Did you buy dog food in bulk to save a little money? How long will that dry or wet dog food actually last?

Does Dry Dog Food Go Bad?

It’s nice getting the price break when buying dog foods in larger bags, or even getting some special discount for buying multiple bags at once. But how long is the dog food good for?

Whether it’s wet dog food or dry dog food, they are meant to have a long shelf life, but they also have expiration dates. And those dates are there to protect your dog from eating something harmful. But is there a shelf life difference between opened and unopened packages of dog food?

How Long is Dry Dog Food Good Once it’s Opened?

Like any food, once you open the packaging, the countdown of freshness begins. Some people say that dry dog food should be consumed within 2 weeks of opening it. But PetMD.com says that dry dog food should be eaten within 6 weeks of opening the bag.

Jennifer Coates, DVM says: “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.”

And as far as leaving dry dog food sitting out in a dog bowl—it can be out in the open for a day or so. But PetMD recommends not leaving out more dog food than what should be consumed in a 24-hour period, so that your dog doesn’t end up overeating. Overeating can cause your dog to struggle with obesity, which leads to heart issues, hip and joint issues, and other health problems.

And all dog food should have an expiration date on it—so be sure to use the dog food before that date.

Dog food

How Long Can You Keep Unopened Dog Food?

Rover.com says that “pet food manufacturers establish expiration or ‘best by’ dates to ensure the safety of your dog. In general, unopened dry pet foods have a shelf life of 12-18 months, while unopened canned foods are good for two years from the date of manufacture.”

And companies like Pedigree agree, saying that “unopened bags of PEDIGREE® dry dog food have a one-year shelf life, while unopened cans and pouches of our wet dog food are good for two years from the day we make them.”

Remember to store the food in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Heat could cause moisture and mold. And leaving the food opened, or even on the floor could attract pests to come snack on your dog’s food—contaminating it.

Can You Freeze Wet or Dry Dog Foods?

Pedigree also warns against freezing dog food: “Unfortunately, freezing dry dog food and then thawing can cause mold to develop. DON’T freeze wet dog food because it changes the taste and texture of the food and can reduce its nutritional value.”

So let’s just plan on using up the dog food before its expiration date. It’s better to keep your pup healthy and safe than to worry about saving a few bucks.

Signs of Bad Dog Food

If your dog won’t eat their dog food after smelling it, or begins to eat it and stops, that’s a good sign that something is wrong. Here are some other helpful signs that their dog food may have gone bad:

  • The dog food smells sour or rancid.
  • The dog food has been subject to high heat or humidity.
  • The dry dog food is moist or moldy.
  • The dog food is past its “best by” date.
  • The dog food has bugs in it, or signs of other pests eating from it.
  • Your dog seems sick or uncomfortable after eating the dog food.
  • Your dog has any changes in their stool after eating it.
dog food

What to Do with Expired Dog Food?

I’m sorry to say, it’s time to throw it out! I’m as much of a “penny pincher” as anyone. And I hate to waste too. But it’s not worth making your dog sick and risking their health just to save a couple bags of dog food.

Remember—if something goes wrong from them eating rancid, expired, or contaminated food… I assure you that your vet bill will cost a lot more than one or two bags of dog food.

Keep Your Dog’s Food Fresh

It will save you and your dog a lot of headache to keep their dog food fresh from the start. Make sure to only open one package at a time, using it within 6 weeks of opening. Maybe you have a small dog, and they can’t eat such a large bag in that timeframe. And try not to be too tempted by all of the bulk deals you can find. Instead, think through how much dog food your pup eats in a year. And don’t keep any more on hand than that amount.

Remember to always keep your dog food sealed tight in a cool, dry place. It’s better to keep your furbabies safe and healthy upfront, rather than having to deal with unfortunate consequences later on.

For more articles about helpful pet parenting tips, breed mixes, and fun dog-friendly activities, check out the Blog at TryFi.com.