You're at the store, preparing to stock up on food for your precious fuzzy friend. You have even come to the store prepped with that coupon you clipped for $5 off the largest bag of your favorite brand. When it comes to pet food, though, is bigger better? How long do your favorite kibble and wet food actually last? There are a few variables to consider for both wet and dry food.
How Long Does Pet Food Stay Fresh?
Lifespan of dog food
It is so tempting to buy your dog's food in bulk, especially if your dog is a big eater. Once opened, dry dog food should be consumed within 6 weeks of breaking the seal. Unopened dry dog food can last upwards of one year and when stored properly will last until the expiration date listed by the manufacturer. Proper storage is in a dry area where the temperature consistently is under 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure not to combine food from an old bag of dog food into a brand new bag. This could possibly taint your pup's food.
Canned dog food, when left in a dry, cool location, can last for upwards of two years in your pantry. Be sure to use them before their "Best By" date, however. Once opened, canned food will remain intact in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Properly store the food in the fridge with plastic wrap or a plastic container and discard after the 5-day period.
Prevent your dog's food from deteriorating through proper storage. Dry food will break down if exposed to air, excess moisture which will cause mold, and high temperatures that will cause the food to become rancid. Dog food bags are designed to keep your dog's food fresh, so be sure to keep the food in its original packaging.
Lifespan of cat food
Your cat's wet and dry food lifespan is, like dog food, dependant on how it is preserved and packaged.
The optimum length of time that a bag of dried cat food will last is approximately 6 months in proper storing conditions.
Your cat is unlikely to finish an entire can of cat food in one sitting. You will most likely need to store the can of food and you should be storing this food in your refrigerator. Any open can should be wrapped within a plastic container or plastic wrap and used within 5-7 days. It is best to not leave wet cat food sitting out longer than 30 minutes. All food left out should be disposed of to prevent your cat/kitten from eating rancid food.
When considering dry food for your cat, remember the amount of food your cat eats daily versus the size of the bag. To reduce waste, consider buying a smaller bag in order to avoid food from expiring or going rancid.
Remember, the 'Use By' or 'Best By' date is a date that refers to sealed bags of food ONLY. Once you have opened the bag, the lifespan for freshness will decrease. Six weeks is considered the standard timeline that you should use an open bag of cat food within before you begin to see a decrease in quality.
How to properly store cat and dog food
The way you store your pet's food is essential to keeping it fresh and keeping your pet healthy.
Here are a few things you should avoid when storing your pet's food:
- Avoid storing your pet's food in an uncontrolled environment, like in your garage.
- Avoid storing the food in an uncontrolled area to prevent any type of bug or rodent infestation.
- Avoid freezing your pet's food-it may change the texture of the food.
- Avoid storing the pet food in any plastic containers because the food may obtain odors and unsavory flavors to the food. Storing food in metal containers is acceptable, but it is always best to keep your pet's food in its original container. This helps to prevent a barrier for fat buildup.
- Avoid keeping dry or wet food in your dog's bowls for extended periods of time. It is recommended that you wash and dry your pet's bowls every day.
- Avoid storing foods above 120 degrees for more than 2 days. This could degrade the quality of the food.
Dry dog and cat food should be stored in a dry, cool environment-ideally a room that is under 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent the food from becoming rancid from oxidation and the breakdown of vitamins.
Wet canned dog and cat food should be stored in a room that is between 50-100 degrees. Refrigerate all open cans of food and use these cans within 5-7 days. Dispose of all food after this time period. Store the canned food in a plastic container or using plastic wrap to create a good barrier from odors and air.
It is always best to refer to "Best By" dates labeled on all cans and bags of food. The shelf life may differ amongst various brands due to the preservatives, ingredients and the way the food was packaged. Foods with artificial preservatives will break down slower than those with natural preservatives. Keep this in mind when you are researching and purchasing products.