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Can You Warm Up Dog Food? Vet Approved Facts & Tips

Written by: Samantha Reed

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

feeding bowls filled with wet food

Can You Warm Up Dog Food? Vet Approved Facts & Tips


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Nobody likes cold, refrigerated food unless it’s meant to be cold. Like us, our dogs can be sensitive to chilled or cold food. Even if you think your dog’s can of dog food is room temperature, chances are it could still be cold due to where it was stored. If you’ve noticed your dog not eating as much food on colder days, the problem might very well be that your dog is sensitive to the cold.

Dog food companies recommend serving canned food at room temperature, but sometimes it can need extra help to reach that point.


Can you Heat Up Wet Dog Food?

You can, and sometimes should, heat up your dog’s canned or wet food. According to Purina, serving food at room temperature makes it both smell and taste better. If you store your wet food in the fridge, they suggest removing it up to an hour before feeding or microwaving it to bring it to room temperature. They emphasize that pet owners need to ensure not to overheat their dog’s food since they could risk burning their dog’s mouth.

Warming up your dog’s food is generally a good idea. In fact, we recommend heating your dog’s food if you have a picky eater, a sick dog, or a furry friend in their senior years.

woman using microwave
Image Credit: NavinTar, Shutterstock

Why You Should Heat Up Your Dog’s Food

While companies say to serve your dog’s food at room temperature, there are a few benefits to heating your dog’s wet food. Typically warming up dog food increases the scent and the overall flavor of the food.

Here are a few cases where you should consider heating your dog’s food before serving it to them:
  • If your dog is often cold, then you should consider heating their wet food. While some breeds have thick, double insulated coats, some also have thinner coats that are not enough to keep them warm. If you find yourself putting your shivering pup in a sweater during the colder months, warming up your dog’s food can help them raise their core temperatures.
  • If your dog is sick, chances are it might be refusing food. Warming up their wet food is a great way to incentivize your dog to eat. As we said earlier, the heat increases the scent and flavor of the canned food. Your dog might find the difference in scent and flavor to be enough to convince them to eat more.
  • If your dog is a picky eater, warming up the dog food may increase your dog’s interest in the food itself. Some dogs are just picky eaters and are difficult to feed, no matter their overall health. Your dog might not like the taste of the food, or they might not like the smell, but heating the food and increasing the scent and flavor can entice your dog into eating.

Your feeding time issues may be resolved if you only slightly heat up your dog’s food. You still need to be careful not to overheat it and cause your dog to burn their mouth.

dog eating wet food
Image Credit By: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

How To Warm Up Your Dog’s Food

Most experts agree that warming your dog’s food up in the microwave is not the best method. Some experts even say that using a microwave to heat up your dog’s food can destroy essential nutrients in the food. So, while heating up in the microwave is the easiest option, it is recommended to use warm water, a double boiler, or leave the can on a surface of a container you are heating instead.

The best method is to warm up the dog’s food by using hot or boiling water. You don’t actually boil the dog food itself; you place the dog food in a safe container and immerse the whole container into the boiling water. The food should be warm enough for your dog if you boil it for one to two minutes.

You should test the food temperature on your skin. If it is too hot for you to touch, it is too hot for you to serve to your dog.


Final Thoughts

If you struggle with your dog during mealtime, heating the meal might solve your problems. There are multiple benefits to serving warm dog food. If you wonder if heating up the food will make a difference for your dog, you can always check with your veterinarian for their input.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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