A combination of 77% meat, organ, and bone with 23% organic produce and natural vitamins and minerals delivers excellent nutritional balance for everyday meals. Antibiotic- and steroid-free meat. Enhanced with 100% organic produce, minerals and unprocessed vitamins. Loved by picky eaters and ideal for dogs with food allergies. Made in the USA.
It’s pricey. Active dogs may require more than the feeding guidelines on the package.
Contains human-grade ingredients that are comparable to more expensive options. Single-source meat-based recipe boasts a high protein content, necessary fiber from produce, and essential vitamins and minerals. Enriched with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Free of grains, additives, and fillers. Suitable for everyday feeding or as a topper. Made with ingredients sourced in the USA.
Most dogs love it, but extremely picky eaters may still turn their snouts up at some of the flavors.
Containing 90% meat, organs, and bone for a protein-rich meal. Certified organic fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Filler-, additive-, and grain-free formula. Made in small batches for superior quality control. Complete nutrition for all life stages. Many fussy eaters find it irresistible. Made in the USA.
Crumbles easily and some batches may break up during shipping. Higher protein and fat content may not agree with all dogs.
Developed to meet the nutritional needs of all life stages. Recipe containing muscle meat, organs, ground bones, fruits, and vegetables delivers a well-balanced meal that’s rich in protein, vitamins, and digestive fiber. Free of antibiotics, hormones, grains, and gluten. Breaks up easily. Loved by most dogs. Made in the USA.
Very small breeds might still need to have water added to the nuggets.
With a limited list of ingredients, this is a good option for allergy-prone dogs. Free of grains, fillers, gluten, hormones, and other undesirable ingredients. Made using a slow 48-hour freeze-drying process to preserve vital nutrients. Bite-sized pellets are ideal for treats and snacks. Made in the USA.
Extremely low fiber content may cause constipation if fed as a daily diet.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Dogs aren't just pets; they're family members, so they deserve the best diet you can give them. If you haven't found a wet food or kibble that you think is best for your pooch, consider freeze-dried. Freeze-dried dog foods tend to include premium ingredients without the fillers and artificial additives you can find in some cheaper dog foods.
If you're looking for a freeze-dried dog food that will be the only food you feed your dog, you'll need to choose a formula advertised as complete and balanced. Alternatively, you can use a freeze-dried food as a mixer or booster with other dog food to make a nutritionally balanced diet. You should also think about your dog and its dietary needs. For instance, a puppy needs a different diet than a senior dog, and a small breed might not thrive on the same food as a giant breed.
Read on if you’d like more information on freeze-dried dog foods, or you can pick from one of our top choices.
It's important to learn the difference between a complete food, a mixer, and a booster in order to select the right food for your canine companion.
Complete: A complete food is one that's designed to meet all your dog's nutritional needs. If you want to switch your dog to a diet of 100% freeze-dried food, you'll need to feed one that is marketed as complete. Look for the words "complete and balanced" somewhere on the packaging.
Mixer: A mixer is a dog food that contains some but not all of the nutrients required to keep your dog healthy. If you choose a mixer, you'll need to add other carefully chosen foods to your dog's diet (whether raw, home-cooked, or commercial) to make it balanced. This isn't a great choice unless you're well versed in canine nutrition.
Booster: A booster is a food that's designed to be added in small amounts to a complete and balanced diet. A booster tends to be rich in certain nutrients but not balanced, so it boosts the nutritional value of an already complete food but doesn't contain a wide enough range of nutrients to be your dog’s only food.
The vast majority of freeze-dried dog foods are raw. You can find some in which the ingredients have been cooked before being freeze-dried, but it's rare. Choosing a freeze-dried diet is an easy way to feed your dog raw food, so it's great for pet parents who are interested in the benefits of raw dog food but put off by the mess and preparation involved.
It's extremely hard to tell the quality of the ingredients in freeze-dried dog food just by glancing at the ingredients list. Sure, you can tell if there are poor-quality ingredients, such as meat by-products, rendered fat, propylene glycol (PG), or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), but you won't know where that meat has come from or how it was raised. Luckily, freeze-dried dog foods tend to have higher-quality ingredients than standard dog foods, but they're not all created equal. Foods made from ingredients sourced in the US are likely to be better quality than those that don't list where the ingredients came from. Also, opt for organic ingredients, humanely raised meat, and/or hormone-free meat when possible.
Selecting a freeze-dried dog food for your dog isn't like buying an ink cartridge for your printer. Every dog is an individual, so there's no one-size-fits-all solution. First, you need to take into account your dog’s age. Look for a dog food that's tailored to puppies, adults, or seniors where appropriate. You can also find foods that are tailored to extremely active dogs (such as working dogs or dogs that compete in agility or similar), large breeds, small breeds, or dogs that need to lose weight.
You can find freeze-dried dog foods in a range of flavors or formulas. Of course, different meats have slightly different nutritional profiles, but the main concern is to find a formula that your dog enjoys eating.
Human-grade: The term "human-grade" sounds great on the surface, but it doesn't have any legal definition in relation to dog food. As such, the term is thrown around by dog food manufacturers without it really meaning anything. That doesn't mean all freeze-dried foods labeled human-grade are of poor quality, but it doesn't tell you they're high quality, either.
Grain-free: The majority of freeze-dried dog foods are grain-free. While your dog's diet shouldn't be entirely grain based, we don't think there are any benefits to avoiding grains completely unless your pooch has a grain allergy. In fact, recent studies suggest grain-free diets for dogs could be detrimental to heart health, so proceed with caution if you go this route. Consider occasionally topping up your dog's grain-free food with foods that contain whole grains.
If you have a small dog and you choose to feed it freeze-dried food straight from the packet, without rehydrating, you'll need to check that the size of the nuggets isn't too large for your four-legged friend.
Freeze-dried dog food might have a huge number of positive points, but the main downside is its price. It's certainly worth the money, but you'll need to dig deep. Ultimately, however, a dog food that keeps your dog in excellent health could save money in the long run in reduced veterinary bills. We've compared the price per pound, since you'll find a range of package sizes out there, but it's worth noting that freeze-dried dog food increases in weight by two to three times when rehydrated, so you get more for your money than you might think at first glance.
Inexpensive: The lowest price we've found is around $10 to $15 per pound. This is for lesser-known brands or foods bought in bulk.
Mid-range: These freeze-dried dog foods cost roughly $20 to $30 per pound.
Expensive: The priciest freeze-dried dog foods can cost as much as $50 to $75 per pound, especially when bought in small packages.
If you don't think any of our top five freeze-dried dog foods are right for your canine companion, we have some excellent alternatives for you. If you're looking for a complete and balanced option, consider Purpose Freeze-Dried Dog Food. It comes in five different formulas, each of which contains 95% meat and 5% veggies. And it doesn't contain any fillers or artificial additives. The TruDog Feed Me Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood is made from 99% meat and designed to be rehydrated and added as a booster to your dog's existing diet. Another excellent booster is the K9 Natural Freeze-Dried Dog Food Booster, made from 100% green tripe, which is said to have a range of health benefits, including supporting the digestive system.
Q. Can you buy freeze-dried dog food suitable for puppies?
A. Yes, you can find some freeze-dried dog foods specifically designed for puppies (though only a small number). You'll also find some foods listed as suitable for all life stages, but we'd highly recommend feeding your new pet puppy food until it’s at least one year old.
Q. Is freeze-dried dog food good for picky eaters?
A. Freeze-dried dog food contains lots of meat and minimally processed ingredients, which tends to make it highly palatable. Therefore, many picky eaters love freeze-dried foods.
Q. How do I switch my dog's food to a new brand?
A. Switching your dog from one food to another overnight can cause digestive issues, such as diarrhea. Instead, switch the food gradually over a period of a week to ten days. Start out by replacing about a quarter of the old food with the new for the first two to three days, then feed half and half for another two to three days. Next, replace three-quarters of the old food with the new food for another few days before finally completing the transition to feeding 100% of the new brand.