other options, this is fully grain-free and completely all-natural.

Key Features:

  • Intended to be a kibble topper for enhanced taste, or as a treat
  • Made without grains, filler, or any artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Available in beef and chicken

Pros:

  • Made in the USA
  • Made with beef or chicken, as well as freeze dried apples, sweet potatoes, peas, and blueberries
  • Affordable option for those looking to test a raw food diet

Cons:

  • Grain free may not work for some pet parents

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Freeze Dried Dog Food Buying Guide

Unlike dehydrated and processed foods, freeze-dried foods are not treated with heat and require no preservatives. The vitamins, minerals, and enzymes present in the original ingredients undergo fewer changes than if they were cooked or pasteurized. Freeze-dried dog food is a useful alternative to explore for those not satisfied with traditional kibble for their dogs.

The Freeze Drying Process

Freeze drying is a useful way to preserve foods for long term storage without harsh preservatives. Although the process was widely used during WWII as a way to preserve heat-sensitive biological materials, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that it was applied to food products for humans. Freeze-dried dog foods are a relative newcomer on the scene, first becoming commercially available within the last few decades.

It’s achieved by first freezing the food, then exposing it to a low-pressure vacuum. In this process, the ice crystals go straight from a solid state to a gaseous state, bypassing liquid altogether. The process typically removes 96% to 99% of the liquid and takes between 24-48 hours to complete.

Pros and Cons of a Freeze Dried Diet

Pros

Because they’re not treated with heat, freeze-dried foods are considered to be a form of raw diet. Raw diets for dogs are ideally comprised of muscle meat, organs, and bones, and may include fruits and vegetables as well. They have moderate levels of fat, high levels of protein, and very low levels of carbohydrates.

Proponents of a raw diet for dogs say that by cooking the food that we feed our pets, we change its nutritional value. By avoiding heat, these foods are believed to taste better and have more nutrients than heat-treated options, because they more closely resemble a dog’s natural diet.

Several benefits to feeding your dog a more natural diet include:

  • Healthier skin and coat
  • Fewer allergic reactions
  • Fresher breath
  • Whiter teeth
  • Increased energy
  • Improved digestion
  • Smaller stools with less odor

As an added benefit, freeze-dried raw foods are easy to store, don’t require refrigeration, won’t get moldy, and are lightweight. This makes them ideal for situations like vacations and camping trips, where carrying regular dog food might be difficult.

Cons

However, there are some cons to consider. Raw, uncooked animal proteins, such as those found in freeze-dried dog food, can harbor bacteria that a pasteurized or cooked product won’t have.

Salmonella, in particular, has led to several recalls of freeze-dried dog food. Thankfully, dogs are fairly resistant to Salmonella and unless your canine companion is very young/old, or immunocompromised, they are unlikely to show symptoms.

Unfortunately, even without symptoms, our dogs are fully capable of shedding salmonella in both their stool and their saliva, possibly passing it on to other pets and people in the household. Although humans are more susceptible to the bacteria than canines, some dogs may develop the illness as well.

If you’re unsure of which diet to choose, it’s always smart to speak with your veterinarian to fully understand the pros and cons of each.

Selecting a Freeze Dried Food

There are several varieties of freeze-dried dog foods available on the market. Which specific one will depend on your preferences, your reason for choosing freeze-dried foods, and your dog’s tastes.

Many people choose to switch to their dog to freeze-dried foods to reduce allergen exposure, follow a fully natural diet, and to avoid the preservatives used in other commercial foods. Some even switch to 100% freeze-dried and raw foods, and remove kibble from their canine’s menu entirely.

On the other hand, pet parents looking to add extra nutrition and flavor into their dog’s diet may not require a complete overhaul. There are several varieties of food that combine traditional kibbles with freeze-dried components. You can easily find kibble with freeze-dried bits (or a freeze-dried coating) online and at specialty pet stores.

Quality Ingredients

Dogs, unlike cats, are not strict carnivores. While the majority of their diet should be comprised of meat products, they can also benefit from some fruits and vegetables in their diet. Look for a complete food that incorporates vitamins/minerals from fruits and vegetables, not from fillers such as soy and corn.

It’s also smart to look for the phrases “complete and balanced” or “100% nutritious” on the label if you are using freeze-dried food as a standalone diet. These are an FDA regulated claims that can only be included on the label if the food meets one of the Nutrient Profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), or if it passes a feeding trial using procedures set by AAFCO.

aafco logo
Look for assurances backed by AAFCO guidelines.

This nutritional statement will also tell which life stages the product is suitable for: maintenance, growth, or for all life stages. Dog food products that meet these requirements have to include the phrase “this product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only” somewhere on the package.

If your pup is sensitive to certain ingredients, or prone to allergies, dog foods made with fewer ingredients or hypoallergenic formulas can help prevent painful or itchy reactions.

Shape and Preparation

Freeze-dried dog foods come in different sizes from tiny flakes to the size of a hamburger patty. They can also be fed to your dog just as they are, or rehydrated into an appetizing stew.

sojos complete dog food

Pictured above: Sojos Complete after rehydration

  • Flakes of freeze-dried foods can be sprinkled over regular kibble as a flavor enhancer.
  • Smaller bites can replace traditional kibble, be mixed into existing kibble, or even be used as high-value training treats.
  • Large patties can be broken up and used the same way as the kibble-sized bites, or given to your dog all at once.
  • Rehydrating foods provide a source of complete nutrition for dogs that prefer soft food or have medical conditions that make it difficult to eat kibble that requires chewing.

Freeze-dried food is light, portable, and requires no refrigeration unless rehydrated. This makes it the ideal form of nutrition when packing light for a vacation or camping trip. Also remember that it contains almost no liquid unless rehydrated! Be sure to give your dog lots of water during meal time.

Safe Handling of Raw Dog Foods

Dog owners that choose a raw food diet (whether homemade, frozen, or freeze-dried), need to pay attention when handling these products, just as they would for other raw meats.

  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods, especially ready to eat foods such as salad and deli meat.
  • Use separate dishes to prepare raw foods
  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds both before and after handling raw dog foods.
  • Use hot, soapy water to wash any utensils, surfaces, or dishes that come into contact with raw food. This includes the dog’s food bowl and water bowl.
  • Refrigerate or freeze rehydrated food within 1-2 hours. Promptly dispose of any rehydrated food that is left out more than an hour or two.

How Often and How Much to Feed Your Dog

The amount of food your dog needs will depend on their individual metabolism and activity level, but here are some basic guidelines to use:

Adult dogs

Adult dogs should be fed an amount equal to 2-3% of their body weight each day, preferably split into two meals for nutrition and digestion.

To ensure your dog is getting the right amount of food, watch their figure. A healthy weight dog has a rounded “hourglass” shape. An underweight dog has a straight outline, with hips that jut out, while an overweight dog will have a waist that’s wider than their ribcage.

Another way to check is to feel your dog’s ribs. You should be able to easily feel their ribs under their coat, but they shouldn’t be so prominent that they’re clearly visible.

Puppies

Puppies need additional nutrition for growth, so should be given food equal to 5% of their body weight. This should split into at least two meals, and ideally three. Puppies tend to fluctuate quite a bit more in weight than adult dogs and may even appear pudgy on occasion, especially right before a growth spurt. It’s usually of very little concern, but if you feel like something is off with your pup, check with your veterinarian.

rottweiler puppies

Giant Breed Puppies

Giant breed puppies grow differently than smaller dogs, and foods that are appropriate for most puppies may be detrimental for their development. It’s vital that you contact a veterinary nutritionist before feeding a growing giant breed puppy a raw diet.

Giant breed dogs with too much fat in their diets tend to grow quicker during their puppyhood. As such, they’re more likely to develop bone and joint disorders such as arthritis, osteochondritis dessicans, and hip dysplasia as they age. Ensuring that your growing giant breed has the appropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorous can also significantly improve the development of their skeletal system.

Freeze-dried foods can vary in their nutritional density, so check the bag for feeding recommendations. Active dogs and dogs with high metabolisms may need more food than average, while slow-moving dogs may need to eat less to prevent problems like obesity from developing.

Transitioning Dog Foods

While some dogs can switch food easily, most can’t handle an abrupt change of diet. Many who transition food too quickly can experience symptoms such as excess gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Experts recommend taking at least a week to transition: replace a quarter of their old food with new food, and gradually increase that amount over a few days.

Observe your pup carefully as they make the transition to their new freeze-dried diet. If your dog starts to experience issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive gas, stop their new diet and contact your vet right away. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend slowing down the transition, starting the transition over again, or even abandoning it altogether.

There are a variety of reasons to feed freeze-dried foods to your dog and many options to choose from. While this guide provides a baseline to understand a freeze-dried diet, your dog is the most important part of the process. Keep their health and preferences in mind as you make the switch.

Sources

  1. AKC. Raw Food vs. Kibble: What Should You Feed Your Dog? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/feed-my-dog-raw-food-or-dog-kibble/
  2. ASPCA. Dog Nutrition Tips: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-nutrition-tips
  3. CDC. Salmonella and food. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/salmonella-food.html
  4. Gazette-Mail. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/life/columns/ask_the_vet/ask-the-vet-is-it-necessary-to-feed-my-dog-an-expensive-freeze-dried-diet/article_1e5c9b08-1f6e-57bb-acd2-45e84c435b60.html
  5. The Conversation. Health Check: what’s better for you, fresh, dried or frozen fruit? https://theconversation.com/health-check-whats-better-for-you-fresh-dried-or-frozen-fruit-81608
  6. FDA. Get the Facts about Salmonella. Retrieved from U.S. Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-salmonella
  7. Muenster Milling. What is Freeze Dried Dog Food. https://muenstermilling.com/what-is-freeze-dried-dog-food/
  8. Freeze-dry.com. http://www.freeze-dry.com/2015/09/29/history-of-freeze-drying/
  9. Katy Patterson-Miller. HOW TO FEED YOUR DOG FREEZE-DRIED, AIR-DRIED & DEHYDRATED FOODS. https://www.mudbay.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/How-to-Feed-Your-Dog-Freeze-dried-Dehydrated-Foods-NWM.pdf
  10. Modern Dog Magazine. What’s the Difference Between Raw, Dehydrated, Freeze-Dried, and Air-Dried Dog Food, Anyway? https://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/whats-difference-between-raw-dehydrated-freeze-dried-and-air-dried-dog-food-anyway/116317
  11. Only Natural Pet. Raw Food Feeding Guide for Dogs and Cats. https://www.onlynaturalpet.com/blogs/holistic-healthcare-library/raw-food-feeding-guide-for-dogs-and-cats
  12. PetCoach. What is Freeze-Dried Dog Food: https://www.petcoach.co/article/what-is-freeze-dried-dog-food/
  13. Raw Bistro. B.A.R.F DIET FOR DOGS (BIOLOGICALLY APPROPRIATE RAW FOOD). Retrieved from rawbistro.com: https://rawbistro.com/blogs/raw-bistro/barf-diet-for-dogs
  14. FDA.gov. Recalls & Withdrawals. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/safety-health/recalls-withdrawals
  15. VCA Hospitals. Nutrition- General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-general-feeding-guidelines-for-dogs

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Penny Sebring has been the proud pet parent to not only to a plethora of cats and dogs, but also to several birds, reptiles, and rodents. She is passionate about the written word and deeply devoted to educating pet owners about the health and well being of their companion animals.