Most of us care deeply about our pets. We spend a lot of time researching foods, trying to find food that is healthy and safe. We read labels, look at ingredients, calculate calories, and try to select the best food we can afford for our furry friends. But all of that effort can go to waste if we store the dog food in a way that destroys the nutrients or makes the food rancid. Some ways of storing pet food can encourage bacteria or mold to grow. And, if you’re not careful, mice or insects can infest the food. Luckily, there are some good ways to avoid these problems.
What Causes Dog Food to Spoil?
Healthy dog foods that use natural preservatives have a shorter shelf life than foods that use artificial preservatives. That’s why it’s especially important to store these foods correctly. There are three things that can cause any dog food to go bad: exposure to air – which also exposes the food to bacteria such as Salmonella; exposure to moisture – which can lead to mold; and temperature.
Keep your food storage container closed as tightly as possible to prevent exposure to air and moisture. Don’t store your dog food in places where the temperature can rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit such as your garage or shed. Most pet food manufacturers recommend storing food in places that are cool and dry such as a pantry or indoor closet.
Keep Your Kibble in the Bag
Keeping your kibble in the bag is a good idea for several reasons. First, if there is a recall later, you will still have the bag which has all of the manufacturing information, including the lot number and batch information. You will know if the food and your dog have been affected. Second, dog food bags today are made to keep foods good so they won’t spoil. Many of them have linings for this purpose. The original bag can keep the fats in the food from turning rancid if the food is stored well. After you open the bag, you can use a clip or clamp to keep it tightly closed. Do remember to check the “sell by” or “use by” date on the bag of dog food so you will know how long the food is supposed to be good.
Use a Can to Store the Bag
It’s also a good idea to use a can to store the food in its original bag. Just place the whole bag into the can. If you buy small bags of dog food, you can use a kitchen canister. If you purchase larger bags, metal containers are superior to rubber containers because they can keep out rodents. Whatever you use, make sure to replace the lid tightly each time you open the contain in order to keep rodents and insects out.
Tips for Canned Food
Canned pet foods that haven’t been opened will last for a long time. Some of these foods can last for up to five years, depending on the ingredients and the way they are canned. You do need to pay attention to the “use by” dates on the cans. Whenever you buy more canned dog food, it’s a good idea to move the older cans to the front of your shelves and place the new cans in the back. After you have opened a can to feed your dog, you can place any unused portion in an airtight container. Kept in the refrigerator, the food should last for up to about five days.
Refrigerated Dog Foods
Refrigerated pet foods are becoming very popular. You can find them in both pet stores and grocery stores. They come in small plastic containers, rolls, and bags. No matter what kind of refrigerated food your dog likes, it’s important to check the dates on the package. All of these foods have a short shelf life. In addition, after the package is opened, the food has to be used within five days. In some cases extra food can be frozen so check the instructions that come with the package.
Dehydrated dog foods are also popular today. These foods have to be protected from moisture before you are ready to use them. Otherwise, the food can become moldy. You can keep the food in the original packaging and tightly reclose it after each use or you can transfer it to a container with an airtight lid.
Raw Dog Food Diets
There are several different ways you can feed your dog a raw food diet. If you are feeding a commercially-prepared raw diet, these diets provide storage instructions on the packaging that tells you how long you can freeze or refrigerate the product. If you make your own recipes for your dog, you should follow well-known food handling guidelines. Raw ground meats, poultry, and fish can be refrigerated for a day or two. If you won’t be using the meat within that time, you should freeze it. If you have larger cuts of meat such as steaks, roasts, or chops, you can usually refrigerate them for three to five days. Frozen meats, if they are wrapped well and kept in an airtight container, are usually good for four to six months.
Following these tips can help you keep your dog’s food as safe as possible. At least you’ll know that you’re doing everything possible to keep it fresh and nutritious at your house.