How To Safely Store Your Dog’s Food

Most dog owners feed either dry or canned food or a combination of both. It’s important to keep your dog’s food supply as fresh as possible and to keep it away from any pests that might get into the food such as insects. 

Because big bags of dry dog food and multiple cans of wet food take up a lot of space, so many dog owners are tempted, and understandably so, to store that food in their garages. But garages are what are known as “uncontrolled environments” as in general, the temperature in a garage is not regulated and can easily go from very hot to very cold in a very short time. The same is true of course of an outdoor shed, barn or other outbuilding.

For dry dog food, you want to store the food in a dry, cool environment, ideally under 100 degrees F. This temperature ceiling is to prevent oxidation of the fats in the food, which can lead to rancidity and also to prevent the destruction of vitamins.

With canned food, you want to store the cans at a temperature between 50 and 100 degrees F. Avoid freezing the cans as this can adversely affect both the taste as well as the texture of the food.

What about storage containers for dry food? Many dog owners like to cut open the bag and dump the dry food into some sort of container, maybe a plastic garbage can, plastic pail or even plastic bags or garbage bags.

In general, dry dog food should not be stored in plastic containers, as the plastic can adversely affect the taste as well as the smell of the food. If you are going to use a container, a clean metal one is preferable. Plus, keep the dog food in the original dog food bag and just place the entire bag into the container. These bags are especially made to keep the food fresh and the interior of the bag is coated so as not to allow the fat in the food to seep through the bag and become rancid.

For open cans of wet dog food that is leftover, these should always be stored in your fridge. Use a plastic dog food lid that is made to fit the top of the can and make sure it is on snugly to prevent escaping odors and to keep the food from being exposed to the air. If you don’t have a plastic lid, plastic wrap can serve as well.

Sometimes your dog may not finish all the food in her bowl, whether that food is dry or wet. For dry food, you can leave it in the bowl indefinitely until your dog finishes it as long as the bowl is in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. We recommend that you empty and clean your dog’s bowl once daily.

For wet food, if your dog has not eaten the food after four hours, it should be thrown out. Any cans that are open that are stored in your fridge should not be kept for more than five to seven days, after which time they should be discarded.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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