Pest contamination, food poisoning, upset stomachs, and even altered taste and texture can all be a result of how you store your pet's food. With the rising temperatures and humidity of summer, these risks can increase. Commit to following these tips for proper pet food storage and you can ensure you've done what you can for your pet's food safety.
At the Store
1. Check Expiry
Always check your pet food bag’s expiry before buying and feeding to your pet. Many natural brands in particular have shorter shelf lives, so make sure your pet can eat all of the food before the best before date. Food can be good after the expiry date, but pet owners should use their own discretion. If you’re in doubt, choose a smaller bag or freeze a portion of it to extend freshness.
2. Check the Packaging
Before you buy any pet food, make sure the packaging is in good condition, with no rips or tears. Avoid packages that have been repaired or resealed with tape. You never know how long they were open for.
3. Keep It Cool
Store pet food in a cool, dry place under 26 degrees Celsius. Avoid humid conditions that pests and mould thrive in.
Always store pet food in an airtight container, with as little air in it as possible for a fresh taste.
5. In the Bag
Pet food is best stored in the original bag, folded or clipped for freshness, and kept inside an airtight container.
6. Go For Glass
Metal or glass containers are better than plastic when it comes to storing cat or dog food. Plastic containers and bags can impart undesirable flavours or smells to the food.
7. A Little At A Time
For a fresh taste and to prevent food contamination, only keep what your pet can eat in 3 – 4 weeks in the container, less in the heat of summer or in humid conditions.
8. Freeze It
Store excess pet food in a chest freezer for up to 6 months. Make sure you double wrap it – you don’t want your freezer food tasting like pet food, or vice versa.
9. Keep It Up
To reduce the likelihood of pest infestation, store your pet food off of the floor.
10. Portion Feed
Portion feed your pet. You’ll have better control over how much your dog or cat consumes and encourage healthy eating behaviours. It can also prevent contamination of your pet’s food with pests.
11. Keep the Bag
If you’re not storing food in the original container your pet food came in, keep it on hand. That way you will be able to know whether your particular food has been in a recall, or you can relay important identification information to the pet store and manufacturer if something goes wrong.
12. Don't Leave Canned Out
Don’t leave wet (or canned) food in your pet’s dish for longer than 4 hours. Throw away anything your pet hasn’t eaten and wash the dish with soap and water before reusing.
13. In the Fridge
Wet or canned food can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Plastic wrap covering a can also works.
14. Don't Mix Dry with Water
It’s recommended not to mix water in with your pet’s dry food, but you may have good reason to – for example, young puppies or kittens, pets with dental issues, or other medical conditions. If you must mix water in with your pet’s food, discard it and wash the dishes after 30 minutes.
15. Don't Freeze Canned
Don’t freeze canned cat or dog food. Freezing can change the food’s taste and texture.
16. Wash Your Hands
Always wash your hands before and after handling pet food. This prevents contamination both ways.
17. Wash Pet Dishes
Wash your pet’s food dishes with warm, soapy water after every use for your pet’s safety.
18. Replace Water Daily
Your pet’s water should be replaced at least once daily, but check more often in the summer to ensure your pet always has plenty of cool, clean water to keep hydrated.
19. Clean Out Completely
Clean out your dog or cat’s food container every time you refill it with warm, soapy water. Since pet foods contain oils, a rinse is not enough.
20. Scoop It
Use a specific measuring cup or scoop to get out your pet’s food, not the dish itself, which could contaminate the bag of food. Wash it with soap and water after each use.
21. Do Not Mix
Don’t mix bags of food together. There’s no way to know how long some of the food has been in your pet’s food container. Instead, wait for a bag to be completely empty, then wash out the container and start with the new bag.
22. Dry Well
After washing pet food containers and food dishes, always dry completely. Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria.
23. Food Before Fun
Make sure your pet is well fed before venturing outdoors. There are so many temptations for pets, particularly unsupervised ones, including: garbage, prey, poisonous plants or chemicals, and more. All of these things could make your pet sick should they ingest them. A well-fed pet is less likely to scavenge.
Keep your pet supervised while outside. You never know what they could be getting into while unattended. Upset stomachs and food poisoning are just some of the troubles that could afflict your wandering pet.
25. Keep Safe
Make sure your pet doesn’t have access to any of your food prep areas, household garbage or compost, and clean up any spills quickly to prevent him from ingesting anything that could make him sick.
Sources and More Information
- FDA Safe Handling TIps For Pet Food and Treats
- Pet MD: Pet Food Storage Tips To Keep Dogs Safe
- Hill's Pet: Storage Tips for Your Cat and Dog Food