It's no secret that diet and nutrition are key to your dog's ongoing health and wellness — but how can you know whether your dog's food is right for them? With so many types of dog food to choose from, ranging from things like entirely untouched raw food to refrigeration-required fresh food and highly processed kibble, it can be difficult to find the option that's just right for your pet's needs and your lifestyle.
Enter dehydrated dog food, an option that's becoming increasingly popular among busy pet owners who want to give their dogs the high-quality meals they deserve without sacrificing nutrition. Below, we’ll break down what dehydrated dog food is, as well as its benefits and drawbacks so that you and your veterinarian can determine if dehydrated food is right for your pet.
What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?
If you've never heard of dehydrated pet food, you're not alone. While this type of pet food has been around for many years, it's only recently become a common choice among pet parents. Specifically, dehydrated dog food is processed using warm air to gradually remove moisture. It differs from your traditional kibble, which is processed very quickly using very hot air (above 500 degrees Fahrenheit). It's also different from freeze-dried food, which is processed at extremely cold temperatures. The slow, low-heat process helps dehydrated foods hold onto more nutrients than the extreme heat and fast speed of kibble processing.
When it's time to serve dehydrated dog food, pet parents simply add a small amount of warm water to the bowl and mix the food in to rehydrate it. Alternatively, some dog owners choose to rehydrate with bone broth instead of water, which can add extra flavor and nutritional value.
The Benefits of Dehydrated Food
There are many reasons dog owners are making the switch to dehydrated food for their pups. From nutritional reasons to pure convenience to cost-effectiveness, here are a few benefits of dehydrated dog food to consider as you hunt for the perfect formula for your dog.
It's More Nutritious and Healthier Than Kibble
If your dog seems to have a hard time digesting kibble, it may be time to consider an alternative. In many cases, gently-processed dehydrated food is often easier for dogs to digest because it doesn't contain the artificial preservatives, by-products, fillers, and other ingredients that often give dogs with sensitive stomachs a hard time. And unfortunately, these ingredients are found in many mainstream kibbles.
Likewise, dehydrated food is able to meet the protein needs of most dogs much more efficiently than heavily processed food. Many pets require a high-protein diet that’s difficult to meet feeding only kibble. Dehydrated dog food has a greater concentration of the protein sources that your dog needs at all life stages. Dehydrated dog food is often the best way to give your pup lean and healthy protein.
And unlike kibble, even pickier dogs love it and tend to have an easy time transitioning from dry food to dehydrated food. If your dog is a finicky eater and needs to gain weight, dehydrated food may be able to help them consume more calories and have a more balanced diet.
It Has a Long Shelf Life
One of the main reasons pet owners choose kibble for their dogs is the convenience factor. After all, it is shelf-stable and doesn't require any effort (aside from pouring it into your pet's bowl). However, dehydrated dog food also has an impressively long shelf life and requires minimal care to keep it from spoiling. In fact, it can be stored just about anywhere — and unlike raw and fresh dog food, it does not require refrigeration. Believe it or not, with proper storage, dehydrated dog food can have an even longer shelf life than that bag of kibble you have in your pantry!
Beyond its excellent shelf stability, dehydrated dog food options can also stretch much further than raw, fresh or dry options. You might be put off when glancing at a box of dehydrated food that says it only contains 10 pounds worth of meals — but remember that this is the dry weight. That 10-pound bag makes four-times its weight — making forty pounds of dog food — meaning that it can last for months on end depending on the size of your pet, making dehydrated foods a great, cost-effective alternative to raw or fresh food.
It's Convenient for People With Minimal Storage Space
From a convenience standpoint, dehydrated dog food doesn't require much more effort than dry dog food. The only added step you'll need to take is to mix the food with a small amount of water to rehydrate it before serving. That's significantly less prep work than is needed to serve your dog a raw diet, which involves a lot of prepping, washing, chopping, storing, and shopping — as raw food spoils much faster than dry or dehydrated food — or fresh food, which requires lots of freezer and refrigerator space.
Pet owners also love that dehydrated dog food takes up very little storage space. Unlike those big, bulky bags of kibble, dehydrated food comes in compact packaging that can be stored almost anywhere in your house (and also means you don’t have to lug a heavy bag around!). And because you're adding water to rehydrate the food with each serving, a small bag of dehydrated food can go a very long way.
It's Easy To Take on Trips
If you enjoy traveling with your dog but worry about your pup getting the right nutrition on the go, dehydrated food can be an excellent option. This nutrient-rich food travels well because it's lightweight and takes up very little space in your luggage (or even your backpack if you and your pup are hikers) Plus, since a little dehydrated food goes a long way, it's a great option for reducing bulk while packing for a trip. And unlike raw food and fresh dog food, it doesn't need to be refrigerated — so with just a little water, your dog's food is ready to serve anytime and anywhere.
It's Minimally Processed
Compared to kibble, which is processed at very hot temperatures, dehydrated dog food is processed at lower temperatures so that moisture can be removed gradually. This, in turn, allows dehydrated food to retain more of its nutritional value — and taste. Specifically, the gentle dehydration process used retains more essential nutrients while providing them at a higher concentration than is possible with kibble or dry dog food. Once rehydrated, this food can actually deliver the same benefits as fresh pet food without any harmful chemicals, preservatives, or by-products.
Is Dehydrated Dog Food Right for Your Dog?
Of course, we always recommend that you consult with your dog's vet before making any dietary changes. Overall, dehydrated dog food can be a great choice if you're looking for a pet food option that's convenient, shelf-stable, cost-effective, and nutritious. While it may require an extra moment or two of your time to serve (when compared to kibble), dehydrated dog food allows you to provide your pup with the health and nutrition benefits of real, whole foods without the hassle — and expense.
Ready to track down the right dehydrated food option for your dog? The Honest Kitchen has several recipes to choose from, so take our quiz today for a personalized recommendation.