Should You Be Feeding Your Dog Air-Dried Over Kibble?

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Most Mondays, I meet my friend Kelly at a local dog rescue to walk some pups after work. We’re both dog lovers and inevitably end up yapping about our pets as we stroll around the neighborhood with our furry-friend-of-the-week. Most recently, she told me about her dog’s new food – it’s apparently all her family can talk about. It’s air-dried, uber convenient, and Roxy loves it. 

To say my interest was piqued is an understatement. I’ve been on the hunt for a dog food solution I feel great about for a while. We started with a pretty generic kibble but after some digestive issues swapped to fresh dog food. That helped, but with two big dogs, we didn’t have the fridge space to dedicate a full shelf for our pups. Back to kibble we went! 

We upgraded to a top-of-the-line kibble brand, but it honestly doesn’t come anywhere close to the fresh dog food. I was curious if air-dried could be the solution we’ve been searching for – Kelly mentioned that the air-dried food has all the benefits of fresh dog food but requires no prep, no fridge or freezer space, and no cleanup – and it’s delivered to her doorstep! Was it time to make our final switch?

Raw ingredients are slowly dried to preserve their nutritional value. Credit: Sundays For Dogs

In Terms Of Nutrition…

My first order of business was figuring out what exactly air-dried dog food is. Here’s what I found:

Air drying is a technique that removes moisture at very low temperatures. Air-dried food is technically considered ‘raw,’ which means it actually retains more of its naturally-present nutritional value than cooked foods. A meat-based air-dried dog food has the same health benefits as raw dog food, which is what dogs would naturally eat. It’s just more lightweight and shelf stable – and looks like a jerky versus raw meat. 

While I was at it, I figured I should maybe do a quick search to find out what exactly kibble is. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no clue what was in my dog’s food. In short, kibble is a combination of meats, veggies, carbs and fillers that’s turned into a dough, cooked at a high heat, then dehydrated for shelf stability. It’s sprayed with animal fats and vitamins at the end of the process so that it still tastes appealing to dogs but can sit on the shelf for quite some time. This entire process drains the food of much of its nutritional value – plus, many unnecessary fillers are added in to bind the dough. 

In short, air-drying provides a similar-looking product – but it preserves the nutritional value of each ingredient. The result is a product that’s as nutritionally dense as fresh food, but as convenient as a kibble.  

Looks like jerky!

What About Convenience? 

Both air-dried dog food and kibble provide way more convenience than fresh dog food. You don’t have to lug around huge deliveries every week, make space in your fridge, or divvy up a packet of food twice per day (one of my least favorite dog-mom chores). 

I was pleased to find that you can store air-dried dog wherever you’d like – because it’s shelf stable and super light, it can sit atop your fridge, on the floor of your garage etc. And, you don’t have to interact with it much: at meal time, simply pour it into your dog’s bowl like a kibble. 

Comparing Costs

The cost of each type of food really changes dog to dog. In general, though, expect to pay a decent amount more for air-dried food versus kibble. That’s because you’re paying for high quality ingredients and nothing more, whereas the fillers used in kibble keep it relatively cheap. 

Kibble is much cheaper in the short term, but it’s worth noting that you may end up paying more with health issues and vet visits in the future. I’d be spending ~$125 extra per month on air-dried food, but my expectation is that 1. My pups will live happier, healthier lives and 2. I’ll save money as they grow older. 

*I’ll also note that compared to fresh dog food, air-dried dog food is actually a bit cheaper. I want to give that context because they’re more on-par nutritionally. 

TQE’s air-dried dog food of choice. Credit: Sundays For Dogs

Is It Worth The Switch?

When this dog food conversation hit TQE’s Slack channel (of course it did…this is right up our alley!), two different colleagues pointed me towards Sundays For Dogs. They’re both obsessed with it (you know how dog parents can be) and advocate wholeheartedly for air-dried food.

One colleague gave me the full rundown – she was hesitant to try it given the cost, but ultimately opted for a month trial. Spoiler alert: she never looked back. She also explained that this stuff is the real deal: It’s made by a vet and an engineer who seriously know their stuff. Her dogs absolutely adore it, it frees up a lot of her brain space, and guests constantly ask about it (take a look at the packaging and you’ll soon understand why). If you can afford to make the switch, she recommends it – especially if you have kids, work a busy job, or are on the move a lot. 

She’s convinced me (it feels like a no brainer)…and at this point, I imagine you as well. And fair enough – your dog deserves the best just like you do! Give it to them with Sundays For Dogs. 

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