Experts Say Dog Food Lasts Just 7 Days!
“Many people don’t realize there’s a chemical reaction happening inside that bag of food. A reaction that is amplified if the bag sits for a long time, or in a hot environment, or sits open. […] once a bag of pet food is opened, things happen.”2
How Long Does Dog Food Last?
At Most: 7 days.
That’s right, according to Steve Brown, a dog food nutrition author, and dog food developer, kibble lasts just seven days, maybe fourteen tops.
So once you open that bag, it should be consumed within seven to fourteen days.
How Can Dog Food Go Bad So Quickly?
The moment the bag of dog food (or can of food) is open oxygen gets to the ingredients and starts chemical reactions.
The culprit that spoils dog food is Oxidation.
Oxidation occurs when oxygen reaches the fats sprayed on the surface of kibble (or mixed in canned dog foods). The oxygen causes the fat cells to degrade from being beneficial to your dog to be toxic. This is called rancidity and it contributes to foul-smelling pet food.
When fats spoil, the shape, structure, and function of the molecules change. Digestion becomes more difficult and even introduces toxins.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, long-chain fats, are especially susceptible to oxidation. This is terrible news since most dog foods are extremely deficient in Omega-3’s.
Omega-3’s are responsible for reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy immune system, coat, and skin. The number of pets with allergic skin disease, impaired immune function, and cancer has increased to dramatic proportions. This is a very important nutrient for pet owners to consider.
And because dog foods are required to contain the minimum levels of all the dietary fats your dog needs, there is a lot of fat to go rancid.
One way to explain oxidation is to use the example of rust. Oxygen reacting with iron produces the red iron oxide that you find on so many exposed metal surfaces.
Likewise, fats in dog food react with oxygen and begin to break down themselves and break down other nutrients.
Steve Brown, a pet food formulator, says that rancid fats cause a nutritional breakdown of other nutrients like protein, vitamins, and antioxidants.
“That bears repeating: rancid fat can so vastly reduce the benefit your dog can get from the proteins and vitamins present in his food, that he can suffer from protein and vitamin deficiencies. Rancid fats can also cause diarrhea, liver and heart problems, macular degeneration, cell damage, cancer, arthritis, and death. It’s good policy to avoid feeding rancid fats to our dogs.” – Steve Brown1
What about “best-by” dates on the bag or can?
Those dates are estimations for unopened products. Once open, the “best-by” dates no longer apply to how long the food will last safely.
Why don’t pet food manufacturers warn of rancid fats?
Dr. Karen Becker sums the situation up:
“We assume pet food producers know… but if they don’t collect data on it, then they can remain willfully ignorant. After all, they certainly can’t warn consumers not to open the bags of pet food they’ve purchased.”2
The pet food industry must continue to make money because they depend upon, and would not think to warn you not to use their product.
However, some companies offer education on adequately storing their products.
What about bulk pricing on large bags?
Buying larger bags is often cheaper per pound for kibble.
The danger is that despite preservatives, or specialized bags and containers, that food is going to oxidize.
And the longer you keep it, the more it will oxidize, becoming more toxic each week.
What about the preservatives?
Decent pet food companies will use antioxidant preservatives like mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to slow oxidation. Still, even chemical preservatives cannot stop oxidation completely.
Among the high levels of many kinds of fat found in your dog food, oxidation occurs rapidly, especially if not carefully stored and used quickly.
Consuming rancid fats causes your dog’s body to use its stores of Vitamin E to neutralize the rancid oils. This depletes the stores of this critical antioxidant for fighting off infection and disease.
Consuming rancid fats can cause protein, vitamin and fat deficiencies, contribute to cancer and chronic health problems.
Storing Pet Food
How you store your dog’s food will affect how much oxidation occurs.
Please do not store your dog food in a plastic container, especially without washing it between each new bag of food.
The first batch of dog food will leave residual fats on the walls of the plastic container, and later cause invisible molds that destroy the next bag of food.
Plastic containers can also have microscopic pores (holes) that trap rancid fats and contaminate each new batch of dog food poured in.
What can you store your dog food in?
Ideally, store a small batch of food in a metal or glass container.
If you must use a plastic container, leave the dog food in its original bag, and place the whole bag in the container.
If you need to buy in large quantities of dog food, store the food in the freezer in one-week portions so you can pull out just one week’s worth of food at a time. This lets you use the food before it becomes rancid.
- Avoid buying bags that are torn, damaged or past their expiration date.
- Purchase kibble without the fats and add your own sources of fresh, healthy fat.
One further consideration. Some animals seem to have a “sixth sense” about tainted pet food, possibly because of an off smell or taste. If your dog refuses to eat, consider the possibility of rancid fats and don’t force your dog to eat the food. Try purchasing a fresh bag of food.
Avoid rancid fats to help your dog be a Satisfied Dog!
For Satisfied Dogs!
– Cassy Kay
1Brown, Steve. “Dietary Fats in Dog Food” whole-dog-jounral.com. June 26, 2017. Web. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_12/features/Fats-Chance_20658-1.html
2Habib, Rodney. “How Long Does Kibble Last Once Opened?” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Nov. 21, 2017. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/how-long-does-kibble-last-once-opened/