Can dog food go bad?

All food goes bad eventually. Wet dog food can last up to two years unopened but goes off very quickly when opened. Even if you can put it in a fridge, you generally need to use it within a day or two. Dried dog food actually has a shorter shelf-life when unopened “just” 18 months (approximately).

Even the best dog food can expire and go bad after being opened, whether it’s dry kibble or canned food, so we’re happy to say you’ve come to the right place if you’ve been wondering if it does.

Due to the fact that dogs require a daily nutritious diet, spoiled dog food will deprive your canine of the vital vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and content. Furthermore, poor nutrition can result in bacterial infections that affect your dog’s general health, such as gastrointestinal problems.

When buying dog food, it’s important to always check the expiration dates and labels because it may not always be obvious when something has gone bad. This will make it clear to you how long your food can be preserved for and how to safely store it.

Comparatively to unopened dry dog food, unopened wet dog food typically stays fresher for longer periods of time. The shelf life of kibble is approximately 12 to 18 months, whereas the shelf life of canned food is up to two years after the date of purchase. This is so that food doesn’t spoil quickly because the canning process itself acts as a preservative. However, once it has passed its expiration date, it will begin to deteriorate.

Read our informative guide on everything you need to know about keeping your dog food fresh and delicious for your pup to enjoy to find out how to determine when dog food is safe to eat and how to prevent it from going bad quickly.

There are significant differences between the best by and expiration dates, just like with all perishables. Manufacturers provide expiration dates to let you know when the food is likely to deteriorate and deemed unsafe to consume. Once this date has passed, you would have to discard in this situation. However, if the food is past its “best by” date, it can still be eaten but will no longer be nutritious or of high quality.

What to Do with Expired Dog Food

Throwing out expired food is the best thing to do with it McCarthy suggests placing it in a trash bag and placing that bag in a covered trash can or receptacle to keep wildlife and outdoor pets away from it.

You can also get in touch with your local waste management program, the expert advises. “Some local waste disposal or recycling programs may also use compost programs for expired foods and pet foods.”

Best By vs. Expiration Dates

“Best by” dates and expiration dates are not synonymous. An expiration date indicates when the food’s components may have begun to spoil. On the other hand, a “best by” date is the date after which a pet food product isn’t as nutritionally complete as the label may indicate. However, this does not always imply that the pet food is no longer secure. The majority of pet foods still include “best by” dates so that pet owners can be sure they are giving their animals food with the best nutrients, flavor, aroma, and texture.

Based on the kind of preservatives used in the food, a pet food manufacturer can predict what the “best by” date for a specific food line will be. Unopened cans of food typically stay fresher longer than unopened dry food because canning is the preservative in canned food. There are numerous types of natural and synthetic preservatives used in pet food when it comes to added preservatives. Although the term “preservatives” has developed a bad reputation in recent years, they are essential to keeping the food you feed your pets safe to eat.

However, not all preservatives degrade at the same rate, and pet food manufacturers will use this information to determine how long their food will stay fresh. The preservatives will start to deteriorate after the best by date. After that, they gradually lose the ability to keep your dog’s food from spoiling due to bacterial growth or mold.

However, ingredients continue to deteriorate even after the “best by” date. Preservatives are just one example. The food will lose some of its nutritional value and stop being a complete and balanced meal as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals start to decline.

How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last?

Due to its convenience and long shelf life, dry dog food was developed.

The very act of removing moisture from dog food is one of the major factors that will help dog food not go bad.

There are also a number of preservative substances that help prolong a dry dog food’s shelf life. These preservative substances can be classified into natural and artificial.

These contribute to extending the shelf life of the food you give your dog.

Anti-oxidants like vitamins and certain minerals can also help food storage and also serve to keep your dog healthy and to stop free-radical-dependent processes such as fat rancidity.

When choosing a dog food, keep in mind terms like “best before/best by” and “expiration date.”

A date by which the flavor profile, nutritional value (e.g. It is reasonable to anticipate that the food’s flavor, color, and aroma will not change. Although not ideal, a bag of food that has passed its best by date is still completely safe for your dog to eat.

The expiration date, on the other hand, designates a time frame by which it is expected that the food will have deteriorated.

Food that has passed its expiration date is no longer protected against spoilage because by then the preservatives would have degraded.

We advise not to feed such food to your dog.

Remember that the “best by” and “expiration” dates only apply to the unopened bag; once the bag has been torn or opened, most dry dog food formulations will spoil in as little as a few weeks.

Always check to see that the bag holding your dog’s food is undamaged and tightly sealed.

Dog food in undamaged food bags should typically last longer than a year.

However, shelf life highly depends on the ingredients used in the diet.


How can you tell if dog food is spoiled?

How to tell if your dog food is spoiled
  1. There is a noticeable sour or rancid odor.
  2. You see signs of moisture, mold, or bugs.
  3. The bag is past its expiration date.
  4. The food has been exposed to heat or humidity.
  5. Your dog won’t eat or displays illness or discomfort after eating

Can old dog food make dogs sick?

If your dog ingests spoiled or outdated dog food, you might notice general gastrointestinal distress symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. However, depending on the pathogen, your dog could develop severe illness. Bacteria like E. coli can cause life-threatening illnesses if left untreated.

How long can you keep dry dog food?

Choose your bag sizes wisely because dry food should ideally be consumed within six weeks of opening the bag. You can leave out bowls of kibble for about a day, but make sure you don’t provide more than what should be consumed in that time frame.

Does dry dog food go bad?

Dry dog food does expire. According to Chavez, a bag of dry dog food has a two-year shelf life when unopened. It only lasts a few weeks once the bag is opened. According to Chavez, “kibble is highly processed pet food and contains preservatives to extend its shelf life.”