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5 Best Raw Dog Foods – Frozen and Freeze-Dried

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Last Updated: October, 2019


In recent years, a revolutionary new concept of feeding dogs has emerged. It provides dogs with the raw food they thrive on, while also making it simple and convenient for their owners to provide it.

It's a win-win situation.

raw food for dogs

Shopping for meat, veggies, fruits, eggs, oils.... can feel overwhelming to some owners. Not to mention the preparation: measuring, chopping, mixing, grinding, and blending!

Many dog owners would love to join the burgeoning ranks of top breeders, trainers, and enlightened veterinarians who are feeding raw food.

But for some of those owners, it's hard to find the time.

To feed a good raw diet from scratch, you do need to spend some time preparing it. Shopping for ingredients. Measuring, chopping, mixing, grinding, blending the meals. Packaging and freezing them in ready-to-thaw portions.

It's a bit of work. But definitely worth it for so many owners who look with satisfaction and delight at their happy, healthy, long-lived, raw-fed dogs!

If you don't have that kind of time, or just can't do it, you no longer need to feel like your dog is being cheated out of all the benefits of eating raw. Now it's easy to feed him the healthy diet he deserves.

Enter frozen and freeze-dried raw foods. I hope these foods will one day spell the end of kibble and canned.

Aunt Jeni's raw dog food

Aunt Jeni's Raw Beef Dinner, an example of frozen dog food

What is frozen raw dog food?

If you made homemade food in your kitchen, then put it in the freezer, that's frozen raw dog food.

Now think of someone else doing that for you. Just as there are companies that make kibble and canned food, there are companies that make frozen raw food. Some of these companies make frozen in addition to kibble and canned, while other companies specialize in frozen.

You can buy frozen raw food from the freezer section of your local pet store or health food store. Or you can order it online and have it shipped to your house.

Obviously you store frozen food in your freezer. The day before you feed it, you move it from the freezer to the fridge to thaw. Once thawed, you put it in your dog's bowl.

Oh, wait! It's cold!

Some owners don't care. They feed it cold and most dogs gobble it right up. That's usually fine.

But I try to be kind to my dog's digestive system by taking the edge off the cold before I feed it. I put a large pan in the sink, fill it with hot water, and float my dog's bowl (obviously with the food in it!) on top of the hot water for a few minutes until it warms up a bit. Then I feed.

Primal Freeze-Dried raw dog food

Primal Nuggets, an example of freeze-dried dog food

What is freeze-dried raw dog food?

It's both frozen and dried. The manufacturer applies a cold, high-pressure vacuum process that sucks out the moisture. Since bacteria need moisture to feed on, any bacteria in the raw food are deactivated and can't grow.

The result is a lightweight (since moisture is heavy), dryish substance that can be stored in a bag on your pantry shelf instead of in the freezer.

In effect, freeze-dried food has been put into suspended animation until you're ready to re-hydrate it by adding water, which takes 5-10 minutes. Then you stir it and serve.

One thing I should mention....

Freeze-dried dog food has been processed MORE than frozen dog food.

The freeze-drying and rehydration process slightly alters the raw nutrients in the food. But it still retains about 97% of its nutrients.

Practically speaking, that probably won't make any difference, so I encourage you to compare and consider both frozen raw and freeze-dried raw.

Comparing frozen and freeze-dried raw dog food

Frozen Raw Freeze-Dried Raw
Storage freezer pantry shelf
Easy to travel with? no yes
Preparation thaw in fridge, warm to room temp, serve add water, let soak, stir, serve
Cost less expensive more expensive

What about dehydrated dog food?

With all this talk about moisture and re-hydrating, you might be wondering about "dehydrated" dog food. Perhaps you've seen something called dehydrated on the shelf at the pet shop. The Honest Kitchen is a common brand of dehydrated food.

But dehydrated dog food is not raw. Instead of using a cold process, the manufacturer of a dehydrated food heats it. That's cooking, which changes the nature of the nutrients.

Now, a dehydrated dog food might (or might not) be okay if you're interested in cooked food, but not if you're interested in the benefits of raw.

What about safety? Are frozen and freeze-dried foods safe?

If you're asking about safety because the food is raw, I cover that here.

If you're asking about safety from dog food recalls, those have mostly affected dry kibble and canned foods. But yes, frozen and freeze-dried foods have also been recalled for contamination.

Any dog food made by any company can end up contaminated.

That's why I recommend making your dog's food yourself, if possible. Otherwise, you're placing his health (often his very life) into the hands of some company.

I definitely pay attention to a company's recall history when I feed anything commercial to my dogs, and when I recommend commercial dog food brands to anyone else.

Recommended brands of frozen and freeze-dried raw dog food

These are raw foods I do (or would) feed myself. But please note the exact name of the food I recommend.

For example, I recommend Primal Venison or Rabbit. That doesn't mean I also recommend Primal Chicken.

FROZEN RAW

  • Primal Venison (or Rabbit)
  • Aunt Jeni's Home Made Beef
  • Instinct Signature Beef

FREEZE-DRIED RAW

  • Primal Venison (or Rabbit)
  • Sojos Wild Caught Salmon (or Wild Boar)

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.



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