Image of a puppy laying on a large bowl of dod food

How You Store Your Pet’s Food is Important

While many families put in their due diligence when it comes to researching and buying the right kind of food for their dogs, it is not nearly as common that the same kind of time is spent looking into how dog food should be stored.

As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon to visit homes where the dogs eat some of the most expensive dog food on the market only to find out that the food is just stored in an open bag out in the garage somewhere. No storage bin. No clip to keep out air. Bag on the floor where bugs and moisture can easily make their way in. There are simply no protections for the food to stay safe for the dog to eat. We are here today to break down things you should and should not do when storing your pet’s food.

Something to keep in mind while reading this piece -and the one thing you should really take away from this article- is that your dog’s food is just as perishable as any people food you have in your home. Seriously.

That being said, though, since dry dog food isn’t normally going to be stored alongside your cereal boxes in the pantry, storage requires a little more than just keeping a clip on the dog food bag (though that’s a much better start than just leaving the bag open, if we’re being honest).

Storing Dry Dog Food

Not only will storing your dog’s dry food (kibble) properly keep it from going stale, food stored using most of the following tips will help keep your dog from getting sick from contamination.

  • Use a steel or glass container – plastic pet food storage containers don’t work as well as glass or stainless steel in keeping humidity and oxygen from seeping into the dog food.
  • Wash container regularly – Clean your dog’s food container at least every time you fill it with a new bag of food. Use dish detergent and hot water; rinse thoroughly.
  • Avoid storing in your freezer – If you have to store dog food in the freezer, consider getting a vacuum sealer to help keep moisture out of the food. Also, store the food in smaller bags and defrost only what you need for a week or less.
  • Store in a cool, dry location – Your pantry or an indoor closet is an excellent place to store your dry dog food. If you’re storing the kibble in your garage, keep the food away from the garage door (to avoid  the weather) and the water heater.
  • Keep kibble in original bag – Even if you’re using a storage container, keep your dry dog food in its original packaging. Most dog food bags are designed to keep oxygen and moisture out and will offer another layer of protection.
  • Discard open food after six weeks – The expiration (or “Use by”) dates printed on dry dog food is only applicable to the sealed product. Once a bag is open, you have six weeks to use it. After six weeks, the food will quickly start losing its nutritional value.
  • Don’t buy in bulk – Buying too much dog food will either mean you will throw away a huge amount of kibble after the six week period or you’ll end up feeding your dog dangerous meals for weeks.
  • Keep away from kibble from open bins – Some stores let you scoop and buy dry dog food and pet treats from storage bins. Don’t ever buy this dog food. You won’t know the food’s ingredients nor do you know how old the food is. Likewise, dry dog food sold this way is at extreme risk of contamination from bacteria, having mold, being of low nutritional value, insects, and more.
  • Toss food that doesn’t seem right – If the dry dog food is discolored or smells bad, get rid of it and get a new bag of food. You can likely get a refund at the store you made the purchase. At the very least, contact the manufacturer and inform them of the food’s batch details.
  • Stay away from direct sunlight – An even better rule would be to not store your dry dog food outside whatsoever.
  • Avoid artificial preservatives – Though foods with artificial preservatives might mean the kibble will last longer than other brands, those chemicals also make the food more risky for your dog to consume.
  • Only use a small amount in dispensers – Though dispensers make feeding your dog every day a lot easier, they heighten the chances of contamination and spoilage since they allow so much oxygen and moisture. That being the case, only put a few days worth of food in a dispenser at a time and wash it often.

Storing Canned Dog Food

Storing wet dog food is rather different from keeping kibble around. Notably, an unopened can of dog food will stay good for much longer. Instead of a couple months, wet dog food will keep fresh for years. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind when storing wet dog food.

  • Use the expiration date – Even though canned food can stay fresh for an extremely long time, you should still throw it out if the can’s printed expiration date has passed.
  • Store in a cool space – This helps keep the can’s contents from getting overly soggy.
  • Don’t use damaged cans – A can with dents, bulging, or any other kind of damage can result in broken seals, which can lead to spoiling, contaminants, and more.
  • Put open wet food in the fridge (for no more than three days) – If you open a can of dog food and there is any left after your pup is done eating, you can store it in a refrigerator for up to three days. Keep it in an airtight container and throw away any of it that’s left after the third day.
  • You can also freeze leftovers – Any open wet dog food can be frozen and will last for a very long time as long as you use airtight containers.
  • Discard foul or discolored wet food – If the food smells rancid or doesn’t look right to you, get rid of it. Like kibble, either return it to the store and contact the manufacturer.

Seeing as you consider your dog a part of the family, it’s important that you pay as much attention to what she eats as you do anyone else you live with. Follow the recommendations above  and you will ensure your dog’s food stays fresh, offers proper nutrition, and tastes good to her.