You spend a lot of time and money choosing just the right food for your dog. You consider the nutrients, the calories, the artificial fillers, and you work hard to make sure that your dog is eating something healthy and formulated just for them. But did you know that even high-quality dog food can become unhealthy once you bring it home? If you aren’t storing dog food correctly, and avoiding these dog food storage mistakes, that pricey dog food could be infected with bacteria, infested by pests, or contaminated by other harmful things.
Mistake #1: Taking dog food out of the bag.
Many dog owners pour all their dog food into a storage container to make it easier to serve and store. While this is a great way to keep pests like insects and rodents out of dog food, there’s one problem with this method. Dog food bags are designed with a fat barrier on the inside of the bag, which helps the food retain flavor and stay fresher. The best way to handle this is to put the dog food bag itself inside the storage container to get the best of both worlds.
Mistake #2: Keeping food in a hot garage or a humid basement.
If you keep your dog’s food anywhere with high temperatures or very humid atmospheres, like a laundry room, a basement, a garage, or on the back deck, you could be feeding your dog something worse than low-quality food. Humidity and heat can make dog food lose vitamins and nutrients, and can also make the food go rancid. If dog food gets wet from humidity or weather, it can become unsafe to eat. Keep dog food in dry areas that aren’t too hot for safety.
Mistake #3: Not checking expiration dates.
When was the last time you looked at the expiration date on your dog’s food? If you feed your dog dry kibble, the expiration date is likely to be pretty far into the future. But if you feed him canned food, the expiration date may be much sooner than you think. Feeding your dog expired food can be useless at best, and unsafe at worst. Be sure you are checking that food is going to be within the safe “use by” date when stocking up on bulk or sale items.
Mistake #4: Leaving dog food unsealed.
Unsealed bags is the number one mistake that leads to insects, rodents, and bacteria getting in your dog’s food. Dog food can quickly develop contaminations like salmonella when left open to the air, due to having animal protein ingredients. If rodents get into the food and leave droppings, those could make your dog sick or even transfer illnesses. Finally, dog food that is unopened could be too much of a temptation for a dog that likes to over-eat, leading to obesity and other health issues If you keep dog food in the bag and not in a plastic container, be sure to fold over the top and clip it shut after every use. And if you do allow your older children to feed the dogs, be sure they understand how important it is to seal the bag or container after every feeding.
Mistake #5: Letting small children handle the dog food.
Children may not seem like a storage issue at first, but it is related. When small children are entrusted to get into the dog food bag, they could be leaving behind germs and bacteria that infect the entire bag or container of food. Small kids aren’t that great at personal hygiene, and it’s too easy for them to stick a dirty hand into the dog food bag when feeding the dog. They are also more likely to mismeasure the food and forget to re-seal the container when they are through. Be sure to supervise a young child that is feeding a dog.
Mistake #6: Letting dog food sit out in the bowl all day.
Do you have a habit of feeding your dog in the morning, and then coming home to see food still in the bowl? Does your dog tend to wait until the last second to eat (maybe in hopes of getting some treats instead)? If so, your dog food could be unsafe to eat by the time your dog gets to it. Most dry kibble can handle being left out all day, but wet food shouldn’t be left out more than two to four hours. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for all types of food, even dry kibble. Give your dog a time limit to eat in every day, and pick food up after this time has passed. If your dog isn’t eating during this time, adjust what time you are feeding them to a time when they are most often seen eating.
Mistake #7: Not cleaning food bowls and storage containers regularly.
Did you know that the FDA recommends washing your dog’s food bowl after every single use? Or that you should wash the dog food container you use between every bag? This practice helps stop bacteria from spreading between bags and meals. Cleaning is the best way to prevent things like listeria or salmonella from developing in your dog’s food. Be sure that containers are completely dry before adding any more food to them as well.
These seven mistakes are easily made in our busy daily lives. Being careful with your dog’s food safety as you are on your own, will help your dog's nutrition. If you’ve put the effort and money into buying excellent quality dog food for your dog, you wouldn’t want to waste it by not following proper storage practices as well. Next time you get your dog a new bag or tin of food, be sure to consider how you are going to store it for the freshest and safest way to feed your pup.
Ash Babariya is the co-creator of Simply for Dogs and a life-long dog lover. Ash’s many adventures at the local dog park with her Boxers, Janice and Leroy, have turned her into the local “crazy dog lady.” She shares those adventures, as well as her research
into the world of dogs, around the web to promote well-informed pet owning. Ash, Janice, and Leroy share a home in the Midwest with a brood of hens, all sorts of wild critters, and the occasional litter of puppies.