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The Ultimate Guide to Cold-Pressed Dog Food

  • 10 min read

We love our dogs. They aren’t just our pets, they’re a part of our family. And as their guardians, we’re responsible for their health and wellness. That includes feeding them healthy and nutritious food. 

If you’re like most pet owners, chances are, you are probably feeding your dog dry kibble. But do you know there might be a better option available? Let's explore cold-pressed dog food and the reasons you may want to consider switching.

Cold-Pressed Dog Food

Cold-pressed dog food is a nutrition-rich food that’s prepared at a low temperature. The process of cold pressing involves gently mixing all the ingredients and then pressing them together for a few seconds.

It’s very different from your typical dog food that is prepared by extrusion - a method in which manufacturers use high heat (up to  350°F), steam,  and extreme pressure to produce kibble. After being exposed to the high temperatures the natural flavors get reduced or eliminated and have to be sprayed with a palatant to make the food appealing to the dog.

On the other hand, low temperatures used in cold-pressed dog food preserve heat-sensitive enzymes, natural flavors, nutrients, and fibers. This process produces food that is easy to digest. 

How is Cold-Pressed Dog Food Made?

Making cold-pressed dog food starts with wholesome ingredients which could include fruits, vegetables, prebiotics, probiotics, and popular proteins like beef, fish, and chicken.  The entire mixture is pressed with a quick application of heat into a bite-sized shape your dog will love.

It’s worth noting that all ingredients are pressed very gently. This allows the food to break down slowly inside your dog’s tummy. It reduces swelling and bloating. 

And since cold-pressing requires a very low temperature as compared to extrusion and baking, the food preserves more of its natural nutrients. It also makes the food more appetizing for your dog as more of the natural aromas and flavors are retained. 

Cold-Pressed Dog Food Pros and Cons

Cold-pressed dog food is gaining widespread acclaim from dog parents. But to understand whether or not it’s a good option for your dog, let’s compare its pros and cons.

1. Highly Digestible Dog Food

Cold-pressed dog food doesn’t expand in the stomach like extruded foods. Instead, it breaks down quickly and naturally in the digestive process. 

Have you ever seen kibble come back up? Most pet parents have, and it’s not pretty. But have you questioned why kibble looks the same after it’s been in your dog’s stomach as it did going in? That’s because kibble swells and bloats in the stomach, instead of breaking down into more accessible nourishment.

Apart from that, many extruded dog foods tend to have a variety of fillers which can upset the dog’s stomach.

2. Retains More Natural Nutrients

High heat leads to the destruction of proteins, nutrients, and complex starch-like sugars. Additionally, high heat creates free radicals that can damage the nervous and immune systems of your pet. 

Whereas, cold-pressing is an amazing way of preserving the nutritional integrity of all the ingredients. It retains vitamins, natural enzymes, fibers, natural oils, and flavors while ensuring free radicals are not produced. 

Furthermore, the natural blending of ingredients and gentle pressing creates a high density and highly digestible product. All of this makes cold-pressed food a great option for pet parents who are looking for a complete well-balanced diet that’s closer to nature. 

3. Highly Palatable

Some dogs can be fussy. It can be hard to switch their diet. Many pet parents have easily transitioned their dog from dry kibble to cold-pressed dog food. 

It’s because dogs are naturally drawn to the scent of real food. The cold-pressed process retains more of  the natural flavors and aromas of fresh ingredients. That’s why this kind of food is great to stimulate a dog’s appetite and taste buds. 

4. Ideal for Active Dogs

Cold-pressed dog food is more nutritionally dense than other types of food so you feed about 30% less than traditional kibble making it less taxing on a dog’s digestive system. The food breaks down and is digested faster so active dogs will have access to energy shortly after eating.

5. Ideal for Puppies

If you have a puppy, you may be more reluctant to try a new diet. They are more sensitive and they require proper nutrition. Plus it’s crucial that you feed the proper amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals to support their growth and development.

In such a case, cold-pressed food can be a great option for your pup as they transition to solid foods. 

Additionally before buying the cold-pressed food for your puppy make sure it's formulated as per your dog's nutritional requirements, look for food labeled as puppy or all life-stages, both have the necessary nutritional requirements for this stage of your dog’s life. 

6. Closest Alternative to Raw Dog Food

Feeding your dog a raw dog food diet is growing in popularity among dog owners around the world. Although this is a relatively small portion of dog owners, most veterinarians will not recommend this diet because of the fear of bacteria and parasites like salmonella and E. coli that can be present in raw food.

Plus feeding a raw diet can be a hassle for pet owners. It requires a lot of freezer space, proper handling, and it's not ideal for families with young children or people with compromised immune systems. 

Cold-pressed dog food is a better and more convenient alternative to raw dog food without the risk of bacterial infection to dog owners. And it doesn’t require any special care and handling. Lastly, cold-pressed dog food is shelf-stable and convenient to store. 

7. Costs Less than Raw & Fresh Dog Food Diets

Raw and fresh cooked dog food diets usually cost more because they need to be refrigerated or frozen. This means it has to be shipped in special containers or refrigerated, driving up the cost of the product and the energy needed to deliver it. 

8. No Thaw Time & Shelf Stable

Cold-pressed dog food is shelf-stable whereas raw & fresh dog food diets will start to go bad when thawed within a few days. This requires the need to constantly plan ahead to ensure there is enough food in the fridge but not too much. It normally takes 24 hours to thaw once transferred from the freezer to the fridge.

9. Environmentally Friendly

As pet ownership rates increase around the world, so does the demand for pet food that is more sustainable. Cold-pressed dog food is more sustainable because it is prepared with less heat and thus it consumes less energy and resources compared to kibble. Furthermore, cold-pressed dog food is condensed and doesn’t come in large packages which reduces the amount of packaging needed. 

Cons of Cold-Pressed Dog Food

Now that we understand the many pros of cold-pressed dog food, it’s only fair that we take a look at the potential cons as well. Let’s get started. 

Costs More Than Kibble 

Cold-pressed dog food costs more than typical dry dog food. Kibble has a lower cost due to how it is extruded and the quality of ingredients. 

Limited Availability

Cold-pressed dog food is a relatively new type of pet food in the US market, so there are fewer brands and recipes to choose from and may not be available where you shop for dog food.

Cold Pressed Dog Food Comparison

Now, we're starting to see the many benefits of cold-pressed dog food. But, how does cold-pressed dog food fare against kibble, raw, fresh food and freeze-dried dog food diets? Let's find out.

1. Kibble

Kibble is produced by the method of extrusion. In fact, around 95% of all dry dog foods are made by a process called extrusion because it’s inexpensive, quick, and flexible. 


The process starts by mixing all the ingredients together and then grinding and grounding it into a dough. This dough is then pushed through an 'extruder' which is essentially a long metal tube. Here the mixture is continually heated under pressure at a very high temperature.

Once the ingredients are cooked, the dough is pushed out a die and cut to a specific length forming a piece of kibble. They are dried at a high temperature to reduce the moisture content and to harden. After being exposed to the high temperatures the natural flavors have been reduced or eliminated and have to be sprayed with a palatant to make the food appealing to the dog. 

  • Convenient, widely available, and easy to feed
  • Easy to store
  • Wide range of recipes for specific health requirements of a dog 
  • Wide range of flavor and protein options
  • Takes longer to digest
  • Can cause bloating due to how it expands in the stomach
  • Palatants need to be applied to make the food appealing
Is Cold-Pressed Better than Kibble? 

Every dog is different but many will do better with cold-pressed food because it has more digestive benefits. It also retains the taste of the natural ingredients which makes it more appetizing for fussy dogs. 

2. Raw Dog Food

Raw meat-based diets have become more popular in recent years. A raw diet generally includes organ meats, bones, muscle meat, raw eggs, dog-safe fruits, and vegetables. Some people even mix raw food with kibble.


  • Higher energy levels
  • Natural flavors are more appetizing than dry kibble
  • Comes frozen and needs to be thawed to feed your pup, which is time consuming
  • Not ideal for homes with young children or people with compromised immune systems due to the increased risk of bacteria 
  • Not ideal for puppies or dogs with prior health conditions like pancreatitis, etc
Is Cold-Pressed Better than Raw Dog Food? 

Cold-pressed dog food is the closest alternative to raw dog food. While the latter retains more natural nutrients  and flavor, it’s also more prone to high numbers of pathogenic bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Raw diets also require you to plan ahead because you have to defrost it ahead of time.

3. Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-drying is the process of removing moisture from raw and frozen products through a vacuum. The process starts by cutting down  frozen raw ingredients down to the desired size and spreading them evenly onto trays. These trays are then stacked and stored in freezers. 


The vacuum system used inside the freezers converts ice from the product into water vapor. This entire process is called sublimation. 

There’s no heat involved in freeze-drying, hence all the natural nutrients remain unaltered.

  • Your dog gets all the natural nutrients
  • Not overly processed
  • Easier to digest when compared to kibble
  • Higher Price
  • No moisture, so the dog needs to drink more water throughout the day.
  • Not ideal for puppies
Is Cold-Pressed Better than Freeze-Dried Dog Food? 

Cold-pressed dog food has many benefits over freeze-dried food. It's a more cost-effective option hence you won’t have to burn a hole in your pocket to get proper well balanced food for your dog.  

4. Fresh-Food Diet

A fresh food diet does sound appealing and a healthier option for our dogs. Most commercial brands are a "human-grade" diet prepared with natural, real ingredients like beef, chicken, lamb, and fresh fruits and vegetables like spinach, carrots, and blueberries. The unique selling point of this kind of diet is that it's made with fewer or no preservatives. 


You can make a fresh-food diet for your pet at home but it'll require a lot of your time and finances. There's also an option of buying fresh-food diets. Many brands offer freshly cooked food that's sold frozen, so you don't have to handle raw food. If you decide to get them, you'll have to store them in the freezer and thaw them in the fridge before serving. 

  • Most commercial brands use human-grade ingredients
  • A good option for dogs with allergies
  • It demands more of your time, space, and finances
  • Doesn't contain preservatives, thus requires proper refrigeration
  • Shorter shelf-life
Is Cold-Pressed Better than Fresh Food Dog Food? 

Even though the fresh part sounds appealing, it isn't always the best option for your dog. For example, the protein content per serving of fresh food usually ranges between 8-11%. Whereas the protein content in some cold-pressed diets contains 28% protein per serving.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that cold-pressed dog food is a much more affordable option compared to fresh-dog food. 

How to Buy Cold Pressed Dog Food

As the concept of cold-pressed dog food starts gaining popularity, you’ll see a lot of new brands popping up. It can feel overwhelming and you’ll be left wondering how to choose good dog food.

To get started, find the ingredient list. You want to look for meat as the #1 ingredient, healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Avoid dog foods that contain inexpensive ingredients with little to no nutritional value such as corn, wheat and soy. 

Cold-Pressed Dog Food is The Best Diet For Your Dog

The pet food industry has witnessed a big surge in growth. No doubt there are thousands of options available for you to choose from. But the benefits of cold-pressed dog food can outweigh a lot of other alternatives.

It’s the best method to preserve the natural nutritional value of the ingredients in your dog’s food. And as a pet owner, you won’t be exposed to bacteria and germs as you would while handling raw food. 

If you’re ready to switch to cold-pressed food, it is often best to switch gradually over 7 to 10 days.


1. Can a puppy eat cold-pressed food?

Absolutely yes. You can soak cold-pressed food in warm water before feeding it to your puppy. It’ll quickly break down and dissolve into the water making it easier for your puppy to digest. For example, Nextrition's formula contains all necessary nutrients that are beneficial for dogs at any stage of life.

2. Can you mix cold-pressed and raw dog food?

Yes, you can easily mix cold-pressed and raw dog food together. Reference the recommended feeding guidelines for both diets and adjust the amount fed for both to ensure they are receiving a balanced meal.

3. How to feed cold-pressed dog food?

When you start switching to cold-pressed dog food, do it gradually by adding a small amount into the current diet of your dog. You can slowly increase the portion size over the course of 7 to 10 days. 

4. Is cold-pressed dog food better than extruded food?

It can be because the extruded dog food is subjected to high temperatures and rigorous pressure for cooking. Many sources claim that this method removes more than 40% of vitamins and minerals from the food.

That’s why manufacturers spray the final product with a mixture of fats, vitamins, flavors and minerals to meet the AAFCO’s standards.

Whereas cold-pressed dog food is gently mixed and cooked to form small bite-sized chunks. These are filled with nutrients and are easy to digest.

5. How do you store cold-pressed dog food?

We recommend that you should store cold-pressed dog food in a cool, dry place. 

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