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Proper Pet Food Storage: How to Keep Your Pet Safe

Updated on June 29, 2014
Your pet shouldn't be worried about his food going bad.
Your pet shouldn't be worried about his food going bad. | Source

Are you practicing safe pet food storage methods? Are you going out of your way to buy the best foods for your pet but not doing anything special with the food once you get it home? A lack of knowledge in proper pet storage can lead to not only the food going bad, but you could make your pet very sick. In some cases pets have died when their food was not stored properly. In the article below I've listed not only the causes, but the best ways to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

What Type of Animal Is Your Storage Used for?

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IRIS Airtight Food Storage Container
IRIS Airtight Food Storage Container

If you have a large breed dog you need a large amount of storage. When you need a really big container to store your pet food in, this is what you should go for. Place your bag of dog food inside for optimum safety.


There Are Five Main Reasons For Food Going Bad

Oxygen - Oxygen is such a base element that it interacts with just about everything. Oxygen attaches to other items and converts it to something else. Given that it turns steel into rust over time you shouldn't be surprised that this element can have a detrimental effect on organic material. Although it will start by reducing the nutritional element of your pet food, but at the extremes it will make the food unsafe to consume.

Moisture - The second main reason that food goes bad is bacteria creating mold and rot. These microscopic organisms will grow and multiply best in a moist environment and is the reason that food of any kind will rot.

Heat - Although bacteria will grow in any environment, most harmful ones grow best in room temperature and warmer conditions. Although not necessary to freeze your pet food, if you keep it in a cool place it will last longer.

Sunlight - Anyone who's had a sunburn will recognize the power of the sun. There are many different sorts of light that comes from the sun, and many of them interact with chemicals in different ways. Whether directly, or indirectly raising the heat of your pet food, even in an enclosed container your pet food can be affected by sunlight.

Time - No matter what you do to help preserve your pet food, it can only work for so long. Eventually time will win out and spoil your pet's food. For this reason you should always use your dry pet food within a six week period after opening. The best before date on bags of food are an indicator for the quality of a closed bag. Once opening the bag to other factors all bets are off.

In order to combat these reasons for food decay all pet food makers will add in preservatives in order to make it last longer. Lower quality pet food will use an assortment of different artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. If you see any of these, or Menadione, on your pet food label realise that while the food will last longer, more natural preservatives are better for your pet. More natural preservatives such as Tocopherols (Vitamin E) or Ascorbic Acid (VItamin C) will be better for your pet food.

Keep your pet happy and healthy
Keep your pet happy and healthy | Source

Understanding Best Buy Dates

One of the things people rarely think about is what happened to that food before it got to you? Just because you're taking care of it properly doesn't mean that it always has been. The types of preservatives, the storage conditions, as well as the integrity and quality of it's packaging all can have a significant effect how true that best before date is.

It's for this reason that I recommend that you should never buy loose dry dog food. Even if it is a great deal monetarily, you can never be sure how long some of the kibble has been sitting there. Remember the saying one bad apple spoils the bunch? The same is true for pet food. It's better to be safe then sorry.

For dry food it's generally best to use it within six months of creation. How can you know that? Contact the manufacturer of your preferred pet food and ask them the typical shelf life of their food. If they tell you that it's eighteen months, then that's the date their best before label will reflect. Add the shelf life of the food to today's date for your base number, then subtract six months. Any food made between those two dates is what you should be looking for.

For wet food things are a little bit different. The canning process allows the food to retain it's nutrition and quality for a lot longer then dry food, so you don't have to do any math before you leave the house. Using the best before date is perfectly fine. Inspect the can before you buy however. Dents or bulges can indicate a break in the seal and allow dangerous bacteria to invade.


Keeping Your Pet Food Safe Once You Get the Food Home

Now that you've gotten the best quality food for your pet, you need a proper way of storage. As a reminder, you absolutely want to use all the food in an open bag within six weeks. Keep track, and if you're not going through an entire bag in that time it's best to start buying smaller bags. And speaking of the bags, pet food bags are great to keep your food in. High quality food comes in high quality bags that are designed to keep oxygen, light, and moisture out. You can use that for your advantage and keep your pet food in that bag and using a clip of some sort to keep the bag closed. You shouldn't rely on this alone however, you should place your pet food bag inside of an airtight container. Not only does this make it easier to clean up, there's less of a need to clean the airtight container. The simplehuman Pet Food Storage Can shown on the right is a great example of a quality storage container. Available in several sizes, the accompanying video shows off why it takes the top spot.

When it comes to dry storage you should always place your pet food in a cool dry place. Keeping it in a location that's below 70F/20C and has less then 15% humidity helps to fight micro organism growth. Just in case there has been some however, it's always optimal to wash all pet food containers on a regular basis. When it comes to the type, if you're storing the kibble directly inside of a container you want it to be either glass or stainless steel as they are better barriers to oxygen and moisture penetration. Although you might be tempted to freeze food, please be aware that you are introducing additional moisture into the product, and should be extra careful with it's use.

The rules are a little different when it comes to wet food. Store your pet food cans like you would store people food cans and you'll be fine. After opening, wet food is fine to store in the freezer as long as you're using air tight pet food containers to do the job. When keeping wet food in the fridge, it should only be kept there for three days. If you're transferring the food from the freezer to the fridge, it's a good idea to break it down into amounts that will be used in that three day window.


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