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Best Freeze-Dried Dog Treats: The Best Freeze-Dried Flavors, My Personal Experience & More

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Last Updated: July 9, 2024 | 12 min read | Leave a Comment

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Freeze-dried dog treats and food have gained popularity over the last few years. Freeze-drying is a process that preserves nutrients in raw food ingredients, producing a shelf-stable and lightweight dog food product. Are freeze-dried dog treats safe? Are freeze-dried dog treats healthy? And what are the best ones you can find? I share with you the pros and cons of freeze-dried dog treats. I also review some of the best freeze-dried meat dog treats on the market and share a few homemade recipes both my dogs love.

Beef LiverChickenSalmonVenisonBison LiverLamb
Stewart Pro-Treat Beef LiverPupford Training TreatsIMK9 Premium Salmon TreatsHoli freeze dried dog treatsNorthwest Naturals Raw Rewards Bison Liver Treats Sojos Simply Lamb Treats
StewartPupfordIMK9HoliNorthwest NaturalsSojos
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What Are Freeze-Dried Dog Treats?

Freeze-dried dog treats are usually made from whole food ingredients, such as meat or animal organs, that are flash-frozen to remove moisture. This process means no important nutrients are lost compared to other baked treats, making them healthier and tastier. Check out this short video that goes into more detail about freeze-dried dog treats and food.

6 Benefits Of Freeze-Dried Treats

A dried chicken strip jerky treat being served to a dog during a training class.
  1. Healthier Ingredients. Most freeze-dried dog treats are made with healthy, all-natural ingredients. This means they could be more nutritious than many commercial treats, sometimes packed with fillers, artificial ingredients, and preservatives.
  2. More Nutrients. The freeze-drying process preserves nutrients better than the typical baking process, which uses high heat. Minimal processing means locked-in goodness, which is usually better for Fido.
  3. Better Digestion. As the treats are all-natural, without fillers and preservatives, they are much easier on your dog’s digestive system. They also promote healthy gut flora, which has various other health benefits. These could be a great choice if your dog has a sensitive gut.
  4. Healthier Stools & Less Gas. When a dog’s gut is healthy and happy, their stools are much healthier and usually produce less odor. So, if your pooch is particularly gassy, freeze-dried treats could be the way to go. Less gas benefits the entire family, too!
  5. Super Tasty. The freezing process allows Fido to enjoy the intense meaty flavor, making them ideal as training treats or for fussy pups.
  6. Shelf-Stable. Removing moisture means they are non-perishable, unlike raw or fresh treats. They don’t need to be stored in a refrigerator, making them ideal for long hikes or traveling.

If your dog has a sensitive stomach and you need to change their diet, check out our guide on the best dog food for sensitive stomachs, too. We also answer why dogs fart and provide other relief and remedies.

Best Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

I’ve chosen my top picks based on the quality of ingredients, company food safety practices and reputation, customer reviews, pricing, and more. In addition, I’ve picked various proteins to suit different doggy tastes. So, whether you’re looking for the popular beef liver or chicken options or a novel protein like venison, there is something here for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at my freeze-dried dog treat reviews.

Best Freeze-Dried Liver Treats: Stewart Beef Liver Review

Stewart Pro-Treat Beef Liver

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Are freeze-dried beef liver treats good for dogs? Yes, as long as they’re high quality and given in moderation. Stewart’s freeze-dried beef liver dog treats only contain one ingredient, which is 100% beef liver. They contain nutrients that support a healthy coat and amino acids that promote strong muscles. This single-ingredient treat is free of grains, gluten, soy, and corn and has no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.

They are great freeze-dried liver treats for puppies and are perfect for training and dog food toppers. In addition, Stewart offers other flavors, including chicken liver, salmon, chicken breast, beef, and other types of dog snacks. They also come in different package sizes, catering to various dog sizes and multi-dog households. This is a popular product with a crunchy texture. However, a few customers felt the treats’ texture was too crumbly.

ProsCons
Highly nutritiousSome customers felt the texture was too crumbly
Single-ingredient
Suitable for all life stages
Tasty with a crunchy texture
Sourced and made in the USA

Price

Best Freeze-Dried Chicken Dog Treats: Pupford Training Treats Review

Pupford Training Treats

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If you’re looking for healthy, low-calorie training treats, Pupford’s freeze-dried chicken treats are a good value for a high-quality product. Each treat contains less than one calorie, which is excellent for dogs who need to manage or lose weight. They only contain chicken and mixed tocopherols, an antioxidant that helps to hold the treats together so they don’t crumble at the bottom of the bag.

Pupford sources its ingredients and makes all of its treats in the USA. They also offer other freeze-dried flavors, including beef liver, rabbit, salmon, duck and veggies, and surf and turf. The treats are small-sized pellets, so you’ll go through a lot if you have a large dog. Some large-breed owners felt they were too small for their big pups and didn’t satisfy them. Their smaller size also makes them the best freeze-dried treat for small dogs.

ProsCons
Variety of flavorsSmall size
Pellet size and texture
Less than 1kcal per treat
Sourced and made in the USA
Suitable for all life stages

Price

Best Freeze-Dried Salmon Dog Treats: IMK9 Premium Salmon Treats Review

IMK9 Premium Salmon Treats

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These IMK9 freeze-dried treats are made with 100% wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, which is low-fat and high in protein. The freeze-drying process helps lock in the beneficial nutrients of salmon, including fatty acids like omega 3 and 6, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B12, D, and more. These single-ingredient, human-grade dog treats are made in the USA and contain no artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives.

These salmon treats still have the fish skin on, which adds a crunchy texture that most dogs love. However, some customers complain that the texture is too crumbly and dusty. These treats also come in two other flavors: beef liver and chicken hearts. They are suitable for all life stages and cats, too, making them an ideal choice for multi-pet households.

ProsCons
Made with sustainably caught wild SalmonSome customers state the dusty texture is messy
Single-ingredient fish treat with skin
High in healthy omegas
Human-grade & made in the USA
Suitable for all life stages & cats

Price

Best Freeze-Dried Venison Dog Treats: Holi Venison & Elk Treats Review

 Holi Venison & Elk Treats

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Holi’s elk and venison freeze-dried treats are made with 100% free-roaming elk and venison all-natural ingredients. The ingredients are 96% venison and elk, with a few other natural ingredients, including salmon oil, pumpkin, and added taurine. Although these are not a single-ingredient option, each treat contains vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to boost their immunity and gut health. They are also diabetic-friendly dog treats.

The treats are non-GMO and preservative-free, with no antibiotics or growth hormones. The ingredients are sourced and made in the USA and are suitable for all life stages. Like many of the treats in my reviews, they’re also low in fat and calories. Holi promises to refund or exchange if you’re unsatisfied with this product. The main criticism of this product is the treat’s crumbly texture. Venison can be a good novel protein source for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies.

ProsCons
Made with novel venison & elk proteinsNot single-ingredient
Enriched with vitamins & mineralsSome reviews mention the texture is too crumbly
It contains probiotics for gut support
Human-grade & made in the USA
Satisfaction guarantee
Diabetic-friendly dog treat

Price

Best Freeze-Dried Bison Dog Treats: Northwest Naturals Raw Rewards Bison Liver Treats Review

Northwest Naturals Raw Rewards Bison Liver Treats

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Bison is another good protein option for dogs with food allergies, and these freeze-dried dog treats contain 100% USA bison liver as the sole ingredient. They’re rich in vitamins A, D, C, and B-complex, iron, calcium, copper, and phosphorus, and are antibiotic and hormone-free. They’re easy to break up and use as training treats or as a dog food topper, and customers say they don’t have a strong odor.

These treats are made with USDA-approved ingredients, which means they are human-grade. Northwest Naturals is a sustainable and family-run business that sources meat from local farms in the USA. These treats come in a wide variety of flavors, more than any other brand on my list. They’re also suitable for cats, which is great for multi-pet households. Some customers state the texture is crisp like a chip, although some state they are too crumbly.

ProsCons
Made with 100% bison liverSome customers say they have a crumbly texture
USDA-approved, human-grade treats
Made with locally sourced meat in the USA
They are rich in nutrients & ideal for many dogs with allergies
Suitable for all life stages

Price

Best Lamb Freeze-Dried Treats: Sojos Simply Lamb Treats Review

Sojos Simply Lamb Treats

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Sojos is an excellent choice for lamb freeze-dried treats, as they are made with 100% raw lamb freeze-dried to maintain its nutrients. This naturally preserved product contains mixed tocopherols, rosemary, and green tea extract to maintain freshness. Sojos offers other popular freeze-dried flavors, such as beef and turkey hearts.

These treats are made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients and cooked in small batches to ensure quality. Although the ingredients are globally sourced, they confirm that none of their ingredients come from China, which is reassuring for some owners. This option is suitable for all life stages and is grain and gluten-free, too. Only a few customers commented that the treat sizes range from small to medium and that they would prefer consistent sizes.

ProsCons
Made with real lambTreat sizes are not always consistent
Uses natural preservativesUses globally sourced ingredients (not China)
Made in the USA
Grain & gluten-free
Suitable for all life stages

Price

Best Freeze-Dried Hearts: Stella & Chew Freeze-Dried Chicken Hearts Review

Stella & Chew Freeze-Dried Chicken Hearts

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Stella & Chewy is a popular brand that makes many healthy dog food and treats. They offer freeze-dried food and treats, such as these chicken hearts. Although they might not sound appealing to you, our team’s pups confirm they are super tasty. They are bite-size and protein-packed, suitable for all life stages. Other options include beef heart, beef liver, lamb heart, lamb liver, and chicken breast pieces.

These treats are crafted in the USA. The only criticism from customers is that they are hard to tear, and if you want to break them apart, you must use a sharp knife. However, as they are bite-size for most dogs, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Unlike most other freeze-dried treat options, these have a chewy texture, which many dogs love, and don’t have a strong odor.

ProsCons
Single-ingredientDifficult to tear
Highly nutritious
Bite-size treats
Suitable for all life stages
Chewy texture

Price

Our Experience With Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Chicken Heart Treats

My dogs love freeze-dried meaty treats. I started using them a couple of years ago after realizing they were far better nutritionally than other treats they liked. My dogs love the flavor and real meaty smell of freeze-dried treats. My older dog Daisy likes them so much I have to hide the bag, or she will steal and eat it all in one quick snack. I also use freeze-dried treats as a mix-in with her kibble, which makes mealtime much more enjoyable. Freeze-dried meats are much easier for her to digest and offer a nutritional boost to her diet.

Danielle DeGroot, Senior Dog Parent, Canine Journal Research & Writing

If you want to boost your dog’s diet with more tasty and healthy food and treats, check out our review of Stella & Chewy’s product range and our personal experiences.

Are Freeze-Dried Dog Treats Safe?

There’s some controversy over the safety of freeze-dried dog food and treats. Raw diets are a growing trend in the dog food industry (particularly freeze-dried food and treats). However, the concern is that raw foods, especially meats, can contain bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. And the freeze-drying process doesn’t usually involve cooking meat before freeze-drying it.

However, the best manufacturers of freeze-dried dog food and treats use high-pressure processing (HPP), a pasteurization process used to eliminate bacteria before the freeze-drying process. Still, the FDA and major veterinary organizations advocate strongly against raw food diets for dogs, so I suggest you speak with your vet before feeding your dog raw or freeze-dried treats and food.

How To Make Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

If you’re wondering how to freeze-dry meat for dog treats, the best way is to use a freeze-dryer. Although they are handy, especially if you plan on using them or making lots of dog treats, they can be expensive. So, I’ve found a couple of easy recipes to help you make DIY homemade freeze-dried dog treats without a freeze-dryer. Here are two popular recipes.

Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Dog Treats Recipe

This recipe uses beef liver as the only ingredient, and it calls for boiling the liver, so you don’t have to worry about unsafe meat.

  1. Rinse the beef liver with cool water
  2. Boil a large pot of water on the stove and add liver
  3. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the liver is well-done
  4. Remove from the stove and let the liver cool in the pot
  5. Cut liver into bite-sized pieces
  6. Spread them out on a foil-covered baking sheet
  7. Place them in your kitchen freezer or a deep freezer for at least 5 to 7 days (the longer, the better)
  8. Test your liver treats — take a piece out of the freezer and allow it to thaw. If there’s any moisture left, you’ll need to keep them in the freezer for longer
  9. Once they’re entirely dry, store them in a plastic bag or jar in a cool, dry place for about a week (or in your freezer for an even longer shelf life)

My Personal Experience With Homemade Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Treats

I hate everything about liver, especially its smell and look. The thought of having liver in my fridge used to freak me out. A few years ago, I met a lovely family on Trusted House Sitters, and I regularly look after their two Leonberger mixes. I felt a little ill when their owner told me to give them liver treats on their walks. But when she showed me the bite-size chunks and how much the dogs adored them, I had a change of heart.

I use the above recipe, and the smell isn’t too bad – although I try to get my husband to cook it when I can. But my two dogs go crazy for it! I cook it in large batches and store it in the freezer in bags. Just before I run out, I defrost another bag, ready for the week ahead. Since giving Bonkers the liver treats, I noticed a massive difference in his coat, and how shiny and thick it became. As much as I hate liver, my dogs love it, so I make it for them.

Emma Braby, Dog Mom & Writer For Canine Journal

How To Freeze Dry Chicken Liver Dog Treats

This recipe uses chicken livers as the only ingredient for your dog treats, and it requires boiling the chicken livers before freeze-drying, so it’s a safe option.

  1. Fill a pot halfway with water and bring to a boil
  2. Add in chicken livers; bring to a boil again, and then reduce heat to a simmer
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes
  4. Remove the pot from heat and let the chicken livers cool in the pot
  5. Cut chicken livers into small, bite-sized pieces
  6. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  7. Place your chicken liver bites on the cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap
  8. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for one week
  9. Test a chicken liver treat to ensure no moisture is left — take it out and let it thaw to room temperature. If there’s moisture in it, continue freezing all treats for at least three more days. Test again following the same process
  10. Once there’s no more moisture in the treats, place them in a jar (good at room temp for up to one week) or bag and freeze for longer storage

Frequently Asked Questions

Many of our readers still have questions about freeze-dried dog treats and whether they’re a good choice for their pets. If you don’t see your question, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll find the answer for you.

Which Is Better For Dogs – Dehydrated Or Freeze-Dried Treats?

There is no better choice here as it depends on your dog’s preferences, dietary needs, treat availability, and cost. No scientific evidence suggests dehydrated dog treats are nutritionally better than freeze-dried treats or vice versa. Both contain more nutrients and have a longer shelf-life than other dog treats. However, freeze-dried treats usually have a longer shelf life than dehydrated treats as more moisture has been removed during the process.

Can Freeze-Dried Liver Treats Cause Diarrhea In Dogs?

Like with any dog food, there is a possibility that they could cause diarrhea in dogs. Experiencing diarrhea is more likely if they have too many treats or after the first time eating them, as it might upset their stomach temporarily. However, most dogs love freeze-dried treats and experience no digestive issues. If you’re feeding them freeze-dried treats for the first time, give them one or two and monitor them over the next 48 hours to see how they react.

What Texture Are Freeze-Dried Dog Treats?

Most freeze-dried dog treats have a dry, lightweight, and crumbly texture. The flash-freezing process removes the product’s moisture, which is why they have a longer shelf-life. Most dogs and owners recommend freeze-dried treats. However, the texture is the primary complaint because they can become crumbly.

Discover More Dog Treat Options

Our experts review a variety of the best dog treats for dogs of all sizes and ages, low-calorie treats, and more. We also give you our top picks for the best CBD dog treats if you’re looking for treats that may help your dog with anxiety, chronic pain, and other health conditions. We also review the best freeze-dried dog food options.

Does your dog love any of my freeze-dried dog treats recommendations? Perhaps you can offer a different option that you think we should consider. We love to hear our readers’ thoughts and stories, so let us know in the comments below.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is a mom to two rescue dogs, Bonkers, a senior Bull Terrier mix, and Chips, a young Dachshund. She regularly looks after two Leonburger mixes and their owner introduced her to homemade freeze-dried liver treats. Bonkers and Chips love them, as do all the other dogs she cares for. Emma spends countless hours researching and writing canine content and enjoys sharing her knowledge. She works with a professional and experienced team to offer their readers the best dog advice.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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