How to Properly Store Your Dog’s Food

Tips for Storing Pet Foods: Dogs are so faithful and trustworthy that they binge on whatever food is given to them by their loved ones. 

As a pet owner, it’s our duty to learn what to feed a pooch to keep it healthy and how to store them properly so it can maintain its nutritional value.

Paying attention to things like temperature, moisture, and packaging can aid in ensuring that the pet’s dry food will last. Wet foods like canned and homemade food, often require refrigeration, so one should have the knowledge of the shelf-life of these foods when stored in a fridge and freezer. 

This article will further provide insights on the proper storage of wet as well as the dry, canned, homemade, raw and frozen pooch foods as many pet parents spend a lot of money on purchasing premium dog food.

Why is it important to store dry dog foods the right way?

Once the dry pet food is exposed to air or light, a process called “oxidation” takes place wherein the dog food that is coated with oils post extruding breaks down and the vitamins can be destroyed. Hence experts in the field of dog foods and vets recommend storing dry food in airtight containers made of high-grade plastic or stainless steel.

How can the various dog food be stored the right way?

The following section explains the storing techniques of the various pet foods one feed to their pet pals.

Dry pooch food storage

Dry pet food is the most convenient pet food that most pet parents feed their fidos to provide them all the nutrients they require in a day. All foods are perishable if not stored in the right way.

Bags of the dry dog food are imprinted with a “best by” date to let one know how long one can keep it. Many of us fail to realize that this used by date becomes inaccurate once the bag is opened. Hence, experts like Dr. Nelson recommend using dog food bags for only one-month post-opening it is stored in an apt way.

The three factors that affect the nutritional value and quality of doggie’s food once it has been opened are air, moisture, and high temperatures. To help conserve these factors follow the following tips that are mentioned below.

1. Retain the original packaging of the dry pet food

Most individuals would have probably observed that dog food comes in thick bags with a resealable top. Many experts and the FDA recommend retaining the dog food in its original package due to the following reasons mentioned below.

Firstly, pet pal storage food bags are specifically designed to enhance the shelf life of these pet foods.

Secondly, retaining the food in its original package will not only help one to retain the original instructions and expiration date information that one should always keep in mind. 

Finally, doing so will help in knowing the lot number or batch code of the dog food just in case the manufacturer recalls the lot due to some technical reasons. 

Experts recommend locking the dog food up again tightly each time it is opened during each feed. In cases where the bag is not supplied with a resealable top or can roll down the sides and use a bag clamp or clip to secure the bag tightly.

2. Airtight storage container usage

Dr. Katy Nelson, host of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8 and  is also one of the associate veterinarians at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Virginia has many articles and episodes that will help a pet owner to check the freshness of their fidos food. According to her

“Dry dog food is extruded, and then sprayed with oils that start to break down and go rancid once the food is exposed to air. So, kibble needs to be kept in an airtight container.”

When it comes to zero on the right storage container Dr. Nelson recommends to thoroughly browse the net for customer reviews on the many storage bins available online or at the pet stores. But she recommends “Plastic or stainless-steel containers for storing kibble as long as they are airtight. But mostly prefers stainless storages are they are stylish and easy to clean.”

3. Store the original food package in another bin

One can leave the dog food in its original bag but should not transfer it into another one. But one can put that original bag inside a secondary container preferably made of glass, plastic or stainless steel.

This way one not only gets the benefit of the original bag but also gets the added advantage of a second airtight container that double ensures that the food stays fresher for a longer time period.

4. Pet food needs to be stored in cool, dry and dark places

Primarily, one needs to store the food in a cool and dry place that is not wet, too hot or has direct exposure to sunlight.

Temperatures of 120°F for a period of more than 48 hours is seen to accelerate the normal degradation of the vitamins.

Exposure of the pet food to sunlight needs to be minimal or nil since light is seen to enhance the food degradation process.

The best food areas to store the food bins are in a kitchen closet or pantry makes a great storage place for dog food also it is advised to run the A/C in the summer times in places that are extremely hot for retaining the freshness of the dog food.

5. Use with the “use by date” mentioned on the original packing

Just like human food, the pet pal food also comes with a “use by date” printed on the package bag, until opened. Most of the premium dog food brands have a year shelf-life. This is the standard shelf-life for a dog food that is seen to retain the natural Vitamin E.

Once the bag of food is opened, the expiration date marked on the bag is not valid. Opened bags of pet food of all dry food dog brands need to be consumed by 45 days.

6. Wash the pet food container thoroughly post each batch of pet food

The dog food that is stored in airtight storage bins needs to be washed and disinfected from time to time. As the fat residue of the previous dog food batch could seep out of the bag and into the container improving the chances of microorganisms breeding.

7. Refrain from mixing the old and new batch of dog foods

Never mix the old batch food with the new ones. As the old food has higher chances of containing bacteria or germs and doing this will taint the new food with additional microbes. Wait for the old ones to be consumed before emptying the new batch into the storage bin.  This way one can ensure the new food batch to be sealed if possible before being opened and is also seen to retain the aroma and freshness for a longer duration

8. Avoid feeding discolored or smelly food to the fido

As humans, we do not consume any stale food or curdled milk, the same hold goods for our pet mates too. Experts recommend whiffing the pet food that has been opened for longer than 60 days before loading it on to the dog’s bowls.

Most dogs do not eat their dry foods that have lost their aroma or are stale. Training a dog to distinguish food freshness is seen to aid in distinguishing fresh and rancid food. 

Note: Lamb-based dog foods are seen to have a shorter lifespan than other meats, so if one regularly rotates the pooche’s protein sources, they should always remember to check the foods freshness dates.

Wet food storage

Wet foods are available in cans as well as pouches. 

1. Unopened cans or pouches

The unopened wet food cans or pouches will last for a longer period if they are stored in a cool, dry place. The best place to stock up unopened canned dog food is in a cupboard or pantry inside of the home.

Refrain from storing the unopened cans or pouches in places where they will get wet or in a moist environment as the cans tend to tarnish and their inner seal is seen to degrade, and this causes the food to go stale.

2. Opened canned or pouched foods

Opened can or pouched dog food can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. One only needs to use plastic can lid or a tight-fitting aluminum foil temporary lids available at the vet and pet stores to keep the food from drying out.

It is recommended to write the date on the can once it is opened so that one can make sure that the food is used within the two-day time frame.

3. Homemade food storage

Homemade foods are made up of a wide variety of foods that include different types of meat, eggs, vegetables, grains, and fruits. One needs to follow the recommended storage times for meats, which are the most perishable foods that are present in homemade diets. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that meats should be stored in refrigerators at 40 °F or 4 °C or less for the recommended days stated below:

  • Raw ground meats, all poultry, and seafood – two to three days
  • Raw roasts, steaks, and chops- three to five days
  • Cooked meat, poultry, and seafood – three to four days.

4. Frozen wet or homemade pet foods

Homemade, canned, and pouched dog food can also be stored in the freezer if they are not going to be used within the prescribed days once opened. The food needs to be transferred to freezer bags or storage containers prior to freezing them. Canned, pouched, and homemade food stored in the freezer tends to last for four to six months if left untouched.

Portion the dog’s food in such a way that only one bag or container of food is defrosted at a time for the pooche’s meals.

Note: Defrosted food should not be refrozen and fed to dogs. Once defrosted the food needs to be consumed by the pets as per the defined refrigerated days.

5. Raw dog food

Raw food is not recommended to be stocked for longer time duration. One should always feed the raw food within 1-2 days of opening or thawing of frozen food if any.

Frozen raw foods shelf life is about 6 months if sealed or wrapped properly in a frozen state. Once the food is opened or thawed, they need to be emptied within 3 days. 

Note: If one makes or buys raw or frozen food in bulk, it is advised to portion the food into sealed containers and freeze. This is seen to aid in enhancing the life of the food as only the feed portion required per meal can be thawed.

Dry and wet storage FAQs

Q. How many hours can one leave the canned or homemade food in the dog’s bowl?

A. The food that has been left out for more than four hours needs to be disposed of as canned and homemade dog food can go rancid if left out of the refrigerator for too long. Do not feed the dog any wet food variety that has been sitting out for long periods of time. Doing so will affect the dog’s health, which will, in turn, hit hard on the pet parent’s pockets.

Q. Can dry pet food be frozen?

A. Yes, but one should read the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific concerns.

Q.  Can thawed frozen food be slightly warmed?

A. Some dogs do not like to eat cold thawed food one can slightly warm it in a microwave or can remove the food and get it to room temperature before feeding it.

Q. Can dry pet food be left in the bowl for the whole day for the pet to binge on?

A. No, one should not leave the dog’s food on the floor for more than 10 minutes. If the dog doesn’t finish its food, the bowl needs to be picked up off and should be placed back once again during the next scheduled feed. Dry kibbles can be kept outside for a whole day if placed in dry and cool places. Training the dog to eat at the given time from the puppy stage is the right practice. Do not feed on the dog’s demand.

Final thoughts

This article has provided insights on the various pet food storage techniques, but experts recommend knowing how much of feed a dog needs to be given per day. Do not buy excess and feed excess. Follow the chart provided on the packages and store the food as mentioned above.



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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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