How to Properly Store Your Dog’s Food

chocolate lab puppy eating food

You spend a lot of time and money finding the right dog food for your dog and then continuing to supply them with that food. But, how much time do you spend thinking about how you store their food? Once your dog’s food is opened and gets exposed to light or air, oxidation begins and their food can go rancid quickly. Proper storage matters with everything, especially with dog food. Here’s how to properly store your dog’s food:

A Useful Tip – Always Check the Expiration Date Before Purchase

You should have an idea of how fast your dog goes through their food. With that in mind, make sure you are checking the expiration date or “best if used by” date on your dog’s food before you buy it. If you’re cutting it close or will be going past that date before your dog will get through it, check for a bag with a later date.

Some stores will put the food with the expiration date at the front of the shelf or row and others just put the product on the shelf. So, whether you tend to grab your dog’s food from the front, middle, or back, it’s important to always check the expiration date.

Once you know your dog’s food isn’t expired or going to expire soon, then it’s time to make sure it’s properly stored before it’s opened and after. Different types of food have different approaches for the best storage. Here’s how to properly store dry, canned, freeze-dried, and raw dog food:

How to Properly Store Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food may be the most common type of dog food and it may come in a resealable bag. It is low maintenance in terms of storage needs, but there are some things you still need to pay attention to. Here’s how to properly store dry dog food:

1. Store in a Cool, Dry, and Dark Place

Air and light cause oxidation. Temperature and moisture can also cause food to go bad due to bacteria growth or mold. So, one of the best things you can do to keep your dog’s food good as long as possible is to store it in a cool, dry place away from the light.

2. Tightly Reseal the Bag

For some dog food brands, the best way to keep them fresh is to keep the food in its original bag. If this is your approach, the most important thing is to make sure the bag or package is tightly resealed each time after it has been opened.

3. Use a Storage Container

Storing your dog’s bag of food inside an airtight storage container can also help it stay fresh longer. Not only does it allow you to buy dog food in bulk and keep it fresh, but a storage container also protects your dog’s food from pests like rodents and insects.

How to Properly Store Canned Dog Food

Unopened canned dog food tends to have a long shelf life, as long as it is stored properly. Here are some tips on how to properly store canned dog food:

1. Keep it in a Cool, Dry, Dark Place

Although canned dog food is not generally exposed to air and light the same way dry dog food is, it’s still important to store the cans in a cool, dry, dark place to make sure they last as long as possible.

This is especially important for canned dog food that uses plastic tubs as packaging as these tend to have a shorter shelf life than dog food that uses cans for packaging. Actual cans sometimes have a 2-5 year shelf life while plastic tubs tend to be much shorter.

2. Organize and Order by Expiration Dates

Make sure you are paying attention to the expiration or “use by” dates on your canned dog food. If it’s expired, get rid of it. Also, order your canned dog food by the expiration date by putting older cans in the front. Using a can organizer can be helpful in organizing your cans and keeping them contained in a dedicated storage area.

3. Airtight, Refrigerated Storage After Opening

You may not go through an entire can of dog food at one time. When you have an open can with some food left, it’s important to make storage airtight and refrigerate it. You can do this by transferring the leftover food into a storage container with a tight seal or by using a plastic can lid that creates a proper airtight seal around an open can.

Usually, you can refrigerate canned dog food stored like this for about 3-5 days. This can vary based on ingredients, brand, and more, so you’ll want to make sure you read the can of dog food for any specific instructions.

How to Properly Store Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated Dog Food

1. Store in a Cool, Dark, Very Dry Place

Moisture is public enemy number one for freeze-dried or dehydrated foods because it can cause bacteria and mold to grow. So, it’s so important to make sure wherever you store your freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food is cool, dark, and very dry. Without repackaging and with proper storage, you have about 6 months of shelf life for this type of food.

2. Plan to Use Quickly After Opening

Freeze-dried or dehydrated dog foods tend not to last as long as canned or dry dog food in general. Also, the clock starts ticking fast on these foods as soon as the seal is broken, so you should plan to use them within a few weeks after you open them.

3. Repackage Appropriately

If you know you’re not going to get through this dog food in a few weeks after you open it, you can repackage it appropriately to extend the shelf life. Transfer the leftovers into an airtight, sealed package and then store it or freeze it. Freezing it can help it last between 2-5 years, which can make freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food good competition for canned dog food.

How to Properly Store Raw Dog Food

Some dogs are vet-approved for a raw dog food diet. But, raw food is not meant to last for a long time in a raw state, so proper storage is particularly important for this type of dog food. Here’s how to properly store raw dog food:

1. Seal Properly and Freeze

It’s great if you can get raw food and immediately feed it to your dog, but that’s not a reality for most dog owners. When it is properly sealed or wrapped, frozen raw food will last in the freezer for about 6 months. So, sealing raw food properly and freezing it is a good way to extend the shelf life of your raw dog food.

2. Portion it Out

Many dog owners, especially those with larger dogs, find buying and preparing raw food in bulk to be much easier on their time, effort, and budget. By buying in bulk and portioning raw food out into smaller containers for storage, you can extend the life of the food. By using smaller containers, you can thaw out only what you need to use in a day and reduce overall waste.

3. Use Within 1-2 Days

Because it is so fresh, raw food is not meant to be stored for long periods of time. If it has been freshly opened, you will want to use it within 1-2 days. Properly stored frozen raw food has a shelf life of about 6 months, but you should plan to use it within 1-2 days of thawing as, once it is “raw” again, it won’t last very long.

These are general guidelines for how to properly store your dog’s food. Different ingredients, brands, packaging types, expiration dates, and more will all affect shelf life. Be sure to follow specific manufacturer storage guidelines if they are available and, if there is any doubt as to the freshness or edibility of your dog’s food, get rid of it. When it comes to the health and well-being of your best furry friend, it’s better to be safe than sorry.