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Interest in raw feeding continues to grow as more dog owners are looking for better food for their dogs. If you're interested in transitioning your dog to raw, I suggest starting with premade raw, because it'll give you a chance…
- to learn more about creating a balanced diet for your dog and
- find everything you need – food sources, freezer, meat grinder, etc.
I transitioned our dogs to Darwin's Natural Pet Products. I think this is the best brand available to dog owners, but it it became too expensive to feed Darwin's exclusively when we became a four dog household. If Darwin's isn't an option for you, then consider Raw Paws Pet Food or freeze-dried raw.
Benefits of Freeze Dried Raw Food
I don't regularly feed our dogs freeze-dried dog food. I prefer raw because it's less expensive and because of our local raw food co-op, it's readily available. Freeze-dried raw does have its benefits.
It's Convenient – I can quickly pick up freeze-dried raw at a local pet store or order it online (Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping).
It's Balanced – like with many pre-made raw brands, I don't have to worry about balancing our dogs' diet because the brand took care of it for me.
It Travels Well – it's easier to pack a few bags of freeze-dried raw than a cooler of raw food. If you're traveling to a place without a freeze, freeze-dried is the best way to continue feeding healthy raw while on the go.
It's Minimally Processed – if you're buying freeze-dried raw from a reputable brand, then you can be confident that the food you're feeding your dog is minimally processed, providing a healthier diet option.
Freeze-Dried Raw vs. Dehydrated Dog Food
Freeze-Dried raw and dehydrated food involve two different processes. Heat is applied to the food in each process, less with freeze-dried than with dehydrated. There are differing opinions on whether these are “real” raw; although I have an opinion, I don't get mired down in the distinction of Raw and Not Raw. Instead, I focus on if (1) these are better foods for our dogs and (2) if our dogs enjoy the food.
Freeze-Dried Raw – with freeze-drying, the moisture is removed from frozen food without using intense heat that would destroy the nutrients in the food.
Dehydrated Food – the food starts off as raw, and moisture is removed as heat is applied (I compare it to the process of my Excalibur dehydrated); although the food may be better than kibble (which is highly processed) it's not considered raw by the majority of the raw community.
Air Dried Food – this isn't raw; I read up on air-dried dog food and found that it's not the same as dehydrated raw – the process is more involved and with some brands includes cooking the meat first. Cooking the food first takes the dog food out of the “raw realm,” while still being superior, in some opinions, to dry dog food.
My Top 5 Freeze-Dried Raw Brands
I chose to buy these brands because they offer a variety of proteins, which is helpful with Rodrigo (he has protein allergies). Vital Essentials Raw is a Prey Model food, making it an excellent option if your dog is on an elimination diet – it contains meat, organ meat, and bone only.
I like to keep freeze-dried raw on hand for when I forget to thaw meat, when I'm under the weather, or when I'm traveling. It's just as convenient as kibble, but healthier.
Do you feed your dog a kibble diet? Consider adding freeze-dried raw as a food topper. I do this for our senior cats and have seen a definite boost to their health.