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Can Dry Dog Food Go Bad?

Whether you feed your dog with wet dog food, dry dog food, or a mixture of both, it is essential to know how fresh the food is before feeding your dogs.

Both wet and dry foods are supposed to last a long time, but this does not guarantee that they will remain fresh indefinitely.

Although wet dog food spoils faster than dry food, it doesn’t mean that dry food will not eventually spoil.

Several factors contribute to the shelf life of dry dog food.

How Long Does Dry Dog Foods Last?

Dog food manufacturers specify the expiration date for dog foods to ensure the safety of your dogs.

In general, dry dog food kept in its original packaging can last for at least two years.

However, the shelf life is strongly dependent on the products used in the diet but usually between 12-18 months from the date of manufacture.

What Causes Dry Dog Food To Go Bad?

The dry dog food manufacturing process kills most bacteria and fungi during production.

What, then, allows dried dog food to spoil?

Unfortunately, apart from the preservatives (natural or synthetic)—which don’t last forever—nothing will stop their recolonization attempts once you’ve opened them.

Preservatives only prevent spoilage in dry dog food until its expiration date, after which it would begin to deteriorate.

The nutritious value of dog food is severely compromised beyond the expiration date (or a few weeks after opening), and it can even contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

Dry dog food will also go bad due to the following factors:

Exposure to Heat

Dry dog food is less likely to spoil compared to wet food.

However, it doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to temperature changes, bacteria growth, and spoilage.

The fat content in the dry food would oxidize when exposed to heat.

As a result, the fat quality of the dried food degrades, and its nutrient benefit decreases.

Although it won’t make your dog sick, the deteriorated fat quality implies your dog won’t get enough Omega fatty acids.

In addition, as you subject dried dog food to heat, it shrinks and dries out.

Your dog would miss whatever hydration it should receive from its food.

In addition, heat can induce a chemical reaction in the food, altering its flavor.

You should store dry dog food as far away from stoves, heaters, cookers, flames, and other heat sources as practicable.

This helps to keep the food fresh and tasty.

If your dog’s food was exposed to sunlight, double-check it before feeding him.

You should take any alteration of color or odor seriously.

It’s better to switch foods, especially if your dog’s stomach is sensitive.

What Temperature Should You Store Your Dry Dog Food?

Dry dog food must be kept away from heat and at a temperature of no more than 80oC.

Any temperature above this can induce nutritional breakdown.

It would eventually cause dried dog food to spoil.

You must also keep the dog food out of sight of your pet to save it from overindulging and exposure to bacteria.

I strongly advise you to purchase a dry dog food dish.

There are airtight containers that keep air, bacteria, and other contaminants out of the food, lowering its quality.

Many dog food container manufacturers did not design their products to withstand extreme heat.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the area where the food is stored is secure and at the proper temperature.

Exposure to Moisture

One of the greatest threats of dried dog food is moisture.

It will cause dry food to crumble and mold to spread.

Dry food can spoil with time and generate an unpleasant odor.

It’s not okay to feed it to your dog because it might disturb its stomach.

Picky dogs will even refuse to consume it due to its foul odor and taste.

Exposure to Air

Dry dog food will go stale if you expose it to air.

It would hasten the decomposition of the dried food and make it more susceptible to bacteria.

It is crucial to close the dry food bag or move it to an enclosed jar after you’ve opened it, as this would save dried food from going bad due to air exposure.

Keep in mind that when air comes into contact with dry food, bacteria will spread and multiply.

In the process, the dried food will become infected, causing digestion issues in dogs.

Rancidity is usually responsible for most dry food dog spoilage, so lower-fat diets have a longer shelf life.

Signs of Bad Dog Food

You should never feed dry food that has gone bad to your puppy.

Stomach upset from spoiled dry dog food may lead to an emergency visit to the veterinarian.

Here are the obvious signs that your dog’s dry food has gone bad:

  • Check the bag and the food itself for mold and bugs. Also, check for moisture in the bag. If there’s any, you’ll need to trust your gut to decide if it’s still suitable for consumption
  • Take a whiff of the food. Does it have an offensive, vile, or acidic odor? If yes, there’s a fair chance the dog food is rancid
  • Is the food overly greasy or sticky when you touch it? Check the food’s expiration date once more.
  • Does your dog seem to be wary of the fresh food? Your dog’s nose can tell! We recommend that you take a sniff from the container and check the food in the case carefully.
  • Next time, write down the day you opened your dog food bag on it; this will tell you if your food bag has been left open for too long.

If there is something wrong with the meal, return it right away.

You should not be paying for food that could be harmful to your dog.

Consequences of Feeding Your Dogs With Bad Dog Food

Feeding your dogs with bad dog food is not only unfair; it can have dire consequences on the dog’s health.

Digestion Problems

A dog that has had stale dried food will have digestion issues.

Diarrhea and vomiting are the most common side effects.

Take notice and treat diarrhea urgently because dehydration will occur, putting your dog’s life in danger.

Food Poisoning

If your dog eats bacteria-infested dried food, it can get food poisoning.

Even if the dry food is only just exposed to heat, microorganisms can still multiply.

Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain

Extreme diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, stomach discomfort, and dizziness are all symptoms of food poisoning in dogs.

In severe cases, it could also lead to hemorrhagic enteritis, paralysis, and other internal conditions.

It would help if you took the dog to the veterinarian as soon as it shows symptoms of food poisoning to avoid the potentially fatal consequences when the symptoms worsen.

How To Store Dry Dog Food And Prevent It From Going Bad

There are at least two important ways to keep dry dog foods fresh and prevent them from going bad.

Use Airtight Dog Food Storage Containers

There are endless ways to store your dry dog food in airtight containers creatively.

What kind of containers should you use, though?

As long as the containers are airtight and made of plastic or stainless steel, they should be perfect for storing dry food.

Pet parents use stainless steel for storing pet food since it is easy to maintain and lasts longer.

If you consider yourself a DIY specialist, this might be a perfect project for you if you want to make something exclusive to your home for your dogs.

Use The Original Container

If your pet’s food is up to scratch in terms of handling, you should keep it in the original packaging.

Ensure that you seal the package and that you remove the majority of the air inside the packaging.

Ensure you store in a dark, dry location away from direct sunshine.


Your dog is a member of your family, and you should not treat him or her badly.

You wouldn’t treat your son or daughter that way, so why treat the dog to such a lesser standard?

Food affects the dog in several ways daily, and poor nutrition may have a cumulative impact over time.

A little care and cleanliness will go a long way in keeping your dog healthy.

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National Canine Research Association of America