We pay close attention to our own foods' expiration dates and storage needs, but pet food can take a turn south just as easily if kept unchecked. It's suggested that dry pet food should be stored in a cool, dry place, making your garage shelves the perfect place. If you live in a particularly hot climate where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees in the summer months, consider moving it to your utility room instead. Beyond selecting the optimal room, there are a few things to keep in mind when storing your furry friends' food.
Date the food when you open it
Pets should be fed opened dry food for no longer than six weeks, as its nutritional value begins to degrade after a longer span of time. Use-by dates only apply to sealed bags, however, so writing down the open date directly onto the bag right when you open it will help keep track of how long the food is good for and limit bacterial contamination, storage mites and mold growth.
Keep it in the original bag…
Many people transfer their dry pet food into storage containers to keep it airtight, but the bag has special protective layering that will help protect the food from oxygen and moisture (not to mention your handwritten expiration date!). Besides lengthening the shelf life of your pet food, keeping it in the original bag has the bar code and batch code, both of which will help you monitor recalls and respond appropriately should your pet get sick.
Transferring pet food directly into a container can lead to food poisoning on its own accord, thanks to fats and oils that stick to the sides and go rancid. If you're using a pet food dispenser and have to take the kibble out of its original packaging, make sure to only put a small amount of food in at a time and never add fresh food on top of old food.
… but put the bag in a metal or glass container
A good way to glean the benefits of both the bag and an airtight container is to use both. After feeding your pet, squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then reseal it with a clip (kind of like you would with potato chips). While plastic containers are fine, glass and metal are the best for keeping out oxygen and humidity barriers and last the longest. As a bonus, you can often buy containers with a spot for a label – a great place to put your personalized expiration date!
It's a good idea to keep these pet food containers off the floor, so clear a spot for it in your garage wall storage.
Wash pet food containers and scoops frequently
Even though you've got your dry good stored in its original bag, it's likely that crumbs, debris and oil will still find its way onto the bottom of your airtight container. Washing your storage containers and utensils frequently will protect the integrity of your pet's food and keep it extra fresh.