Freeze Dried vs. Frozen Raw Dog Food: What’s the Difference?

Not long ago, I embarrassed myself in a pet food forum because I didn’t know the difference between frozen and freeze-dried pet food. Here’s what I learned so you don’t have to suffer the same fate:

The short answer

What’s the difference between frozen & freeze-dried raw dog food?

Frozen Raw Dog FoodFreeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
Raw meat, bone, and veggiesRaw meat, bone, and (usually) veggies
Unprocessed Dehydrated via a blast freezer
Stored in the refrigerator or freezerStored at room temperature
Difficult to travel withEasier to travel with
Serve as is (thawing is optional)Must add water before serving
Easier to assure quality ingredients More difficult to assure quality ingredients
Healthiest option Healthier than kibble, but not recommended for every meal

What is Frozen Raw Dog Food?

First, a raw dog food diet is a combination of meat, bone, and vegetables balanced to mimic what your dog’s closest relative – the wolf – would eat in the wild.

Because commercial raw dog food is substantially more expensive than dry-kibble, many owners buy the ingredients in bulk, blend the correct proportions together, and store it all in the freezer until mealtime. This method of feeding raw usually costs about the same – or less – than buying dry dog-kibble.

Why do owners go through all of the trouble of feeding their dog a raw diet?

Simply put, dry kibble is responsible for many of the degenerative diseases – such as cancer & diabetes – afflicting our pets at record rates. That’s partly because, compared to human food, dog food is barely regulated for quality; meaning, all sorts of preservatives and subpar animal byproducts make it into your dog’s food bowl.

Second, dry kibble does not reflect what dogs would eat in the wild. Although there is ample evidence that dogs have evolved with humans to be able to process carbohydrates and grains – they are primarily scavenging carnivores, thus, they rely on raw muscle & organ meat, bone, and some roughage (veggies) to survive and thrive.

What is Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food?

Simply put, freeze-dried raw dog food is the exact same as raw food, except the moisture has been removed via a process called ‘freeze blasting.’

Whereas regular raw food must be stored in a freezer for extended periods of time, the freeze blasting process in freeze-dried raw food deactivates harmful bacteria, as well as nutritional enzymes, hence can be stored at room temperatures.

To feed your dog freeze-dried raw dog food, all you have to do is remove the correct number of nuggets for your dog (based on body-weight), add water, a viola – a healthy meal. In a lot of ways, this is even more convenient than feeding raw food the conventional way, as thawing frozen dog food takes planning and foresight.

In case you’re here because you messed up and forgot to take out the raw dog food last night – no worries, check out my article on the quickest way to defrost raw dog food here.

Honestly, besides a fairly short road-trip, freeze-dried raw dog food is a godsend when you’re traveling, especially by air. You can even store it as a carry-on. However, always declare it if you are going through customs, as you are technically bringing meat into a new country.

I tried – but I couldn’t not use this stock-photo

Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food as good as Raw?

Simply put, freeze-dried dog food is not as good as regular raw for two primary reasons:

  1. Although the freeze-blasting process does minimal damage to the nutritional value of the food, it still kills valuable micronutrients, such as enzymes, fragile fatty acids, and phytonutrients
  2. Desperate to capitalize on the recent wave of pet owners switching to raw, the pet industry (dry kibble manufacturers) are putting out freeze-dried brands with junk ingredients

For an established and long-trusted freeze-dried brand, check out The Simple Food Project.

Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food More Expensive Than Raw?

Freeze-dried dog food is substantially more expensive than commercial and DIY raw food.

As of the time I’m writing this, the average price for a 14oz bag of freeze-dried food is $30 and would feed a 100 lb dog for less than two days – as opposed to commercial raw which is an average of $18/day – and DIY raw, which costs me an average of $7 per day.

Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Safer Than Raw?

For dogs, freeze-dried dog food and fresh raw dog food pose about the same health risks – next to none.

On the other hand, for humans, freeze-dried dog food on paper is safer than fresh raw food. According to the FDA, Salmonella is 4-times more likely to be present in frozen raw food vs freeze-dried raw dog food.

Of course, if you use common sense and practice safe handling & cleaning of all raw food – Salmonella is not going to affect you or your family.

Check out my article Can My Dog Lick My Face After Eating Raw to learn more about Salmonella risks and for best practices when handling raw meat.

Happy feeding!