Caitlin UltimoNutrition / Pet Diet Tips

4 Tips for Keeping Your Pet’s Food Fresh

When it’s not properly protected from the elements, dog food and cat food can lose its freshness, and in the worst case, spoil completely. Follow these helpful tips to keep air (which brings bacteria), moisture (which leads to mold) and soaring temperatures (which damage food quality) from doing a number on your pet’s next meal.

Buy Only What You Need

Although most dry or canned foods usually have a long shelf life, they won’t stay fresh forever. Over time, the fresh-out-of-the-bag (or can) flavor and smell that makes your pets run to the bowl can start to fade. On top of that, all the valuable nutrients can lose their potency, leaving your kitty or pup with less than you thought you were getting. For all of these reasons, you should only order as much as you’ll need for about 30 days, give or take. When the goods arrive at your doorstep, be sure to inspect all bags and cans for tears, dents and leaks, which can lead to quicker spoilage.

Keep It in the Bag

Many dry pet foods—like those made for dogs and cats—are sold in special packaging designed to help them retain their freshness, so you shouldn’t dump them into other containers. Instead, cut off the top of the bag, roll it closed in between uses and attach a bag clip to seal out air. For even better protection, drop the clipped bag into a perfectly sized pet food storage container. If stored properly, dry food should last up to 6 weeks once opened.

Find a Cool, Dry Storage Space

The quality of both bagged and canned pet foods suffers in high temperatures. If you keep your pet food in an enclosed space with unregulated temperatures, like a garage or a shed, it may get exposed to soaring temperatures that hasten its natural decomposition. Instead, keep your dog food and cat food in a cool, dry spot, preferably inside your home, such as a pantry, storage closet or cellar. You’ll also want to raise the food off of the floor to prevent infestation by insects and rodents.

Seal It and Refrigerate It

Canned pet foods tend to have a long shelf life, but once they’re opened, you should use them quickly. If you have leftover canned food after a feeding, put a can cover on top and store it in the refrigerator for no longer than five to seven days. If your pet hasn’t consumed everything you put out within four hours, empty the bowl. (For dry foods, discard what’s left in the bowl after 24 hours.)