Being a dog owner in the modern day and age is great in many a way, with massive proliferation of knowledge and information that only a few years ago was the exclusive domain of experts. The incredible amount of choice, when it comes to food and other products has also been a boon to many. However, there is a downside to this abundance of choice, as each company tries to outdo competition by using flashier brand names and “buzzwords”!
When it comes to dog food, the terms ‘freeze dried”, “air dried” and “dehydrated” are likely to catch your attention on websites and packages. These terms, though seemingly innocuous and self explanatory, leave many a dog owner scratching their heads as to which one is the best choice for their beloved canine friend.
Here we try to breakdown what these terms mean and the technology/process behind them:
- Freeze Dried:
Freeze drying is a sophisticated method that basically involves freezing raw food solid, and then removing the moisture content from it. Raw meat is put in a pressurized chamber where it’s frozen and then by carefully monitoring the pressure and temperature, the moisture is made to transition from the solid to gaseous phase, skipping the liquid state entirely, in a process called “sublimation”. All this, without any changes to the food.
Freeze drying preserves natural nutrients, enzymes and protein structures. It also improves the shelf life of food exponentially.
On the downside however, it’s an expensive process and also causes crumbling of the food.
2. Air Dried:
Air drying uses exposure to unheated air (preferably low temperatures) to remove moisture from food, using evaporation. This is a fairly cost effective process and preserves nutritional value to a large extent. Air dried food has a relatively long shelf life of about 18 months but falls short of the 24-26 months boasted by freeze dried foods. This is also considered a “raw” food as the food is never at a sufficiently high enough temperature to be considered “cooked”.
If you have ever made beef jerky, meringue or kale chips, then you’ve made a dehydrated food. It’s the most traditional and simple of the mentioned methods of removing moisture. This is done at low temperatures so as to not break down the naturally occurring proteins and other nutrients, such as enzymes, in the food. However, traditionally dehydrated foods need to be re-hydrated before feeding, which irks impatient canines. Also, the shelf life of the food usually suffers with this method.
Air dried and freeze dried foods are considered raw, as the ingredients are never at a temperature high enough to cook.
Dehydrated foods are generally not considered raw, due to the higher temperatures at which they were dehydrated. However, often times the meat in these formulas has been freeze dried. If this is the case, then the meat is technically raw.
If you have a question about how the ingredients in your pet’s food was prepared, consult the company website. Most pet food companies detail ingredient information, such as sourcing, safety and manufacturing processes.
As mentioned in each of the sections, each method has it’s own pluses and minuses over the others. As a dog owner, you know your dog’s temperament and preferences better than anyone else. It falls to you to make a well informed choice.
Check out our dizzying selection of impossibly freeze and air dried foods and treats at www.perromart.com.