It's frustrating to research pet foods, find the best one for your pet, purchase it and bring it home, and then find that it goes bad far too soon. Not only is this a waste of your money but it can also threaten your pet's health. Unfortunately, even the best food, if stored incorrectly, can go rancid, develop bacteria or mold, or become infested with insects or rodents. Thankfully, storing the food isn't difficult once you know how.
3 Things that Most Commonly Cause Food Spoilage
The first is air. Exposure to air also means exposure to bacteria. Keep the food storage container closed and as airtight as possible. The second is moisture as too much will lead to mold. Last is the temperature. Don't store pet foods (even unopened bags or cans) in the garage or shed where temperatures can go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most manufacturers recommend storing kibble and canned foods in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry or an inside closet works great.
Keep Kibble Foods in the Bag
Although it may be more convenient to open a bag of kibble and dump it in a metal or plastic trash can for storage, discarding the original bag isn't a good idea. The bags are designed to keep the foods good, without spoilage, for quite a while. (Check the 'sell by' or 'use by' date on the bag.) The original bags also keep the fats in the food from soaking through and thereby turning rancid. Plus, if there's a problem with the food later, you'll want the information that's on the bag, especially the lot number. Once the bag is opened, roll the top to close it, and use a clip or clamp to keep it tight.
Put the Bag in a Can
Although keeping the food in the original bag is important, that doesn't mean you can't place the entire bag in a storage container. For small bags of food, a kitchen canister works great. For larger bags, a plastic or metal trash can is fine. No matter what you use, make sure the lid is replaced tightly after each meal to keep insects and rodents out.
Canned Food Tips
Unopened canned pet foods have a long shelf life. Depending on the ingredients and canning methods, sometimes these foods can be good for five years. It's important to keep an eye on the 'use by' dates, however, so each time you buy more food, move the older cans to the front of the shelf and put the newer ones in the back. Once a can has been opened, you can transfer the unused portion to an airtight storage container and refrigerate the food for up to five days.
Refrigerated Pet Foods
These foods are becoming more popular and can be found in pet stores as well as many grocery stores. Some of the foods are found in rolls, bags, or even small plastic containers. No matter what refrigerated food your pet might like, keep an eye on the dates on the package as all of these foods have a fairly short shelf life. Plus, once the package has been opened, the food needs to be used within five days. Check the package instructions, though, as sometimes excess food can be frozen.
Protect Dehydrated Foods from Moisture
Dehydrated foods, including The Honest Kitchen's dog and cat foods, need to be protected from moisture. Too much moisture before the food is used will lead to the development of mold. The food can remain in the original packaging which is then tightly reclosed after each use or it can be transferred to a canister with an airtight lid.
Raw Food Diets
Commercially prepared raw pet food diets have storage instructions on the packaging which includes how long the product can be frozen or refrigerated. If you're making your own recipes for your pet, there are some generally accepted food handling guidelines. Raw ground meats of all kinds, poultry, and fish can be refrigerated for one to two days. If you won't use the meat in that time period, freeze it. Larger cuts of meat such as roasts, steaks, or chops can be refrigerated for three to five days. Frozen meats, if wrapped well and in an airtight container, are generally good for four to six months.