Whether you’re still choosing your pet’s favorite food or looking for ways you can properly store what you already have in the pantry, here are a few tips you can consider.
Inspect the Food Package
You might’ve thoroughly inspected the packaging before buying the food for your pet. Yet, it’s always safer to double-check all the important points again while storing them.
Start by checking and saving the expiry date and shelf life for every dog and cat food package you have. We recommend that you note the product’s UPC code and its ‘best by’ date as well.
Next, you should inspect the container/bag for any leakage, large dents, or tears. This suggests exposure to air or moisture, which would spoil the food. As for canned food containers, you would want to check the can for bulging lids.
Now open the container, carefully look and smell the food to detect anything unusual about it. If you see any fungal growths or bugs, this means the food has gone bad. Another sure sign the food is spoiled is a strong rotten or rancid smell. While us pet parents might not easily detect these unusual smells, you should trust your pet when it’s especially avoiding the food.
Choose the Correct Container
The original food container is usually made of specific materials. These materials protect the food from bacteria and preserve its taste and odor. Thus, we recommended keeping the food in its original container, provided it can be re-sealed.
If you can’t use the original container then containers made of glass or stainless steel are preferred to those made of plastic. Plastics aren’t recommended since they aren't always made from non-toxic, BPA-free materials.
They’re also easily scratched, making them harder to clean, and thus a perfect breeding place for bacteria. This contaminating bacteria would create bad tastes and odors, and more importantly, it can cause your pet to become sick.
It’s advisable to put the bag of pet food into the new container. This allows further protection from bacterial contamination. However, if you would like to pour the food into the new container directly, you have to thoroughly wash the container with soapy water and properly dry it before and after every batch of food.
Don’t mix different food packages together in a container. This makes it harder to follow up on important information about individual batches of food.
Store the Food Correctly
Generally, any dry or canned dog or cat food should be stored in a dry, cool —less than 80 F— place. You should also make sure the package isn’t in direct contact with sunlight. This preserves the beneficial nutrients present in the food and avoids their breakdown.
You might also find it helpful to store the containers on a shelf or better yet a cabinet that can be closed. This prevents your furry friend from reaching the food and overeating or spoiling it.
Store wet or canned foods in their original or a suitable air-tight sealed container. You can keep these foods in the fridge for up to seven days. Raw foods, however, can be stored in a fridge for a maximum of three days only.
You can also prolong the shelf life of extra portions of dry dog or cat food by freezing it for up to 18 months if the package is unopened and up to 30 days if you open the package. Just make sure to double wrap it to protect it from catching any foreign odors from other foods in the freezer.
Do not freeze canned foods. Freezing can change their taste and texture and make them less appetizing to your pet. In addition, canned foods already have a very long shelf life, so you won't need to freeze them in the first place.
Finally, Serve the Yummy Meal to Your Pet
Make sure your pet’s dish is clean and dry before serving the food into it.
Use a special measuring cup or scoop to serve your pet’s food instead of using the dish itself. This protects the remaining food in the container from being spoiled by any moisture that might be in the dish.
Serve your pet a reasonable amount into their dishes. This keeps your pet from overeating which is dangerous for their health. It would also decrease the amount of wasted food after your pet is full.
You can leave canned or wet pet food for a maximum of an hour in your pet’s dish. However, raw foods can be left for half an hour only. This makes it less likely for bacteria to grow on the food, making it harmful to your pet.
General Cleanliness Tips to Follow While Handling Cat or Dog Food
Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after dealing with your pet’s food.
Thoroughly wash and dry your pet’s dish before and after every food serving.
Don’t mix different types of food together in your pet’s dish. It is better to serve one food type at a time to your pet.
Lastly, if you happen to find anything unusual or worrying about your pet’s food or treats, or your furry friend becomes sick after eating it. You should report the situation to the FDA and the manufacturer of this specific food batch.
You can report the incident to the FDA online through the safety reporting portal or by reaching out to the FDA consumer complaint coordinator specific to your state.