Mistake #6: Not Taking The Expiration Date Seriously
Like our own food products at the grocery store, it is hard to pinpoint when any pet food will truly “expire,” says Dr. Domaracki. That said, since the nutritional value of food can’t be guaranteed after that printed expiration date, it’s best not to feed your dog expired food, he says—even if it passes the sniff test.
What to do instead: Buy a bag of dog food that your pup can eat within a few months of opening, says Dr. Flynn. If the expiration date is looming, consider marking it on your calendar or setting a reminder on your phone.
Why Dog Food Storage Is Important
“Much like storing our own food, properly storing pet food helps avoid spoilage,” says Dr. Cullen A. Domaracki, a veterinarian and assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at the Louisiana State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The best dog food storage solutions not only keep your dog’s food fresh and tasty, but they also protect your pup by keeping mold, bacteria, and household pests like insects and rodents out of his dinner.
So, is your pup’s food safe? Read on for the most common mistakes pet parents make when it comes to dog food storage.
Mistake #3: Pouring Dry Dog Food Out of Its Original Bag
“Many pet parents will tip dry food into an airtight pet food container, but this can cause the food to go off more quickly, and scratches in the surface of the container can hold bacteria and allow the food to spoil,” says Woodnutt.
What’s more? The bag dog food comes in often has an oil-resistant liner, which is designed to help retain flavor, adds Dr. Kristi Flynn, an assistant professor in the department of veterinary clinical sciences at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota.
What to do instead: Store your dog food in the original bag inside a sealed container. As this can make for clunky dog food storage, keep large bags of food in a storage bin and use smaller, more convenient containers that hold about a week of food for feeding time, suggests Flynn.
If you do decide to pour dog food out of the bag and into a container, at least snap a picture of the barcode and expiration date or cut out that portion of the label, says Churchill. This way, if your pup ever gets sick or you have questions about the quality or safety of the food, you can share this information with the company and the FDA in case there’s a product defect or dog food recall.
How to Store Dog Food Properly!
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Do you sometimes purchase large sacks of dog food for convenience or when they’re on sale? A large sack of dog food may last many weeks before your dog is finished with it…but how should you store it in the meantime?
Let’s look at how you can safely store your food–and where you should NEVER store your dog food!
With these criteria in mind, your first step is to choose WHERE you want to store the dog food.
While the garage may come to mind first, it’s rarely the best place to store dog food because of potential heat problems and the greater likelihood of ants and insect infestation.
Inside your home is the best place to store dog food. Climate controlled areas are the best for keeping your pet food cool to avoid rancid dog food.
You’ll need to select an area that’s up off the floor in case of a broken water heater or other minor flood in your home. Pantry shelves can be an excellent option.
Once you’ve selected the room for your dog food, now it’s time to choose the container in which you’ll store the food.
The sack in which your dog food came is often the best way to store an unopened sack of dog food; it is specially treated to prevent oxidation–the process by which the air turns the oils in the food rancid.
An unopened bag of dog food can be stored safely in a dry, cool place until its “use by” date.
Once you have opened a sack of dog food, however, the click is ticking. You’ll need to use up that dog food within about a month of opening the sack.
You can continue to store the dog food in its original sack, rolling up the top of the bag and closing it with a chip clip to keep air and insects out of the bag. Be sure to store the bag out of your dog’s reach!
If you’d like to put the food in a dog food storage container, be sure to look for one that is specifically for food storage. Don’t use that plastic office supply bin! Dangerous chemicals can transfer from the container to your dog’s food.
When using a dog food container, be sure to start with an empty container. Don’t pour new food on top of the remains of the previous bag–that older food can very easily contaminate the new food.
Thoroughly wash–with hot water and soap–the dog food container, then dry it completely before adding food.
Consider decanting the dog food into zippered plastic bags, squeezing out extra air, then freezing the food for later use.
If you have a vacuum sealer, that’s an ever better option for getting all the air out of the food package before freezing.
If you do decant your food into another bag, be sure to cut off the dog food label including the batch and lot number. Drop it into the bag with the dog food. In the event of a dog food recall, you will need this information!