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Pet Food & Ingredients

Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food: What's the Difference?

April 29, 2024 - 5 minute read by The Team at Dr. Harvey's


All pet parents want what’s best for their dogs; food is a key component of a happy and healthy life. You may come across freeze-dried and dehydrated options when searching for healthy dog food.

What’s the difference between these two, and is one better than the other? Find out in our guide to freeze-dried vs. dehydrated dog food.

What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?

Freeze-dried dog food is made from various ingredients that undergo a specific dehydration process, which involves freezing the ingredients using a freeze dryer and vacuum machine. After freezing the food, the process warms up the area just enough to produce water vapor. The vacuum then sucks it all away, leaving behind the preserved ingredients.

What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?

Dehydrated dog food is made by removing moisture from its ingredients by evaporation. It occurs at a higher temperature and more slowly than freeze-drying.


Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food

These two preservation methods are often mistaken for one another because of their similarities, but when you look closely, you can see they are very different. Explore some of the key differences between these types of food for your best friend.


Freeze-dried food tends to be more expensive than dehydrated food, as the equipment used in production is more expensive. Freeze drying also takes longer, making supplies more scarce.

Taste and Texture

The taste and texture of dog food can vary greatly depending on the preservation process. Freeze-dried food typically maintains its original taste and texture through the slower production method. The finished product better resembles the ingredients in their natural state.

Dehydrated food retains its taste but may lose some of its texture. The dehydration process can make food chewier, which is a benefit of dehydrated dog food for some pups and their preferences.

Whether you choose freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food, you’ll need to rehydrate it before serving. Otherwise, it will be almost tasteless and crumbly.

Here’s an example of freeze-dried dog food that’s full of flavor.

Shelf Life

The shelf life of dog food plays a significant role in a dog parent’s decision. No one wants to worry about wasting food because it goes bad quickly. Luckily, freeze-drying and dehydration extend the shelf-life of whole-food ingredients without all the concerning chemicals or preservatives found in traditional dog food.

Depending on the brand, freeze-dried and dehydrated dog food can last for a few months or up to a year as long as you store it properly. Some require refrigeration, while others need to remain in a dark, dry space, like a kitchen cabinet.

A person preparing food in a kitchen


Adding warm water or another liquid of choice is the most important step in making a meal out of freeze-dried or dehydrated food. You should also understand that the food will grow with the liquid, so a seemingly small portion of food can create a full meal for your pup.

Both types of dog food are ready to eat in five to 15 minutes, depending on the serving size and ingredients.

One exception is freeze-dried dog treats, which don’t require rehydration and are ready to serve to your best friend.

Nutritional Benefits

One key benefit of freeze-dried and dehydrated dog food is that the production process better preserves the nutrients of individual ingredients. By contrast, creating kibble uses high temperatures and pressure, essentially stripping out the nutrients.

Due to the low temperatures used, freeze-drying dog food better preserves essential nutrients better than dehydration. These nutrients can include enzymes, fats, proteins, and probiotics, which make food easier for dogs to digest. However, some pet parents have concerns about freeze-dried meat ingredients in dog food because of potential bacteria that may still be present.

Dehydrating also preserves many ingredients’ nutritional value, though things like enzymes can get lost in the process due to the higher temperature. It’s still not as high as the kibbling process. While some nutrients are lost, more bacteria are burned away as well.

Either way, freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are better than kibble or canned dog food.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Both freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are better for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities because they contain fewer chemicals and preservatives. Neither preservation method requires adding preservatives, so while the food has a shorter shelf life, it also offers a healthier option for your pup.

They also usually allow you to choose the protein source. This ability to select is crucial because certain proteins are the most common food allergens in dogs.

A plate of food next to a bowl of vegetables and a bowl of rice

Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food: Which Is Right for Your Pup?

As a pet parent, you can’t go wrong with either option. Both freeze-dried and dehydrated dog food offer similar benefits. Their differences are minor for your dog, so it’s worth looking into what fits your budget and lifestyle.

No matter what dog food you choose, just ensure it contains healthy, whole-food ingredients. Explore our selection of dog food to get an idea of what tasty meals your dog can enjoy every day!