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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Freeze-Dried Dog Food: Is It The Right Choice For Your Australian Shepherd?

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

F reeze-dried dog food is the latest trend when it comes to feeding our four legged best friends. It seems that every day there is another brand offering a freeze-dried alternative. On the surface, it would seem like this would be a great choice in terms of nutrition. After all, we all want what's best for our beloved pets, right? Before making the switch to freeze-dried, however, it's important you understand what it's all about and whether it really is right for your pet.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) Notice

DCM is a heart condition that has been reportedly linked to certain low carbohydrate dog foods. However, the FDA has still not confirmed a specific cause and its latest study is also inconclusive. As such, at the time of this writing (July 16, 2020) there have still not been any recalls. For further information see: FDA, Dog Food Advisor article, and an article by Daniel Schulof, the founder and CEO of KetoNatural Pet Foods, Inc. addressing potential Bad Science and Financial Conflicts of Interest Plaguing the FDA's Investigation Into "Grain-Free" Pet Foods and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.


Let's start with the basics: what exactly is freeze-dried dog food and why does it make such a difference for your dog? Freeze-drying is a preparation technique but a freeze-dried diet begins with raw food. Before dogs were kept as domestic pets, they lived in the wild where they foraged for their own food and their diet consisted of raw proteins like meat and fish along with some vegetables and other plants.

With this in mind, it makes sense that feeding your dog a raw diet is more natural and healthier. This is especially true when you consider the high amount of artificial ingredients and fillers contained in standard dog food. The equivalent of processed foods for humans, dog foods with these ingredients provide almost no nutritional benefit. A diet consisting solely of this type of food is going to be detrimental in the long run and especially for puppies and older dogs who require more nutrients.

Freeze-Dried Dog Food: Is It The Right Choice For Your Dog? - Photo: Australian Shepherd on ice-covered, windy beach.

lochstampfer /

Raw food is a healthy alternative, but that doesn't mean it is without drawbacks. It can be time-consuming to prepare, requires special handling to avoid cross-contamination, has a short shelf life and can contain dangerous bacteria. Dogs are naturally more resistant to bacteria than humans but that doesn't mean that it can't still affect them adversely. Using freeze-dried dog food is a great way to give your dog all the benefits of raw food while making the process more convenient and less dangerous.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Difference Between Freeze-Dried Dog Food and Dehydrated Dog Food

In freeze-drying, raw, frozen meat is placed in a machine that lowers the atmospheric pressure, causing the water inside the food to convert from solid to gas in a process called sublimation. Since there is no heat used in the process, the freeze-dried food is still considered raw yet since the water has been removed, bacteria has no environment in which to multiply, making it safer than unprocessed raw food.

Freeze-dried dog food is different from dehydrated food for one important reason. The dehydration process uses heat to convert water into gas, so dehydrated dog food is technically no longer raw. Also, the heat changes the nutritional structure of the food, removing some of the nutrients. Since no heat is used in the freeze-drying process, freeze-dried food retains its original nutritional structure, retaining all of those important nutrients.

Now that you know how it's made, it's time to consider the pros and cons of freeze-dried food.

Pros of Freeze-Dried Dog Food:

  • Healthy Ingredients – as mentioned above, freeze-dried dog food uses only high-quality ingredients such as organs, whole meat and ground bones and is free of artificial ingredients and fillers. Many freeze-dried foods also include vegetables and fruits to add flavor and help balance out your dog's diet.
  • Ease of use – although considered raw, freeze-dried dog food does not require refrigeration and has an exceptionally long shelf life. This makes it convenient, particularly while traveling, and for stocking up the pantry in case you can't get out to the store regularly. It is also much less time-consuming than raw food. Simply pour into your dog's bowl, add water and it's ready to go.
  • Dog preferred – even the pickiest eaters seem to prefer freeze-dried food, so it's likely to be a big hit with your best friend.

Cons of Freeze-Dried Dog Food:

  • Bacteria exposure – while the process used to create freeze-dried dog food prevents bacteria from reproducing, as soon as water is added bacteria will be able to grow again, so it may not be safe for older dogs, puppies or dogs with immunity problems.
  • Cost – by far the biggest drawback of freeze-dried food is its cost, which can be much higher than traditional kibble.
Freeze-Dried Dog Food: Is It The Right Choice For Your Dog? - Photo: Freeze dried beef liver treats for dogs.

fydorov /

Many Great Brands Offer Freeze-Dried Dog Food and Dog Treat Options

If you do opt to try freeze-dried dog food, there are many great brands to choose from. BIXBI makes a full line of foods, treats and supplements all designed with health in mind. These are quality foods that are also loaded with vitamins and minerals.

With a focus on getting dogs back to a natural diet, Primal dog food offers a full line designed to mimic the diet that they would eat in the wild, with no added supplements and all of the necessary nutrients to sustain your dog's health.

Merrick dog food is a family owned business that produces all of its foods in their own kitchens with the freshest, most high-quality ingredients.

Stella & Chewy's offers freeze-dried patties featuring proteins like grass-fed venison and lamb along with organic fruits and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cranberries. All of its foods are crafted in small batches to ensure quality and made with responsibly sourced ingredients.

Keeping your Australian Shepherd happy and healthy begins with ensuring that he's got the best diet possible. One great way to make sure he's getting everything he needs is by using freeze-dried dog food. With the taste he loves and the nutrients he needs, you can breathe easier knowing that you're doing right by your best friend.

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Are you considering trying freeze-dried dog food or treats? Keeping your Aussie happy and healthy begins with ensuring that he's got the best diet possible and many brands offer freeze-dried options. #australianshepherd #dognutrition #dogfood #dogtreats #puppyfood #aussielovers icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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