Does Dog Food Go Stale?

by Susan Revermann Google
    Open air is not a friend to any dog food.

    Open air is not a friend to any dog food.

    Jupiterimages/ Images

    It's easy to think Fido's dry dog food doesn't deteriorate, but freshness is just as vital as it is for any human food, and for the same reasons. To keep your best buddy healthy, store his food properly and use it up within six weeks after opening.

    Shelf Life

    Your alarm system as your dog's guardian may have been lulled by the “use by” date on the dry dog food package. This date applies only if the bag is unopened. It's good to look for it, and then make sure you're buying the freshest dry dog food possible. Once you open the bag, a different timer starts. You should use that food within 6 weeks of opening the bag, and it's better to use it up far sooner.


    The nutrients in the dog food start to deteriorate far more quickly once you open the bag. It's a lot like opening a fresh loaf of bread. You don't leave it standing open to the air after you remove a slice, you close it back up as tightly as possible. Some factors that reduce the nutrient content and shelf life of either the bread or your pal's dry dog food are air, moisture and light. All foods are subject to breakdown processes that cause them to go rancid, stale and moldy. Improperly protected, they lose nutritional value rather quickly. If your buddy constantly eats such deteriorated food, the lack of proper nutrition will drag down his health, vitality and overall feeling of well-being. Eventually, he will become sick.


    Keep your trusting buddy's dog food in its regular packaging, and place that bag inside an airtight container. Keep the bin in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry. Glass, stainless steel or opaque plastic bins are best. Clear plastic bins let light in, and that affects the food's quality. Pouring dry dog food directly into a plastic bin for storage can lead to contamination of the fresh food by residual oils from past bags of food, and it may also cause bacterial growth or mold, which will ruin your fresh dog food in a hurry.

    Other Tips

    Always get rid of spoiled food, smelly food or food that you think has gone bad. You don’t want to risk your best buddy’s health just to save a few dollars. If you open a bag and the dog food inside doesn't look normal or it smells stale or rancid, return it to the store or throw it away. Regularly wash the storage bin with hot, soapy water, rinse it thoroughly, and make sure it is thoroughly dry before you put a new bag of food in it. Buy smaller bags of dog food if you’re having a problem using up a full bag before six weeks has elapsed. Keeping the original bag comes in handy if the dog food is recalled, because the bar code, batch code and expiration date all are on the bag.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images

    About the Author

    Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.

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