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Freeze dried raw dog food from high quality proteins provide the same nutritional value as raw dog food, with added convenience. Let’s understand about freeze dried raw dog food, its benefits and drawbacks, and ways to incorporate it into your dog’s diet.
Freeze dried raw dog food comes from raw ingredients that have been through the freeze-drying process to make it safe, lightweight and have a longer shelf life.
Do you know that besides freeze drying any raw dog food, you can also find flash frozen dog food out there? Flash freezing uses a special freezer to blast freeze raw proteins at a faster rate compared to the freeze drying process.
If you would like to find out about the difference between flash frozen and freeze dried dog food, you can read the article Flash Frozen Dog Food vs Freeze Dried - Which is the Healthier Choice?
During the freeze-drying process, the raw ingredient is first frozen and later inserted into a strong vacuum to turn the ice into vapor without going through a liquid state. This step aids to remove moisture from the raw ingredient at very low temperatures.
Like with all types of dog food, it is best to consult with your veterinarian before feeding your dog. Freeze dried raw dog food comes with it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Freeze dried raw dog food is minimally processed, thus able to maintain its original nutritional values as much as possible. The taste of the meat ingredients are also preserved well to resemble their raw form. They contain high protein, moderate fats, very low carbohydrates levels and in terms of nutritional value, is comparable to wet dog food.
During this process, the cultures and enzymes that are biologically active are preserved and help to improve the dog’s coat health, skin, and digestion.
No preservatives or additives are added during the freeze-drying process. Thus the freeze dried raw dog food can maintain its purest form. The minerals, vitamins, and enzymes in freeze dried food do not experience much changes since heating does not occur.
Since 96% to 99% of the moisture is removed, freeze dried raw dog food can be stored for a long time. It is easy to bring the food outdoors or on travels because it is light, does not turn moldy and refrigeration is not needed.
Whenever the freeze dried food is added water, it turns bulkier and more filling for the dog. The water introduced during rehydration is beneficial for dogs who dislike drinking water.
Since the raw ingredient does not undergo heating during the freeze drying process, bacteria may still be present.
Freeze dried raw dog food usually costs more compared to kibbles and raw dog food due to the additional step of processing it in the freeze drying process.
Some freeze dried food needs to be rehydrated by adding water to plump the food up, causing it to take a longer time to prepare a meal for your dog.
The low temperature used in the freeze drying process retains the nutritional content of the raw ingredient much better than dehydrating and cooking it. Because dehydrating and cooking raw ingredients utilises heat, the minerals and vitamins are broken down, thus decreasing their nutrient contents.
The quantity of cups of food each meal can be replaced with a matching amount of freeze dried food in grams. This should be done gradually. Startby replacing one meal each day for a few days. The quantity given can be increased for each meal. This process should take 7 to 10 days to prevent your dog from experiencing any digestive issues if there is an abrupt change to its diet.
The dog’s age, weight and level of activity should be considered when switching meals as well. Puppies eat more frequently and need more food than an adult dog. You can serve puppies 2 to 3 times of the adult dog portion to suit their developmental and nutritional needs.
For a seamless transition of diet, you can give digestive enzyme supplements and prebiotics a few days before you start the food transition and continue up to a few months. If your dog experiences vomiting, excess gas, diarrhea, constipation or refuses to eat, it is an indication that you are transitioning at an advanced rate.
The solution is to halt the transition and hold back food for 24 hours, then continue feeding your dog with frequent small meals of its original diet. Once the symptoms stop and your dog is back to normal again after a couple of days, you can restart the transition using a more gradual approach.
You can monitor if there is a weight loss or gain to give indication on the suitability of the portion given to your dog. If unsure, you can consult a veterinarian to draw up a proper meal plan to suit your dog's nutritional needs.
Freeze drying raw dog food may remove some but not all of the bacteria. However, removing the moisture slows down the reproduction rate of bacteria.
There is a risk of contracting microbial pathogens such as Salmonella. The risk is low for healthy dogs, but for the old, young, and immunocompromised dogs, they are less resistant to it.
Dogs can sometimes be symptom-free but still able to expel the Salmonella bacteria in their stool or saliva. There is also the possibility of passing it to other people or pets whom they are in close contact with, causing them to fall sick.
Thus, before purchasing freeze dried raw dog food, you should do some research as to how the brand ensures their products safety. Look for those who use a special High-Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) method that introduces additional pressure to destroy bacteria before beginning with the freeze drying process.
Freeze dried dog food is never heated as compared to dehydrated dog food.
During the dehydration process, the ingredients are gently heated to remove moisture from the raw ingredient while maintaining the nutritional value, flavor and color of the dog food. So, the dehydrated food is not raw, or considered as cooked since it has been heated.
Nevertheless, the freeze drying process is able to preserve higher nutritional content than the dehydration process where most vitamins and minerals are lost due to heating.
Dehydrated food is more suitable for dogs with extreme immune deficiencies that make them unable to digest raw food effectively.
Freeze dried raw dog food is a better option compared to kibble in terms of preservation of nutritional contents and natural flavors.
When making kibbles, the ingredients have to be intensely heated which leads to reduced quality of nutrient and flavor. Most of the time, additives may be used to add flavor and nutrition to the kibbles.
The additives may cause allergies or sensitive reactions in the digestive system which can lead to bloating, diarrhea and others.
Freeze dried dog food generally can last for years provided the packaging is still intact.
The exact length of time freeze dried dog food lasts varies for different products. Be sure to check the ‘best before’ date printed on the packaging of the product.
You may consider switching your dog’s diet to fully freeze dried raw food to reduce exposure to allergens, eliminate other food containing preservatives or strictly follow a 100% natural diet. Yet, switching may not be necessary if you are just trying to add more nutrition or taste to your dog’s diet. You may prefer to get the benefits from both by incorporating freeze-dried raw food and kibbles in the dog’s diet.
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