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How to keep pet food fresh

Plenty of research and care goes into finding the right food for your pet, which is why it’s just as important to make sure that food stays fresh and lasts as long as possible. Just like human food, you should properly store meals for furry friends to not only maximize longevity but ensure that it is still the tasty, nutrient-rich formula they deserve.

Particularly in summer, when the weather may grow hot and humid, it’s essential to store food safely. While this guide regularly references dog food, the same rules and recommendations apply to any dry or wet cat food, too. Proper storage will save both money and energy, and most importantly, preserve your pet’s healthy and happy lifestyle.

Dry food

How to store dry pet food

Many dog owners prefer to feed their pets dry food, often referred to as kibble. It has a longer shelf life than wet food, tends to be cheaper and can help keep teeth clean. It also makes less of a mess than wet food when it comes to serving and cleaning.

Dry food allows pet owners to buy in bulk and save money by opting for larger bags they know their pets will enjoy. However, finding the most cost-effective option also means keeping preservation in mind.

You should store dry food in a cool, dry place. Humidity, high temperatures and sunlight, especially present during the summer months, can adversely affect the food. Moisture, in particular, can quickly ruin the food.

airtight seal

Seek out appropriately-sized food storage containers with an airtight seal; exposure to the air will accelerate the food’s breakdown. Avoid cheaper plastic models, as these can wear out over time and potentially leech bits of plastic into the food. We also like metal options with an airtight seal.

Containers are best stored in cabinets or pantries. Basements may suffice depending on how exposed they may be to condensation and heat changes. If you have an unfinished basement that may grow humid in the summer and potentially attract pests, avoid storing dry food there.

Tips on storing dry pet food

  • Find a high spot. Avoid storing bags or containers on the ground. Opened containers of food will attract rodents and pests. What’s more, any accidental spills or leaks may seep into the bag.
  • Keep food in the bag. For best storage results, food should remain in the bag, and you should place the bag in a container. Oils from kibble may transfer over to plastic within a container, damaging the food’s composition. If you can’t fit the bag in a container, move only a little bit of food over at a time, enough to feed your pet across a week before resupplying the container.
  • Note food facts. If you’re emptying the bag, or even keeping it out of sight, jot down or photograph noteworthy facts about the food. That includes ingredients, best by date and feeding guide. You may want to save the barcode as well.

Wet food

How to store wet pet food

Some pet owners prefer wet food, or rather, pets may prefer it. As wet food is more aromatic, it can entice pickier eaters. It also helps pets that have issues with teeth or gums, as well as furry friends that don’t drink and hydrate enough.

While serving wet food may be a bit messier than dry, the storage is simple. Wet food comes in sealed cans, and unopened canned food can last for months, even years. Once opened, the longevity significantly decreases. It will be suitable for three to five days, although most pets will go through a can within that time with a regular feeding schedule.

After opening, keep canned food refrigerated with a sealed lid to avoid exposure to air. Tightly wrapped foil may suffice in place of a fitted lid. Do not put the opened wet food container back in a pantry.

Tips for storing wet pet food                   

  • No leftovers. Your pet must eat wet food fairly quickly. After a few hours sitting in a bowl, the food can sour and waft an undesirable aroma into your space. Throw away wet food that’s been left out for more than four hours.
  • Avoid plastic. If moving wet food to a separate container for storage in the fridge, avoid those made of plastic. It can contaminate the food or disturb the smell and taste. Glass containers are better for wet food.
  • Don’t freeze. Canned wet food should not be kept in the freezer. This will alter the taste, texture and moisture content.

Fresh and raw food

Some pet owners may research that raw food is best for their pets. Store raw food the same way you’d store for yourself. Meat should be kept frozen and in a sealed container or bag.

You can keep some raw food in the fridge temporarily, but it should not exceed 40 degrees. Exercise extra caution for fridge storage and ensure the container is sealed: any leaks can contaminate other items within the fridge. It’s best to store raw food on the lowest level or any contained shelf.

Wash your hands thoroughly before and after serving raw food, as well as the counter spaces and utensils used to serve it.

General tips for pet food storage

 Stainless steel food bowls

  • Maintain cleanliness. Pet food bowls should be thoroughly washed and dried after each meal to avoid bacteria growth. Stainless steel food bowls are durable and easy to wash. Remember, wash your hands before and after handling pet food.
  • Provide fresh water. Your pet should always have access to clean and cold water, especially around mealtime and during the summer when the temperature rises.
  • Don’t mix foods. Avoid adding new food to old when storing. The proper transition for dry food involves slow integration over a week or so to ease digestion.

What you need to buy for storing pet food in the summer

gamma2 vittles vault

Gamma2 Vittles Vault Stackable Pet Food Storage

A large, heavy-duty food storage container that seals in air and freshness. Allows for easy access and placement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Ethical Pet

Ethical Pet Can Covers

Simple and effective wet food can toppers. Standard size protects and preserves refrigerated food.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon


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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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