What are dehydrated dog foods?

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While dehydration and freeze drying are both processes used for removing moisture from foods, the methods are slightly different. Both offer many of the same conveniences, such as space storage and long shelf life, but there are a few major differences of which you should be aware.

• Process: Dehydrated foods are made by applying heat to the desired food item, resulting in 98 percent of the substance’s water being lost to evaporation. Freeze drying offers the same amount of water reduction, but it’s a low-heat process.

Some even say that freeze-drying is sort of like putting fresh food into suspended animation, because it’s first flash-frozen and placed in a vacuum where the water is removed.

• Appearance. While a dehydrated food will always have a sort of shriveled appearance, the freeze-dried food which, for the most part, looks like the real thing only, well, dried. The best way to explain this is to describe peas; a dehydrated one is shriveled and you probably won’t even be able to tell what it is; a freeze-dried one, though, will look just like a pea.

• Storage: A dehydrated food is even smaller (because of the shriveling) than the freeze-dried one, so it is slightly easier to store.

• Taste: Freeze-dried tastes a little better than dehydrated, since the freeze-dried one tastes more close to the food before it was treated. However, a dehydrated food, once rehydrated, has a more chewy texture that your dog might prefer.

• Rehydration. Dehydrated foods take longer to rehydrate, sometimes as much as one to two hours. Freeze dried, on the other hand, takes about four minutes.

• Cost: This is a big factor. There are many ways to dehydrate foods, such as air or sun drying; these methods have been around for centuries. You can easily dehydrate food at home. Freeze drying, though, requires special, expensive equipment. Therefore, the cost to dehydrate food is much less.

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