When you buy dog food, you may find that it comes in a large bag with some kind of seal. The seal is important for keeping air and moisture out of the food, leading to spoilage, but some containers do not come with an airtight seal, and you may be looking for ways of keeping your dog’s food fresh. But should you be using ziplock bags?
Storing dry dog food in ziplock bags is not recommended unless you’re freezing large amounts of food, but store them in small portions. Instead, store dry dog food in glass and steel bins with airtight seals, but use them only in addition to the original container.
This article will explore the importance of properly storing your dog’s food along with the recommended storage containers. We will also discuss how you can tell if your dog’s food has gone bad and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.
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Dry dog food, also known as kibble, is a mixture of various ingredients compressed and baked into small bite-sized pieces. Kibble is cost-effective and convenient for most dog owners and can also be used for training puppies.
Though some dog owners and experts will disagree on the best food options for dogs, a good quality dry food can provide your dog with all the nutrients they need in the easiest way possible.
Some pros of feeding your dog kibble include:
- Kibble is readily available in most pet stores and supermarkets
- Dry food is easier to store and travel with should you be taking a trip
- There is a considerable variety of kibble options that range from puppy to senior food, along with specialized formulas for dogs with food allergies
- Kibble can be used as training treats rather than higher-calorie treats, and it is easy to carry in a pouch
- Dry food requires no mixing or preparation
- Feeding guidelines are marked on the bags to avoid overfeeding
- Kibble is often a tidier meal and is easy to clean up
However, not all dry foods are created equal, and many should be avoided due to their use of unhealthy fillers. Some other cons of feeding your dog kibble include:
- It can be challenging to know which brands are the best
- Marketing can be deceitful, hiding certain ingredients or not being 100% forthcoming in what their food contains
- Kibble is subject to frequent recalls from the manufacturer due to contamination
- There are not adequate regulations put on dog food that allows unhealthy foods to be present
- Some very cheap brands will include preservatives, chemicals, colorings, and animal by-products that can consist of dead or dying animals
Before purchasing kibble for your dog, always research which brand is recommended. If you got your puppy through a breeder, it is best to continue feeding your dog the same brand they have been eating. If you are unsure of what to feed your dog, consult with your vet to find the best option. Always look for whole ingredients and brands that do not use chemicals and preservatives.
Most responsible pet owners will always try to purchase the best quality food to feed their dogs. They look for top-quality ingredients with little to no fillers or unsafe ingredients. However, many do not take the same care in storing their dog’s food as they would in their own. Though kibble is one of the most affordable and convenient types of dog food that requires little effort to store, improperly stored food can turn it rancid, which can make your dog sick.
Dry food that is left in the open, unsealed, and in a warm place can cause the following:
- Food poisoning
- Change in flavor and texture
- Upset stomachs
Dry dog food is made and sealed into food-safe bags by the manufacturer. They assign each bag with a date informing owners of the date until which the food is consumable. However, once the bag has been opened, that date is no longer as important. Dog food should be opened and consumed within six weeks. This is due to a few different factors:
Much like human food, when dry dog food is exposed to air, moisture, and warmer temperatures, there is a higher chance of attracting pests and certain molds growing on food products. With that in mind, always be sure to store your dog’s food in an airtight container and a cool and dry place.
Storing kibble in ziplock bags is not recommended unless you are looking to freeze the food. Most experts recommend keeping the food in the original packaging, ensuring that the bag is sealed correctly.
However, if the food bag has been opened and you know that it will not be consumed within a safe amount of time (six weeks), it is possible to freeze the food to keep it fresh.
Always freeze dry food in smaller ziplock bags. This will ensure you can get as much air out as possible and that you can take out a small amount of food when you need it, rather than defrosting a whole bag.
Freezing in larger quantities is not recommended because the freezer will attract moisture, and as your food defrosts, it will begin to soften from the inside. This will promote pests and mold, as mentioned above. Always freeze and seal your bags completely, and store them in an airtight container to avoid contamination.
The safest way to freeze food is to use a vacuum sealer to ensure no air is trapped in the bag.
As mentioned above, the most common cause of kibble going bad is exposure to air, moisture, and heat. This will encourage the production of harmful bacteria, mold, and rancidity, respectively. Always store dog food, both open and unopened, in a dry and cool location, ideally raised off the floor.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and they will likely alert you to spoiled food. This could be seen in a refusal to eat or unusual eating habits. For example, a dog that is usually a fast eater may take its time, leaving some food in the bowl. However, as the owner, it is vital to know the signs and replace the food before it reaches your pet’s bowl:
- You may notice a sour odor when you open the bag
- Signs of moisture on the inside of the bag
- Mold on the surface of the food
- Small flies or bugs inside the bag
- The bag is passed the expiry date
- Your dog is showing signs of an upset stomach
- The bag has been open for more than six weeks
Most kibble can and should be stored in the original bags. However, some owners prefer not to have the bag visible for aesthetic reasons. Similarly, some bags that do not seal are easy for dogs to get into, leading to overeating and obesity. Dog food containers are an excellent way to store food that is both food-safe and visually more appealing.
The “use-by” date can typically be found on the bottom of the bag and is only relevant to unopened food containers. Although some dry foods will have longer use-by dates, these often include preservatives and chemicals designed to keep the food edible for longer.
A better practice is to mark the date the bag was opened on the container and discard any food left after six weeks. Alternatively, freeze the food in smaller ziplock bags and only thaw out one load at a time.
Dog food bags and containers are designed to store kibble safely. They are food-grade, and most higher-end brands will include oxygen barrier bags. These added layers are designed to lock out air and moisture, keeping the food fresh for longer. However, many dry food bags do not include a sealed top, meaning they are susceptible to air and humidity once opened at home.
One key factor in keeping the original packaging is to keep track of the brand and information should there be a recall on a specific type of food. Similarly, if you notice that a bag is already contaminated, you will have the original container for reference.
An effective way to ensure your food bag is sealed is to push out as much air as possible before rolling the top down and closing with a clip. Though this is not entirely airtight, it will discourage air and moisture from getting inside the bag. When purchasing a clip, ensure that it is large enough to account for the added material once the bag has been folded or rolled.
Storage containers are a popular method for storing kibble because they can be sealed completely, they prevent dogs from tearing into bags, and they look much nicer than a big bag of dry food. Unfortunately, most pet owners are using them wrong.
To store dry food, storage containers should always be used in addition to the original packaging. Instead of pouring the food into the box, put the whole bag inside and seal the lid. There are a few reasons as to why using storage containers alone is not recommended:
- Storage containers are often not adequately cleaned between uses
- Many owners do not dispose of older food before adding new food
- Residual fats and oils from the food will sink to the bottom over time and begin to turn rancid
- Plastic bins contain chemicals that can seep into the dog food
- Unclean storage bins can attract pests, mold, and bacteria
Before purchasing and when cleaning, always check your food containers for signs of damage. This can include cracks, dents, or swelling in the material. Such defects can affect the food, allowing toxins to seep in, which will make your dog sick. Containers with defects should be replaced right away.
It is best to store kibble in a cool, dry place such as a pantry. Due to its adverse reaction to humid air, it is most beneficial to keep the food in a consistent temperature location. For example, a pantry in the winter may be suitable, but it may be too hot to safely hold the food in a warm house in the summer.
Fluctuations in temperature can lead to condensation. If any moisture has made its way into the kibble bag, it will be made worse by temperature changes. Move the dry food to a cooler location during summer months, such as the garage or basement, and always keep it elevated.
In the event your food bag or container has become wet, such as from mopping the floor, it is better to dispose of the food entirely. This is due to the moisture levels in the food, which will seep into the bag, contaminating everything. Avoid areas that are exposed to humid air, such as near a range, vents, or an open door, and do not let food bags sit on the ground.
When choosing food bins to store the food bags, choose glass or metal as they have more effective airtight seals. Plastic contains certain chemicals that can seep into the food, and over time, oxygen will begin to seep in. If you must use plastic, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry between uses and replace if you notice signs of wear, such as cracks.
Though it can be cost-effective, bulk dog food is typically made available in plastic bins with loose-fitting lids. Always ask how long the food has been in the container and when the original bag was opened. If possible, purchase unopened bulk bags and store them in food bins or the freezer in smaller quantities for up to six months.
Larger food bags can often be cheaper and more convenient to owners than smaller packs. However, larger bags should only be purchased if you know your dog will consume the food within six weeks. If not, the food should be portioned and frozen for up to six months.
To avoid wastage or risk of food spoiling, purchase smaller bags that are less likely to decay. Look for food with a suitable use-by date and keep the bag sealed in the same ways outlined above. Using smaller quantities reduces the risk of food becoming spoiled or rancid because your dog will go through it faster.
Food dispensers can be a quick method of feeding your dog. Some are very simple, using gravity to allow the food to flow. This kind of dispenser is typically used for free-feeding dogs. However, many food dispensers are automated and will run on a cycle or by command.
Unfortunately, these are typically made out of plastic and pose some of the same issues as plastic storage bins. If you are using a dispenser, follow these steps to ensure the food is as safe as possible:
- Do not use larger dispensers that hold full bags of food
- Only place a day or two of food in the dispenser
- Don’t let food sit in the dispenser for long periods
- Do not add fresh kibble to the top of the dispenser, mixing with the older food
- Wash the dispenser with hot, soapy water frequently and allow it to dry completely
If looking to purchase a plastic food storage bin, be sure to check that it is BPA-free plastic. You may also need to wash it a few times to remove the plastic smell that can seep into the food. In buying any container, always ensure that it is food-safe and has a sealable lid to prevent air and moisture from getting into the food.
- Cook With Color Chip Bag Clips Set of 4. Before purchasing clips to secure the bags closed, always check that they are made out of food-safe materials. Such clips are designed for use with food and have a rubber band on the end to prevent them from slipping out of place. The durable design features a robust spring mechanism that keeps the bag securely closed and free from exposure.
- Anchor Hocking 2.5 Gallon Montana Glass Jar With Fresh Seal Lid. Glass jars are safe, durable, and BPA-free. This 2.5-gallon jar is perfect for storing smaller bags of food and treats and has a metal lid designed to seal in freshness. It is also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
- Simplehuman Kitchen X-Large Pet Food Can. This brushed steel storage container is larger enough to fit more oversized bags inside and has built-in wheels for portability. It holds a BPA-free inner bin that can be removed and cleaned. The airtight seal will keep food fresh for longer, and the product has a ten-year warranty.
- Reddy Black Insulated Dog Canister. This insulated dog canister is for smaller bags of food, holding up to 10 cups at a time. The stainless-steel, double-walled design locks in freshness and works to keep food at an ambient temperature. The durable lid is made from shatter-proof material that creates an airtight seal.
- Gamma Vittles Vault Outback Plus Pet Food Container. This brand is available in several different sizes, making it perfect for larger bags of food and smaller treat bags. The similar-sized containers stack on top of each other and are made of heavy-duty, BPA-free plastic. The screw-top has a double gasket seal to prevent any moisture from seeping into the food.
When storing dry food, it is recommended to do so in the original food container. This is because these bags have been specially designed to hold and keep dog food fresh. However, if you need an additional barrier to prevent your dog from tearing into the bag, metal and glass containers are the best options. Rather than pouring the food out, put the whole bag inside the box to prevent contamination.
Ziplock bags should only be used when traveling or when storing small portions in the freezer.
- Healthy Homemade Dog Treats: How to Store Dry Dog Food Long Term: 17 Tips for Smart Dog Owners
- Rover: How to know if your dog food has spoiled
- Feeding my Dog: Dry Dog Food Pros and Cons
- Amazon: Chip Bag Clips Set of 4
- Amazon: Anchor Hocking 2.5 Gallon Montana Glass Jar with Fresh Seal Lid
- Wayfair: simplehuman Kitchen X-Large Pet Food Can
- Petco: Reddy Black Insulated Dog Canister
- Petco: Gamma Vittles Vault Outback Plus Pet Food Container
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