Over the past decade, fresh, raw, homemade, dehydrated dog food, and freeze-dried dog foods have gained popularity, as many pet parents prefer these minimally processed diets for their pets over traditional kibble. Dehydrated is another up-and-coming category, with sales growing by 10.7 percent in 2020. 

If you’re curious about dehydrated dog foods and how they differ from other non-traditional diets, here’s what you need to know before you make the switch.

Our Top Picks

6 Best Dehydrated Dog Foods of 2022  

Best Overall Dehydrated Dog Food

Our Pick: Sundays Food for Dogs

Sunday's or Dogs Dog Food Formula

Use code VETSTREET35 and get 35% off your first purchase

If you’re looking for a dog food that is dehydrated and quick and easy to serve, Sundays for Dogs comes in a convenient jerky-like form—no rehydration necessary. It’s shelf-stable, even after the package is open, and you can choose between chicken or beef flavors. The 100% human-grade food is made in a USDA-monitored kitchen, and the brand also tests each batch for foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. Sundays is recommended for picky eaters and dogs with sensitive stomachs, but it is quite expensive, especially if you have a large-breed dog

Pros 

  • Easy to serve
  • Two flavors available 
  • Tested for salmonella and E. coli
  • Manufactured at a human-grade food facility in the United States

Cons

  • High price point, especially for large-breed dogs 

Best Easy-to-Serve Dehydrated Dog Food

Our Pick: The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken Recipe Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Whole Grain Dog Food

30% off orders $30+ at The Honest Kitchen with code VS30

The Honest Kitchen is arguably the best-known brand of pet food that is dehydrated, and while the Whole Grain Chicken Recipe is our top pick for most dogs, it’s also available in a variety of other flavors like turkey, beef, fish, and more. The food comes in 2-, 4-, or 10-pound packages, with each pound of the mixture yielding 4 pounds of food once it’s re-hydrated. The formula is made from minimally processed, non-GMO ingredients that are easily digestible for your pup. It contains no preservatives, by-products, or fillers, and The Honest Kitchen is a certified B Corp, which means they prioritize social and environmental initiatives in their business practices. 

Pros

  • Available in multiple flavors
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • No preservatives, by-products, or fillers
  • Made in the USA 
  • Money-back guarantee 

Cons

  • Some pet parents said their pups refused to try this food 

Best Dehydrated Raw Dog Food

Our Pick: Addiction Perfect Summer Brushtail Raw Alternative Dog Food

Addiction Perfect Summer Brushtail Raw Alternative Dog Food

Traditional raw diets can be cumbersome to store and serve, but the Addiction Perfect Summer Raw Alternative Dog Food offers the benefits of uncooked meat in a shelf-stable form. Made in New Zealand, this dehydrated raw dog food features brushtail that’s rich in Omega-3, as well as coconut oil and superfoods like flaxseed, apples, rosemary, and spinach. On the flip side, the formula doesn’t contain any antibiotics, steroids, artificial growth hormones, grain, soy, wheat, or artificial colors or flavors. And for added versatility, it can be served 5 different ways: dry, mixed with water, as a kibble topper, with homemade food, or with canned food. Though we’re focusing on the brushtail option here, there are several other flavors available, each with their own nutritional benefits.

Pros

  • Made from brushtail with coconut oil and lots of superfoods
  • No antibiotics, steroids, or artificial growth hormones, colors, or flavors
  • Can be served 5 ways; water is not always necessary
  • Made in New Zealand with ethically sourced ingredients and under strict manufacturing standards
  • Several other flavors available

Cons

  • Not suitable for puppies 

Best Limited Ingredient Dehydrated Dog Food

Our Pick: The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Limited Ingredient Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Limited Ingredient Chicken Dog Food

30% off orders $30+ at The Honest Kitchen with code VS30 when you buy from The Honest Kitchen

If your dog has food sensitivities, The Honest Kitchen also has a line of limited ingredient dehydrated foods, which contain just 6 whole food ingredients. The formula is available in several flavors, including Chicken & Quinoa, Beef & Chickpea, and Duck & Sweet Potato, and it can be purchased in either 4- or 10-pound containers. These limited-ingredient flavors are free from preservatives, by-products, fillers, GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, and soy, and the recipes are 100% human-grade. Plus, just like the original formula, 1 pound of the mixture yields 4x its weight in food when mixed with water.

Pros

  • Just 6 whole food ingredients 
  • Available in several flavors
  • Human-grade ingredients 
  • Appropriate for puppies and adult dogs
  • Made in the USA 
  • Money-back guarantee 

Cons

  • More expensive than standard The Honest Kitchen formula 

Best Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food

Our Pick: Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Cage-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Feast Dehydrated Dog Food

ONLY NATURAL PET EASYRAW CAGE-FREE CHICKEN & SWEET POTATO FEAST

For dogs that eat a grain-free diet, the Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Dehydrated Dog Food is a convenient option. It’s made from freeze-dried raw chicken and dehydrated vegetables and fruits, but the brand also has grain-free formulas available with turkey or beef as the main protein source. Formulated by holistic vets and manufactured in the USA, this dehydrated food comes in 2- or 7-pound packages, and 7 pounds of the mix yields up to 35 pounds of food when mixed with water. 

Pros

  • Grain-free formula
  • Made with freeze-dried, raw chicken
  • Formulated by holistic vets
  • Good price point
  • Made in the USA 

Cons

  • Not suitable for puppies

Best Dehydrated Dog Food Mix

Our Pick: Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Miracle Dog Food

Dr. Harvey's Canine Health Miracle

Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Miracle Dog Food is a dog food mix that makes it easier to create balanced, healthy homemade meals for your pet. The mix contains dehydrated vegetables, crushed eggshells, and organic grains, and it’s designed to be paired with a raw or cooked protein source of your choice. (Keep in mind that the mix is not an adequate source of nutrition on its own.) The formula is free from preservatives, dyes, chemicals, and fillers, and it uses only human-grade, non-GMO ingredients. Plus, one 10-pound bag can be used to make 66 pounds of food, so it will last significantly longer than other dehydrated food options.

Pros

  • Contains dehydrated vegetables, crushed eggshells, and organic grains
  • Human-grade ingredients 
  • Includes biotin, vitamin E, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, and folic acid
  • No preservatives, dyes, chemicals, or fillers
  • One bag lasts longer than other dehydrated food options 

Cons

  • Not an adequate source of nutrition on its own; has to be mixed with a raw or cooked protein source
  • Needs to sit for eight minutes before serving

What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?

Dehydrated dog food, which is also called air-dried dog food, is made differently than other types of food for dogs. “Dehydrated food is slowly cooked at a low temperature to remove all of the moisture from the diet,” says Dr. Brian Evans, medical director at Dutch. This type of dog food is shelf stable, and it can be rehydrated for serving by mixing it with warm water. 

Dehydrated food for dogs is often confused with freeze-dried dog food, but these two types of food are processed in different ways. Freeze-dried food is processed at freezing temperatures and goes through a multi-step drying process to remove its moisture. Because it’s never actually cooked, freeze-dried dog food is technically a type of raw diet. 

Pros and Cons of Dehydrated Dog Food

There are several benefits of dehydrated dog food vs. standard dog kibble. Some brands claim that because it’s not cooked at high temperatures, dehydrated food retains more nutrients and taste than regular food for dogs. Plus, it’s also easy to store and transport. “The benefits of this diet stem from the low weight and easy portability of the diet, which can be helpful in situations such as traveling,” explains Dr. Evans.

However, there are some dehydrated food drawbacks that you’ll want to consider, as well. “Unfortunately, the downside of these products is the drying process doesn’t kill potentially harmful pathogens,” says Dr. Evans. “While some pathogens may die in the process, other food-borne illnesses, such as Salmonella, survive, making this food choice a higher risk than other cooked diets.” Further, dehydrated dog food tends to be more expensive than standard food for dogs.

How We Ranked Our Choices

Dog eating food from a bowl

There are a limited number of dehydrated foods for dogs today, which makes it a bit easier to sort through the options available. To start, we spoke with Dr. Evans for information on how to select the best type of food for your pup’s needs, and we researched different options, considering factors such as:

Processing method. Because of the way that dehydrated food is prepared, there’s a higher risk for issues like Salmonella, so we made sure to take note of each brand’s processing/testing method to ensure the best quality options. 

Ingredients. It’s good to know what exactly you’re feeding your pup on a regular basis. We took a look at the main ingredients of each pick, only choosing food that was higher in quality.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement. To ensure that we were recommending the best options for your pup, we focused on products that showcased this important nutrition statement.

Price. Dehydrated food can be on the pricier side, but many pet parents feel that it’s worth it. With that in mind, we did call out the higher-priced selections to help you make the best decision based on your budget.

On a personal note, you should note thant I also took my own experiences with Sundays for Dogs into account while compiling this list. 

Dehydrated Dog Food Buyer’s Guide

Pouring pet food into a ceramic dog bowl

There are a variety of factors you’ll want to take into account when selecting the best dehydrated food for your pet. 

AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement. When buying any pet food, it’s important to look for the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement, which should be located on the package. This statement indicates whether the food is a complete and balanced source of nutrition and which life stages — puppies, adult dogs, nursing mothers, etc. — it’s appropriate for. 

Safety measures. Because dehydrated food has a higher risk for carrying foodborne pathogens, you may want to look for a brand that does additional food testing to ensure their food is safe for your dog. 

Ingredients. It can be helpful to look at the ingredient list in a potential dog food, especially if your dog has food sensitivities, but Dr. Evans notes that there’s often marketing at play on food labels. “While many people like to read through the ingredient lists, I caution people that this can be a marketing tool as well,” he says. “For instance, many companies will proudly claim that they do not use by-products in their products — however, by-products are a great source of nutrition; they just have an unfortunate name.”

Serving instructions. Dehydrated food often requires a bit of preparation before serving. In general, it needs to be mixed with warm water and left to sit for several minutes, but you’ll want to check your product’s specific directions to ensure the process is feasible for you.

Dehydrated Dog Food FAQs

Dog eating food from bowl

Is dehydrated food good for dogs?

As long as it’s manufactured safely and formulated to AAFCO nutrient profiles, dehydrated food is a healthy choice to feed your dog. 

How long does dehydrated dog food last?

In its packaged form, most dehydrated food is shelf stable for several months. However, once it’s been mixed with water, the food should be refrigerated and eaten within a few days. 

Is dehydrated dog food better than kibble?

Some people believe that dehydrated food for dogs offers more nutrition than kibble because it is minimally processed, but there’s no scientific research to back up this claim. 

Is dehydrated raw dog food safe?

Because it’s only processed at a low temperature, dehydrated dog food has a higher risk of carrying food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella. However, many brands test their food for these pathogens to help keep your dog safe.