The Quickest Way to Defrost Raw Dog Food

It’s 8:45 am, you’re late for work, and you forgot to defrost your raw pet food. No worries, your dog doesn’t have to go hungry.

So, what’s the quickest way to defrost your raw dog food? You can defrost a small to moderately-sized block of meat within 10 to 20-minutes by rinsing it under hot water. You’ll need a large pan, Ziplock bag, and running hot water to do this.

The Pan Rinse Method For Defrosting Raw Dog Food:

  1. Run the hot water in your kitchen sink – ideally, the water should be too hot to hold your hand under it longer than a second
  2. Place the meat in a Ziplock bag (if it isn’t sealed already)
  3. Place your block of meat in a metal pan, bowl, or tray deep enough to cover its entire mass
  4. Run the water over the block of meat – if possible, the water shouldn’t be directly hitting the meat (but the water surrounding it)
  5. Double-check the meat is 100% submerged in the water – you’ll most likely have to weigh it down with a heavy object
  6. Run the water for 10 to 20-minutes, periodically checking to make sure the meat is still submerged
  7. Carefully remove the meat and immediately store anything unused into the refrigerator (not the freezer)

Is The Pan Rinse Method the Safest Way to Defrost Raw Dog Food?

I’m not going to lie – I forget to thaw out my food ahead of time more than I care to admit. At this point, I’ve used the Pan Rinse Method dozens of times and my dogs have never had any issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

But, a major concern with this method is the spread of dangerous pathogens, and hot temperatures will slightly cook the meat, which is like a nice weekend getaway for bacteria. This is why I recommend putting any unused meat inside the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Dogs, by nature, are much better at processing bacteria than we are – however, YOU KNOW YOUR DOG BETTER THAN ANYONE. If your dog regularly gets sick/needs a trip to the vet, the Pan Rinse Method probably isn’t for you.

That said, I don’t recommend using this method for your own food unless you plan on eating all of the meat in one sitting (which should cook out the bacteria). We just don’t have the stomach for it.

Is There an Alternative Way to Quickly Defrost Raw Dog Food without Hot Running Water?

Perhaps your kids (or inconsiderate roommate) used up all the hot water this morning? No worries, there’s another way – but, it will add about 10 more minutes to the process and require more attention.

  1. Find a pan larger than the block of meat you need to defrost and fill it with water
  2. Heat the pan on medium on your stovetop for about 10-minutes – it should be at a pre-boil, which is when you just begin to see bubbles
  3. Place the sealed block of meat in the pan, and submerge with a wooden or rubber spoon (Important, we do not want to weight the food down and walk away because it will overcook the bottom)
  4. Carefully remove the meat after 10 to 15-minutes – immediately place any unused meat in your refrigerator (again, not the freezer)

What’s the Safest Way to Defrost Raw Dog Food?

Hands down, the safest way to defrost raw dog food is to take it out of the freezer and put it directly into the refrigerator. This method can take 12 to 36-hours depending on how much meat we’re talking about.

The next best way is to repeat the exact steps at the top of this article, except with room temperature water. It can take up to an hour to defrost your meat this way, but it is effective and safer (if bacteria is a concern).

Last, simply taking the meat out and letting it sit at room temperature will take somewhere between 2 and 4-hours to defrost. However, this is my least favorite option, because I have a tendency to forget about it.

And any meat that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out.

How Long Will Defrosted Raw Dog Food Stay Good in the Fridge?

If you used the Drowning Pan Method or the stovetop method, you’re not going to want to keep that meat in the fridge any longer than 3 days. Remember, those methods lightly cook the meat, which may make it bacteria more of a concern.

If you don’t think you can use all of the meat in less than 4 days, then, no problem – simply let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, until it’s 100% defrosted, and stick it back in the freezer.

Everything else can generally stay up to a week. Use your best judgment though – if it smells funny, it’s time to go.

Why Can’t I Just Microwave Raw Dog Food?

I can’t stress this enough: NEVER MICROWAVE RAW DOG FOOD!


Besides the plethora of studies proving microwaves kill essential nutrients in food (which, kind of defeats the purpose of going raw) – microwaving raw food can be outright deadly.

A well-balanced raw dog meal most likely has bones in the mix. Raw bones are soft and chewy (relatively) because they still have water and nutrients in their cells; however, when you microwave bone, you are sucking out all that delicious soft chewiness, and you’re left with brittle, dry, bone.

Imagine eating a bowl of wood splinters. That’s the equivalent of your dog eating microwaved bone and is a leading cause of pet deaths a la internal bleeding.

Yes, microwaves are quick and easy – but they have no place in raw pet food.

Can’t My Dog Just Eat Frozen Raw Dog Food?

Heck ya, your dog can!

In fact, feeding your dog it’s raw meal frozen can be a great 30-minute distraction while you’re off to work or running errands. It’s even beneficial for teeth cleaning.

There are a couple of challenges to feeding your dog frozen raw meat:

1 – Unless you’ve properly prepared beforehand, you probably don’t have the right meal size for your dog. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

And it is extremely dangerous to break apart frozen meat with a knife. I can’t imagine how many emergency rooms visits this warrants per year.

But, there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog double their usual meal and skipping dinner. Read the next section and my post Why Your Dog Skipping a Meal (or two) Isn’t a Big Deal to learn more.

2 – Unless you introduced frozen raw food at a young age, or this is something you do regularly, your dog probably won’t know what to do with a frozen piece of meat. And the last thing you want to do is leave raw meat in your house unsupervised – that’s how pets and people get sick.

If this is something you’d like to do, I’d recommend starting slowly. Introduce your pup to treat-size portions of frozen raw dog food, and scale up from there.

I Don’t Have Enough Time to Defrost the Raw Food – Is it Okay for my Dog to Skip a Meal?

It is absolutely okay if your dog misses breakfast from time to time. In fact, all three of my dogs skip at least two meals a week.

Similar to the Intermittent Fasting movement currently sweeping through the United States – there are proven health benefits to regularly fasting your dog.

Your dog’s immune system is always working hard to ward off disease and kill off deadly pathogens. However, if your dog always has a full belly, then she/he is often diverting much-needed energy away from the immune system and into the digestive tract.

Don’t get me wrong – your dog will definitely be disappointed in you for a few hours – but, fasting is what’s best for your pup’s health in the long term.

Last, don’t make the mistake of doubling up your dog’s raw food at the next meal. When fasting, your dog’s stomach will shrink, and, at best, doubling up her/his food is a recipe for an upset stomach, or more serious conditions, like dog bloat.

My general rule of thumb is 1.5 times their regular meal that evening and the next morning.

Happy thawing!