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How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last? Preserving Freshness

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Author: Jeanette Hampton

Dogs, Our faithful and loyal companions. They fill our life with fun and joy, the same way we try to provide them some fun in the form of food in their dear bowls.

How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last

But many times we feel suspicious about the freshness of that food and its nutritional value. And the most vital question of them all is how long does dry dog food last?

Let us dive into the dog food world and understand the reason behind dry dog food going bad and how can we store it to last a long time.

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How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last?

If stored properly, bags of unopened dried dog food will generally last up to 18 months after manufacture.

Once dried dog food has been opened, you should generally aim to use it within 6 weeks. Here are some of the tips to make it last long:

1. Usage

According to Dr. Jennifer Coates at PetMD, “Dry food should be consumed within six weeks of opening the bag, so pick your bag sizes appropriately. Kibble can be left out in bowls for a day or so, but make sure you don’t offer more than what should be consumed in 24 hours”

Larger meals limit your ability to monitor a dog’s appetite and put pets at risk for overeating and obesity. Wash bowls used for dry food at least once a week in hot, soapy water.

dog dry food

2. Keep It in the Original Bag

Never throw away the original packing in which the food came. When you keep food in original packing it will be fresh for 6 to 8 weeks.

The pack is designed to keep food safe and away from moisture while preserving its nutritional value and flavor. After this period food will slowly start to go bad[1].

3. Container

When you store dry food properly in an air-tight container it will surely last long, it will prevent moisture from entering. Also try to use glass containers as they are non-porous and prevent odor, maintaining the quality of food.

4. Storage Conditions

It is important to keep the food in a dry, cool place, away from sunlight and moisture, to maintain its freshness. You can also freeze the dry food in a sealed container to make it last longer.

If you buy large amounts of food, you should divide it into smaller portions and use them within the suggested time limit. You should also check the food regularly for any signs of spoilage, such as bad smells, changes in color, or mold, to protect your dog’s health and safety. 

happy dog
When you store dry food properly in an air-tight container it will surely last long, it will prevent moisture from entering. Glass containers are ideal for preserving the best dry dog food uk.

5. Avoid Mixing

Do not mix old and new food together, as this could lower the quality and safety of the food. Many pet foods are formulated with a specific life stage, lifestyle, and sometimes even health condition in mind.

Mixing foods without taking this into consideration can inadvertently impact your pet negatively, including causing undesired weight gain, and overexposure to certain vitamins and minerals[2].

6. Hygiene

Proper hygiene practices can help extend the shelf life of dry dog food. The food should be stored in a clean, dry container with a tight lid to prevent contamination. The storage area should also be clean and pest-free to ensure the food’s safety.

The feeding bowls and utensils should be washed regularly to avoid the growth of bacteria and mold, which can spoil the food’s quality. Moreover, cross-contamination should be avoided by not using the same utensils for both dry and wet food, which can affect the dry food’s freshness.

dry food

7. Use a Scoop

How long dry dog food lasts depends on how it is stored and served. A good way to keep the food fresh and avoid contamination is to use a special scoop to measure out the portions. This reduces the contact with hands that can introduce bacteria and spoil the food.

On the other hand, using food dispensers or leaving the food out in the open can make the food go bad faster. These methods may not protect the food from air and moisture, which can lower the nutritional value and taste of the food.

By using a scoop and not using food dispensers, pet owners can make the dry dog food last longer, and make sure their pets get healthy and delicious meals every time.

8. Check the Expiration Date

The expiry date on your dog’s food should be taken seriously. Different kinds of dog food have different expiration dates.

dogs eating

Conventional kibble and wet dog foods can have a shelf life of up to two years. Fresh frozen pet foods will last a few months in the freezer. All dog foods will go bad more quickly after the packaging is open.

How Long Can Dry Dog Food Be Stored?

According to Dr. Katie Tolbert from Texas A&M University, “Shelf life of any food is dependent on the type of food and its composition. food can generally be stored for about 1 to 3 months after opening the bag, and unopened bags can last up to 6 months

“For example, canned food has a longer shelf life, while foods with more fat, especially polyunsaturated fat, will have a shorter shelf life. Most quality dry dog and cat food are designed to have a reasonable shelf life, assuming the food is kept indoors and away from heat or humidity”, she adds.

At the end of its shelf life, food begins to decay and becomes unfit to eat. Yet spoiled food may not always lead to food poisoning unless organisms that release harmful toxins were present.

If dry food is stored in a plastic container, the container should be washed regularly to prevent contamination from dust mites and other parasites, especially before adding more food into the container once it is empty.

Also keeping raw dog food refrigerated for too long can lead to spoilage and food safety issues. Be sure to check our guide on how long can raw dog food stay in fridge before feeding.

How Do You Know if Dry Food Has Gone Bad?

Although you will get the feeling that the food has gone bad, here are some tips to make sure it has gone bad:

dry dog food
  • Foul smell: Fresh dry dog food doesn’t exactly smell like flowers, but you will note the scent has changed and smells distinctly off.
  • Wet and crumbly: While wet dog food loses its moisture when expired, dry dog food will lose its crunch, go a bit soft and crumble in your fingers.
  • Mold: Moistness means mold – and it’s best to throw the kibble away if any greenery is starting to bloom!
  • Insects: Bugs love the decaying warmth of stale dog food – yum! If you spot any crawlies, definitely throw the food away. 
  • Dog’s dislike: If your dog is not up for eating that treat in the bowl it’s probably bad ass dogs will mostly eat everything you give them.
  • Dog’s health: After eating that particular food if your dog appears ill then probably food is the reason!

What to Do With the Expired Dog Food?

If the food is expired that it is best to just discard it, to avoid any further health issues.

But many times the amount of food is vast due to various reasons like you moved someplace and food went bad during the process. Some weather conditions too can cause food to go bad.

In such cases, you can contact some waste management group in your town. They can recycle to use in fertilizer or something making it a feasible and smart option.

Dog food that is expired or stale can be used to transform infertile soil. It is rich in nutrients that are known to boost plant growth. 

How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last


How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last in an Airtight Container?

If stored properly, bags of unopened dried dog food will generally last up to 18 months after manufacture. Once dried dog food has been opened, you should generally aim to use it within 6 weeks.

Does Dry Dog Food Go Bad if Left Out?

You can leave dry dog food out for around 6-8 hours, as without moisture, it will remain mold free and not spoil. However, if you leave kibble out all day, it can still become exposed to bacteria and become stale, with a substantial loss of aroma.

How Long Is Dry Dog Food Good After the Expiration Date?

It’s generally agreed that it’s okay to feed your pets opened dry food three months after its “best by” date—but you should keep in mind that they probably won’t be getting all the nutrients the food would normally have. For opened canned food kept in the fridge, use it up within five to seven days of opening it.

How Long Can Dry Food Stay in a Bowl?

Dry food can be left in your cat or dog’s bowl indefinitely if the bowl is kept in an area that is cool, dry, out of direct sunlight, and not subject to contamination by insects and vermin. However, we recommend that your cat’s or dog’s food bowl is washed and filled fresh each day.

What Is the Safest Way to Store Dry Dog Food?

Store dry pet food and unopened canned food in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be less than 80 F. Excess heat or moisture may cause the nutrients to break down. If your pet is overly persistent or clever at getting into her pet food, store it in a secure location.


The original bag of dry dog food can keep the food fresh for about 6 to 8 weeks, to make the food last longer, it is important to store it in a glass container that is sealed tightly and in a place that is cool and dry.

Another way to preserve the food is to freeze it. It is also essential to not mix old and new food and to look for any signs of spoilage often.

Keeping the food clean and safe also depends on good hygiene habits, such as using a special scoop and not using food dispensers.

If you find yourself confused always consult with the vet and following these tips will keep your dog happy and healthy. Enjoy the company of your canine companion!

Some dog owners choose to feed their dogs a raw food diet instead of dry kibble. Switching your dog to a raw food diet should be done gradually to allow their digestive system to adjust. Check our guide on, "how to switch to raw dog food" for more details.


  1. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Food processing and nutrition. Better Health Channel- Better Health.
  2. Gallagher, A., DVM. (2020). 5 Dos and Don’ts for Mixing Your Pet’s Food- PetMD.
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Jeanette Hampton
Jeanette Hampton is a content writer at WWD and an expert on all things pets. She’s been writing pet blogs for over 5 years and knows everything there is to know about dogs. Jeanette enjoys writing about pet-related topics because she enjoys helping people learn more about their furry friends.

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