The Science Behind Freeze-Dried

By WagWell Team
April 24, 2024

The health and happiness of our pets are the number one consideration when buying food and treats for our furry friends. We just want our companions to have a long and healthy life by our side–and that starts with their diet! Gone are the days of old when misinformation about pet foods ran rampant! Freeze-dried dog treats and food have become increasingly popular. This processing method conveniently provides heaps of nutrients while preserving the natural flavors and aromas of the ingredients.

The Freeze Dry Process

Freeze drying, also known as lyophilization, is a sophisticated dehydration process that involves several intricate steps. 

Step 1: Freezing Phase

The freeze-drying process begins with the rapid freezing of the food, typically at temperatures below -22ºF. The quick freezing process is crucial for preventing the formation of large ice crystals, which can damage the food’s cellular structure (think freezer burn!).

Step 2: Sublimation Phase

The now-frozen food begins the primary drying–or sublimation phase. Sublimation is the act of transforming a solid directly into a gas, bypassing the liquid state. In the freeze-drying process, this means placing the food into a vacuum chamber where pressure is lowered and heat is applied to the material to sublimate the water inside. The vaporized water adheres to a cold condenser–a device that cools and solidifies the released vapor.

Step 3: Adsorption Phase

The last and final part of the process is adsorption, during which the bound water molecules are removed. Bound water, simply put, is leftover water from the sublimation process whose presence is necessary to maintain the stability of the food. By raising the temperature higher than in the primary drying phase, the ionic bonds are broken between the food and water molecules. After this phase, the food will retain minimal amounts of moisture. 

Superior Nutrient Retention

Freeze-dried treats and food have one large differentiator when comparing baked alternatives: their ability to preserve the nutritional integrity of the ingredients. Unlike traditional drying methods, such as air or oven drying, which often involve exposure to high temperatures that can degrade sensitive nutrients, freeze-drying minimizes heat exposure. This gentle process helps retain the food’s original nutrient content, including vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. 

Two more benefits help push freeze-dried treats over baked dog treats: the natural structure and the lack of additives and fillers. Freeze-dried treats enhance nutrient absorption in our pups. Because the natural structure is preserved throughout the process, the porous structure allows for rapid nutrient absorption, promoting efficient digestion and nutrient uptake. The lack of additives, preservatives, or fillers means that pet parents can feel confident that they’re providing their dogs with wholesome treats that are free from unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients. 

Natural Flavors and Aromas

In case you still need to be persuaded to try freeze-dried treats, this processing method preserves the natural flavors and aromas of the ingredients. Your dog won’t be able to resist the appealing smells that accompany their new treats. Unlike traditional drying methods that can compromise taste and scent through exposure to high temperatures, freeze-drying gently removes moisture without applying heat; this unique process locks in the natural essence of the ingredients.

The absence of heat during freeze-drying ensures that volatile flavor compounds remain intact, contributing to the rich and authentic taste of freeze-dried treats. Whether it's the savory flavor of meat or the sweetness of fruits, freeze-dried treats offer a burst of flavor that dogs find irresistible. Preserving aromas in freeze-dried treats enhances their palatability, making them particularly appealing to picky eaters. Dogs are drawn to the enticing scent of the treats, making them an effective training aid or reward. 

The Freeze-Dried Future

The future applications of freeze-drying in the dog industry hold exciting possibilities, particularly in fully cooked options. While traditional freeze-dried treats boast their raw ingredients, advancements in food processing technology are paving the way for fully cooked freeze-dried treats that offer enhanced convenience and safety.

Fully cooked, freeze-dried dog treats have the potential to revolutionize the pet food industry by combining the benefits of freeze-drying with the safety of fully cooked products. By cooking the ingredients before freeze-drying, manufacturers can eliminate any potential pathogens or bacteria, ensuring a safe and hygienic product for pets. These fully cooked, freeze-dried treats give pet owners peace of mind, knowing they are offering their dogs a safe and nutritious treat. 

WagWell is excited to announce the launch of our fully cooked, freeze-dried dog treats. With our enticing beef and cheese flavors, your dog will get a tasty treat heaped with loads of benefits! Our single-ingredient treats are human-grade and contain no grain, corn, soy, fillers, or any common allergens. 

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