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11 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

11 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

VET APPROVED

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

dog eatingFreeze-dried dog food takes the preparation and the work out of feeding a raw, natural diet. The freeze-drying process preserves more of the original ingredients’ nutrients and retains the natural flavor to make it more palatable for your dog. Freeze-dried dog food is more expensive because the process is more intensive, and the foods use higher-quality ingredients.

However, freeze-dried toppers can bridge that gap. When served on top of dry food, they provide greater nutritional benefits and are more palatable.

Whether you want a freeze-dried food or a topper, we have reviews of some of the best products to help you get your money’s worth.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2024)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • Species appropriate diet
  • Humanely raised protein sources
  • Great variety of products
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Nature’s Diet Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food Nature’s Diet Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • Cheap
  • Easy to rehydrate
  • Primary ingredients are beef-based
  • Third place
    Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dog
  • Contains 95% beef
  • Can be fed as is or rehydrated
  • Includes organic fruit and vegetables
  • Best for Puppies
    Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Freeze-Dried Dog Food Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • Primary ingredients are all beef
  • Small pieces suitable for small mouths
  • Grain-free, gluten-free, limited ingredient diet
  • Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers
  • Food topper is added to the top of dry kibble
  • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken liver
  • No grain, corn, wheat soy, or artificial ingredients
  • The 11 Best Freeze-Dried Dog Foods

    1. Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food – Best Overall

    *Use code PETKEEN20 and save on your first auto-ship order.

    Food type: Meal or mixer
    Flavor: Chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, beef, and Surf & Turf
    Volume: 3.5 oz, 13.5 oz, 22 oz

    Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food is our pick for the best overall freeze-dried formula. The Open Farm brand products are superior because they use all-natural ingredients, humanely raised protein sources, and wild-caught fish. The recipes are high in quality animal proteins and healthy fats and low in carbohydrates, making them an appropriate diet for dogs.

    Open Farm’s product selection is extensive, covering every single need. Their freeze-dried line has six recipes, including chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, beef, and the Surf & Turf, which is a mix of beef and salmon. Its freeze-dried raw recipes are 85% meat and bone from animal sources. The remaining 15% comes from fresh produce and supplements. The recipes include organic fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, kale, pumpkin, carrots, and other unique natural ingredients like coconut oil and turmeric for multiple health benefits.

    Unfortunately, Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food has a strong smell that can be unpleasant for humans, though dogs seem to enjoy it. You can serve it as a complete meal, but if your wallet does not allow that, adding it to the current diet as a topper will result in highly improved nutrition.

    Pros
    • Species-appropriate diet
    • Humanely-raised protein sources
    • Great variety of products
    Cons
    • Strong smell
    • Pricey

    2. Nature’s Diet Fresh Beef Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food – Budget Buy

    Nature’s Diet Fresh Beef Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food

    Food type: Rehydrated food
    Flavor: Beef
    Volume: 3 pounds

    Some freeze-dried food, like Nature’s Diet Fresh Beef Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Dog, is meant to be rehydrated before feeding. You add water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and wait for it to rehydrate. The manufacturer recommends 1.5 parts water to 1 part food and leaving it for 10 minutes.

    It is inexpensive compared to other freeze-dried foods by dry weight, and its primary ingredients include freeze-dried raw beef, freeze-dried raw beef liver, and beef bone broth. It also contains vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and omega 3 & 6 from natural food sources. You can alter the ratio of water to food since Nature’s Diet’s recommendation produces a gravy-like consistency.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Primary ingredients are beef-based
    • Easy to rehydrate
    Cons
    • Manufacturer guidelines give a very wet consistency

    3. Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

    Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

    Food type: Topper
    Flavor: Beef
    Volume: 8 oz

    Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper contains beef, beef liver, and beef kidney. It is 95% beef and organs, combined with organic fruit and vegetables to deliver the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs daily. The food can be rehydrated or fed as is and can be given as a topper or a complete meal.

    An 18-ounce bag contains 8 scoops, but the feeding recommendations are to give between one and three scoops per day, so a single bag could only last three or four days, and Stella & Chewy’s is expensive. Although the Meal Mixers are expensive, they are made with 95% premium beef ingredients. However, some dogs with sensitive stomachs may struggle to keep it down.

    Pros
    • Contains 95% beef
    • Includes organic fruit and vegetables
    • Can be fed as is or rehydrated
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Might be too rich for some dogs

    4. Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food – Best for Puppies

    Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

    Food type: Complete or topper
    Flavor: Beef
    Volume: 1 pound

    Puppies need more protein, amino acids, and fatty acids than their adult counterparts. Freeze-dried food has much higher crude protein than kibble and wet food, and Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food contains herring oil and amino acid complexes that meet a puppy’s needs. The Mini Nibs are also smaller than patties and other freeze-dried foods, which makes them suitable for puppies’ mouths.

    Vital Essentials’ primary ingredients are beef, beef heart, beef liver, beef lung, and beef fat, so most of the food’s protein comes from meat. It is also grain-free and gluten-free and a limited-ingredient diet, so it is suitable for puppies with sensitive stomachs and dogs plagued with food sensitivities and allergies.

    As with all freeze-dried food, the bag won’t last long if fed as a complete meal: for a large puppy, it will likely only last three or four days. It lasts longer as a topper and can be used as a tasty training treat. The nibs are hard, even when soaked, and they may not be suitable for smaller puppies.

    Pros
    • Small pieces suitable for small mouths
    • The primary ingredients are all beef
    • Grain-free, gluten-free, limited-ingredient diet
    Cons
    • The bag doesn’t go far
    • Hard nibs are difficult to break up

    5. Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Gut Health Recipe Dog Food Topper

    Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Gut Health Recipe Dog Food Topper

    Food type: Topper
    Flavor: Chicken
    Volume: 5.5 oz

    Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Gut Health Recipe Dog Food Topper is a topper rather than a complete meal. Its main ingredients are chicken, chicken liver, and pumpkin seeds. It also contains probiotics to promote good gut health, and the ingredients do not include grain, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients.

    A food topper like Instinct Freeze Dried topper can liven up dull food, so it is a good choice for picky eaters. A sudden change to a raw diet can have a detrimental effect on the digestive system, causing diarrhea or vomiting. A topper allows you to determine whether this type of diet is a good choice for your dog’s appetite and tastes before committing fully. Since it only makes up a portion of each meal, it enables a gradual introduction of the new food.

    Instinct is about the average price for freeze-dried food, but it comes in a small bag. Although the 5.5-ounce packet says that it contains enough for 20 servings, there is only enough for 10 days maximum and more like four days for an average-sized dog.

    Pros
    • Food topper added to the top of dry kibble
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken liver
    • No grain, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients
    Cons
    • A small bag doesn’t last long

    6. Stella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

    Stella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

    Food type: Patties
    Flavor: Chicken
    Volume: 25 oz

    Stella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food is grain-free and gluten-free. It is made from 95% cage-free chicken and supplemented with organic fruit and vegetables and vitamin and mineral supplements. The primary ingredients are chicken with ground bone, chicken liver, and chicken gizzard.

    It comes in patty and can be rehydrated, fed as is, or crumbled over food. It can be used as a topper or fed as a complete meal. To rehydrate the pucks, you simply add cold or warm water. The new formula doesn’t require you to wait 15 minutes, and the patties are ready to serve after rehydration.

    However, the formula change makes the pucks harder, difficult to crumble or break up, and less palatable, especially when fed dehydrated. This is a 25-ounce bag that contains approximately 50 patties: it’s bigger than many other freeze-dried food bags, which means that it should last a week in most circumstances.

    Pros
    • 95% chicken
    • Contains vitamin and chelated mineral supplements
    • A bag contains approximately 50 patties
    Cons
    • Very hard pucks

    7. Nulo Freestyle Duck Recipe With Pears Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

    Nulo Freestyle Duck Recipe With Pears Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

    Food type: Complete or topper
    Flavor: Duck
    Volume: 13 oz

    Duck is rich in iron and high in easily digestible protein, making it a great food for dogs. It is also recommended as a protein source for dogs with allergies. The Nulo Freestyle Duck Recipe With Pears Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food contains 82% duck, which is lower than the 95% meat content of other freeze-dried products.

    Its primary ingredients are duck, duck necks, duck heart, duck wings, and duck liver. One of the benefits of a natural diet is that the dog eats more of the components of the animal. In the wild, dogs get a lot of essential vitamins and minerals from organs, which are lacking in some dry kibble and wet foods.

    Additional ingredients include fruit and vegetables for extra nutritional value, vitamin supplements, and probiotics added to support gut health. Overall, Nulo’s formula is nutritious, but it can be dusty. It’s still suitable as a topper for dry kibble but less so as a complete meal. Also, its 82% meat content is lower than in a lot of other freeze-dried products.

    Pros
    • Duck is advised as an alternative to allergenic meats
    • Supplemented with fruit, veg, and vitamin supplements
    • Grain-free and gluten-free
    Cons
    • 82% meat could be higher
    • Food can become dusty in the bag

    8. Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Solutions Skin & Coat Boost Freeze-Dried Dinner Morsels

    Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Solutions Skin & Coat Boost Freeze-Dried Dinner Morsels

    Food type: Topper
    Flavor: Lamb and Salmon
    Volume: 13 oz

    One of the benefits of a raw diet is that it encourages a healthier coat and skin. It is not as heavily processed as dry or wet food and benefits from the use of natural ingredients. Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Solutions Skin & Coat Boost Freeze-Dried Raw Grass-Fed Lamb & Wild-Caught Salmon Dinner Morsels take the coat and skin care even further.

    The omega-3 in the salmon and the linoleic acid found in sunflower oil and other ingredients can improve the general health of your dog’s skin and coat and may help with certain dermatological and coat conditions.  The primary ingredients are lamb, salmon, lamb heart, and lamb liver and the formula is grain-free and gluten-free.

    This is another of Stella & Chewy’s foods that has undergone a formula change, and while the morsels used to be soft and easy to break up, they are now more difficult to crumble.

    Pros
    • Grain-free and gluten-free
    • Primary ingredients are lamb and salmon
    • Formulated to improve skin and coat health
    Cons
    • Hard pieces are harder to break up

    9. Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food

    Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food

    Food type: Complete or topper
    Flavor: Chicken
    Volume: 14 oz

    Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food contains chicken and chicken livers, fruit, and vegetables for added vitamins and minerals. The dehydrated chunks can be rehydrated easily by adding a tablespoon of water, broth, or goat milk for every nugget of food served.

    The Primal recipe has a strong smell, the nuggets are hard and somewhat difficult to break up, and the feeding recommendations are high. This means that a 14-ounce bag, which rehydrates to produce 3 pounds of food, won’t last long. Although the ingredients appear to be of good quality, the 80% meat content is lower than that of other brands of similar food.

    Pros
    • The primary ingredients are chicken and chicken liver
    • Grain-free and gluten-free
    Cons
    • Hard nuggets
    • Only 80% of meat

    10. Orijen Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food & Topper

    Orijen Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food & Topper

    Food type: Complete & topper
    Flavor: Chicken, turkey, and fish
    Volume: 16 oz

    Orijen Original Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food & Topper comes in a freeze-dried patty. It contains 90% meat, but it’s a mixture of several types of meat. It can be fed as a topper or rehydrated as a complete meal.

    The main ingredients are chicken, chicken liver, turkey, and whole herring. This combination offers a good balance of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, when combined with other ingredients like egg and flounder, it isn’t suitable if you’re looking for a recipe with a single or limited protein source.

    The patties can be rehydrated or crumbled and crumble easily, but the bags arrive with a lot of crumbled food and dust at the bottom.

    Pros
    • 90% meat content
    • Can be used as a complete food or a topper
    Cons
    • Food crumbles in the bag
    • Not suitable as a single-protein food

    11. Tylee’s Freeze-Dried Meals For Dogs

    Tylee’s Freeze-Dried Meals For Dogs

    Food type: Complete or topper
    Flavor: Chicken & Salmon
    Volume: 14 oz

    Tylee’s Freeze-Dried Meals For Dogs can be served as is or rehydrated, used as a topper, or fed as a complete meal. They come in a patty shape and have the primary ingredients of chicken, chicken necks, chicken heart, chicken liver, and salmon. They also contain fruits and vegetables and various vitamin and mineral supplements.

    The patties are difficult to rehydrate effectively, and the ingredients would benefit from more natural sources of nutrients. Although it’s difficult to know exactly how much is in the food, salt appears high in the ingredient list, so you do have to ensure that your dog is getting enough water, especially considering Tylee’s doesn’t take on water very well with rehydration.

    Pros
    • The primary ingredients are chicken and salmon
    • Can be used as a topper or a complete meal
    Cons
    • Difficult to rehydrate effectively
    • Salty and dry

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    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Freeze-Dried Dog Food

    Freeze-dried dog food enables you to feed a raw, natural diet without worrying about measuring, weighing, and preparing the food every day. The ingredients are subjected to freezing temperatures, removing up to 99% of the moisture, effectively locking in nutrients and flavor.

    The kibble, nibs, or patties can usually be fed dry, crumbled on top of existing food, or rehydrated and fed as a complete meal. Freeze-dried meals are expensive compared to dry kibble and wet food, but proponents claim they provide a balanced diet.

    bulldog eating food
    Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

    Food type

    When buying freeze-dried food, you will find a selection of toppers, complete meals, and some foods that are best given as healthy, nutritious treats:

    • Complete Meal – To be considered a complete meal, it must meet all the nutritional requirements of dogs. It must include protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals without being too high in calories. The benefit of a complete meal is that it contains everything you need, so you don’t have to buy additional kibble or incorporate supplements to provide a nutritious meal.
    • Topper – Some complete meals can also be fed as toppers. Toppers are meant to go on top of a complete meal of kibble. They are usually used to offer additional nutrients or convince a picky dog to eat all the food. Because freeze-dried food is expensive, using it as a topper provides a beneficial way to offer some of the goodness of a natural diet without buying multiple bags each week.
    • Treats – If the freeze-dried food comes in a suitable size, it can also be used as a tasty treat. Dogs appreciate real meat and other natural ingredients, and freeze-dried pieces are lower in calories than other commercial treats.

    Primary ingredients

    As well as the type of food, there is a wide variety of primary ingredients used in dehydrated foods. The most common ingredients are chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb, which are suitable for most dogs. Generally, the choice of primary ingredient will come down to whether your dog is sensitive or allergic to any particular meat proteins, and the flavors they prefer.

    To Rehydrate Or Not

    The freeze-drying process removes up to 99% of moisture from ingredients. The food has a longer shelf life, and it also helps retain more of the nutrients, protein, vitamins, and minerals in the food. In most cases, the food can be fed as is, without rehydrating, and this can be a good option when using it as a topper on dry or especially wet food. Alternatively, it can be rehydrated.

    Most manufacturers provide instructions on how to rehydrate their food, but the general principle is to add water, cold or warm, at a ratio of between 1:1 to 3:1 water to food. Adding water does not increase or decrease nutrients, so your dog is getting the same benefits from the food, but it is more appealing, yields a more substantial amount of food, and provides an improved texture. You can use bone broth or goat’s milk to rehydrate the food.

    freeze dried dog food
    Image By: Chewy

    Is Frozen Or Freeze-Dried Dog Food Better?

    Freeze-dried food undergoes dehydration using a blast freezer. Frozen food is simply frozen for storage.

    There are some differences between the two types of food:
    • Frozen food needs to be stored in the freezer until it is fed, but it does not need to be rehydrated before serving because it retains all the moisture in the original ingredients.
    • Freeze-dried food is placed in a blast freezer. The process removes 99% of the moisture in the ingredients, and the food can be compressed into a kibble or patty shape. Once freeze-dried, the food can be stored in a cupboard or other container and does not need to be frozen. This also means that it does not need to be thawed before serving, but because there is virtually no moisture in the food, it is usually beneficial to rehydrate the ingredients before serving.

    What Is The Difference Between Freeze Dried And Dehydrated Dog Food?

    Although freeze-dried food has been dehydrated and benefits from rehydration before being fed, it differs from dehydrated dog food, which is also available.

    • Dehydrated food uses hot air to remove moisture from dehydrated food. This process removes approximately 95% of the moisture, and the dehydration process removes some of the essential vitamins and minerals from the original ingredients. Rehydration usually takes about 10 minutes and can still leave a somewhat leathery food.
    • Freeze-dried food uses cold temperatures rather than high temperatures. It removes 99% of moisture and is a much gentler process that does not remove nutrients and other components from the ingredients. Rehydration times can vary between two and 15 minutes

    Do You Have To Add Water To Freeze Dried Dog Food?

    Some freeze-dried dog foods can be served immediately. This is especially true of those that come as chunks, nibs, or small pieces. However, the freeze-drying process removes almost all moisture, which leaves a dried and potentially unappealing meal.

    Rehydrating ensures your dog gets moisture and can give the meal a more appealing smell and flavor. Most picky dogs prefer the food rehydrated, although other than moisture, it doesn’t add any nutritional value to the food. Most manufacturers recommend using cold or warm water, but you can use bone broth or raw goat’s milk to rehydrate the food.

    pouring hot water on freeze dried dog food
    Image By: Chewy

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    Final Thoughts

    Freeze-dried food is a more convenient alternative to a raw diet and offers greater nutritional benefits compared to dry kibble or wet food. However, it is expensive, and there is an increasingly wide range of freeze-dried foods on the market, making it difficult to be sure that you’re getting the best product for your dog. Hopefully, our reviews above have helped you find the best nutritious food for your dog.

    We believe that the high meat content and high-quality ingredients of Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food make it the best overall freeze-dried dog food, while Nature’s Dit Fresh Beef Simply Raw offers the best value for money.


    Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

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