Feeding your guide, hearing, or service dog high-quality pet food is essential to keeping her happy and healthy, to maximizing her lifespan, and to keeping her in good shape to perform her important tasks. Dog food can be a significant expense, though, especially with extra-hungry hard-working assistance dogs and larger breeds—and when you’re investing in above-average quality products.
So obviously you don’t want to waste any food because it goes bad before you use it up. Dry and wet dog food is highly susceptible to spoilage when it’s exposed to air, moisture, or heat (with light, insects, and rodents being other significant environmental threats). Properly storing your assistance dog’s food is the key to protecting it from bacteria, mold, nutritional degradation, off odors or tastes, and other problems.
Use the following tips for storing dog food to help keep your purchases fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
Dog Food Storage Tips
- Always check the “best by,” “best before,” or “use by” date on dog food when you buy it to be sure you can use it up while it’s at peak freshness and maximum nutritional value
- Purchase dog food with the farthest “best by” date
- Check kibble bags for tears or holes; don’t buy cans that are bulging, leaking, or significant dented
- Remember to put newer packages of dog food behind older ones so you use them up in the right order
- Store dog food in a cool, dry location; don’t keep it in your garage or other location without temperature control
- Don’t combine the end of one bag of food with the contents of a new bag
- Kibble should be used within six weeks of opening the bag; choose your package size accordingly
- Unopened canned wet food can stay good for years, but unused portions need to be refrigerated after opening; these leftovers should be used within five days
- Refrigerate canned food in an airtight storage container
- If you won’t use all of a can’s contents within five days, divvy the remainder up into individual portions and freeze them in an airtight freezer bag or container
- Keep dry food in its original packaging, which is designed to protect it from air, moisture, light, and heat—the elements that accelerate spoilage—and to prevent its oils from turning rancid
- Reseal kibble’s packaging thoroughly; store the package in another larger plastic, glass, or metal container for extra protection to keep it fresher for longer (and to keep insects out)
- Only serve as much dry dog food as your assistance dog will eat within about 24 hours; only put out as much wet dog food as she’ll eat within about 4 hours
- Clean dry food dog bowls at least once a week with hot water and soap; throw out uneaten wet food after 4 hours and wash the dishes after each use; don’t forget to wash the water bowl and put out fresh water daily too