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    How Long Does Dog Food Last?

    How Long Does Dog Food Last

    Being aware of dog food expiration dates is as important as human food expiration dates. It can be a bit confusing when navigating between wet and dry food, which can lead to the question, how long does dog food last? To help you out, we’ve compiled some simple, easy to follow guidelines to ensure that Fido receives only the best food possible.

    Expiration dates on packaging

    Just like the food we stock in the pantry for our use, dog food, comes with an expiration date. Manufacturers place such dates on products to assure consumers of the quality and freshness of their product through that date.

    Dog food will not suddenly spoil at midnight on the expiration date. However, after that date, some degradation of the product will begin and continue incrementally over time. For canned dog food, that may be quite a while; for dry dog food, that could be far less.

    So when purchasing dog food for your furry best friend, be sure to look at the expiration date on the can or bag. If it’s close to the expiration date, look for another bag or can with an expiration date farther out.

    To ensure your dog receives the optimal nutrition from his meals, buy the can or bag with the latest expiration date you can find. Remember, when stocking grocery store shelves, the stocker will pull the oldest cans to the front of the shelf. In the case of bags of dog food, they will put the oldest at the top of the pile. That way the oldest product sells first.

    If you want the freshest product, you may need to reach behind the first few cans and compare dates printed on them. The further back you dig, the more likely you will find the freshest product.

    If you’re looking for the freshest bag of dog food, you may have to lift a few bags to compare. I always thought it was a great way to build a little muscle. And if you find any cans or bags with an expiration date that has already passed, you might want to do a good deed. Call this to the attention of the store manager so it can be removed from the shelf.


    Freshness of canned dog food

    When it comes to canned dog food, the rules are pretty much the same as cans of food intended for human consumption. They will stay fresh and maintain full nutritional value up until the expiration date. This is optimal and you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

    However, after that date, it will still be safe to feed to your dog, for a limited time. Most experts agree you can still use canned dog food for 1 – 2 months. Some on the other end of the spectrum say 1 to 2 years. However, in all cases ,the nutritional value will begin to decline after the expiration date.

    If you open a can of dog food and only use part of it, seal it and store it in the refrigerator. You can safely store it there for the next 3 to 5 days without fear of spoilage or loss of nutrition. On the other hand, if you place some food in Fido’s bowl and he fails to chomp it down right away, it should be okay for him to eat within the next 24 hours. After that, you should discard it.

    Freshness of dry dog food

    On the subject of dry dog food, you have somewhere between 2 and 6 months after the expiration date to be assured of a good product. However, once you open the bag, that number drops drastically to about 6 weeks.

    For optimal results, follow a couple of common sense rules to keep your dry dog food fresh. First, keep it in the original package. Most dry dog food comes in bags, some of which you can re-seal. However, some make it difficult to do so, but you do have options.

    If you have a resealable bag, be sure to reseal it after each use. If not, close it as well as you can. In either case, place the entire bag in a sealable container or bin. Then store that container in the refrigerator. That should help to keep moisture out and slow any degradation process.

    Julie Edwards, breeder at Ghostdance Alaskan Malamutes says, “You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for quality, freshness, and safety. Try to use up your supply before the expiration date.” She also says that, “the term ‘expiration date’ should be changed to ‘best by’ date to be a more accurate description of quality and nutrition levels.”

    When it’s not good to eat

    Sometimes, however, despite our best efforts, the food will spoil. Maybe it was too old when we bought it. Maybe we didn’t seal it properly. In any case, you will immediately recognize it if the food is not fit to eat. You’ll notice the foul smell of bacteria, or if you might see mold growing. In either case, discard it. Don’t feed it to Fido because it might make him sick or worse.


    Whether refrigerated or not, get rid of unopened dry dog food that you’ve had for more than 6 months past the expiration date. If you’ve had unopened canned food for more than 2 or 3 months past the expiration date, err on the side of caution and throw it in the trash. If a can of opened dog food has taken up space in your fridge for more than 7 days, discard it without hesitation.

    None of us wants to waste food, whether it is food for our family or for our family pet. But sometimes, it is the prudent thing to do.

    Treat your loving pet as you would any other member of the family, and treat his food as conscientiously. Keep foods refrigerated when necessary, and carefully watch the expiration dates and quality of the foods you feed your family. You know how to do this, just do it for your four-legged family members as well.

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    About the AuthorAngela Miller

    Hello, my name is Angela Miller. Several years ago, I rescued a little seven-year-old Bichon Frise. I started looking into dog nutrition so I could keep my little love bug for as long as I possibly could. I love my dog too much to feed him unhealthy food. I hope some of the things I've learned along the way will help you and your dog.

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