Air Dried Dog Food Vs Kibble – Which One Is Better?

Air dried dog food vs kibble are 2 common choices when feeding your dog.

They are both meant to give your dogs the nutrients they need, but they’re made in different ways and have their own pros and cons.

In this article, we’ll break down the big differences between them in terms of ingredients, taste, texture, shelf life, and other factors to help you decide the most suitable type of food for your furry friend.

What Are The Differences Between Air Dried Dog Food Vs Kibble?

air dried dog food vs kibble

Air-dried dog food and kibble have distinct differences. Air-dried food preserves nutrients better, has a softer texture, and often appeals more to dogs.

It has a longer shelf life. On the other hand, kibble is convenient, with varying tastes and shorter shelf life.

Ingredients And Process


Air-dried dog food often uses fresher ingredients than kibble.

Due to moisture content constraints, kibble frequently relies on highly processed and rendered ingredients, like meat meals.

Air-dried food preserves nutrients better. The low-temperature air-drying process helps retain natural vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants.

On the other hand, kibble’s high-temperature extrusion process can lead to nutrient loss, necessitating the addition of artificial supplements.

Production process

Air-dried pet food is made by air-drying ingredients at low temperatures without heat, preserving nutrients.

In contrast, kibble is produced through extrusion, a high-temperature, high-pressure cooking method that can degrade nutrients.

Air-drying protects sensitive nutrients like vitamins C, E, and B (1,6,9), antioxidants, and Omega-3 & 6 fatty acids, which can be lost during kibble-making due to heat sensitivity.

Taste And Texture

Due to its low-temperature production process, air-dried dog food retains more of its ingredients’ natural flavors.

It doesn’t require the addition of animal fats to enhance taste, making it more appealing to dogs.

Kibble often loses some of the natural flavors during the extrusion process. Thus, kibble’s taste can be reliant on these added enhancements.

Air-dried dog food typically has a texture similar to jerky, making it more appealing to dogs that enjoy a chewy or textured experience when eating.

Meanwhile, kibble is dry and typically crunchy, lacking the chewy or meaty texture found in air-dried food.

Shelf Life And Storage

Air-dried dog food boasts a longer shelf life than kibble, often lasting up to a year or even more when stored properly.

When storing air-dried food, keeping it in a cool, dark, and dry place is essential to maintain its quality.

Properly sealed packaging is usually sufficient to protect it from environmental factors. This makes it an ideal choice for pet owners looking for a long-lasting, hassle-free option.

Kibble generally has a shorter shelf life, ranging from 12 to 18 months when unopened. Once opened, it should be consumed within 4 to 6 weeks.

Kibble necessitates careful storage in airtight containers or the original packaging to prevent exposure to air, sunlight, heat, and moisture.

They can accelerate spoilage in dog food and nutrient degradation.

Palatability And Acceptance

Air-dried dog food often ranks high in palatability among dogs. The retention of natural flavors makes it highly appealing to picky eaters.

Therefore, dogs that prefer meatier textures tend to accept air-dried food readily.

Its resemblance to raw food can make it a suitable transition for dogs moving away from a raw diet or those looking for a more alternative to kibble.

Kibble’s palatability can vary widely depending on the brand, ingredients, and additives.

While some dogs readily enjoy the taste of kibble, others may require the addition of animal fats or flavor enhancers.

Health And Digestibility

Air-dried dog is a good option for overall health due to its nutrient preservation. It retained essential vitamins, enzymes, and other nutrients, improving nutrition.

Besides, it typically contains fewer artificial additives, making it a healthier option for many dogs.

Air-dried dog food is generally highly digestible. This makes it suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues.

Kibble, however, with artificial vitamins and minerals may not be as easily absorbed by the dog’s body.

Some dogs may digest kibble well, while others might experience digestive issues due to the presence of certain fillers or additives.

Dogs with sensitive stomachs might require specialized or limited-ingredient kibble options for improved digestibility.

Ways To Make Them Better

For air-dried dog food

Rehydrate with broth: You can enhance air-dried dog food’s flavor and moisture content by rehydrating it with warm, low-sodium chicken or beef broth.

This adds taste and makes the food softer and more appealing.

Mix with wet food: Dry dog food can get wet to create a tasty and nutritious meal. The moisture from the wet food blends well with the dry food, making it more flavorful.

Add fresh ingredients: Consider topping the air-dried food with small portions of fresh, dog-safe ingredients such as:

  • Cooked lean meats (chicken, turkey, or beef)
  • Vegetables (carrots, peas, or sweet potatoes)

For kibble

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese: A small amount of grated Parmesan cheese can be a tasty topping for kibble. Be cautious with the quantity, as cheese should be given in moderation.

Drizzle with olive oil: A light drizzle of olive oil can add a pleasant taste to kibble while providing some healthy fats.

It’s important not to overdo it, as too much oil can lead to excess calories.

Which Is Better? Air Dried Dog Food Or Kibble?

Do vets recommend air dried dog food

Is air dried dog food better than kibble? Yes. Air-dried dog food could be a better choice.

It offers fresher ingredients, better nutrient preservation, and is often more palatable and digestible.

It has a softer texture and a longer shelf life. Kibble varies in taste and may need additives for flavor. It has a shorter shelf life, and digestibility can vary.

How To Choose The Best Air-Dried Dog Food And Kibble For Your Pets?

Choose The Best Air Dried Dog Food

Inspect the ingredients label: Prioritize air-dried dog foods with natural ingredients while avoiding artificial additives, preservatives, and fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.

Trustworthy brand: Select air-dried foods from reputable brands committed to ethical and sustainable pet food practices.

Look for brands that prioritize animal welfare and environmental concerns.

Dietary deeds: Choose an air-dried recipe that aligns with your dog’s specific dietary requirements, whether it’s limited ingredients, grain-free, or other specific considerations like allergies or sensitivities.

Choose The Best Kibble Dog Food

Examine protein levels: Check the protein content listed as “Crude Protein (min)” in the Guaranteed Analysis.

Higher protein levels are generally better, with mid-30s or higher for dogs and mid-40s or higher for cats being ideal. Avoid kibble with protein levels below these thresholds.

Analyze the first 5 ingredients:

  • Look for animal-based protein sources like meat, poultry, or fish within the first 5 ingredients.
  • Avoid generic meat meals and by-products.
  • Ensure that fats are from quality sources and look for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Healthy fats: Seek healthy fats like fish oil for Omega-3 fatty acids and avoid generic “animal fat” or cheap vegetable oils high in Omega-6s.

Avoid empty fillers: Clear empty fillers such as corn, wheat, soybean, or sorghum.

These offer little nutritional value and can lead to obesity and glucose metabolism issues in dogs. Opt for whole grains if choosing a grain-inclusive kibble.

Beneficial ingredients: Look for added beneficial ingredients such as flaxseed, glucosamine, chondroitin, prebiotics, probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.

Avoid artificial preservatives, colors, and low-value ingredients.

What Are The Top 3 Best Air-Dried Dog Foods?

what is air dried dog food


ZiwiPeak is a premium dog food with a nutritious and flavorful option for all dog breeds:

  • High protein content: ZiwiPeak contains 96% of the ingredients, being free-range beef, bone, green mussels, and organs. This whole-prey ratio aims to provide peak nutrition for dogs.
  • Low carbohydrates: This type of dog food is grain-free and low in carbohydrates. Thus, it is an ideal choice for dogs with food sensitivities.
  • Versatile usage: You can use ZiwiPeak as a topper to enhance the flavor and nutrition of other dog foods. Besides, it can be a complete meal for dogs of all life stages, from puppies to seniors.

Real Meat

Real meat is among the top choices for premium dog treats:

  • Ethical ingredient and all-natural diet: The main ingredient is free-range grass-fed beef from cows raised without hormones, making it an ethically sourced option for pet owners. Besides, it is free from preservatives and fillers.
  • Low in carbohydrates and rich in protein: These treats are grain-free and have low carbohydrate content, catering to dogs with specific dietary needs. Around 90% of the ingredients are meat and organs, ensuring a protein-rich treat.

Only Natural

This brand makes a name for itself thanks to:

  • Gentle air drying: Only Natural uses a gentle air drying method that preserves their beef’s optimal balance of protein, nutrients, and flavor. This process ensures that the thin slices of beef are as convenient as kibble while delivering superior nutrition.
  • Real meat protein source: It prioritizes using high-quality meat, including muscle and organ meat. It provides a concentrated and bioavailable source of protein.
  • Irresistible taste: Dogs are enthusiastic about the flavor of Only Natural. It combines great taste with health benefits, making it an excellent choice for the main meal and a flavorful topper.


Is Air Dried Dog Food Raw?

No. Air-dried dog food is not raw in the traditional sense.

While the air-drying process involves heating the raw ingredients, it does so at temperatures ranging from 140º F to 180º F.

This is significantly higher than what is considered raw food temperature.

In a raw diet, the ingredients are typically uncooked and are not subjected to temperatures exceeding 118º F to preserve the natural enzymes and vital nutrients in the raw ingredients.

How To Air Dry Dog Food At Home?

Step 1: Prepare ingredients and equipment

  • Collect all the ingredients and a dehydrator for the air-drying process. You can use a regular oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.
  • Next, trim any excess fat or undesirable parts from your chosen ingredients for your dog’s meal. Ensure that the ingredients are clean and dry. You can use either cooked or raw ingredients for the preparation.
  • Arrange the prepared ingredients on the dehydrator trays. If you’re using an oven, place the ingredients on a cookie sheet.

Step 2: Begin the dehydration process

If you’re using a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for temperature and time.

Typically, the dehydration process takes about 6-8 hours, but the exact duration may vary depending on the recipe and ingredients used.

The goal is to remove moisture from the food while preserving its essential nutrients.

Step 3: Cool and store

Once the air-drying process is complete, allow the food to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. Proper storage is essential to maintain freshness.

Do Vets Recommend Air Dried Dog Food?

Yes. Vets recommend air-dried dog food for certain situations, especially if a dog’s behavior is affected by nutrition.

Air-dried dog food is naturally rich in essential vitamins and minerals. They can contribute to a dog’s mental and physical health.

It may be particularly helpful for dogs prone to excitability or aggression, as a balanced diet can play a role in influencing behavior.

What Is The Difference Between Air Dried And Freeze Dried Dog Food?

Air Dried Dog FoodFreeze Dried Dog Food
Dehydration processSlowly removes moisture at low temperatures over timeFreezes ingredients and removes moisture through sublimation
Moisture contentReduced to around 10-12%Reduced to around 2-3%
TextureSoft and chewyLightweight and crispy, typically in small, bite-sized pieces
Nutritional compositionHigher moisture content, contains a higher percentage of whole, raw ingredientsExtremely low moisture content, retains nutritional profile, including vitamins and minerals
Shelf lifeRelatively shorter shelf life due to higher moisture contentLonger shelf life without preservatives
ConvenienceMay vary in convenience, some can be served without rehydrationRequires rehydration before serving
Nutrient preservationPreserves natural nutrients, enzymes, and flavors due to the air-drying processRetains nutritional profile, including vitamins, minerals, and proteins, through freeze-drying


When it comes to air dried dog food vs kibble, each has its pros and cons. Air-dried food is gently dried, keeping nutrients intact and offering a soft texture.

Kibble is convenient and budget-friendly but more processed. Your choice should match your dog’s needs and your preferences.

Both aim to provide nutrition for your furry friend, so pick what suits you and your dog best.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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