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Why vets recommend air-dried food over kibble and fresh-frozen diets

Written by Ella White

The wisdom about what kind of food is best for your dog changes like it’s a trend. But when it comes to picking the most nutritious and beneficial option for their health and wellbeing, popularity shouldn’t be a deciding factor. From kibble to raw diets to frozen meals, the ways in which dog owners choose to feed their pets is an individual decision based on a number of deciding factors from price to convenience. 

But the easiest way to feed your dog for the best value in terms of money and nutrition is air-dried food. Here, we will explain why vets recommend air-dried food over kibble and fresh-frozen diets for dogs.

What is air-dried food?

Air-dried food is made exactly the way it sounds. Raw ingredients including meat proteins, vegetables, and fruits, are combined and then the moisture is evaporated through the air drying process. The result is a dog food that’s halfway between dehydrated and freeze-dried options. 

It’s not completely dried out so it doesn’t need to be rehydrated, but it’s not frozen so it can be stored in the cupboard and has a long shelf life. Air drying also maintains all the goodness in the natural ingredients, so it's never filled with unnecessary additives, allergens, or steroids.

What are the benefits of air-dried food?

Because it’s not heavily processed like other kinds of dog food, and is usually made with more than 70% raw protein, air-dried food contains more health-giving nutrients that your dog needs in their diet. Air-drying kills bacteria making it a safer and healthier option than raw or fresh-frozen foods, and it’s not cooked at high temperatures that can destroy the flavour.

Air-dried foods are made from fresh, specially selected ingredients that your dog will find easier to absorb and digest. It can also prevent cancers and diabetes from forming, keep their energy levels high, and give them a healthy coat and teeth. In turn, these benefits will all help your dog live a longer, healthier life.

The vet-proven advantages of air-dried food

Andi Brown, author of The Whole Pet Diet says that, “Artificial ingredients are often highly antagonistic and can actually contribute to an animal’s mental and emotional imbalance.” 

In fact, there are some additives that are so detrimental to a dog’s health that they can have the same effect on their brain as hallucinogenic drugs have on humans. And since unruly behaviour is the most common reason for dogs being put down or given to shelters, picking a dog food that will support their brain function as well as their bodily health is hugely important for their temperament and mental wellbeing.

Since air-dried food comes naturally packed with the vitamins and minerals dogs need to stay well both mentally and physically, it’s a good way to keep their behaviour under control. Especially if your dog is known to be excitable or aggressive. 

Learning about the ingredients in your dog’s food can be confusing, but the advantage of air-dried food is that it’s made from natural whole foods that you won’t need a science degree to understand. And they’re all listed, with their nutritional benefits, on the front of the pack.

Because air drying doesn’t damage the proteins and other naturally occurring nutrients in the ingredients, it’s able to remain a healthy, transparent, and safe option to feed to any dog. Just a few of the health advantages include:

  • Easier digestibility
  • Fights health issues rather than exacerbates them
  • The right amount of macronutrients
  • Free range and pasture-raised meat
  • No added hormones or controversial ingredients
  • Always made with fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables

So what’s wrong with kibble?

According to veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn, “Commercial pet foods don’t contain some things we wish they did: adequate quantities and qualities of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as the more intangible qualities unique to live, fresh foods.” 

Overly processed and dehydrated foods like kibble are also more likely to contain slaughterhouse wastes, toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs, non-nutritive fillers, and sugars. Some have even been found to contain heavy metal contaminants, pesticides and herbicides, and drug residues. All things that no dog owner would ever want to knowingly feed their dog. 

Alongside artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, and bacteria and fungi contaminants it’s clear how these unknown ingredients that make their way into processed dog foods can be incredibly harmful for their health. 

Dr Pitcain believes that all processed pet foods are missing what he considers to be the most important ‘nutrient’ of all. He says, “This key ingredient is practically ignored by nutritional scientists, but we can sense when it’s there. It is a quality found only in freshly grown, uncooked whole foods: life energy!” 

Why is air-dried food better than frozen or freeze-dried food for dogs?

Not only is freeze-dried food an unpleasant and unappetizing consistency that needs to be rehydrated before your dog can eat it. But most of them also tend to contain added fillers as the basic ingredients don’t hold the minerals and vitamins that your dog needs. Freeze-drying can also kill off all the good nutrients in the original ingredients. So even if the base recipe did contain foods that your dog could benefit from, the end result is more likely to be nutritionally redundant.

Air drying, on the other hand, is similar to dehydration. The raw ingredients are mixed together and then slowly heated to somewhere between 140-180º F. The result is a dog food with the health benefits of a raw food diet without the risks. This is because the evaporation process removes bacteria, yeast, and mould with the moisture. However with fresh-frozen foods these contamination and allergy risks remain in the food.

How to weigh up the health benefits of dog food

These days, many dog foods are made with human-grade ingredients so an easy way to decide whether you’d be happy to feed it to your pet is to consider whether you’d eat the ingredients yourself.

Cheap, commercial dog foods often contain wheat gluten and other allergens as fillers, whereas premium dog foods will only contain raw proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy oils that would all appear on a pack of your own food.

And since one in two dogs die of cancer and many are diagnosed as obese, it’s important to feed your dog a diet that’s fit for a human. Avoid corn, soy, sugar, and preservatives that all lead to obesity and disease in dogs, and focus on the foods that you know are healthy.

Air-dried pet food supports your dog’s health by reducing inflammation, improving their digestion and absorption, minimising stress, and keeping their muscles and bones strong.

Front of the Pack’s air-dried dog food is made with natural animal proteins and mixed in with real fruit and veg to boost their muscle function, bone mass, immune support, and overall well being. It’s all air-dried from fresh, and made from the highest quality ingredients including chicken, salmon, and beef. Free from preservatives and additives, this air-dried food keeps the goodness of the ingredients all locked in – and it tastes great too.