Dog Food Storage

Food Storage Mistakes Can Seriously Affect Your Dog’s Health!

It makes no sense to buy expensive, premium dog foods, whether dry or frozen, and then ruin them—actually making them unhealthy—by storing them too long or improperly.
— Brown, Steve. Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet:

Improper food storage can result in bacteria and mold growth, and fats going rancid. Consuming this food can contribute to chronic health problems for your pets. “Dogs and cats are among the species most sensitive to the effects of aflatoxin[1]

• If dry food becomes moist throw out!
• Change of color throw out!
• Smells rancid (like paint) throw out!
• Dog won’t eat. Throw out!

If your dog or cats stops eating the food you have been feeding don't try to dress the food up to make it more appetizing. They may have refused to eat due to an infestation of mites, or the presence of bacteria, mold, or rancid fats.  Offer your dog something else to eat. If he or she eats the new food you offered, there may be a problem with the food you've been feeding. If your dog is refusing something else tasty you offered, they may not be feeling well. For a healthy adult dog there is no harm in them fasting, in fact it is recommended by many veterinarians. But if you have a puppy, diabetic dog, or unhealthy senior dog contact your veterinarian.

All non-refrigerated food should be stored in a cool dry location. Store dry kibble (without pouring it out) by placing the entire bag (original bag) into an airtight plastic food container, with the bag closed. Pouring out the food exposes it to air which can decrease the foods shelf life and nutritional value. The oils on kibble starts to degrade as soon as the bag is opened. The fats in time will turn rancid. “Rancid fats reduce the nutritive value of the protein, degrade vitamins and antioxidants, and can cause diarrhea, liver and heart problems, macular degeneration, cell damage, cancer, arthritis, and death." Pet food formulator Steve Brown recommends dry dog food (kibble) be fed within 14-days after opening the bag.

Over time pouring dry kibble into a food container will result in the fats sprayed on the kibble leaving a film on the inside of the container which will go rancid and contaminate any new food poured into the container. This can be avoided by placing the entire bag into an airtight plastic food container. A secondary reason to keep food in the original bag it that it provides you the barcode and identifiers should there be a recall.

Storing dog food in an air-tight container protects the food from infestation from rodents, molds, and mites, and ants. Air-tight containers increase food safety by protecting the dog food from moisture which is required for bacteria and mold to grow. [2] Dry pet foods have moisture content in the range of 4 to 12%. “Spoilage bacteria require at least 30% moisture for growth whereas molds require 5 to 15%.” [1]

Shelf life (unopened)  

Use by date only applies to unopened bags and canned food.

  • Canned food generally over a year

  • Dry (kibble) 6-12 months

  • Raw frozen - 3-4 month shelf life if stored properly

  • Whole raw meats up to 12-months in freezer.

  • Ground meats RAW Diets 3-4 months

Canned Food

Opened cans – Manufacturer recommendation

  • Generally 3-5 days

  • Store in the refrigerator covered

Dry Food - Kibble

Protect from heat, moisture, and air.

  • Check date on bag

  • Keep dry.

  • Best stored between 40-60 f.

  • Above 68 f decreases shelf life.

  • Best if used within 14 -days.

  • Food companies have not published shelf life of open bags. (To many variables)

  • Place entire bag in airtight plastic food container without pouring it out.

  • Don't pour old food into new bag.


Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of lipid-oxidation products.

“Chronic uptake of large amounts of such materials increases tumor frequency and incidence of atherosclerosis in animals.”

Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant, Animal, and Human Systems. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, USA. January 2003.

Aflatoxicosis in dogs and dealing with suspected contaminated commercial foods. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical

Potential for dietary protection against the effects of aflatoxins in animals

“Aflatoxin ingested by an animal is absorbed in the small intestine and transported to the liver, where it is metabolized.”

“Corn is especially vulnerable to contamination by aflatoxin.”

“Aflatoxin-producing molds are ubiquitous in air”

“Few, if any, major food items are immune to aflatoxin contamination, especially in an environment favorable to growth of toxin-producing molds”


[1] Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th Edition Hardcover – Michael S. Hand (Editor)

[2] “The data we’ve seen from manufacturers of antimicrobials shows that after four days at above 12% moisture mold growth starts.” 

Brown, Steve. Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way . Dogwise Publishing