There are several ways by which dog and cat treats are manufactured. Freeze-dried dog and cat treats actually undergo cooking to remove all of the water content. The resulting product is light and dry. It is then packed in airtight packaging and only opened when you are already to feed your pet. Freeze-dried treats have an extremely stable shelf-life which means it stores longer. Dogs also find freeze-dried food appealing. This is sometimes recommended for dogs with poor appetites (like senior dogs or those that are chronically ill). Freeze-drying helps retain the most amount of nutrients.
On the other hand, air-dried pet treats involve air drying at low temperatures to remove moisture from food via evaporation. Air drying is a natural way to preserve food without using any artificial preservatives. The process also retains a great number of nutrients which means it’s healthier than dog food that has been dehydrated using heat. Dog food that has been air-dried doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It’s actually like kibble but the nutritional benefits are closer to a raw food diet.
Freeze-dried dog & cat treats
Freeze-dried treats are not newcomers in the pet treat industry. But these products have only begun gaining major importance among dog and cat owners. Here are some benefits of freeze dried treats that are making them so popular:
- The process of freeze-drying is actually a preservation technique thus there are no chemical preservatives or additives that are added to the product.
- Most freeze-dried treats contain the most minimum of ingredients and this has a big impact on dogs with allergies, considering that any ingredient can pose a risk.
- While not all freeze-dried treats have raw meat, those that do contain more nutrients. Many dog treats in the market have undergone dehydration during processing and the high heat removes much of the nutrients.
- Freeze-dried treats offer more value for money because the freeze-drying process significantly reduces the weight and size of the treats.
- Freeze-dried treats are excellent sources of protein.
- These treats don’t require refrigeration which makes them easy to store.
- Freeze-dried treats are convenient to feed because they are highly portable and mess-free.
How freeze dried dog & cat treats are made
Freeze drying is process that simply involves removing of the water content of the product. First, the food is “flash frozen” wherein it is subjected to extremely low temperature. This process helps keep the physical integrity and nutrients intact. Next, moisture or water content is removed via sublimation. This is a type of vacuum process in which heat is added so there will be evaporation of water. About 95% of the water content is removed during sublimation. The remaining water is removed by a final process called secondary drying (absorption).
Freeze Dried liver treats
Freeze-dried liver treats is a popular dog treat. However, according to Peter Tobias, DVM, “dehydrated liver (freeze-dried liver) can be harmless in small amounts but toxic when it is frequently given”. Excessive consumption of liver treats has been linked to vitamin A hypervitaminosis or the so-called liver poisoning. So remember to feed your pets in moderation!
With the introduction to freeze-dried treats done, we would like to touch a little on the topic of freeze-dried food.
Which is better - raw or freeze-dried food?
A raw dog or cat food diet involves feeding raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables to your dogs or cats. This is an effort to replicate the normal diet of their ancestors. However, it has its pros and cons. Potential benefits of a raw food diet include healthier skin and coat, cleaner teeth, smaller stools, and higher energy levels. However, it is not without its potential risks as feeding an unbalanced diet may have negative implications on your pet’s health especially when given for a considerable length of time. There is also the potential threat of bacterial contamination in raw meat that can pose a risk to humans and pets. Whole bones are possible choking hazards or may obstruct the gastrointestinal tract passage.
Unlike freeze-dried food, raw dog food is uncooked and unprocessed which means it is in its natural state; it is fresh. On the other hand, freeze-drying subjects food through a 3-step process that can destroy or remove some of the nutrients. The process involves a freezing phase, sublimation phase (primary drying), and an absorption phase (secondary drying). Most companies that produce freeze-dried food for pets also subject the food through stringent quality checks to ensure no harmful bacteria are present - something that is difficult to identify with raw dog food.
Moreover, the nutritional content of freeze-dried pet food is better than dehydrated pet food, because freezing before drying keeps proteins, vitamins, and minerals intact.
Is freeze-dried raw dog or cat food safe?
There have been issues regarding the safety and wholesomeness of freeze-dried raw dog food. The truth is, bacteria that are present in raw meat diets have a possibility of withstanding freezing and freeze-drying as well. But, brands like primal pet foods test every lot of finished product in order to confirm that it is negative for select pathogenic bacteria before being released for sale.
Also read: Freeze-Dried, Air-Dried or Dehydrated?