How does dehydrated dog food compare to kibble?

Woman feeding dry dog food to a Golden Retriever
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Picking the right diet for your canine companion boosts their health and well-being, so you might be wondering about dehydrated dog food and how it compares to kibble. With some dog foods containing potentially harmful substances, your choice is more important than ever.

Close in quality to a home-cooked diet but without the fuss, dehydrated foods are great but they aren’t without issues. Learning more about your options and how these different types of dog food compare will help you come to the best decision for you and your pup.

What is dehydrated dog food?

Dehydrated dog food contains simple whole-food ingredients that are dried at low temperatures to remove the water. The dehydration process preserves the food to keep it fresh for longer. When you feed it to your dog, you can mix it with water to rehydrate it, so it’s similar to wet food or fresh, home-cooked food. 

Is dehydrated dog food a complete meal?

Some can be fed as a complete meal, but others are designed as mixers or toppers only. Take a look at the packaging and if it states it’s “complete and balanced,” this means it contains a proper balance of all the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. On the other hand, mixers are designed to be mixed with meat to create a balanced diet, while toppers are for topping dry food to make it more interesting or palatable for dogs.  

Dehydrated dog food vs. kibble

Are you asking yourself whether dehydrated food or kibble is right for your dog? You’ll need to compare the two to find an answer. There’s little doubt that dehydrated food has better-quality ingredients, but it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and remember that you could mix the two together — there’s no need to stick to just one.

Dehydrated dog food pros

  • Dehydrated dog food is minimally processed. Though it can’t be described as “raw” due to the low heat applied during the air-drying process, it’s never exposed to as high a temperature as kibble is, meaning it retains more of its nutrients. 
  • When rehydrated, it’s similar to wet food or home-cooked food, which most dogs find more palatable than kibble. 
  • You’ll usually find nothing but meats, vegetables and whole grains in dehydrated food, whereas kibble is more likely to contain filler ingredients. 

Dehydrated dog food cons

  • There’s a better chance of dehydrated food containing pathogens because it isn’t exposed to high heat during processing. Quality brands are pasteurized for safety, but you must be careful who you buy from.
  • When rehydrated, it can be messy to feed, whereas kibble creates little to no mess. 
  • Dehydrated food is considerably more expensive than kibble. In fact, the cost can be prohibitive, especially if you have a large dog or more than one dog. 

Best dehydrated dog food

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Whole Grain Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Whole Grain Dog Food

With a blend of turkey, vegetables and heart-healthy whole grains, this complete and balanced food is a nutritious choice for any adult dog.

Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Dr. Harveys Paradigm Green Superfood Dog Food

Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm Green Superfood Dog Food

This vegetable-based mix needs meat and oil mixed in to make a complete food. It’s a great choice for people who want to make their own dog food but need a helping hand.

Sold by Amazon

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

Containing around 95% whole meat, this is an excellent protein-rich choice that’s especially great for active dogs. It’s complete and balanced but you can also feed it with kibble as a topper.

Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Best kibble

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

This high-quality kibble contains meat as its first ingredient and is mixed with whole grains for heart health.

Sold by Amazon, Chewy and PetSmart

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Salmon Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Salmon Dry Dog Food

A blend of salmon, brown rice, ancient grains, fruit and vegetables makes this a nutritious choice, whether you feed it alone or mix it with dehydrated food.

Sold by Amazon and Chewy


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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