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Why Air-Dried Is Better Than a Raw Diet for Dogs

Written by FOTP Team

Last updated

happy dog next to bowl

Your dogs are essential members of your family, and you want what’s best for them. A dog’s diet is one of the keys to a long, healthy life, allowing you to enjoy the special bond between canine and human for years. The trouble is, feeding them a healthy diet can present challenges for many dog parents. You want your pups to get the nutrition they need without all the extras that can do more harm than good. You also want them to actually like what they eat.

A raw diet for dogs is often touted as the most nutritious and natural form of food for our four-legged family members. This diet has its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks and may not be the right choice for you and your pooches. Air-dried food is another option for health-conscious dog owners, and it could offer you an excellent alternative for your pups.

Have you ever picked up a bag of kibble and read the ingredients? Chances are there are items on that long list that are a complete mystery to you. Just as people food has grown industrialized, so too has pet food. In the process, expediency and expense became the two biggest drivers for the companies that produce dog food. It’s easier and cheaper to add fillers like corn and other grains to the mix and then toss in the required nutrients in synthetic form.

Dogs didn’t evolve to eat corn or chemicals, and a diet based on them can lead to adverse health effects. Additionally, mass-produced kibble sometimes contains accidentally introduced toxins, and the number of pet food recalls over the years has many owners worried about their furry family members’ safety.

Though more companies are heeding the call for kibble that contains no grains, many pet parents are still concerned their dogs aren’t getting the nutrition they need through wholesome, natural ingredients. Enter the raw diet for dogs.

Elements of a Raw Diet

Raw food can come pre-packaged and sold at stores or delivered to your door. However, most people think of a raw diet as a home-prepped meal for their pooches. The key is the food is not cooked, and it contains ingredients dogs have evolved to eat. Raw food is also more nutrient-dense than most kibble because it’s cooked.

Cooked food is substantially lower in some nutrients, which is why the dog food you see on the shelves today contains so many added synthetic vitamins and minerals. Raw food has higher levels of important nutrients, and it doesn’t contain grains or other fillers that are not easy for your pup to digest. There are two types of raw diet for dogs: the prey model and the biologically appropriate raw food model.

The Prey Model

In this model, dogs eat the animals they would prey upon in the wild and nothing else. This means feeding your pup an entire raw chicken, fish, rabbit and other animals. Trying to maintain a constant source of prey food presents logistical challenges. When a variety of appropriate whole prey foods isn’t available, your canine companion won’t get the nutrition they need to remain healthy.

The BARF Model

The BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) model is a more feasible approach to a raw diet for dogs, though it still has shortcomings. This diet typically consists of raw:

  • Ground meat
  • Organ meat
  • Fish
  • Bones that are safe to eat (like those found in chicken wings) or calcium supplements
  • Eggs

It also includes veggies and a minimal amount of food, both pureed, mimicking the consistency of digested food found in the intestines of prey animals. Vitamin and mineral supplements are also necessary to ensure all nutritional needs are met.

Air-dried dog food is a form of raw food. Like the BARF diet, air-dried food isn’t cooked at high temperatures, so it retains the nutrients lost through cooking. It also doesn’t have any unrecognizable ingredients, unhealthy grains or other fillers.

The drying process usually involves using a very low level of heat to remove most of the moisture content in the food. However, enough remains to make it easy to eat and more flavorful for your pup’s tastebuds. Cooking food at low temperatures may take a long time, but it maintains the nutritional value found in a raw diet for dogs. Added supplements round out the nutritional profile and health benefits of air-dried food.

Air-Dried Dog Food Ingredients

The contents of air-dried dog food can vary depending on where you get it, but it should always contain ingredients you recognize. It should also provide a balance of protein, calcium, healthy fats, fiber, veggies and fruit. The protein can come from sources like chicken and fish. The food should have a variety of different types of vegetables and fruits to provide the range of vitamins dogs need.

You may also see whole eggs or bones for calcium. However, adding dehydrated bones may present a risk of splintering, which can have negative health consequences for your pooch. Air-dried food should have healthy oils, like omega 3 fatty acids, and natural fiber sources like sweet potatoes and gluten-free oats.

Many pup parents are understandably uncertain about which diet is the best for their beloved four-legged family member. Both raw food and air-dried food can provide your dogs with a healthier diet than much of the traditional food sold in stores today. However, an air-dried food diet may be a better alternative than a prey or BARF raw food diet, and here are 10 reasons why.

1. Air-Dried Food Is More Nutrient-Dense

Both air-dried and non-dehydrated raw food are packed with more naturally occurring nutrients in kibble cooked at very high temperatures. However, when you remove most of the moisture from the food, it does more than just preserve the nutrients. Air-dried food packs more vitamins and minerals per ounce than what you find in a raw diet for dogs.

Water weighs almost 30 grams per ounce, so you condense the nutrients into a smaller and lighter volume by removing most of it. Your pup does not need to consume as much food to get the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive.

2. Air-Dried Food Is Safer

Unfortunately, raw food is not always safe for pooches or people. Feeding your canine companion raw food may expose you and your dog to dangerous pathogens. One study found almost 25% of the raw food you find packaged in tubes at the pet store contained Listeria monocytogenes and salmonella, which can cause illness in people and their furry family members.

A raw diet for dogs may also increase the levels of Enterococci, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that occurs naturally in the gut of humans and animals but can be dangerous when it enters other parts of the body. Air-dried food slow-cooked at temperatures of 142 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to kill harmful bacteria while still retaining all the nutrients in the food.

3. Raw Food Takes up More Space

Feeding your dogs raw food takes up a lot of space in the kitchen. The food contains all the moisture, which increases volume. You need to keep all that mass somewhere! Before you prepare the food, it will consume precious space in your refrigerator. Once you’ve prepared it, you’re likely going to need to keep it in the freezer so it’ll last. Air-dried food has far less volume for the same number of feedings, so it takes up less space. 

4. Air-Dried Food Has a Stable Shelf Life

Related to reason number three is the food’s shelf life. Raw food can’t sit out for any length of time or it will spoil. Dehydrating food is a process that also preserves it. It’s the same idea behind the jerky humans eat. You don’t need to refrigerate it to ensure it is safe to eat. Air-dried food doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives, but the process of removing the moisture and slow cooking gives it a longer shelf life than raw food.

5. A Raw Diet Is More Time Consuming

To feed your four-legged family members a raw diet, you’ll need to set aside some time every week to shop for and prepare the food. Each batch you make will require measuring the right combination of ingredients, pureeing the fruits and veggies, combining everything together and dividing the mixture into single servings. Preparing a raw diet for dogs can eat away several hours a week. When you buy air-dried food, you don’t need to do anything but scoop it into the bowl and watch your dog devour it.

6. Air-Dried Food Is Nutritionally Balanced

It isn’t easy to ensure you prepare a well-balanced meal for your pup when you feed a raw diet. When you give your dog air-dried food developed by experts in canine nutrition, you can take comfort knowing they’re getting what they need with every meal. The food ingredients and combinations should be backed by science and tested for nutritional content (and taste, too!).  

7. A Raw Diet for Dogs Can Get Expensive

It can get expensive to buy all the ingredients you need to make raw dog food. Even if you are able to buy all your products wholesale, you’re going to need huge amounts of freezer space if you’re buying frozen meat and if you’re buying fresh, you’re unlikely to get around to using it all before it goes bad. For this reason, most owners opting for a raw diet tend to buy smaller quantities which always cost more. 

8. Air-Dried Food Is Easy To Transition

Transitioning to a new food is almost always stressful for pup parents. It can cause digestive issues, resulting in loose stools or diarrhea if you go too fast. Some dogs turn their noses up at the new food because it’s too different from what they’re used to. Yes, this can even happen when transitioning to a raw diet for dogs. Air-dried food resembles kibble more than raw food. It’s also often easier on the digestive system. You and your dog will likely find it easier to transition to air-dried food.

9. Raw Food Doesn’t Travel Well

If you like to take family vacations that include your four-legged family members, you’re going to find it challenging to transport the raw food you need to feed them during your trip. Air-dried food travels just as well as a bag of kibble. You won’t need to purchase an extra cooler just to store it, and you won't need to worry about whether you've made enough to last the journey.

10. Air-Dried Food Is Tasty

One of the best reasons to choose air-dried over raw is that it's tasty. Dogs tend to love the flavor of air-dried food, so it isn’t a hard choice to feed it to your beloved canine. You don't have to choose between quality and flavor because you get both!

If you’ve been considering a raw diet for dogs but are concerned about the time it takes to prepare, the storage space it requires and the effort to get the right nutritional balance, Front of the Pack’s veterinarian-formulated, pooch-approved air-dried dog food may be just what you and your four-legged family member needs.

We developed our food to contain a healthy balance of nutrients from whole, natural ingredients, with an added dose of good fats and prebiotics and probiotics. Our slow-cooking process at low temperatures locks in the good stuff and removes any potentially harmful pathogens that can lurk in raw food. Take a look at our ingredients list. You won’t find any nasties on it, just pure, natural ingredients you recognize. Are you ready to try air-dried food for your canine companion? Order a bag of Front of the Pack’s Chicken Air-Dried Organic today!