How to Store Dog and Cat Food
Written by: Callie Swenson
We all know where to buy dog/cat food and how to feed our pets, but something that may not come to mind is proper storage practices to keep pet food as fresh as possible. With the different types of pet food come certain ways of storing it, with some similarities among them. What all types of food storage have in common is that they should not be exposed to open air. Keeping foods sealed air-tight help them stay fresh until you can go through it all.
Dry food (kibble)
The most convenient and sanitary way of storing kibble is keeping it in the bag you buy it in. Kibble should be used within 3-4 weeks, so proper storage is important. A lot of people put the bag of food in a storage container with a lid to achieve that air-tight seal to hold in freshness. Some buy clear plastic totes from the store, others buy large tins made specifically for storing dog food. While pouring the kibble out of the bag into a container is not a bad thing to do, one thing people tend to forget about is the fact that a lot of foods are oily or greasy, even if only slightly.
The oils from the kibble pieces come in contact with the sides of the container, and they will stay there until they are cleaned off with a degreasing soap and warm water. If people are not cleaning the container out in between each new bag of food, the oils just layer on top of each other and eventually, they go bad. So if you are an individual who keeps your dry pet food directly in a container, be sure to clean the container with soap and water frequently, after each bag would be best and the most sanitary. More reasons to keep kibble in the bag are just in case you may need to return the bag of food, we can easily do that rather than trying to track down which food you purchased; and (we hope this never happens) in case of a recall on the food, the company can track the food based on information on the bag to see if the food you purchased may be affected.
What we recommend is that customers keep their pets’ kibble in the bag it is purchased in, and then put that bag in a container with a lid. That way, pet food is still contained neatly in a container, keeping it safe from prying pets, and it is kept away from contact with the open air. If you keep food in a clear container, make sure it is kept out of direct sunlight in a room temperature, dry environment.
Unopened cans should be stored in a dry, room temperature environment out of direct sunlight. Once cans are opened, they need to be refrigerated and sealed with an airtight can lid cover. It is best to keep the canned food in the can it was purchased in. You certainly could take the food out of the can and put it in a pet-only container, but personally, that’s just another dish for me to wash, so I keep the food in the cans. Refrigerated, open cans stay fresh for up to 3 days, and any unused product should be disposed of after 3 days.
A lot of the freeze-dried foods that we sell come in bags that are resealable, which takes a lot of the work away from pet owners. We recommend keeping freeze-dried food in a dry, room temperature environment in the sealed bag it comes in. If the bag is not resealable, close the bag as best as you can and put it in an airtight container with a lid. When stored properly, freeze-dried foods stay fresh for about 14-24 days.
With freeze-dried food, it is important to only make the amount of food needed for one meal at a time. Freeze-dried food is still raw, and once it is rehydrated, it does not keep well for very long. If you make your pet’s meal and they do not finish it all, it is acceptable to store the leftovers in a container with a lid - that is not used for human food - for up to 24 hours after the food is made. I do not recommend keeping it longer than that; while our pets’ stomachs are very hardy against bacteria that may be in their raw foods, there is a limit to how much their stomachs can take.
Frozen raw food
Frozen raw food needs to be kept in the freezer until it is time to thaw it out for a meal. A lot of frozen foods do come in resealable bags, but to thaw it out, the food needs to be placed in a container with a lid that is only used for pets. Some foods do not come in resealable bags, they may come in 2-5lb chubs of meat. In that case, many people portion out the food for each meal and keep them in the freezer in pet-only containers, then move the container over to the refrigerator when it is time to thaw the meat.
It is important to keep frozen raw food stored in containers that are only used for pets. Even though frozen raw foods are processed in a way that helps keep bacteria from growing, there is the most miniscule possibility that some bacteria could be present - but don’t fret. Our pets have very acidic stomachs that are capable of killing bad bacteria. The only animals at risk of getting sick from feeding pets a raw frozen diet are humans! Our stomachs are not nearly as acidic, so we are more susceptible to get sick from the food than our pets.
While that may strike some nerves, I am here to assure you that if proper cleaning techniques are applied, there is nothing to worry about. Simply clean out each container with hot water and soap after each use, as well as their food bowl after each meal. I do use a different sponge to clean my pets’ bowls and food containers, and I sanitize the sink and kitchen counters after each meal, in addition to washing my hands after coming in contact with the meat. While it may take up some extra time in comparison to feeding kibble, freeze-dried, or canned food, the benefits for your pet are well worth the time!
Some health benefits of raw feeding include:
Healthier skin, shiny coat
Less itching and scratching
Less excrement, normally gets smaller in size
Happier pup, more energy!
Can help with weight loss
Storing your pets’ food properly is important in maintaining the freshness of the food for as long as possible so you can use it all before it starts to go bad. Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list of great ways to store pet food, but this is a good place to start. Finding a method that suits your lifestyle that also benefits the freshness of your pets’ food will be worth it and easy to keep up with once it becomes a habit.