It used to be that retail-bought dog food came in two forms: a congealed and stinking mess molded to match the interior of the can it’s encased in, and nondescript brown pellets that have a habit of getting everywhere. That’s not the case anymore. If you’re still feeding your best pal the same kibble you’ve been buying for years, it might be time to reconsider their needs.
That’s because these expanded shopping options aren’t just a new fad. They can have a significant impact on the well-being of your dog. Whether you’re worried about factory dog food standards or you’re just looking for a more transparent approach to dog food, these are the dog foods worth investigating in 2021.
Freeze-Dried Dog Food
The big distinguishing factor between most dog foods comes down to how they’re prepared. Dog food formulas employ different methods for preserving food while retaining the highest level of nutrients possible, and that usually means finding a way to remove as much water as possible from the food.
Functionally, the process is fascinatingly sophisticated. Food is frozen, and then the pressure and temperature are further adjusted so that the water inside the food enters a gaseous state without ever entering into a liquid form.
Freeze-dried dog food tends to have great nutritional value and decent shelf life, but the complicated process required to freeze-dry food means that these formulas tend to be expensive. You can also find freeze-dried treats if you’re just looking to experiment with the idea.
Dehydrated Dog Food
If you’ve ever made a meat jerky, you’ll understand how dehydration works. Even if you haven’t, you should be able to pick up the basics quickly. Dehydrated dog food starts off as raw food which is then meticulously strained of water through exposure to warm air. It’s a painstakingly slow process, but it’s one that preserves all the important nutrients from the raw ingredients.
The big advantage that dehydrated dog food offers over freeze-dried alternatives is that it doesn’t need to be frozen. Like jerky, dehydrated dog food can just sit in your pantry, and it has a shelf life of about two years. That makes it an incredible alternative to traditional food if you like to go camping with your pets.
Air-Dried Dog Food
You won’t be surprised to find out that air-dried dog food is a process designed to reduce the presence of water in a dog food formula. And as with dehydrated and freeze-dried dog food, the end result is made from raw ingredients.
And as with those other forms of dog food, the results technically remain raw throughout the entire process. The method for creating air-dried dog food is similar to the method for dehydrated dog food, but it uses room temperature rather than warm air.
That means air-dried dog food can take longer to produce, but it also promises incredibly high rates of absorption for important minerals and nutrients. Air-dried dog food looks similar to kibble, and it can be stored in the same way for about 18 months.
Sorting Through the Options
There are more dog food options than ever before. Fortunately, there are more options to evaluate them than ever before too. While FDA restrictions on dog food are often lax, there are plenty of resources online for evaluating how well a dog food manufacturer sticks by their message.
Take the time to compare dog food brands, and also consider the particular health considerations of your pet. Most importantly, more options mean the opportunity to develop a nutritional plan that’s unique to your dog.