With so many choices available, it’s hard to know which food you should feed your pet. Dehydrated products are a convenient alternative to kibble and canned foods. You can make as much as you need while matching the activity level needs of your pooch. They are shelf-stable, too. You’ll find them useful for a regular diet, a meal topper, or as a temporary one when traveling.
Our guide will discuss what you need to know to make an informed choice about what to feed your pup. We’ll look at the importance of the nutrients and ingredients of these products, along with some things to watch out for when comparing different foods. We’ll also explore how to identify quality items to make choosing the right product easier.
Finally, our guide includes reviews of several dehydrated dog foods with a breakdown of the pros and cons of each one. If you’re looking for an alternative to your pup’s kibble or canned food, you’ve come to the right place to learn more about these products.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain||
|Best Value||Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat||
|Best for Puppies||The Honest Kitchen Whole Food Clusters||
|Dr. Harvey's Canine Health-The Miracle||
|Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb||
The 10 Best Dehydrated Dog Foods – Reviews 2021
1. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food– Best Overall
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated Dog Food has a full line of products with various primary protein sources, including chicken and turkey. The manufacturer steams the proteins to 165º F before dehydrating them, which is high enough to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens. However, safe handling is still imperative.
Barley and oats make up the whole grains in the food. It also has flaxseed for a source of omega-3 fatty acids to improve the condition of your pooch’s coat. You can feed it as a complete diet or mix it with your pooch’s dry food. It is available in 2, 4, 10-pound sizes, along with a case of (12) 1.75-cup portions.
2. Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat Dehydrated Dog Food – Best Value
Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat Dehydrated Dog Food is our pick for the best dehydrated dog food for the money. It contains pork, beef, and eggs as its protein sources, putting it at 27%. That exceeds nutritional recommendations and will help keep your pup staying full longer. It also has both rice and oats to support digestive health.
You can feed this food to your pet, either as-is or rehydrated. Going the latter route helps it go even further, making it an even better value for the money. The calorie count per cup is high because of the amount of fat in it. Some pets may find it too rich as a result. It comes in 4.41, 11.02, or 22.05-pound bags.
3. The Honest Kitchen Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend – Best for Puppies
The Honest Kitchen Whole Food Clusters Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend has a chicken and egg-based protein mixture that provides an excellent start for growing pups. It also has flaxseed and salmon oil for its omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids sources. The product contains several fermentation products to ease digestion.
The protein and fat content are in line with expert nutritional recommendations. The fiber percentage is also good for keeping your pooch sated. Preparation is a snap. Just add water. It comes in either a 4 or 20-pound bag but, unfortunately, nothing in the middle of the two.
4. Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health-The Miracle Dog Food
Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health-The Miracle Dog Food will surprise many dog owners because it doesn’t contain any meat. Instead, several whole grains like brown rice and oats will provide protein and fiber, albeit lower than you may expect. It also has several spices, including peppermint, which may improve digestion.
It comes in a 20-ounce, which is convenient if you want to try it out and see if your pooch likes it. There are also 5- and 10-pound bags. Calling this product “dog food” is somewhat misleading. You have to add a protein source and other additives. That makes the prep more involved, which defeats the purpose of using these foods.
5. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food has a kibble-like consistency that makes it convenient to use in this manner. The nutrient list is impressive with the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health support. With lamb as its protein base, it makes an excellent choice for dogs with allergies to beef or chicken.
The protein content is high, at 35%. That’s because there aren’t a lot of filler ingredients like different human foods, which we liked to see. The fat percentage is also elevated at 33%. Some pets might find the food too rich because of it. However, it doesn’t contain some of the problematic ingredients we’ll discuss later. The product is expensive. It comes in 1, 2.2, 5.5, and 8.8-pound bags.
6. Sojos Complete Adult Dehydrated Dog Food
Sojos Complete Adult Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food is about as barebones as it gets, with one of the shortest ingredient lists we’ve seen in these types of products. Turkey and eggs are its base proteins. We liked the fact that it contains whole eggs instead of just the whites. The former is an excellent source of vitamin D, which your pup needs.
The food also has flaxseeds for omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat and fat source. The calorie count is appropriate. The feeding instructions include recommendations for active dogs, which we found useful. The food does take a while to dehydrate completely at 15 minutes. Because of the turkey, you should pick up your pup’s bowl promptly after he eats because of the salmonella risk.
7. Spot Farms Dehydrated Human-Grade Dog Food
Spot Farms Dehydrated Human-Grade Grain-Free Dog Food does one thing that many foods in this category don’t. It’s affordably priced, comparably speaking. The product uses chicken as its protein source. The content is decent and exceeds the nutritional recommendations. It has both fish oil and flaxseed for its omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a lot of filler ingredients that may not offer a lot of value.
The fat content is a bit high, which explains the elevated calorie count per cup. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have other ingredients to help digest the fats, such as rice or oats. On the other hand, it rehydrates quickly in less than three minutes. It comes in either a 3.5 or 8-pound bag.
8. Only Natural Pet MaxMeat Air-Dried Dog Food
Only Natural Pet MaxMeat Air-Dried Grain-Free Dog Food is a beef-based protein. Each scoop of the food is equivalent to 3 ounces of meat. There is also added pumpkin for digestive support. The protein content is high at 35%, along with its fat, too, at 20%. While it’s undoubtedly palatable, it’s also very rich. Some pups may have trouble eating it, especially considering its low fiber.
You can use the food as a meal topper (albeit an expensive one) or as a complete diet. You needn’t rehydrate it, either. The kibble is on the larger size, making it not the best choice for smaller dogs. It comes in either a 2 or 7.5-pound bag.
9. I and Love and You Stir Mix-A-Little Dehydrated Dog Food
I and Love and You Stir Mix-A-Little Beef & Bone Broth Dehydrated Dog Food starts well with beef, chicken, and eggs as its base proteins. The garbanzo beans are also a good choice. It gets troublesome the further you read the ingredient list. It includes peas, which are somewhat controversial. It also has garlic, which left us scratching our heads since it’s toxic to dogs.
The food contains both flax seeds and fish oil for skin health with its omega-3 fatty acids. While the ingredient list is straightforward, it does contain fillers like ginger and turmeric, which may offer little nutritional value for dogs. It comes in a case of six 3-ounce cups.
10. Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Dehydrated Dog Food
Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food is a turkey-based product that contains many ingredients that have little value for your dog, such as thyme, rosemary, or basil. The list is more for the owner than the pet. The turkey and egg balance the fat content to keep it low to aid digestion. However, the food also contains peas.
The product includes both salmon and mackerel oils, along with flax seeds for its omega-3 fatty acid content. Overall, it’s not the best choice for picky eaters. The spices are overwhelming and may turn off some pets. It also takes a relatively long time to rehydrate, which increases the risk of foodborne illnesses. It comes in a 2-pound bag.
There are many reasons why you might choose dehydrated food for your dog.
Macronutrients, as the name applies, are things you need in significant quantities. The same applies for your pooch. They include protein, carbohydrates, and fat. They provide energy for you and your pet’s body to function to varying degrees. Carbs are easy for you and your pup to digest, thus, making the fuel they contain readily available. Fats take a little more work. Proteins, on the other hand, are the last resort.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides recommendations about the amount and percentage of these nutrients that can help you to choose a product that is right for your pup’s life stage. Puppies need more nutrient- and energy-dense food to support their rapid growth. The requirements for many macronutrients decline once your pup becomes an adult.
The AAFCO recommendations for protein for puppies-reproduction and adults are 22.0 and 18.0, respectively, as minimums. The figures for fat are 8.0 and 8.0. There are no set requirements for carbohydrates. You’ll likely find that many manufacturers exceed these amounts.
For protein, that means your pooch will remain sated longer since the metabolism of these nutrients is slower. Consequently, you may notice that you’ll need to feed your pet less food because of it. Fiber also does the same thing while improving digestive system health. It’s imperative to have plenty of fresh water available when feeding your dog a food with a higher protein content.
Fats, on the other hand, will provide energy and often have other health benefits, such as improving your pup’s skin condition. They will also up the calorie count, which is problematic for overweight or less active dogs. However, they will also keep your pup feeling full longer, which can be helpful in the long run with weight management if you monitor his body condition closely.
Overall Nutritional Value
This factor is the most critical when choosing the best dehydrated dog food, especially if it’s your dog’s primary dietary source. It’s not as crucial if it’s a temporary diet change. Nevertheless, it’s worth researching to make sure that it’s a good fit for your pooch’s nutritional plan. Like macronutrients, there are minimum recommendations for vitamins and minerals, along with maximums for some.
Bear in mind that you won’t see all the nutrients that people need on the list for those required for dogs. You will also find these figures detailed in amounts, typically in mg or grams (g). The recommendations also break down proteins into their prospective building blocks known as amino acids. The most important ones are those that dogs can’t synthesize in their bodies. Their diet must provide them.
You may or may not see this information on the package label. You’ll see the ingredients as additives. The guaranteed analysis only lists the amount for some, but not all of them. The key to knowing if a food is appropriate is the language referring to a diet being complete and balanced. That means it has both everything your dog needs in the correct proportions.
This criterion is a bit subjective since so many things go into determining what is right for your pet. It depends on his activity level, life stage, age, and physiology. The environment also plays a role. If your pooch spends a lot of time outdoors, he’ll need the extra calories to stay warm. Also, spayed or neutered pets will need fewer because of their slower metabolism.
We suggest that you use a calorie calculator to determine how much you should feed your pup. Then, it’s merely a matter of doing a little math to figure out where a dehydrated food fits into the mix. Experts recommend that treats make up only 10% of your dog’s total daily intake.
There are several ingredients and labeling practices that are problematic. Most are the product of marketing that sometimes oversells a dog food or its benefits. They are, after all, meant to catch your attention. The industry is well aware of the difference between pet owners and pet parents.
A great deal of controversy exists because of a recent spike in the cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Some breeds have a higher propensity for the disease than others, such as Doberman Pinschers. The concern is with other pets is the increase in dogs that are predisposed to it. That has prompted the FDA to investigate what’s happening.
Experts believe that a possible link may exist between grain-free foods and this life-threatening disease. It may lie with the absence of grains or perhaps the inclusion of what manufacturers use in their place, such as chickpeas or lentils. Veterinarians have seen many of the cases in certain breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
The jury is still out. However, we strongly urge you to consult with your vet before making any dietary changes, especially if your dog is one of the vulnerable ones either because of a genetic predisposition or his breed.
Other things to watch for include the addition of people foods like tomatoes, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. The fact remains that commercial pet diets often contain ingredients that humans may find distasteful, such as by-products. Rest assured that they are safe for your pooch. Adding fruits and vegetables doesn’t necessarily make one product better than another. It’s usually a sales hook.
Likewise, calling a product human grade is equally problematic. There is no formal definition for the word. One thing for sure is that it’s not a guarantee of safety. It’s simply marketing. Another area of concern with commercial products is the use of raw ingredients. The idea is that they supposedly more closely replicate a dog’s natural diet.
However, domestication has altered the diet of the family pet over centuries of living together. Controversy still exists about whether dogs are indeed true carnivores, anyway. The primary red flag is handling these foods. They represent a real threat to both your pooch and you over their safety because of the risk of foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella. Freeze-dried products may avoid these issues.
Ease of Use
Since convenience is a driving factor for choosing these products, it only makes sense to consider how easy they are to use as part of our reviews. We looked at the preparation in terms of how we’ll use them as part of this assessment. For many, all you have to do is add water. Others require heating to a specific temperature.
We suggest reviewing the feeding instructions carefully. Foods that take longer to rehydrate increase the risk of bacteria development. While air- or freeze-dried ingredients help alleviate them, safety becomes an issue again once you add water. Some manufacturers suggest keeping premade portions in the refrigerator. We recommend only making enough for each meal.
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated Dog Food took top honors in our reviews for the best overall dehydrated dog food. The manufacturer takes the extra steps to ensure its safety. The prep is a snap that minimizes the time it sits out to prevent bacteria from forming. It comes in a range of flavors and formulations that add to its versatility.
Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat Dehydrated Dog Food is our pick for the best value among these products because of its nutrition content. It has a decent amount of protein, fat, and omega-3 fatty acids to make this one an excellent value. It’s also easy for your pooch to digest.
Dehydrated dog foods are an alternative for those who want the convenience of a diet that you can prepare as needed. They also allow you to mix it in different ways to coax picky dogs to eat more. While many are expensive, they often have higher protein percentages, which means that you can feed them less. As with any diet change, we suggest that you discuss your options with your veterinarian.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Dehydrated Dog Foods – Reviews 2021
- 1. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food– Best Overall
- 2. Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat Dehydrated Dog Food – Best Value
- 3. The Honest Kitchen Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend – Best for Puppies
- 4. Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health-The Miracle Dog Food
- 5. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food
- 6. Sojos Complete Adult Dehydrated Dog Food
- 7. Spot Farms Dehydrated Human-Grade Dog Food
- 8. Only Natural Pet MaxMeat Air-Dried Dog Food
- 9. I and Love and You Stir Mix-A-Little Dehydrated Dog Food
- 10. Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Dehydrated Dog Food
- Buyer’s Guide