Air-drying is one of the most ancient methods of preserving food. For thousands of years, travellers would bring dried fish and meat on long voyages because of the superior shelf-life. But times have changed.
Nowadays, we have machines that do the drying process. These machines have a unique property. They can generate low heat air that evaporates moisture from the food. This may sound complicated – but it’s not!
What is air-dried / dehydrated dog food?
Basically, air-drying is removing water through low heat.
A dehydrator is the name of the machine and they come in all sizes – from the ones in our kitchen cabinet to large commercial units that fit whole buildings.
Air-drying has gained more popularity over the years because of its ability to protect heat-sensitive nutrients. Moreover, it’s an effective way to get rid of potential bacterias and prevent yeasts and mould. Whether it’s for a healthy snack or a complete diet, air-drying helps retain the vital nutrients that keep our furkids healthy and energized.
Air-drying protects crucial nutrients
Vitamin C, E, B-1, B-6, B-9, antioxidants and Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids are all very sensitive to heat. These vitamins are often destroyed under high-temperatures, which is the case with a normal kibble – we’ll discuss that later on.
Air drying uses much lower temperatures to dehydrate the food. Furthermore, it becomes fully shelf stable.
The food gets dry without harming the naturally occurring nutrients and enzymes in the food. That’s why you typically don’t see novel-long ingredient lists on air-dried pet food products.
Interchangeable with a raw or freeze-dried diet
The ingredients are never exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, air dried pet food is considered as “raw food” and the ingredients retain the same nutritional quality as they have in their fresh state.
The result is a nutrient-dense dog or cat food with the same nutritional value as raw, home-made or freeze-dried dog/cat food, but with the ease of kibble. Besides that, you don’t have to fear bacterias such as salmonella.
Air-dried dog food vs kibble
There’s a reason why air-dried pet food doesn’t look similar to a normal kibble. That’s because of the vastly different manufacturing methods.
Normal kibble is manufactured in a process called “extrusion”. The process runs like this:
- Many ingredients are processed even before reaching the factory (e.g. Meat-meals).
- The ingredients are heated with steam to several hundred degrees and put under high pressure until it forms an even paste.
- This paste is then cut into even shapes and put in a high-temperature drying oven.
- Finally, the product gets packaged in bags and leaves the factory.
Extrusion is extremely effective in creating a lot of food in a very short time, but it comes at a cost.
It destroys many of the vital nutrients your dog needs. The levels of protein, vitamins and antioxidants are all decreased due to the high temperatures, which significantly lowers the overall nutritional value of the food. Moreover, a lot of artificial preservatives have to be added together with a bunch of vitamin supplements etc. to balance out the lost nutrients.
Commercial pet food extruders often can’t tolerate a lot of fresh ingredients. The moisture content is too high, which forces manufacturers to use highly-processed and rendered ingredients such as meat meals. They have much lower nutritional value than their fresh counterparts. The picture down-below shows what a meat-meal looks like and how it’s made.
Fresh beats rendered
Air-drying allows for much higher inclusions of fresh ingredients, such as fresh whole chicken, vitamin-filled carrots, and tasty and ripe papaya. This means the food can be created with the same high-quality ingredients we shop for ourselves.
So to sum it up: Air-drying secures the food is full of nutrients and has a delicious taste and smell. That’s why we at PledgeCare air-dry our pet food.
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PledgeCare’s blog posts are designed to help and inspire dog parents who wish a healthier every day for their dogs. If you’re curious about our air-dried raw, Malaysian, human-grade and super healthy dog food, check out: https://pledgecare.org/recipe/