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Just like you or me, a dog’s nutrition can make or break their overall health.
We have a saying around here… You wouldn’t eat fast food every meal, why should your pup?
Feeding your dog dehydrated food is one way to drastically improve their health. Not sure what dehydrated dog food is? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers here. We’re going to break down everything you need to know about dehydrated food and how it can benefit your pup.
Scroll all the way through the article below or, if you have a specific question, just click the section you’d like to learn about from the table of contents.
Ultimate Guide to Dehydrated Dog Food Table of Contents
- What is Dehydrated Dog Food?
- How is Dehydrated Dog Food Made?
- What are the Benefits of Dehydrated Dog Food?
- What Kind of Dogs Can Eat Dehydrated Dog Food?
- Do Dogs Like the Taste of Dehydrated Dog Food?
- Should I Feed My Dog Dehydrated Dog Food?
- Recap & Overview
Dehydrated dog food is a healthy, minimally processed dietary option for dogs of ALL ages that has rich flavors and high nutritional content – meaning your good boy (or girl!) gets the most out of the ingredients. Dehydrated food combines the best of all worlds. The convenience of dry food and many of the nutritional values and benefits of raw (without the germ concerns and mess). Plus it’s lightweight and dogs LOVE the taste.
Dehydration is a process that removes moisture from ingredients while maintaining the nutrients and positive qualities of those ingredients. Removing the water from ingredients creates a light-weight, nutrient-rich, healthy alternative to ‘cooked’ kibbles and dry foods.
Drying food only minimally affects the nutrition values of ingredients, especially in comparison to dry kibbles and highly-processed canned dog foods. As kibble cooks (sometimes at temperatures over 500 degrees), it kills many essentials nutrients, enzymes, and proteins found in the original ingredients. The dehydration process is gentle, effective, and ideal for keeping the prime nutritional value of the ingredients. This process ensures your pup is happy, healthy, and strong.
Dehydrated dog food typically comes in a lightweight food blend that only requires adding water to create your pup’s next delicious meal. Many dehydrated foods include dehydrated chunks and strips of real-food ingredients.
Once mixed, dehydrated dog food looks kind of like a thicker version of your grandma’s homemade stew. You can see chunks of ingredients in dehydrated dog food like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsley, chicken, and more.
Just mix warm water with the corresponding food and stir. You can find the mixing ratios/amounts on the feeding guide of the dog food bag – it’s usually on the back!
Next, let it sit for 2-3 minutes so that the water can rehydrate all of the ingredients. This allows for all the nutrients, flavors, and aromas to reach their optimal state ensuring your doggo will love the taste and the benefits. Once it rehydrates, you can feed it to your pup!
Mixing your dehydrated food at home is easy! Now, let’s explore the process of making dehydrated dog food.
Dehydrated dog food is made using a very gentle, low-heat, drying method. This process helps to retain essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals found naturally in the ingredients.
The process of dehydrating the ingredients mimics the natural preservation process found in nature, the sun! Food dehydration is a process that has been used for thousands of years to make food last longer and remain safe.
With the dehydration of dog food, the low-temperature removal of water helps to keep the original nutritional value of ingredients intact. At the same time, the removal of moisture reduces the likelihood of growth of any pathogens or microorganisms that are dangerous to dogs and are often associated with raw food diets.
Out of all types of dog food, dehydrated dog food is one of the safest options available. The dehydration process removes moisture from the ingredients helping it to last longer, especially in comparison to raw food. What this means for you is a longer shelf life without the need for a plethora of preservatives that are found in kibble.
Couple the long shelf life with healthier and tastier ingredients, and you’ve got a food that is extremely safe for your dog.
The answer to this question will depend entirely on the brand and product line of dehydrated dog food you buy.
A good rule of thumb to know if your dehydrated dog food is grain free is to check the ingredient list. When looking at the list of ingredients in your dog’s food, you might see grains such as:
Dehydrated dog food, dependent on the brand and product line, typically has a shelf life ranging from 12 months to 2 years. It is important to verify by brand how long their food can stay on your shelf and still be safe for your pup.
Once mixed with water, leftovers from dehydrated food can typically stay good for your pup for 2-3 days in the fridge. When reusing leftovers it is best to add some more warm water, enough to improve the taste and aroma for your four-legged friend.
Most people are extremely familiar with kibble but dehydrated might be completely new to you! So let’s break down the differences between the two. There are some very stark differences between kibble and dehydrated dog food, so let’s get to it!
Kibble is made by combining together wet and dry ingredients until they form a dough. That dough is then cooked with high-temperature steam or water. The ingredients are under extremely high pressure and temperatures during this cooking process. Once ingredients pass through this process and are molded into the desired kibble shape, the product goes through another level of drying to remove all moisture.
This high-heat process often alters the original state of ingredients leaving them less nutritious and oftentimes even lacking vital nutrients like taurine. Many of the essential amino acids and nutrients have to be synthetically added after the cooking process is finished.
Dehydrated dog food is made by taking real-food ingredients and gently cooking them at low temperatures to remove moisture while retaining the nutritional benefits and enzymes found naturally in the ingredients. The concept is similar to that of making beef jerky or kale chips. The nutritional benefits stay mostly the same while creating a more accessible and long-lasting product.
Kibble is often found to be full of more preservatives (due to the cooking process) than dehydrated dog food. These preservatives don’t provide much value to your dog’s health.
As was mentioned before, the dehydration process gives the food a more natural and nutrient-rich profile in comparison to kibble. Your dog receives more of the natural vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found in the original ingredients with a dehydrated diet.
When you compare the price of kibble vs dehydrated dog food, kibble often is less expensive. But just like with the food that you buy for yourself, a lower-priced food typically equates to a processed food lower in nutritious ingredients and benefits. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for with dog food!
Raw and dehydrated dog foods have many similarities but also some major (and often-time decision altering) differences. Each one has their respective positives and accompanying downfalls for both you and your dog!
With raw food, the recipe makeup, grocery shopping, and subsequent preparation all fall into your lap as the pup parent. For some people, the comfort and peace of mind knowing they hand-picked and prepared each ingredient in their dog’s food is worth the time spent making each meal.
To prepare raw meals for your dog you can expect to spend some time each week researching, shopping, and preparing the meals. Many people are able to devote extra time to meal creation for their pup, while others may not have enough time to even make meals for themselves! 😉
As stated by the Food and Drug Administration, “Compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.” When working with raw foods, the likelihood of foodborne illnesses can cause problems not only for your dog but for everyone in the home.
Bottom line, preparing raw food takes time and requires extra cautions to avoid any illnesses for yourself or your pup.
The preparation, or cooking method, for dehydrated dog food, utilizes many of the same ingredients in raw food. Alternatively, the ingredients are prepared in a safer and simpler way for you, the doggy parent.
Dehydrated dog food is made by taking real-food ingredients and slowly, you guessed it, dehydrating them until there is no moisture remaining. This process is done at a low heat to retain the natural enzymes and nutrients found in the natural ingredients.
As for your personal preparation of dehydrated dog food, it’s quite simple. Just scoop the correct amount of dehydrated mix, and then add the corresponding amount of water and stir. After 2-3 minutes, you have a ready to eat meal for your good boy or girl.
Raw diets and dehydrated dog foods have similar nutrient profiles. Raw diets give you the freedom to customize the exact ingredients dependent upon your dog’s needs. So for example, you’ll see some raw diet recipes that contain more meat than dehydrated food. Raw diets also give you the ability to switch up ingredients so that your dog gets a variety of flavors and options.
Dehydrated dog food uses very similar ingredients as found in raw diets and retains most of the nutrients because of the low-temperature dehydration process. The nutritional value of both raw diets and dehydrated food is higher than kibble in most cases!
When you compare prices, raw diets are most often more expensive than dehydrated dog foods. A raw diet (especially pre-prepared raw food) is often the most expensive diet type on the spectrum of dog diets. With raw diets, health benefits can become a money-saver in the long run.
Dehydrated dog food falls about in the middle of the pricing spectrum for dog foods, typically only slightly more expensive than the higher-end kibble brands. Dehydrated dog food diets often help alleviate many of the common health problems associated with kibble.
Dehydrated dog food and raw diets are not the same but have many similarities. Raw diets most often are prepared by you, at home, whereas dehydrated food is purchased in already created mixes that just require the addition of water for preparation.
In the realm of freeze-dried vs air-dried vs dehydrated dog food, each one has some similarities and helps your pup get a highly nutritious, easy to prepare and delicious meal.
Air Dried Dog Food
Just like it sounds, air-dried dog food take the ingredients and removes the moisture through air drying. To ensure that all potentially harmful illnesses or pathogens are killed off, many air-dried foods go through multiple rounds of drying.
Air dried dog foods are known for the gentle processing that helps the ingredients retain their natural enzymes, nutrients, and vitamins. Most air-dried dog foods are served as is, without adding any water or additional ingredients.
Freeze Dried Dog Food
With freeze-dried dog food, all the moisture is removed from the ingredients while still keeping the food frozen. The way its frozen makes it so that the ingredients never got above a frozen temperature, meaning the nutrients remain mostly intact. The freeze-dried food product often has tendencies to crumble but is still very nutrient rich for your dog.
Dehydrated Dog Food
Dehydrated dog food goes through minimal heat and pressure processing to remove the moisture from the ingredients. The “cooking” is done at a very low heat as to retain the natural enzymes, nutritional values, and vitamins found in the original ingredients.
Dehydrated dog food is often made to be “rehydrated” with water before serving to your dog. This rehydration helps your dog to receive the necessary amount of water for their daily intake as part of their meal times.
No matter your dog’s shape, size, breed, or age, dehydrated dog food can be a very healthy option. Most dogs, especially those who have been fed kibble diets their whole life, will see vast improvements in their coat and skin, overall energy levels, and health when switching to dehydrated food.
As with switching to any new food, it’s important to gradually introduce the new food to them so their stomach can adapt and digest to the new ingredients.
Dogs often start to experience changes in their bodies, health, and overall well-being as they age. It is important to make sure you are getting them the correct nutrients and vitamins necessary for their aging bodies.
On that topic, many senior dogs need extra levels of ingredients to help with joint pain which is very common in older pups. Ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM are important for helping your dog avoid joint pain. These ingredients also work to strengthen their joints and cartilage. Although many dog foods contain some of these ingredients, a dog in their senior years often needs a dedicated joint supplement.
Dehydrated dog food is typically a great choice for senior dogs because it is nutrient-rich, easy to chew (some dogs lose their teeth with age), and easy to digest.
Starting your puppy off on the right nutrition foot can pay huge dividends in the long run for their health and for your wallet!
Some dehydrated food formulations are specific for puppies while others function for all stages of life. The important thing is to make sure you are feeding the correct amount to your pup. It’s also important to be sure the food you choose has the necessary nutrients, proteins, and vitamins for your puppy.
Keep in mind, cheaper dog foods often sacrifice essential nutrients for your sweet little pup. So, be sure to find a dehydrated dog food that will cover all their nutritional needs! Gotta keep them growing up healthy and strong.
Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is extremely important in avoiding other health issues in the long run. An overweight dog is often the result of three different factors.
- Poor nutrition/diet
- Lack of exercise
The first factor of obesity in dogs is poor nutrition. By that, we mean feeding your dog foods that are extremely high in fillers and “junk”. These foods often have empty calories (think of human junk food) that may not be necessary or fitting for your specific dog. Dehydrated dog food is a healthier alternative because it is formulated with real-food ingredients to give your pup a better nutritional “bang for your buck” with their meals.
Overfeeding your dog can happen with any food, dehydrated included. Not only is it important to follow the feeding schedules on your food bag, but it’s also important to closely monitor your dog’s weight gain or loss. Remember to “watch the dog, not the bowl”. Also, be sure to limit your dog’s treat intake as they are often high in calories which can lead to obesity.
All dogs react differently to varying diets, so it’s important to keep an eye on their health and weight as you switch foods. Typically, the healthier your food option the more ideal your pup’s weight will be.
The third factor, lack of exercise, is something that you can typically control and implement. Although some dogs may have health issues that make exercise difficult or painful, there is almost always choices you can make for a healthier lifestyle.
Simple forms of exercise like walks around the neighborhood, fetch in the backyard, or games of tug-o-war can help your dog burn calories and lose weight. It is important to make sure your dog burns more calories than they take in. For example, the exercise needs of a Shih-Tzu are much different than that of a Labrador Retriever.
As with any health concern, it’s important to consult with your vet about how to best help your pup lose weight.
Dehydrated dog food, like any dog food, varies from brand to brand in regard to the ingredients included in the formulation. One dehydrated food might be perfect for your pup, but not for a dog with a different allergy.
Dogs can have allergies to grains, specific vegetables, and to different types of meat proteins. It is important to analyze a dehydrated dog food label for ingredients that may be part of your pup’s allergy.
In cases of allergies with dogs, it is important to consult with your vet and sometimes a nutritionist.
Most dogs, especially those who are switching from kibble, will LOVE the taste of dehydrated dog food. Dogs often enjoy “wet” foods more in comparison to dry. So, dehydrated dog food naturally has a higher level of palatability for dogs.
When you “rehydrate” a dehydrated dog food, the aromas and scents are often very pleasing to dogs. These aromas help increase the taste and palatability for your fluffy friend.
Not only that, but dehydrated food maintains the natural flavors and tastes of the meats and other ingredients in the food very well because of the minimal processing. Instead of cooking the ingredients at high temperatures like kibble, dehydrated foods maintain the natural flavors and nutrients of ingredients through a low processing dehydration process. This process helps your pup enjoy real meat flavors in a safe and simple way.
Every dog is different. But, most picky eaters that try out dehydrated dog food will love the taste.
The dehydration process helps maintain the natural flavors and tastes of the ingredients making even the pickiest of pups love mealtime. Again, every dog is different but generally, picky eaters will enjoy dehydrated dog food.
Our simple answer is yes. Most dogs will love dehydrated dog food and will see vast improvements in their health when switching from kibble.
To answer this question for yourself you need to decide what’s important to you in your dog’s food. If you are looking for a highly nutritious, easy to prepare, healthy dog food, then dehydrated dog food can be a great option for your pup!
Dehydrated dog food is nutritious, convenient to make, and affordable for the nutritional value your pup will get. It takes natural, real-food food ingredients and dehydrates them in a natural way to help maintain the nutritional integrity of the ingredients.
Dehydrated food can be a great option for those who want the health benefits of raw diets without the risks of food-borne illnesses, long prep times, and costly grocery store trips.
If you have any questions about dehydrated dog food, feel free to comment below or contact us and we will be happy to help you find an answer! Here at Pupford, our mission is to help pup parents like you build a stronger and healthier relationship with your pup.