How to Properly Store Pet Food

Something we all tend to forget about is how we are storing our pet’s food. Surprisingly it can be the cause to those unexplained bouts of loose stool or vomiting as bacteria or spoilage can occur if we’re not being careful how and where we store our pet’s food. Listed below are some great guidelines to help keep your pet’s food fresh and safe as possible.

Dry Food

Bags of dry food should be stored in a cool, dry environment to prevent the destruction of vitamins and oxidation of fats which cause rancidity. Products such as Hill’s J/d, Purina JM and Purina DRM are only guaranteed efficacious for 60 days after opening due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Each time these food bags are opened oxidation of the fatty acids can occur, thus leading to rancid food.

Other oils in your pet’s dry food can be left behind when you store the food in a container. These oils may also become rancid or promote bacteria growth. For these reasons, pet food companies use bags that are designed with a fat barrier to keep the food fresh. If you prefer to store the food in a container than you need to wash and dry the container not only before adding in the food but at least on a monthly basis. If you are topping up the food container you must ensure that the new food goes on the bottom and old food is on the top. Also, note that plastic containers may impart an odour and taste to dry foods that can adversely affect palatability. Storage in clean metal containers is acceptable.

If you choose to use a container to store your pet’s food always make sure that you keep the food bag. If for some reason the food needs to be returned because the pet will not eat it, the company will need to know the lot number, expiry date, product, size etc. All of the food we sell at Hillcrest Animal Hospital comes with a 100% taste guarantee and we will require that the food be returned in the original bag to provide the refund.

Dry food should be stored in a cool, dry environment rather than frozen. While freezing does not affect the nutritional value of dry food and can extend its shelf life, freezing can affect palatability.

Dry food can be left in the feeding bowl indefinitely if the bowl is kept in an area that is cool, dry, out of direct sunlight and not subject to contamination by insects and vermin. However, we recommend that the food bowl is filled fresh each day.

Canned Food

Once opened, canned food should be stored in the fridge and covered with a plastic lid. This will help retain moisture, minimize exposure to oxygen and reduce the transfer of odour to other food. Regular canned pate can be stored this way for 5-7 days and stewed formulas for 3-5 days. Canned products high in fish oil should be used within 3 days as they develop a strong odour quickly after opening.

You can warm up canned food that is being portioned for your pet in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds. Be sure to stir before serving to ensure that there are no hot spots.

Canned or moistened dry food should be disposed of if it is not consumed within 4 hours at normal room temperatures. In warmer climates, we advise discarding the unused portion sooner.

What if my pet goes off its food?

Often when a pet goes off their food there is a tendency to wonder if there is something wrong with the food, but many times it may indicate a health problem with the pet. You should book an appointment with the Veterinarian if your pet is refusing to eat. Please note that dogs should never go more than 2-3 days without eating and cats should never go longer than 1-2 days. (Cats can quickly experience serious liver problems when they stop eating).

Your veterinarian can help you figure out if there is an issue with the pet food, a medical issue with your pet or help you determine if you just have a picky eater on your hands.

Written by Alicia, Pet Food Advocate