When it comes to taking care of our dogs, there couldn’t be anything more personal or important than their food. But there probably isn’t anything more controversial either.
What works for one dog, may not work well for another. So please consider this as you read one dog’s Acana dog food review, specifically a review of the freeze dried morsels. Always talk to your veterinarian about which food is best for your dog.
I never advocate exclusively for one dog food brand. But, if you’re thinking of switching to Acana’s freeze dried food, here’s what you need to know.
What is Freeze Dried Dog Food?
Freeze dried dog food is prepared by subjecting the ingredients to extremely cold temperatures, as low as -70 degrees. Next, the water is removed in a process called sublimation.
Since moisture encourages the growth of bacteria, removing it from the food enables it to be shelf stable for a longer period of time than traditional kibble or wet food.
In browsing Acana’s website, it wasn’t clear exactly how they freeze dried and prepared the food, so I reached out to the company to see if they’d let me in on their process.
Unfortunately, they didn’t reply to my phone call or email, so we have no way of knowing their exact method of freeze drying.
Is Acana a Good Dog Food? One Dog’s Review
When it all comes down to it, you want to know if a particular brand is responsible, affordable, uses healthy ingredients, and if your dog will like the flavor enough to eat it.
While I can’t speak for all dogs, I can tell you about Zuzu’s experience with Acana dog food and why her dog mom, Pamela switched to it back in 2021.
Pamela is on the editorial team here at Pet Living and she offered to share her experience with me.
“When Zuzu was a puppy, we were feeding her kibble,” she says. “Zuzu wouldn’t always eat it, although it was a brand that was known for being healthy.” She chocked it up to Zuzu being a fussy eater and preferring human food. But the problem was deeper than that.
“One morning, we found her hiding near our hamper, huddled up by herself, and trembling.” Pamela tried to give her food and water but Zuzu refused. Knowing this was a sign of distress, her pet parents immediately rushed her to the veterinarian.
“As it turns out,” says Pamela, “she disliked her food so much that she refused to eat and it and her blood sugar plummeted, causing her to feel sick.”
At this point, she turned to a colleague who’s certified in canine nutrition. Although the colleague is a proponent of raw feeding, she said freeze-dried can be a good alternative for pet parents who aren’t ready to make the jump.
Shortly thereafter, Pamela found Acana freeze dried morsels at her local pet supply store and thought she’d give it a shot.
“Zuzu was over the moon excited about it,” says Pamela. “I’d never seen her look forward to meal times so much. She was actually running to her food dish and even asking for food around meal times. Before, I could pour her a whole bowl of kibble and it might sit there for a day or two.”
This got her thinking about why Zuzu preferred the food. “We joke about how dogs will eat anything, but for a lot of dogs, that simply isn’t true. And I think they instinctively know that some foods are not healthy, and they certainly know which flavors they like.”
Once they switched to Acana’s Freeze Dried Morsels, Zuzu began eating on a regular schedule. The duck is her favorite flavor!
If you’re thinking of trying this food for your dog, there are a few pros and cons you should know about.
Acana Freeze Dried Morsels Pros and Cons
No dog food is perfect, but overall Acana Freeze Dried Morsels check a lot of boxes. It’s also worth mentioning Acana has the same food in a freeze dried patty, which can be helpful for larger dogs, although they’re more difficult to break apart.
Let’s dive in!
- Ingredients. The ingredients are well-balanced, containing about 90% from animal sources. Overall, the balance is weighted about 58% fat, 32% protein from animal sources and 10% carbohydrates, mostly from ingredients such as pumpkin, carrots, squash, and pears. We’ll dive into ingredients more below.
- Travels well. There’s no need to bring a can opener or think about what to scoop out your dog’s kibble into for travel. Each bag is small enough to be packed up with ease.
- Re-hydrates easily. Before giving it to your dog, re-hydrate the serving. Just add a little water and serve! Older dogs can get dehyrdated often so, this can be especially helpful for them.
- Flavor. The ingredients are wholly natural meaning you can smell the flavors and dogs seem to go nuts for it!
- Variety of proteins. Some canine nutritionists advise against giving your dog a singular source of protein. In fact, some research states this may lead to your dog developing allergies. Acana has four protein sources, each with accompanying fruits and vegetables: turkey, chicken, duck, and beef.
- Transparency. The Acana website clearly outlines where the protein is sourced from and how it’s raised.
- Beef protein. While there’s nothing noteworthy about the beef itself, it can be harder to crumble up and rehydrate than the poultry-based options. In fact, because it contains ground up bits of bone, the pieces be sharp and it may be difficult for sensitive or children’s hands to crumble up.
- Cost. It’s not the most expensive on the market for sure, but it’s also not the cheapest. It may be cost prohibitive for those with large dogs or multi-dog households.
- Sourcing. While the website lists the protein source and how it’s raised, the conditions may not be acceptable for some who want a pasture-raised option. For example, chickens are raised in a barn, not caged, but also not with access to the outdoors.
- Not all flavors are suitable for giant breeds. The Acana website specifically states their beef and duck freeze dried morsels are not well suited for giant breeds (those who will grow to be over 70 lbs.) However, the turkey and chicken versions are “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, INCLUDING growth of large size dogs (70 lb or more as an adult).”
With these pros and cons and mind, what can we say about how healthy freeze dried food is for dogs, specifically Acana’s Freeze Dried Morsels?
Is Freeze Dried Dog Food Healthy?
Freeze dried dog food can be a healthy option for dogs. Because it’s not subjected to extreme heat, like most kibble, the bio-available nutritional value may be higher. Since moisture has been removed, there’s less of a chance for it to harbor harmful bacteria.
However, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to your dog’s food. What’s right for one dog, may not be right for another.
Let’s take a deeper look at the ingredients in Acana’s Freeze Dried Morsels.
Ingredients in Acana’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Morsels
Most of the four recipes contain very similar ingredients with some variants. Rather than dissect each recipe, I’ll give you a run-down of their most common ingredients.
Beef, Chicken, Turkey, and Duck
These are the primary proteins offered by Acana. Pamela noted that she has seen bits of cartilage and even small feathers in Zuzu’s food, which demonstrates that they’re using the whole animal. For example, the turkey recipe includes ground bone, as well as gizzards, liver, and heart, organ meats which are often highly nutritious.
The beef recipe contains tripe and beef kidney. Likewise, the duck recipe contains chicken heart.
Pumpkin is known to be a healthy source of carbohydrates for dogs and can help remove waste and excess fluid since it contains high amounts of fiber, according to WebMD.
Bone broth is high in collagen, which can help your dog’s joints. If your dog has arthritis, you’re probably looking for how help them live their best life with lifestyle modifications, like diet, bedding, and exercise. But even in your dog’s younger years, it’s important to provide them the best building blocks for good joint health.
Herring are a small fish, packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. In addition, smaller fish are known to carry fewer heavy metals than larger fish, like salmon, since they’re lower on the food chain and have less chance to accumulate toxic metals.
Kelp is a sea vegetable known to contain a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals that are healthy for dogs.
Organic Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is rich in beta-carotene and high in fiber. It’s also a good source of healthy carbohydrates for your dog. Plus, it’s organic, meaning it’s free from GMOs and harmful pesticides.
Carrots are another healthy carbohydrate source. They’re loaded with beta-carotene and many dogs even love them raw!
Pears are healthy for dogs in the right quantity. Since they’re high in sugar, you may not want your dog eating a whole pear, but as an added carbohydrate source in your dog’s food, they are considered healthy.
Dried Chicory Root
Chicory root has anecdotally been used for decades to improve gut health. We now know that chicory root acts as a prebiotic, encouraging healthy bacterial growth.
Turmeric is known as a natural anti-inflammatory. This can be helpful even if your dog is young, as a day of hard play can cause soreness. It’s especially helpful for older dogs who may be living in a more constant state of inflammation.
Rosemary is also anti-inflammatory, although the levels contained in Acana’s Freeze Dried Morsels may not be enough to make an impact, and are really more for flavor.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Preservatives
Acana adds tocopherols, citric acid, and vitamins & minerals to their recipes. QUOTE from Acana.
Lastly, let’s talk about heavy metals. There is a lot of concern these days about heavy metals in dog food, which can be harmful to dogs. I really appreciated learning how Acana tests their foods for heavy metals, like cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.
It’s important to note that most foods contain some amount of naturally-occurring metals, or minerals. However, it’s the level harmful metals that we want to closely monitor.
You can find more information about this in the resource library on Acana’s website.
What is the Best Freeze Dried Dog Food?
The best freeze dried dog food contains limited ingredients, sourced from a variety of proteins, is well-balanced with organic carbohydrates, such as those from squash, pumpkin, and carrots, and contains a healthy amount of naturally occurring fats from small fish.
Acana’s Freeze Dried Morsels fits the bill, but it’s always best to check with your veterinarian regarding what to feed your dog.
Years later, Zuzu is still eating her Acana food. So Zuzu doesn’t get bored, and to prevent potential food intolerances, Pamela rotates through the four recipes. Recently, they also tried the kibble version, which Pamela uses in Zuzu’s puzzle toys and snuffle mat.
If you’re thinking about trying freeze dried dog food, I hope this article was helpful!