Just as you pay attention to expiration dates and storage instructions for your own food, so should you pay attention to the proper storage method for your pet’s food. Commercially manufactured pet food does not have an unlimited shelf life and there are right and wrong ways to store it. If you want to ensure that your pet’s food stays fresh, take the time to learn how to store it correctly.
Storing Dry Food
The proper storage method for pet food varies slightly from one kind of food to another. For example, you would not keep your dog’s kibble in the refrigerator and you would not leave your cat’s wet food sitting out on the counter.
Follow the tips below to store your pet’s dry food safely:
Keep any kibble in a cool, dry location under 70°F (21°C) – a garage or pantry is typically an acceptable storage location.
Throw away any pet food that sits at temperatures above 100°F (38°C) for more than 48 hours – high temperatures can cause the food to go rancid, and in addition, will destroy some of the nutritional content of the food.
Always store the food in its original packaging to preserve moisture and to prevent odor transfer – you can place the bag in another container if you like.
Clean metal containers are ideal for storing dry food – remember, place the entire bag in the container rather than pouring the food into it.
Keep the bag or storage container tightly sealed and adhere to all “best by” dates.
Realize that the nutritional content of the food will start to decline six weeks after opening, so do not buy too much pet food at once.
Dry food in your dog’s bowl can be left out for days as long as it not exposed to sunlight or contamination.
Food Unopened cans of wet food can be stored for years without going bad but, as soon as you open the container, the clock starts ticking.
The following tips will help you to store your pet’s wet food safely:
Unopened cans of wet food should be stored in a cool, dry location under 70°F (21°C) – again, a garage or pantry is acceptable.
Opened cans of wet food must be stored in the refrigerator in order to retain moisture and to reduce exposure to the air.
Store leftover wet food by placing the open can in a zipped plastic bag, or use a plastic lid that fits tightly over the can.
The ideal storage temperature for opened cans of wet food is between 40° and 45°F (4° to 7°C). They can be stored for up to seven days after opening.
Wet food can be left in your pet’s bowl for a maximum of four hours – after that, you should throw it out.
Additional Food Storage Tips
When you purchase pet food, check the “best before” date to make sure that the food will stay fresh for as long as it takes your pet to eat it. Avoid the temptation to stock up on pet food; if you do not use it within the recommended period, it will not only start to lose nutrients and no longer provide for your pet’s nutritional needs, but may even make your pet ill. Buy your pet food in bags that are appropriately sized for the amount of time it takes you to go through it. For example, if you have a small dog that only eats about a cup of food per day, you would not want to buy a 15-pound bag of kibble because you won’t go through it before it goes bad. If you have a large dog or multiple dogs, however, a 15-pound bag may be more economical.
Use your common sense when purchasing pet food and follow the tips provided above to store it safely.