It is important to keep your dog well-fed with fresh and nutritious food. But you have to be careful and ensure that their food stays fresh. Dogs don’t have discerning palettes like ours – they can eat a month-old food by the sidewalk and still think that it’s a perfectly acceptable food.
Your pet foods may be nutritious, but you must know how to store it properly so you can maintain its nutritional value. Improperly stored pet food may degrade and turn rancid easily, which can make your pet sick.
Also, know how much your food really needs to eat in one sitting. You can’t always follow the chart stated in the pet food bag, as your pet may need more or less than that depending on their body condition and activity level. In deciding how and where to store your supply of pet food (and of course, how much food to buy in bulk) will depend on how much they can actually eat in three to four weeks.
Here’s a guide on how to store specific types of pet foods:
Dry food storage
Your trusty bag of kibble is easy to store and feed, but like other types of food, it is perishable. Manufacturers of dry pet food spend a lot of money researching on the best ways to store their food and extend shelf life, so storing them in their original bags can keep your food fresh. However, the package must always be tightly resealed after opening. You may roll down the sides and use a bag clip to close up the bag.
If you’re one of the many loving pet parents, perhaps your tendency is to store your dry pet food in an airtight container. This is a good idea, as it can preserve the freshness of the food, and helps keep it safe from insects and rodents. Dry pet food is sprayed with oils that start to break down and go rancid once it’s exposed to air. Better yet, keep pet food within the original bag before placing it in an airtight container. Look for containers with rubber gasket on the lid to keep air and moisture out of the food. Whatever container you put your pet food, always keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
The bags of dry pet food come with a “best by” date that indicates when the dog food remains in its best condition. But once you open the original bag, it’s best to only consume it about 6 weeks after opening for maximum taste and freshness.
The same rules go with treats you buy for your pet. Especially for dogs, a supply of treats must be kept especially when you are training your dog or regularly walking your pet in the park. The more active the dog is, the more it needs food. Many treats come in resealable bags, so it’s best to keep them in their original packaging. This is especially important for soft treats, as these may harden or go stale if exposed to air for a long time.
Since you want to diversify your pet’s food, you can give them canned food as well. A lot of dogs actually prefer canned food because of its moist and meat-filled taste. It’s like giving them a bowl of yummy new stew as their meal.
The good thing about canned pet foods is that they have a long shelf life – they can last for around three to five years if properly stored. Always refer to the “use by” or “best before” dates on the can. Remember, the ingredients and the canning method used can affect how long it can be stored. Always check the dates at the bottom of the can to ensure that the food is fresh and isn’t expired yet.
If the can has dents, swelling, puncture or signs of rust, this can indicate that the food may be spoiled or may contain botulism.
When feeding your pet with canned food, you can’t leave it at room temperature for long time, because once it’s opened, it may spoil after four hours. This is why canned food is good to give to pets as breakfast or dinner, but not as a snack in the middle of the day when you’re not home.
If there are leftovers, you can store the food on a plastic wrap, an air-tight glass container or other sealed food containers. You can keep it in the fridge for about three to five days. If you want to store it much longer, wrap it in single-serving portions or store it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it instead of refrigerating it.
Dehydrated or freeze-dried foods
Most freeze dried or dehydrated goodies rely on natural antioxidants, so they have shorter shelf lives than dry kibble or canned food. Once you open its packaging, you must have it consumed by your pet immediately or eat it within a few weeks. You must keep it away from moisture, so always store it in a cool, dry place so molds and bacteria won’t grow. It will be best to transfer these types of foods in an airtight container placed in a cool, dry place. Dehydrated or freeze-dried foods may last for two to five years, once it’s stored properly.
Sometimes, you want to cook your dog or cat its own dog food like you would cook yummy food for your family. Feed it to your pet while it’s still freshly cooked (but not too hot), or you can store it in the fridge for around four days, or you can freeze it for up to six months in a resealable bag or air-tight, freezer friendly container. As you cook the meat, heat it in an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius to cook the meat completely.
If you made your pet some home-baked cookies or treats, it’s best to store them in your refrigerator in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to extend freshness.
Some pets benefit from a raw food diet, especially dogs and cats. When it comes to raw foods, there are special considerations for storage. These must not be stored for long amounts of time, so make sure that it will be consumed within one to two days of opening or thawing.
When frozen, raw food can stay in a good state for around six months, if it’s stored or sealed properly. Once it’s thawed or opened, it must be consumed within three days. If you plan to buy food in bulk, put them in sealed containers before freezing. It also helps if you label it, because someone in your household might mistake it as human food and cook it.
Raw foods can become quickly rancid when stored at room temperature, so make sure you only serve it to your pet when it’s ready to dig in. Also ensure that your pet eats the entire portion of food you provide him. If your pet can’t consume it all, pick up the leftover immediately and store it in the freezer again.