You’ve researched your pet’s nutritional needs, compared brands, and purchased the best option for your beloved furbaby. But what is the point of buying the best if you don’t know how to keep your pet food fresh? Food is food, whether it’s for a pet or for humans, there’s a proper way to handle it.  By learning more about storing pet food and creating a system to keep your pet’s food fresh can be life changing for your pet’s nutrition.

Now the question arises: “How do you keep your pet food fresh and wholesome for as long as possible?”. Here are some frequently asked questions and useful ideas for storing pet food to insure it stays as fresh as possible.

How to Store: 5 FAQs on Keeping Your Pet's Food Fresh

  1. What is the best way to store dry pet food? Can I store dog or cat food in plastic containers?

How to store dry dog and cat food

Source: @themaxsociety

DO: Store pet food in its original bag, and place the whole bag into airtight containers or use airtight sealers.

The premium pet food companies use better quality packaging, including the use of oxygen barrier bags which are very effective at keeping out oxygen and moisture. Don’t throw out the original bag of the pet food because it contains the brand and manufacturer, barcode, batch code, and expiration or the “best by” date. This identifies the particular batch of food you’re feeding your pet. It is very important information to have in the event of a pet food recall, or if you suspect any problems with the food.

It’s fine if you want to store your dry pet food into another storage container, but you have two remember two things. One, don’t remove the bag and two, make sure that the storage container is clean, dry and has a snug lid. It’s important that you don’t remove the bag because it contains all the needed information. It’s best to place the bag with the dry pet food into the container. While keeping the container clean, dry and sealed properly will insure that the food stays fresh (and away from your pet).

Pets who have little to no self-control will also be very persistent! Keep your pet food in a secure location so your pet can sneak in or else you’ll find them in the middle of all the pet food, munching away like there’s no tomorrow!

DON’T: Pour kibble directly into pet food containers.
This is a very common, but dangerous pet food storage practice! Residual fats and oils that settle at the bottom and sides of the pet food storage bin can become rancid and contaminate fresh new food. Harmful chemicals from plastic pet food containers can seep into the pet food. This increases the risk of storage mites, mold growth, and bacterial contamination, leading to food poisoning, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Also, mixing old and new pet food in a bad or the same food container is a big NO, NO! There may be some leftovers from the last batch, which seems like a total waste, but DON’T do it. Never mix old and new dog food because if you do, it’ll be harder to keep track of all the important information (ie. lot number, “use by” or expiration date, etc.). You also may unknowingly taint your new pet food.

  1. How long does pet food last after it’s been opened? How do you store wet and canned pet food?

can cats eat expired dry cat food

Source: @the_maru_and_dany_show

DO: Use up opened food as soon as possible. “Use By” (or “Best Used By”, etc.) dates apply to sealed bags only. Feed opened dry pet food for a maximum of six weeks only. After six weeks, the nutritional value of the pet food is substantially lower than when the bag is first opened. To help you keep track, date the bag of pet food with a marker when you open it, and throw out any kibble remaining after six weeks.

When storing canned food opened, immediately refrigerate or throw away any leftovers. The temperature of your refrigerator should be at least 40F or below. Store opened canned pet food in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days. Transfer leftover wet food into airtight pet food containers before putting in the refrigerator. Discard whatever is left after three days.

DON’T: Use pet food that’s been exposed. Avoid any unnecessary exposure to air and humidity. This causes pet food to degrade and increases the risk of bacterial contamination.

  1. At what temperature should I store dry pet food? Can dry and wet cat or dog food go bad in heat?

DO: Keep dry kibble in a cool, dry place. Ideally, dry pet food should be stored at a temperature of less than 70 °F (21 °C), and at less than 15% humidity. Avoid storing dry pet food in fluctuating temperatures or excessive heat as this causes condensation, i.e. moisture and the breakdown of nutrients!

DON’T:  Do not leave pet food in the open can, re-use empty cans to store pet food, or feed from damaged, denied, and bulging cans. When canned food has been exposed to oxygen, it causes a chemical reaction and the tin or aluminum from the can may transfer into the can’s contents. Damaged or dented food cans may have leaking seals which allow microorganisms to enter the product, making it unsafe to eat. A bulging can is a sign of contaminated food.

Never store pet food in warm, humid areas, or in direct sunlight. Heat and moisture promote the growth of mold and cause fats to go rancid. If the bag of pet food does come into contact with water - for instance, a wet kitchen floor or leaking basement, discard it immediately!

  1. How should I handle my pet food containers?

DO: Wash all pet food containers frequently. Old rancid kibble can contaminate fresh, new kibble. When washing, use a gentle detergent and very hot water. Ensure you dry all pet food bowls and containers completely before refilling.

DON’T: Reuse pet food bowls to keep pet food fresh for every meal. Leftover food that’s been exposed to unknown temperatures, sunlight and air may have degraded and may cause bacterial contamination like Salmonella in your pet.

  1. Does pet food go bad? How long does canned or dry cat or dog food last unopened?

my dog ate expired dog food

Source: @judgejudylim

Yes, pet food goes bad. Be on the look out for pet stores selling expired food. You wouldn’t want to take the risk.

DO: Storing food long term is ideal, but always remember to use the Best By date as your guide. Canned foods are protected from oxidation by the air tight storage method and, purportedly, can remain edible for extremely long periods of time. However, playing it safe, we recommend you follow the pet food manufacturer’s Best By date for maximum freshness and nutritional quality. It will tell you until when the pet food is good for. However, there are times when the pet food makes you second guess if it’s really okay because the smell can be quite foul for you, but extremely appetizing for your pet.

DON’T: Feed pet food that looks or smells unusually bad. Return it to the store you purchased it from, and/or contact the pet food manufacturer providing details of the bar and batch code, and expiration date. This includes expired dog or cat treats. There’s no hope to keep pet food fresh if it’s spoiled to begin with!

Also, don’t ever purchase kibble or pet treats from open food bins at bulk food stores or out of date dog or cat food for sale! Not only do you not know what you’re really buying, but there’s the increased risk of mold and bacterial growth, diminished nutrients, bugs, and other unwanted contaminants.

If your dog or cat ate expired canned or dry food, call your veterinarian for advice.

Keeping your pet’s food fresh can bear rewards. Ensuring that your pet is fed fresh, high-quality meals with the right amount of vitamins and proteins, can positively impact your pet’s physical appearance, energy level, improved digestion and many more. Feeding only fresh pet food also gives pet parents a sense of comfort knowing that their furbabies are eating right and healthy. Learning how to keep pet food fresh is really a life-changing move for every pet parent.