Can my dog eat raw food frozen or should you defrost raw dog food prior to feeding it?
I remember asking myself both questions when I started feeding my dogs a raw diet back in 2015.
The short answer is that ideally, you should offer your dog thawed raw dog food.
However, there are certain occasions when it’s OK to feed frozen raw dog food or partially thawed raw dog food.
When it’s OK depends on a few things.
For instance, on your dog’s digestive system, their oral health as well as on the cuts of meat you’re feeding. Your dog’s age, tooth size and texture preference can play a role, too.
So in this blog post, I’ll cover the following:
- When it’s OK to feed frozen raw dog food
- What frozen foods can dogs eat?
- Can my puppy eat frozen raw meat?
- What happens if a dog eats frozen raw meat?
- How to defrost raw dog food quickly
When It’s OK To Feed Frozen Raw Dog Food
Dogs who don’t have tiny teeth, poor dental health or overly sensitive digestive systems can stomach frozen raw dog food, pun intended.
These dogs can have frozen pupsicles as well as frozen raw grinds and partially frozen, whole cuts of meat.
Also, some dogs actually prefer certain cuts of meat when they’re frozen as opposed to defrosted. Popular examples are fish, lung and liver. I’m not exactly sure why, but it could be a texture thing!
There’s also a few dogs who prefer to eat their entire raw meals frozen as opposed to defrosted.
That’s never been the case for my raw-fed pups, but I hear about it from time to time in some of the raw feeding Facebook groups I’m in.
However, toy breeds with very small teeth should stay away from whole frozen cuts of meat as they could potentially hurt their teeth.
What Frozen Foods Can Dogs Eat?
As far as foods you can turn into pupsicles and similar frozen homemade dog treats, the following work well for that purpose:
- Ground raw dog food
- Bone broth
- Fish stock
- Raw goats milk
- Plain yogurt or kefir
- Pumpkin purée
- Ground almonds
Freeze overnight, then offer them to your pup.
Besides the cooling effect, the toys make for a great mental workout as your pup is figuring out how to best get to the yummy goodness that’s inside! They’re also great for crate entertainment.
Can Dogs Eat Frozen Raw Chicken?
You can also offer your dog certain whole or sliced cuts of frozen meat from animals like chicken, turkey, beef, rabbit or any other protein sources, really.
For example, secreting organs like liver and kidney, regular organ meat like heart and lung, or cuts of breast meat and trim.
Obviously, use common sense and don’t offer your pup a whole frozen beef liver.
That’s a huge cut of meat and would be way too much liver regardless of whether it’s fed thawed or frozen, and almost certainly result in diarrhea.
Can Dogs Eat Frozen Meat Bones?
As far as feeding frozen raw meaty bones, you can offer smaller ones that consist mostly of cartilage frozen. For example, duck feet and chicken feet.
I would offer larger ones such as turkey necks and duck heads partially frozen.
My pup Wally gets his turkey necks partially frozen during the heat of the summer months.
Frozen Ground Raw Dog Food
If you forget to thaw a premade, ground raw meal like the ones from our sponsor Darwin’s, it’s OK to offer it to your pup that way.
It’s essentially the same as stuffing a Kong or Nylabone with it and then popping it into the freezer overnight.
Again, as long as they don’t easily get an upset stomach, they’ll be fine.
Also, if they don’t inhale their food and it has some time to sit in their bowl, it’ll naturally start to thaw.
That may be an acceptable option for those mornings when you’re running late and are rushing to get out the door.
Opportunity For Intermittent Fasting For Dogs
Late mornings may also be a good opportunity for a fasting day where you don’t offer any solid food for 24 hours.
Regular fasting days clean your dog’s body from toxins which can help strengthen their immune system.
On those fasting days, you can offer your pup some nutritious bone broth instead of breakfast.
You can always quickly fill their bowl with it, that takes as little time as pouring kibble. You can either make your own or buy bone broth on Amazon or Chewy.
However, you should neither fast puppies nor pregnant or lactating dogs as they require constant energy.
That said, some dogs do better with shorter fasting periods or else they’ll throw up bile, also known as hunger pukes.
These shorter fasting periods could last for 12-15 hours. That’s what works best for my pup Wally.
When I talked to his homeopathic vet about this, she explained that some dogs just do better with a whole fasting day than others.
At the end of the day, it boils down to knowing your dog and their eating habits as well as their digestive systems.
But Can My Puppy Eat Frozen Raw Meat?
While you shouldn’t skip any of your puppy’s meals, you can offer them frozen raw dog food as well.
A partially frozen meaty bone is also a great option for puppies, especially when they’re teething which happens between 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age.
Besides battling boredom and offering great oral health along with a nice jaw workout, frozen meaty bones like duck necks and chicken wings cool your puppy’s hurting gums.
They can also contribute to loosening your puppy’s baby teeth.
But again, it comes down to knowing your puppy’s digestive system.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Frozen Raw Meat?
If your puppy or adult dog has a sensitive stomach, they will likely react with diarrhea if they eat frozen foods in general, not just frozen raw meat.
It could happen that a toy breed dog who eats a chunk of solid frozen meat or meaty bone chips a tooth. That’s why I would err on the side of caution and not offer really small dog breeds frozen foods.
The same could happen with an ice cube, too.
If dogs don’t have a fickle digestive system, their bowel movements won’t be affected at all and nothing negative will happen when they eat frozen raw meat!
How To Defrost Raw Dog Food Quickly
While it’s fine to offer your pup the occasional frozen treat or meal, it’s best to defrost your dog’s raw dog food prior to feeding it.
Ideally, you do that by letting it thaw in the fridge which takes about 24 hours.
But if you forgot to transfer raw meals from your freezer to your fridge in time, there’s a meat thawing hack that helps speed up that process:
Place the frozen raw meal into a bowl with cool water.
This will cut the thawing time down to 2-3 hours.
If you’re looking to defrost it even faster, replace the water every 15 minutes. That will defrost your raw meal in just shy of an hour.
This works best if you’re looking to thaw one individual container of raw dog food. The larger the chunks of frozen raw meat, the longer they take to defrost.
So if you want to quickly thaw multiple containers or packages of raw dog food at once, you’ll have to place them into a sink with cool water.
Taking it up a notch, I’ve also filled my spare bath tub with cool water for an entire delivery of individual frozen cuts of meat I ordered for raw meal prep.
I let the frozen meat thaw in the tub, then used it to meal prep, portioned everything out into food storage containers, followed by refreezing it in my raw dog food freezer until I needed the meals.
Obviously, that only works if you have a spare tub. I used to have 3 tubs with one being a dedicated dog washing and raw dog food thawing tub, so there’s that!
NOTE: I don’t recommend you use the microwave to thaw your dog’s raw meals. The intense heat is known to destroy nutrients, which would be counterproductive to feeding raw dog food in the first place.
Can My Dog Eat Raw Food Frozen: Bottom Line
Ideally, dogs should eat thawed raw dog food.
However, they can eat food that is still frozen under certain circumstances.
It mostly depends on their digestive systems, but also on the specific cut of meat, their age, dental health, teeth size and texture preference.
While I wouldn’t make it a habit of tossing your dog a frozen chunk of meat on a daily basis, you can certainly offer them a frozen meal occasionally.
For example, when:
- you’re running super late in the morning and forgot to defrost raw dog food
- you’re looking to offer your teething puppy some relief for their hurting gums
- it’s hot outside
If you have a few hours to thaw your pup’s meals, defrosting raw dog food quickly is possible. All you need is a bowl filled with cool water that you place your raw dog food into.
Good to know: Our sponsor Darwin’s Natural Pet Products includes a thaw tub with your first order! You can use it to let your raw meals thaw in the fridge.
If you’re curious about their raw dog food, take advantage of their special offer for first time customers and get your first 10lbs from Darwin’s for $14.95!