What is Freeze-Dried dog food?

Muenster Milling’s Freeze-Dryer, located in Muenster, TX

By now, most of you have heard the term “freeze-dried,” and have probably seen it on the shelf at your local pet food retailer or online. It’s one of the fastest-growing segments of the pet food industry and for good reason. The process gently removes moisture from the food without cooking it, leaving you with a nutritious, shelf-stable, uncooked product to feed your dog. 

Why is freeze-drying a superior process for producing pet food?

It’s simple really, you get out of the freeze-dryer what you put into it without having to add extra fillers. The freeze-dried process was initially developed to maintain structural integrity and nutrient levels in foods for our astronauts. When cooking foods, vitamins & minerals are lost during the heating process. In freeze-dried, since everything happens in a frozen environment, the proteins aren’t denatured, so vitamin/mineral concentration isn’t lost. The freeze-dryer provided our astronauts with a complete and balanced diet that was light and could be reconstituted, while ensuring they had all the nutrients necessary for their travels. Another important application of freeze-dried products is in pharmaceuticals.  As expensive as prescription drugs are, the manufacturers can’t afford to lose half of the integrity of their product to the heating process – which is why, oftentimes, pharmaceuticals are freeze-dried.

Our goal for feeding your pets is to give them the nutrients they need without having to pack in an abundance of high-calorie carbohydrates to make it happen. Carbohydrates are sugars that have low nutritional value for carnivores – but do a great job of holding kibble together, making extra carbs a common ingredient in conventional pet food. Since freeze-drying removes water from foods while frozen, carbohydrates are no longer needed to hold the foods together. Freeze-drying also negates the need to add glycerin to foods (used many times in baked & cold extruded treats). When freeze-dried, a dog’s diet is more simple & pure without extra filler ingredients.

This image was taken shortly after opening our freeze-dryer in Muenster, TX. The ice you see on the condenser plates is the moisture we have removed from the meat via freeze-drying.

What exactly is the freeze-drying process?

  1. We put frozen, raw meat onto trays in our freeze-dryer.
  2. The temperature lowers to around -60°, turning the water content in the meat into ice.
  3. A vacuum seal lowers the pressure to less than .06 ATM (atmospheric pressure).
  4. The trays heat up gradually. Once above 32° and without pressure, the water in the meat moves directly from ice form to vapor form, skipping the liquid form entirely (like dry ice evaporating on a counter).
  5. The water vapor collects on condensing plates (similar to the way frost condenses to your car in the winter), effectively drawing the moisture out of the meat. This condensing process can take anywhere from 24-48 hours.
  6. After all moisture has been removed, the vacuum is released and we’re left with a shelf-stable, super-nutritious raw meat product you can feed your dog or cat without any fillers or added carbs!

This is what frozen chicken looks like prior to entering the freeze-dryer. The trays slide onto the shelves and the sublimation process begins, taking water directly from ice to vapor.

How to incorporate freeze-dried into your pet’s diet

  • Freeze-dried foods can be 100% of your dog’s diet by allowing them to transition to a full carnivore diet over the course of one week.
  • Incorporate freeze-dried as 25-50% of your dog’s diet by mixing it in with kibble or canned foods.
  • Feeding freeze-dried during the day and kibble at night is a popular method.
  • Gradually adding freeze-dried meal toppers to kibble can be used to slowly remove carbohydrates from the diet.
  • Use freeze-dried as a treat only. Personally, when feeding as a treat, I like to hide freeze-dried foods throughout the house and let my dogs “hunt” for it. 

Image of our Freeze-Dried Elk & Venison Meal Topper. All it takes is a little sprinkle over their regular food, and your dogs’ mealtime will never be the same!

However you choose to incorporate the freeze-dried product into your dogs’ diet, you’ll want to make sure you monitor how much food your pets are eating. Freeze-dried foods are more rich in protein and nutrients than conventional pet foods, so your pet will likely need a lower quantity of food in general. But every single dog is different and will have different needs. You are the best judge of your dog’s body condition, and you can easily help your dog by ensuring you adjust the feeding amounts as directed. If you need any help putting together a freeze-dried feeding program for your dog, please reach out to us and we can help set you up a program. Send us a note: info@muenstermilling.com

To save 50% on our Freeze-Dried Elk/Venison meal toppers, use coupon code 50offelk.

What do I do about my Overweight dog?

Obesity in Pets

Over the course of the last few decades, pets are facing an obesity crisis that’s mirroring the one people are facing, if not worse. Take a look at these statistics:

  • 54% of dogs in the U.S. are considered obese (30% overweight or more)
  • This is an 80% increase since 2005. 
  • In 2017 out of the 89,000,000 dogs, appx 297,000 of them had diabetes.
  • 60,000 dogs die every year as a result of diabetes.

How did we get here? Well, the answer is actually quite simple, most dogs eat too many carbohydrates on a daily basis. Over time, this causes insulin resistance as they aren’t able to handle the amount of sugar that’s being converted as the carbohydrates are broken down, leading to insulin resistance. When a dog becomes insulin resistant, they try to produce more in order to handle the elevated blood sugar, and eventually, the pancreas waves the white flag and gives up. 

When the pancreas gives in, the dog, unfortunately, becomes diabetic. Now, since the dog can’t talk, they don’t really have the ability to let us know they need to pee more than normal, their feet are tingling, and their vision is getting blurry, all we can see is they’re gaining a little more weight than normal. Beyond these symptoms, they are also more at risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Conventional & mass-market pet food companies, unfortunately, spend a lot of money trying to research how they can make a diet as cheap as possible. You essentially end up with a product loaded with soy, corn, gluten, rice bran, and other starchy ingredients that cause massive spikes in blood sugar, and take the pancreas down the road of being rendered useless.

The best thing you can do is move your dog to a diet that’s higher in protein and fat, and then…..remove the junk food. When I say junk food, I’m talking about the conventional baked treats that are sold made mostly of flour & potatoes. While our dogs may eat them and seem happy, there are much better options. You see, every time you give your dog one of these sugary treats, it’s causing an insulin release. When insulin is released into the bloodstream, it converts carbohydrates to sugar, prevents fat from being used as energy, and then causes the muscle to be broken down for energy. Over time, you end up with a dog that has added fat, reduced muscle, and been subjected to chronic inflammation. Then we wonder why our dogs have arthritis at an early age and can’t lose weight no matter how much less we feed them. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs get prescribed a “weight loss” diet that’s medicated and has even lower carbohydrates.  Time and time again while talking with customers, they will ask me, “I’ve put my dog on a low-calorie diet, and he/she just isn’t losing any weight”. Then we move them to one of our low carb grain-free diets, cut the feeding amount by almost ½, and in no time their dog has lost the extra weight.

A creature created for low carb diets

If you were to follow dogs/wolves/coyotes through the wild, you would find they would consume mostly meat, eggs, and some vegetables & fruits when they find them. This would result in a starch level of approximately 4%. Keep in mind berries are mostly water, and there aren’t typically enough for a dog to eat to satiety, so they typically are doing it for water content, or they just like the taste of a cool berry! Now, consider most pet foods on the market have a calorie profile where carbohydrates contribute 40-50% of the nutrition (10X what nature intended), and it’s easy to see how the industry has missed the mark. 

Also consider, dogs have 8 hormones to raise blood sugar, and only one to lower it (insulin), it has to make you wonder why we’re working so hard against the genetic makeup of the dog. They have the ability to raise their blood sugar if they need energy with the use of EIGHT different hormones, yet we place the burden on insulin when we feed high carb diets.

What can you do?

The best thing to do is to feed your dog fewer carbohydrates. I have seen countless dogs lose weight that their owners thought would be impossible to lose, simply by moving them to a lower-carb diet, you can find ours here

The next best thing you can do would be to incorporate Freeze-Dried meats to their diet. This will increase the fat & protein of their diet even more, while also reducing the amount of dry kibble you would feed. Beyond being the exact nutrient profile your dogs were mean to eat, it may be one of the tastiest things you can add to their diet. You can find our Freeze-Dried meal toppers & treats here.

Want to save a few bucks and help your dog drop a few pounds?

If you’ve never tried Muenster before, use coupon code lessfat25 to save 25% on your first order of Grain-Free & Freeze-Dried here.


10 Ways to Adopt a Shelter Sweetie During Adopt a Dog Month

Do you ever look at your rescue pup and think, “who saved whom”? We know the feeling. Even though they were technically adopted, they feel like one of your own. You can’t imagine your home without them, and life before Fido seems like a distant memory. Though your shelter sweetie has no doubt enriched your life, he or she may exhibit some anxious or unruly behaviors you’d like to see shift. Continue reading “10 Ways to Adopt a Shelter Sweetie During Adopt a Dog Month”

Top Health and Personality Traits of 6 Popular Small Dog Breeds

pugs

Welcome to part two of our summer series that reveals key characteristics of specific small dog breeds. In these pages, you’ll discover health and wellness info to help you better care for your fur friend. Whether you’re curious about key facets of their personality, potential health complications, or ways to support their diet and style their coat, read on. Continue reading “Top Health and Personality Traits of 6 Popular Small Dog Breeds”