Not that long ago commercial pet food was relatively simple; you either fed dry kibble, tinned ‘wet’ food or a combination of both. Now days, as we have come to better understand the nutritional needs of our pets and its role in their health, a vast array of foods have become common place on the pet shelves. Owners now have a plethora to choose from when contemplating their pup’s or puss’ daily degustation. Dry, wet, frozen, fresh, canned, dehydrated, freeze dried…..the options are endless! However with expansive choice comes the caveat of both confusion and decision fatigue for many pet parents. So, I thought I would take the time to explain one of the lesser known but very beneficial types of pet food… freeze dried.
Freeze dried pet food, like K9 Natural and Feline Natural, is a minimally processed, raw diet that has had the water content removed and is then rehydrated before feeding. Like most raw diets, when compared to other pet foods, these are typically higher in protein and amino acid bioavailability and richer in natural micronutrients, antioxidants and phytonutrients as they haven’t been destroyed by the cooking process.
In a nutshell this means better quality food that provides high level nutrition for your pet!
The beauty of removing the water is that the product then has a very long shelf life (without the use of nasty preservatives) as microorganisms need water to cause food spoilage. A useful analogy for this is the comparison of dried vs fresh apricots. Dried apricots can live in your pantry without going rotten for months on end and still deliver that delicious sweet chewiness when eaten. This is because the water content has been removed. Their fresh counterpart however would not fair so well and begin to spoil after just a few days.
So, when applied to a raw diet, freeze dried equates to two things; all the health benefits of a raw diet in the convenience of a bag you leave in the cupboard to pour in the bowl and just add water…. Hooray!!!!
When a product is freeze dried, its water activity is reduced below the level at which pathogens can grow. This ‘water activity level’ differs from moisture and refers to how much water is actively available in the product at any given time to react and affect the solid aspects of the diet (ie; meat and whole food ingredients). A high ‘water activity level’ precipitates food spoilage, speeding up the development of toxic bacteria and pathogens. As the freeze-drying process significantly decreases water activity (essentially putting the product in a time capsule), the risk of the bacteria/pathogen development often associated with a raw diet is effectively mitigated.
Now this doesn’t mean good food hygiene should be abandoned, however there is a much lower chance of harmful bacteria making your pet, yourself or other non furry family members sick. In addition, the K9 Natural and Feline Natural team further ensure the safety of their products by testing each and every batch for food borne pathogens before it hits the shelves so you can rest assured that no nasties are going to make their way into your household.
As always, a discerning eye is still needed when picking between different freeze dried food to reap the health benefits. Importantly, a food is only ever going to be as nutritious as the ingredients that comprise it, so choosing a food jam packed with human grade, high quality ingredients such as K9 Natural and Feline Natural is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Further, if you are intending on exclusively feeding a certain food it must be completely balanced and state that it meets the AAFCO guidelines on the packet. If you are more inclined to just ‘dip your toe in the water’ when it comes to freeze dried, then perhaps a K9 Natural Topper sprinkled over your existing food might be the way to go. Either way you are going to see the benefits with your pet and people may even stop you in the street to ask what you feed your dog because they look so good! This is relatively common place with my Albus…. to which I always answer K9 Natural of course!
By Dr. Josie Gollan