FREEZE DRIED VS. DEHYDRATED VS. AIR DRIED: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
In order to make feeding raw food to our pets as convenient as possible, many companies are making freeze dried, dehydrated and air dried raw foods. These types of raw food do not need to be kept frozen or thawed prior to feeding, saving time and hassle. Not to mention, if you are squeamish about your pet eating raw meat, or are just starting the transition to raw, these foods are a good way to dip your toes in the water. Another positive point is that by removing all moisture from this food, any growth of bacteria, yeast, or mold is inhibited – which is why these foods have a longer shelf life. Our dogs and cats are our family, and naturally we want to feed our families only the best. Therefore it is important to know what processes are involved in making freeze-dried, dehydrated and air-dried foods so that we can decide which option is best for our pets. Below we have outlined some of the steps that go into these awesome diets.
When raw pet food is freeze dried, this essentially means that all moisture is removed from the food, while still keeping the food frozen. This ensures that all liquid is removed without moving the food from a raw state. In order to achieve this, without going into too much detail, the raw food is first frozen and then through a process of low temperature and pressure, the liquid is phased from a solid to a gas. This takes out all moisture without actually allowing the liquid phase to take place. By bypassing the liquid state, you can be assured that your pets food was never exposed to temperatures above freezing. Thus making freeze dried food nutritionally equal to its frozen counterpart, except for the lack of moisture. Some examples of freeze-dried foods would be “K9 Natural” or “Primal”.
Dehydration is one of the earliest methods of preserving food by removing all moisture, making the end product smaller and lighter. Dehydrated dog and cat food is processed at very low heat for a very long time to draw any moisture out of the food. Because of the small amount of heat used, the food is not considered completely raw but is also far from being considered ‘cooked’. Dehydrated pet food still falls under the category of raw food because it contains very similar nutrients, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins to that of raw frozen food. An example of a dehydrated pet food would be “Smack”.
Raw pet food that is air-dried, has all moisture removed via evaporation. The process is very similar to dehydration, without the addition of heat. Air drying minimizes damage to proteins, vitamins and sensitive nutrients and enzymes contained in the natural ingredients so your pet is getting nearly all the benefits of a raw food diet. Air dried pet food retains its conformation quite well, resisting any crumbling that may result from freeze-dried food. An example of an air-dried pet food would be “ZiwiPeak”.
Dehydrated, freeze-dried and air-dried pet foods are all great, convenient alternatives to feeding raw frozen food. Whether you are going camping or somewhere without a freezer, or to use everyday. Whichever method you choose to feed your pet depends on finding the right balance to fit your pet’s needs as well as your lifestyle. One thing to keep in mind is that these foods do not contain any moisture opposed to frozen raw. This means that your dog will need to drink more water to stay hydrated. You should always have fresh water available for your dog especially when feeding dried food. We hope that this guide has helped you better understand the difference between these processing methods. As always, if you have any questions feel free to call, email or come see us in store and we’d be happy to assist you!