Keeping Things Fresh: Pet Food Storage Guide

Your furry buddy likely comes running at the sound of his favorite food being opened because it tastes so yummy. To keep things that way and to ensure that his food stays fresh and safe, it’s best to store it in ambient temperatures and in air-tight containers. Here, you’ll find tips and tricks to keep your canine companion’s food fresh and tasty. Follow these pet food storage tips to always ensure your pup is eating food that’s both yummy and safe.

Store dry dog food properly.

Dry dog food is a great option to serve your pup throughout the day because it won’t spoil right away when you leave a bowl of it out from morning to night. Your dog loves crunching on fresh kibble, but once you open a new bag of kibble, the food can quickly go stale or worse, get rancid if stored improperly. And who wants to eat stale kibble?

  • To keep dry dog food fresh once you open the bag, it’s best to store pet food within the original bag inside of an air-tight plastic, glass or aluminum container.
  • Look for pet food storage containers that have a rubber gasket on the lid to better keep air and moisture out of the food. These types of containers will prevent air, humidity and pests from getting into the food and spoiling it.
  • Keeping the food inside the original bag within the container provides an additional layer of protection to keep it tasting good to your furry friend, recommends PetMD. It also prevents the transfer of taste from the container to the food and vice-versa.
  • Don’t store food outdoors due to fluctuations in temperature and the threat of pests like insect, rodents and outside animals. You’ll want to store it indoors at a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius or below, recommends Food Safety Magazine.
  • For maximum freshness and taste, use the bag within about 6 weeks of opening it and always check the “best by” date to check if it’s still good and hasn’t gone past this date.

Handle canned dog food with care.

Many dogs prefer canned food because of its moist, meat-filled texture and taste. It’s like your pup gets a fresh, delicious bowl of stew each time you open a new can. Best yet, canned food can last for years if properly stored, but there are a few precautions you have to take to ensure that it will taste delicious and be safe when you serve it to Fido.

  • While canned dog food can last for several years, you’ll want to check the “best by” date on the bottom of the can to ensure that the food hasn’t expired yet.
  • Most importantly, always check cans for dents, swelling and punctures, all of which could indicate that the food is spoiled or contains botulism, a potentially deadly toxin to humans and pets. According to the Government of Canada, botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria that grows in moist, oxygen-free environments like those formed by the canning process.
  • Discard any suspect cans – it’s better to be safe than sorry. To be extra safe, wrap the can in plastic and discard it in the trash. After handling a suspect can, wash your hands thoroughly or, better yet, use disposable gloves to handle the can.
  • Store pet food cans indoors in temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius or below. Note that you don’t have to refrigerate unopened cans of food and most pets prefer food that is at room temperature.

Once canned dog food is opened, keep it cool.

Dry food can be left out all day for your dog, but canned food shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for too long because it can spoil. Ideally, you should be able to serve your dog a meal of canned food, have him finish what you give him and wait to serve him his next meal when you are around to monitor him. That’s why canned food is great for breakfast and dinner but not a midday snack if you’re not around to supervise meals.

  • When you leave out dry food for your kitty or pooch, it’s best to only put out enough for about a 24-hour period to ensure that the food stays fresh and tasty.
  • For canned food, don’t let it sit out for more than four hours at a time because it can spoil.
  • Store wet pet food leftovers in the original can with a can topper or plastic wrap to preserve the food’s taste. Or put it in an air-tight glass container.
  • Refrigerated leftover canned food can last about four days. If you want to store it longer, wrap single-serving portions in plastic and freeze it for up to three months instead of refrigerating it.

Serving canned wet dog food to make it last.

So, you want to serve your pooch wet food but won’t be around to pick it up because you’re running late in the morning. Or maybe your furry buddy simply loves canned food and nothing else. What do you do?

  • If you won’t be available to pick up leftovers from your furry friend, give him just enough so that you know he’ll eat the entire portion and there won’t be any leftovers to sit and spoil.
  • A great way to do this is to purchase single-serving cups of dog food or small cans of dog food. This way, you won’t have any leftovers.
  • Another option is to serve wet food to your dog in a timed feeder that has a chilled compartment. These types of feeders have a compartment that you fill with ice or fill with an ice pack. The compartment is directly beneath the dish for the wet food, so it keeps it cold during the day. When the timer goes off, the compartment opens with some fresh wet food for your pup.
  • Have your dog walker stop in and give your pup a fresh bowl of canned food when she stops in to take care of Fido.

Storing Homemade Dog Food.

If you make your own dog food using cooked ingredients, be sure to heat the food to an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius to ensure that the meat is completely cooked. Once you’ve prepared a batch of fresh food, store it in the refrigerator for about four days or freeze it for up to six months in an air-tight container or resealable bag.

When serving freshly made dog food, use the same precautions you would when serving canned dog food.

Keep dog treats fresh too.

Treats are a great way to reward your pup for good behavior or just as a way to show him how much you love him. But no one wants a soggy, stale treat, including your pooch. To keep treats fresh and tasty, follow these steps:

  1. Store opened bags of treats within their original bag placed inside an air-tight container or resealable plastic bag.
  2. Keep treats in temperatures under 22 degrees Celsius.
  3. Many treats come in resealable bags that will keep the treats fresh, which is especially important for soft treats. Soft treats can harden if not stored in an air-tight bag or container.
  4. If you’ve made your dog freshly-baked treats, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator with a resealable plastic bag or container for maximum freshness.

Storing raw dog diets properly.

If your pup eats a raw diet, there are special considerations for properly storing it. Raw meat can quickly become rancid at room temperature.

  1. Always store raw pet food in the refrigerator for no more than four days at a time in a covered container.
  2. If making food in bulk, store it in the freezer using resealable plastic bags or freezer-safe containers. Frozen food can last for up to six months if properly protected from freezer burn.
  3. When serving your pup, ensure he eats the entire portion of food you provide for him in one sitting. Otherwise, immediately pick up the food and store leftovers in the refrigerator. Raw meat shouldn’t sit out for more than two hours at a time at room temperature.
  4. Raw meat isn’t appropriate to serve even in timed feeders during the day with a chilled compartment because of its propensity to spoil.
  5. Always thoroughly wash your hands after handling any type of dog food, especially raw meat.

Spoiled Dog Food Dangers to Consider.

When it comes to food, it seems like dogs will eat pretty much anything. They’ll sniff through the trash and eat suspect food on a walk outdoors. But dogs, like people, can get very sick from spoiled, moldy or contaminated food. That’s why it’s so important to properly store foods in a manner that will keep them fresh and discard them when you suspect they have gone bad.

Some people think that dogs are somehow immune to food poisoning, but this is not true. Dogs can get very sick from ingesting moldy food or food contaminated with bacteria, warns PetEducation.com.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten spoiled or contaminated food, get him to the vet right away. Treatment will usually involve a process known as gastric lavage, which removes as much of the food from your pup’s stomach as possible. Follow-up treatments may include the administration of medications like activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins from the body. Your pooch will also be given supportive care like intravenous fluids during his recovery at the vet’s office.

It’s a good idea to bring any of the food that you believe your dog has eaten along with you to the vet in a sealed plastic bag so that it can be evaluated for toxins. This way, your vet can better treat your pooch.

Have any tips to share about storing your pet’s food? Share with us in the comments!

By Susan Paretts

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