House Calls 4 Pet Sitting

What is happening to your dry pet food?

Pet Food Storage

How to store pet food

Shelf life of dry pet food storage varies!

You love and care about your pet as if they were your children. For many people, pets are like children and they deserve the care and attention that we give to our own foods. As with the foods we eat, the shelf life of dry pet food varies as does the storage needs and environmental requirements for safe storage.

As a pet sitter, I find that many customer pour the food from the original bag and place it in an air tight container to keep the pet food fresh.  Few know the ideal method is to place the pet food in the original packaging inside the air tight container.  I know my clients love their pets, otherwise the would not hire me.  So let’s explore what is happening to your dry pet food.

How you handle food once you have it at home can make a big difference in how long it remains fresh and maintains its ideal nutritional profile. Exposure to air, light, hot temperatures and humidity speeds up the rate at which foods degrade. To limit these effects, keep dry foods in their original packaging. High-quality dog food bags have been designed to keep out the elements. Open the bag carefully so you can roll and hold the top closed with a clip or otherwise reseal the package in between uses. Dr. Jennifer Coates

  • Do you store your pet food in the garage? 
  • What happens to your pet food when the temperature in your garage goes above below 75-80 degrees F?
  • How You Store Dry Dog Food Will Affect Your Dog’s Health.

Keeping an open bag of dry dog food for weeks in your kitchen or garage will cause changes in the food that may lead to serious health problems. Learn how to properly store dry dog foods to help your dogs and cats live longer. Natural Paw

Dry pet food and treats will generally remain at the peak of their nutrition and quality anywhere from a few months to a few years. This time frame depends on the preservatives used, the packaging quality and materials, and pet food storage conditions.

The shelf life of most canned pet food is a different story entirely. Canned food will maintain its peak nutritional values for two to five years from the date of canning. The process used to can pet food uses extreme heat, thus making the food sterile. So the theory is as long as the cans remained undamaged and are not exposed to heat above 75 degrees F for an extended period of time, it can retain safety and nutritional values for extended periods of time.

All forms of pet foods, regardless of how they are made, packaged, preserved, and stored, are affected by various environmental factors, temperature and light being two of the most critical. As a proud and concerned pet owner, you will also want to watch out for damaged and torn bags and dented, bulging, leaking or rusting cans of pet food. Remember that your pet’s safety is in your hand, so be smart when buying food and feeding your pets.

Here are some easy to remember and follow Do’s and Don’ts

of pet food care, handling, and storage that can make your life easier.


·         Use up dry pet food within a month or less of opening the bag.

·         Throw away any food that is left after a month.

·         Keep the bag for bar code and product information in case you need to refer to it later.

·         The best way to store food is in the original bag, sealed inside an air-tight container.

·         Store the food in a cool and dry place below 75-80 degrees F.

·         If you cannot store all the food in your bin, pull some out in freezer bags and store them in the freezer to take out and thaw for later use.

·         Always check the food before feeding to make sure nothing spoiled or different from the last bag you bought.

·         Remember that while canned food has a long shelf life before opening, most canned food can be refrigerated safely for up to 3 days.



·         Do not leave dry pet food bags open and exposed to air.

·         Do not store the food in the sunlight as this can speed up the decaying process and kill vitamins and nutrients in the food.

·         Do not let the food get wet and if it does become wet, throw it away, do not try to salvage it.

·         Do not use food past expiration dates even if it is still unopened.

·         Do not throw the bag away so you have access to the manufacturer’s information in case there is a problem.

·         Do not poor new food into the same container as old food unless you add the old food to the top of the bin so it gets used first.

·         Do not accidentally let your pet get into the bin and binge eat, as this can lead to painful and deadly bloat.


You love your pet and want what is best for them, feline and canine alike. Knowing how to properly store and handle their food is one of the best and easiest things you can do to keep the safe, happy, and healthy.

Another resource:

Pet Food and Treats Storage


FYI:Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat. Learn more:  For Tips on keeping things cool for your pets this summer Click here!

Please leave a comment and share.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you so much,

By: Debbie June Rickman Laughlin





Post Comments

Hi Debbie
Discussing dry dog food storage methods , freshness and its ideal nutritional profile makes an impression that you are promoting “recycled food” as the healthy dog food.
Being the victim of infamous 2007 Menu Foods recall I beg to differ! Canned and dry so called dog “food” is a poison not food!
Using the words “dry dog food”, “canned dog food” and “nutritional” in the same sentence will not provide you with the credentials you would appreciate…
Peter Pfisterer
TopDogDinners, Inc president

Peter on June 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Hi Peter, Thank you for sharing your feeling about the contents of canned and dry pet food. This blog post is about sharing good to know information provided by pet professionals with credentials on storage of commercially purchased pet food. If you would like to write an article with supporting facts about what is really in dry and canned pet food for review it could be a great follow up article, with you as a guest writer! Change happens slowly and sometimes best in small bites. Regards, Debbie

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on June 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hi Debbie
Thank you very much for the invite…but I still am and probably will be forever very emotional in regards to quality of commercial , mass produced “dog food”, so it would be difficult for me to maintain professionalism while writing.
It was said enough about the dry and canned “food”…now is the time for the dog owners to decide what is the right way to do: take risks with their best friends’ life and health or follow the common sense and nature.

Peter on June 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Hi Peter,
I feel people connect when reading a blog post that is clearly heart felt and informative information. If you ever want to share your knowledge here I would love to pass your message along to all and gain more knowledge myself. Take Care, Debbie

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on June 26, 2013 at 7:43 am

I would rather write what is good about fresh, natural food than what is bad about dry and canned recycled “food”.
Thanks again for the invitation !

Peter on June 28, 2013 at 3:21 am

Hi Peter,
That would be a great article. I have added your link to the Pet Yellow Pages.
Take Care,

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on July 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Debbie, I love your professional method of responding to people who leave comments on your blog.
Keep up the great work.

Beth Harwell on July 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Thank you Beth!

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on July 12, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know
such detailed about my difficulty. You’re incredible! Thanks!

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quest bars on February 17, 2016 at 8:17 am

This post is priceless. Where can I find out more?

quest bars on February 17, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Most of us have no idea what is happening to our pets food when removed from original bag and put into a plastic container… I am glad you found it useful.

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on February 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

Thanks for sharing the do’s and dont’s. Storing my pet food is not a big deal for me, yet this blog gives me knowledge how to properly store my pet food to keep it safe and healthy for my friend.

JOhn on January 8, 2017 at 4:30 pm

You are very welcome John.

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on January 8, 2017 at 11:37 pm

Hi, I left a bag of dry kibble in the car overnight and it is 20 degrees F. I’m worried that there will be condensation when I bring it inside and it thaws out.I know it can’t get too hot, but what about when an unopened bag gets too cold? Should I open it right away to release moisture?

Helen on January 31, 2017 at 1:17 am

Hi Helen,
The manufacturer packaging is specific to their kibble. This will be something that could be addressed with the manufacturer of your pet food to know if this is an issue.
Good Luck,

Debbie June Rickman Laughlin on January 31, 2017 at 10:47 am

Hi Debbie,

Not sure if you’re still reading these but need your help!
I switched Esko from Blue Bison Wilderness to Taste of the Wild. At first, he seemed to really like TOTW. However, I didn’t realize that I should have kept the dry food sealed – it’s been in it’s original packaging but I haven’t sealed it with anything. It’s been roughly 3 weeks since I’ve purchase the 30lb bag..

He’s at 4 months old and the recommended serving is 3-4cuos for a pup his size.. so there’s still a lot of food left in the bag! It would be sad to see it wasted.

Could he have lost his appetite for the food since it was exposed to air? Does that mean I should switch from TOTW altogether and try something else?

What’s worth noting: he does eat it if I put a bit of water and shake the dry food in the water. Let me know what you think.

I just wish the original packaging came resealable like a ziplock bag!

Rizky on May 27, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Comments are closed
Thank you Lisa and Lu !!!

We moved to a new house so we lost our precious friend who babysitted our boy for 8 years. It was hard to even think about any vacation because it meant we had to find the best babysitter for Leonardo. My friend highly recommended Lisa Burks and her company House Calls 4 Pet.  Just talking to Lisa first... More

Thank you Yuliana, for taking the time to share your experience with the care of your special boy while you were away!

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