There are many different ways to store a dog’s food from plastic containers, reused bags, dispensers, drawers conveniently built in to the dog’s bowl stand, and more. But what is the best way to store a dog’s dry food? Is it better to go for ease of access for the owners, difficulty of access for the animals, or something different that isn’t usually on an owner’s mind?
Nutrition is important for all animals, but because most owners feed their dogs kibble (hard foods), the issue of storage and shelf life is worth thinking about. There are seamlessly endless arrays of pet food containers that are cute and convenient, but the best way to contain kibble is actually in the bag it comes in, in a cool place away from a pet’s easy reach. Environmental elements like light, air exposure, humidity, and moisture all speed the degradation of food, which lessens its nutritional value. Most pet food bag are specifically designed to keep these elements from the food and is thus the best way to store the food. Even putting the bag into a plastic, metal, or glass container is better than pouring the kibble into it.
However, bags do get ripped or are just plain inconvenient. If an owner insists on special containers for their pets’ dry food, it is best to go with metal, as plastic can begin to dissolve after long periods of time in contact with the fats in the food. It is also best to use an airtight container, kept in a cool place away from the cat or dog’s reach. The container must be washed every time it is empty with some warm water and a very small amount of dish soap. This is because the fats in the kibble will go rancid. Refilling the container without rinsing only puts rancid fats in contact with fresh food. This can causes everything from digestive upset, diarrhea, vomiting, or gas.
Kibble can be eaten for up to six weeks once the bag is opened. Any longer than that, and the food will begin to spoil and the pet will not be getting adequate nutrition. Unopened canned foods can be stored for years in cool, dry places, but must be used before their ‘best by’ dates. Opened cans can last up to seven days when refrigerated or individual serving sizes can be frozen and thawed for later use. An open can left on the counter can only last up to four hours (which is also a good time frame to pick up any of your pets’ uneaten food if it contains canned or raw food).
Buying the best food for pets can get very expensive. It is much easier and much cheaper to store said food correctly, buy the right sized bags of kibble (sometimes it is not the largest bag, especially if it cannot be finished within six weeks), than to have a pet’s health inadvertently jeopardized by a well meaning but unknowing owner.