Dry Kibble Pet Food
Here are some helpful tips in building a successful storage of dry food for your pet. Learning how to shop smarter, store wisely, and rotate correctly will all make your pet's food last longer.
Tips when buying
Always take from the back
Most unopened dry pet foods have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years. In pet food stores, as in grocery stores, the newest stock is placed in the back or on the bottom. If you take it from the front or top, you may be knocking off months of storage time that you really don’t want to lose. So, just as you do when buying milk at the grocery store, always grab it from the back.
Buy same amount but in smaller bags
Bigger dry food bags are more cost-efficient, no doubt. But if you can afford it, the smarter strategy is to buy more of the smaller bags. Why? Because the minute the bag is opened, food oxidation begins, and the timer starts on the quality of the bag’s contents. Once the bag is open, some experts say the clock expires at 6 months while others say 6 weeks.
Buy the size of the bag that contains just enough food that your pet can eat in 6 weeks. But, with short-term food storage in mind, buy enough of these bags to always have 3 months of food on hand. This works out to be always 2.5 bags on hand per pet.
Exceptions to bag size and storage amounts
You can store less dry food if you plan to store canned or freeze-dried food as well. If you have two cats or two dogs then you can take advantage of the price breaks of the larger bag while they consume the contents within 6 so work out your math accordingly.
Building a one-year food storage per pet
When finances allow, work your way up by having enough bags in storage to have a consistent one-year supply, rotating through each bag, and buying another one, once each bag is consumed or, better yet, when opened. See Tips for Rotation below. This works out to be about 8 to 9 bags on hand per pet. Of course, breed sizes can change some of these calculations, but you get the point.
Tips for storing
Keep food in its original packaging
- It is not recommended that you repackage dry pet food for short or long-term storage.
- Always store dry food, even if opened, in its original packaging.
- High-quality pet food packaging has been designed to keep its contents dry, keep damaging amounts of oxygen and humidity out, and to maintain freshness for as long as possible.
- If you want an added level of protection once the bag is opened, look for airtight plastic containers. But remember, keep the food in the original bag.
Store pet food in a cool, dark, and dry area. Protect from sunlight and extreme temperature swings. Doing this will allow the food to stay fresh at least through its best-by date and probably after.
Once you have more than one bag of your pet’s favorite food, start rotating through each one, using the oldest first. Pay attention to the due dates and rotate through them accordingly.
Mark the date as you open each bag
As your pet uses the food, remember, the “use by” (or “best used by”, etc.) dates apply ONLY to sealed bags. They don’t apply once the bag is opened. Once opened, dry pet food oxidation starts to occur at a rapid pace and most commercial pet food will last only six months max. When you first open a bag of food, write the date on the bag with a marker and count 6 months. That is the new expiration date, regardless of the date on the bag. Then, after each feeding, squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and reseal it tightly with a clip.
Use by date
It’s okay to have pet food bags in storage that extend beyond the “use-by” date (within limits) if the bags have never been opened. Rotating through your bags will help you from storing bags that go well beyond the expiration date. But safety first! Always keep an eye on the food’s appearance and smell. When in doubt, throw it out.
If you choose to freeze instead
You may choose to buy a larger-size bag, more than your pet can eat in six weeks and freezing the remainder. See tips for freezing, next. If you do this, remember to include the freeze date the food is placed in the freezer.
Freezing contents of a larger bag
What if you want to take advantage of bulk pricing? Fair point. If this is you, go ahead and buy the bigger, better valued bags. But there is a trade-off when going this route if food storage is truly the goal. You must prepare it correctly if you want it to last in the freezer. This means you will need to use a vacuum sealer, which is a great thing to have anyway.
Tips for freezing dry pet food:
- Take out what your pet can eat in 6 weeks and freeze the rest. You must be careful to do this right because the freezer can add moisture to the food if you do it wrong.
- Divide the food into weekly feedings and place the food into a vacuum sealer bag.
- Use a vacuum sealer to get the air out and seal properly.
- Write three dates on the bag: purchase date, seal/freeze date, and original best by date.
- Take out one bag per week for use.
Keep the barcode
Keeping the pet food bag also has the added benefit of retaining the food’s barcode and batch number – all of which are important information to have in the event of a recall. Either cut the barcode and batch number from the bag and file it away, or at least take a photo of this information for easy reference.