Freeze-dried vs. Dehydrated Pet Treats

With more pet owners becoming aware of the benefits of raw feeding, they are seeking out new ways to incorporate these nutrients into their pets’ diet. Pet food and treat companies are responding by finding new ways to deliver these benefits in a convenient, mess-free way.

With advancements in technology over the years, various freeze-dried and dehydrated product companies have entered the market. So, what’s the difference between freeze-dried treats and dehydrated treats? In theory, both processes remove moisture from raw foods, but is one better than the other?

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What’s the difference between freeze-drying and dehydration?

Freeze-drying allows for raw food to be dried at low temperatures without damaging the physical structure of the ingredient. No heat is applied during this process, so nutrients are retained and the end result is still considered a raw food. Essentially, freeze-dried products are the same as frozen, but the moisture has been removed. Therefore, if you want to feed your pet a raw diet, but are limited on freezer space, freeze-dried treats and food could be the perfect solution for you.

On the other hand, cooking with heat (dehydration process) can damage the nutrients and destroy enzymes, meaning your pet may not get the nutrition that nature intended. Dehydrated products remove moisture in the treat by circulating hot air around it.

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Benefits of freeze-drying compared to dehydration:

The first key difference in freeze-dried vs. dehydrated food is the variance in nutrients across freeze-dried food and dehydrated food. As mentioned, dehydrating foods uses heat which can reduce important minerals and vitamins. Freeze-drying will lock all of the nutrients in.

Another important difference is the appearance to the human eye. Dehydrated foods are often a little darker and may appear to be leathery. In comparison, freeze-dried treats should look more similar to their natural state, so pets will respond with enthusiasm.

Finally, freeze-dried treats are safer because the process removes harmful bacteria. In addition, they are easy to store as they don’t have to be refrigerated.

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Freeze-drying Process:

  1. The temperature of the product is lowered to below-freezing
  2. A high-pressure vacuum is applied to extract the water vapor
  3. The vapour is turned back into ice when it collects on a condenser
  4. An increase in temperature will remove all leftover moisture from the product

Are all freeze-dried treats the same?

While the freeze-drying processes will be relatively similar across various companies, differences in the final product could depend on; the meat quality, combination of ingredients, and storage techniques. Here at Nutreats, we use New Zealand sourced meat and ingredients to create single-ingredient cat and dog treats. The benefit of single-ingredient treats is that you can monitor exactly what foods your pet is having, which will help you understand any allergies if they react to the treat. Alternatively, if you feed them a nugget with a combination of foods, it can be hard to know exactly which ingredient is casing a negative reaction.

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Which option is better?

It could be argued that freeze-dried treats are superior to dehydrated treats due to the higher level of nutrients. While this may seem like the case, there can be some benefits to dehydrated treats. For example, pets who can’t process the enzymes in raw food may be better off with dehydrated treats and food.  Therefore, your preference may depend on your pet’s diet requirements.

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