Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
379 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best freeze-dried dog food

Last Updated November 2019

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 worth checking the FDA website to see if the dog food brand you choose has had any recalls over the years. Frequent recalls should make you question the quality of the brand.

Key considerations

Complete food vs. mixer vs. booster

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.

Raw vs. cooked

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.

Complete quality

If you're looking for a top-notch complete freeze-dried dog food, the Primal Freeze chicken formula fits the bill. Made from a blend of chicken and organic fruits and vegetables, there are certainly no mystery meats or unpronounceable additives to be found. And the meat used is raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics.

Ingredient quality

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.

Your dog

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Freeze-dried dog food tends to contain carefully chosen ingredients. Many brands are made in the US with ingredients sourced in the US.

Freeze-dried dog food features

Formula

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.

Nugget size

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 generally contains no preservative or just a small amount of natural preservative because the process of freeze-drying naturally preserves the food.

Freeze-dried dog food prices

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.

EXPERT TIP

Individual nuggets of freeze-dried dog food make excellent healthy treats for your four-legged friend.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Avoid “open formula” freeze-dried dog food. These dog foods don't list exact ingredients – it might list "meat derivatives," for example, and you should avoid them. “Fixed formula” foods list exactly what's in the package. The vast majority of freeze-dried foods are fixed formula.
  • Remember that not all foods suit all dogs. You might choose the food that on paper is the best and most nutritious on the market, but it could make your dog sick or give it gas. Some dogs just don't get on with certain foods, so finding the right one could take some trial and error.
  • Match a complete food to your dog's life stage. The food should have a statement by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that says it's suitable for puppies, adult dogs, or all life stages.
  • Take note of each ingredient's position on the ingredient list. The higher it is on the list, the greater the percentage of that ingredient in the food.

All American

Containing 40% crude protein, the Stewart Raw Naturals freeze-dried dog food is perfect for active dogs. All the ingredients contained in this food are sourced in the US and gently processed to bring your pet a high-quality food. And the cold pasteurization naturally stops bacteria growth without destroying nutrients.

Other products we considered

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.

Although you can serve most freeze-dried dog food as is, most pet parents add water to rehydrate the food and make it even more palatable.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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