Bowls of Frozen and Freeze Dried Dog food kept alongside each other with two dogs in the backdrop.

Freeze Dried vs. Frozen Dog Food: How To Choose Between These Excellent Options

When it comes to choosing the best dog food for your furry friend, freeze dried and frozen options are both excellent choices. But what exactly is the difference between freeze dried and frozen dog food? As a dog parent, it’s important to understand the key distinctions so you can make the most informed decision for your pup's unique needs.

In short, the main difference between freeze dried and frozen dog food is in the preparation process. Freeze dried foods are cooked, then the moisture is removed through a freeze drying process. Frozen foods are cooked but retain their moisture when frozen.

Below we will explore the freeze drying versus freezing processes in more detail, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each dog food type. We’ll also provide tips on how to choose the right freeze dried or frozen food for your canine companion.

How Freeze Dried Dog Food is Made

Freeze dried dog food goes through a complex manufacturing process that removes moisture while preserving nutritional integrity. Here are the basic steps:

  • Raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains are cooked thoroughly at a high heat.

  • The cooked food is quickly frozen at very low temperatures.

  • The frozen food is placed in a vacuum chamber and pressure is reduced drastically. This causes the frozen moisture in the food to change from solid to gas, leaving the structure intact.

  • The moisture is extracted out of the chamber, leaving behind very dry food with only around 5% water content.

  • The freeze dried food is sealed to prevent reabsorption of moisture.

This gentle, low temperature dehydrating process removes water but maintains the food’s texture and locks in flavor. Heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamins and probiotics remain largely intact as well.

The resulting freeze dried food is extremely lightweight because of the low moisture content. This makes it convenient for storage and traveling. When ready to eat, freeze dried food needs to be rehydrated by adding water. The rehydration process brings the food back to its original texture, making it palatable and enjoyable for dogs.

How Frozen Dog Food is Made

Frozen dog food has a much simpler production process. The basic steps are:

  • Raw meat, fruits, veggies, and grains are cooked.

  • The cooked food is quickly frozen to temperatures below 0°F.

  • It is stored at constant freezing temperatures to maintain freshness.

The quick freezing helps retain nutrients while also keeping the food’s texture and flavor locked in. Unlike freeze drying, the freezing process does not remove moisture - the food’s high water content remains intact.

This means frozen food does not need to be rehydrated before serving. You simply thaw the food and serve once it reaches your dog’s desired temperature and consistency.

One downside is that frozen pet food must be kept continuously frozen to prevent spoilage. It also takes up more storage space compared to freeze dried food.

Nutritional Benefits of Freeze Dried vs. Frozen

Both freeze drying and freezing are excellent at preserving the nutritional content in dog food. However, there are some differences in nutritional value between the two processes:

Freeze Dried

  • Higher concentration of nutrients due to lack of moisture

  • Better retention of heat-sensitive vitamins

  • Probiotics remain intact

  • Antioxidant levels are higher


  • Nutrients are well-preserved but not as concentrated due to higher moisture

  • Some nutrient loss from freezing but less than fresh foods

  • Probiotics may decline over time in frozen state

So freeze dried food provides more concentrated and stable nutrition overall. But frozen foods still retain much of their nutritional value if consumed soon after processing.

Ingredient Quality

Premium freeze dried and frozen dog foods use high-quality ingredients like:

  • Meat - beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck

  • Fish - salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel

  • Fruits - apples, blueberries, cranberries, bananas

  • Vegetables - sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans

  • Grains - brown rice, oatmeal, barley

Both freeze drying and freezing lock in the flavor of these wholesome ingredients. However, some dog parents feel freeze dried food has a slight edge in preserving taste.

The ingredient quality ultimately comes down to the brand. Be sure to check the label and company’s sourcing standards.

Benefits of Feeding Freeze Dried Food

Here are some of the biggest benefits of choosing freeze dried dog food:

Convenience - Extremely lightweight and compact yet expands into a nutritious meal when rehydrated. Easy for traveling, hiking, camping.

Long shelf life - Stays fresh for years when stored properly in an airtight container.

Natural taste - Freeze drying locks in natural flavors dogs love. Many pups enjoy the taste and texture.

Nutrient density - Higher nutrient levels per piece of food due to low moisture. Supports satiety.

Digestibility - The freeze drying process may enhance digestibility for some dogs.

Meal flexibility - Can be served dry as a treat, or add water for a stew-like wet food meal.

If convenience and nutrient concentration are top priorities, a high-quality freeze dried food is an excellent choice for your dog.

Benefits of Feeding Frozen Food

Here are some of the biggest benefits of choosing frozen dog food:

Simple storage - No prep needed. Thaw and serve. Takes up more space than freeze dried though.

Budget-friendly - Frozen foods tend to cost less than freeze dried.

Mimics fresh - Retains high moisture content and texture of fresh cooked food.

Easy transition - Many dogs readily adapt to the taste and mouthfeel of frozen food.

Heat sensitive nutrients - Some vitamins like C and B are better retained compared to freeze dried.

For dog parents wanting a convenient food that mimics fresh while being gentle on the wallet, frozen foods are a great option.

Potential Drawbacks of Freeze Dried and Frozen

Along with their benefits, freeze dried and frozen dog foods come with a few potential drawbacks to note:

Freeze Dried

  • Can be pricier than frozen

  • Needs adequate rehydration time

  • Lower moisture content


  • Requires continuous freezing

  • Potential freezer burn if stored improperly

  • Takes up more storage space

  • Some nutrient loss from freezing

However, by choosing high quality brands and storing the foods properly, these drawbacks can be minimized.

Tips for Choosing Between Freeze Dried or Frozen

Here are some tips to help you decide whether freeze dried or frozen is best for your dog:

  • Consider your dog's nutritional needs - freeze dried is more nutrient dense

  • Evaluate your own lifestyle and convenience factors

  • Understand your dog's preferences - do they dislike rehydrating food or prefer stew-like wet meals?

  • Read reviews of specific brands to gauge quality and palatability

  • Factor in your budget - freeze dried costs more upfront

  • Determine proper storage capability - do you have freezer space or a cool, dry pantry?

  • Start with smaller bags before committing to large quantities

  • Rotate between freeze dried and frozen for variety

  • Consult your veterinarian for tailored advice

Every dog is unique, so factors like age, activity level, sensitivities, and more will inform what diet is ideal. Keep your dog’s needs at the forefront when choosing between these excellent options.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to freeze dried versus frozen dog food, both provide top-quality nutrition and convenience. Freeze dried food offers concentrated nutrients and compact storage. Frozen foods mimic fresh cooked meals while avoiding the prep work.

Hopefully this breakdown gives you a clear sense of the differences between freeze drying and freezing processes. Now you can make the optimal choice for your dog’s needs! Be sure to transition gradually and monitor your pup for signs of tummy troubles.

For more food and nutrition tips, check out our other articles on picking the best dog foods and overcoming fussy eating. Your furry friend’s wellbeing deserves the very best!

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