A Guide to Heating Canned Dog Food (How and Why To Do It)

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Do you heat your canned dog food? Most pet food companies recommend you serve their canned products at room temperature, and a good number of dog owners follow this instruction. However, it can sometimes take hours for refrigerated canned food to reach room temperature, necessitating heating.

To heat canned dog food, you can microwave it (out of the can), use a double boiler or place it in a polythene bag, and carefully dip it in hot (not boiling) water. Alternatively, stir warm water or broth into the canned food. Whichever method you use, ensure you don’t serve the food too hot.

This article offers a detailed guide to efficient ways of heating canned pup food and legitimate reasons why you should go this extra mile when feeding your dog. Read on to get some helpful tips.

The Controversy About Heating Canned Dog Food

Like humans, dogs can be sensitive to chilled or cold food. Such food can cause tooth sensitivity or stomach upsets. Therefore, when feeding your favorite furry friend, adopt the same concept you use when preparing your sumptuous meals.

Ask yourself, can I comfortably eat cold food in chilly weather? Can I eat cold food directly from the refrigerator? If your answer is no, then, most likely, neither can your dog. Therefore, consider heating your pup’s food before feeding him.

The topic of heating canned pup food has been a subject of great debate among dog owners. One of the main arguments is, heating food using a microwave kills all the essential nutrients. Do you agree with this? Well, it depends on your perception of microwaves.

Ways of Heating Canned Dog Food

If you’re wary of microwaves, you can use alternative heating options. That said, there are various methods of heating canned dog food. They include:

  • Using a microwave
  • Using a double boiler
  • Pouring the food in a polythene bag and carefully dipping it in warm water
  • Stirring the food in warm broth or water
  • Allowing the food to sit out in the open

Let’s now take a look at each of these methods above.

Using a Microwave

Lately, microwaves have become staple appliances in almost every homestead. People rely on them to warm or cook their food in a fast and convenient way.

Although there’s a lot of controversy surrounding microwaves’ use, their unmatched convenience can’t be overlooked. What’s more, numerous brands offer even more ease of cooking, e.g., the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven comes with a pre-programmed sensor menu for optimum heating of popular foods.

Despite their increased popularity, some people argue that using microwaves is unhealthy and kills essential nutrients. However, there is nothing about microwaving that damages the nutritional content of food than other cooking methods.

On the contrary, microwaving retains more nutrients than other cooking methods as it exposes food to heat over a minimum amount of time and using a minimum amount of liquid. The longer the food cooks, the higher the nutritional loss.

All you need for effective microwaving of canned dog food is a clean microwave, a microwave-safe plate, and a moderate heat amount. With these items ready, follow these steps to heat the food:

  1. First, ensure your microwave is clean.
  2. Plug the microwave into the power source and set the time. Depending on your microwave’s model, you can rotate a knob or press a button to select your ideal heating time. To avoid overheating, set it to about 30 seconds.
  3. Now, carefully pour your canned dog food into a microwave-safe plate or bowl and start heating.
  4. Once you are done, stir the food to ensure heat is distributed evenly.
  5. Give the heated meal to your pooch.

Note: Avoid microwaving your canned dog food while it’s still in the can, and ensure you use 100% microwave-friendly utensils. Also, be cautious not to overheat the food.

Using a Double Boiler

If you want to go microwave free, a double boiler is an ideal substitute.

A double boiler, also known as a bain-marie, is a kitchen utensil consisting of two cooking pots or pans fitting together so that the upper pan/pot contents are heated or cooked by steam from the boiling water in the bottom pot.

One great example in the market today is the Farberware Classic Stainless Double Boiler, which has comfortable and oven-safe handles offering a confident grip.

Double boilers use heat from steam to cook the upper pot’s contents and comes in handy when you want to heat or cook your food gently.

When it comes to heating canned dog food using a double boiler, you need to:

  1. Fill the bottom pot with a small amount of water—about 1 or 2 inches (2.54 or 5.08 cm).
  2. Add the top pot containing your food contents.
  3. Place the double boiler on a stove and turn on the burner.
  4. The steam trapped in between the pots will gently warm your canned food.
  5. Once ready, turn off the heat, remove the top pot, and transfer your food to a feeding plate. Ensure it’s not overly hot.

Using a Polythene Bag and Hot Water

Don’t have a microwave or a double boiler? Worry not. You can get a little creative using a polythene bag and hot water. Follow these steps:

  1. Pour a considerable amount of water into a pot, place it on your burner, and allow it to heat.
  2. Now, transfer your canned dog food into a polythene bag, tie it tightly, and slowly dip it in the hot water. Be careful not to throw it in as the hot water may splash on you, causing burns. Avoid using boiling water as it can damage the polythene bag and cause overheating.
  3. Allow the dog food to heat for a few seconds. Remove it and mix the contents to allow even heating.
  4. The food is now ready for your pup to dig in.

Stirring the Food in Warm Broth or Water

Here is another simple yet effective way to heat your pooch’s canned food:

  1. Warm a little amount of water or broth. You can use chicken or vegetable broth, depending on your dog’s preference.
  2. Transfer the food from the can into a feeding bowl and pour in the warm water or broth.
  3. Stir well to ensure the food warms up evenly.
  4. Feed your dog with love!

Allowing the Food To Sit Out in the Open

If you have enough time, leave your dog’s chilled or cold canned food in the open and allow it to reach the ideal room temperature naturally. This gives time for a little heating.

You can leave it on your kitchen counter and allow the chill to go away before feeding it to your canine. Depending on what seems fit for you, you can either leave it in the can or empty the contents into a feeding bowl.

Top Reasons for Heating Canned Dog Food

Having read through the above methods of heating canned canine food, you’re probably wondering why you have to go this extra mile. Here are the top legitimate reasons why heating canned dog food is essential:

  • Heating canned food awakens its smell and flavor, which is vital for rousing a dog’s appetite. Who doesn’t like the inviting aroma of food? Therefore, if your dog doesn’t like eating canned food, try heating it and wait for the outcome.
  • Heating makes the food highly palatable. In a nutshell, heating makes the canned food soft for the puppies and older dogs.
  • Evenly heated food fights conditions such as tooth sensitivity and recurring stomach upsets in your canine friend.
  • Finally, heating canned food makes your pup enjoy and yearn for his mealtime since eating warm food is more enjoyable than chilled or cold food. If your pup is happy, you’re also pleased.


Heating canned dog food is a simple act that can mean a lot to your pooch. To heat the food, you can microwave it or use a double boiler. Additionally, you can use a polythene bag or add warm water or broth to the food.

Some of the reasons why you should heat your canned dog food are:

  • Increased palatability
  • Improved flavor and smell
  • Reduced teeth sensitivity and stomach upsets

Get in the habit of heating your dog’s canned food, and meal times will never be the same!