Dog food shelf life

Dog Food Shelf Life

So you've done all of your homework and settled on the right brand of high quality dog food for your canine, but it is important to keep in mind that this is not where your responsibility begins and ends. The correct handling and storage of your dog's food is of paramount importance to ensure that the taste and nutritional value of the food are maintained.

Part of this process is to be aware of the shelf life of your dog's food and how strictly this should be adhered to as well as the preservatives used. Read below for the full details.

Use by date and shelf life

When buying dog food, whether it is in a bag or tin, always check the "Used by" date on the packaging. High quality dog food brands will have this printed on their packaging in an easy to read format. If for some reason this information does not appear on your dog's food packaging, it may be time to switch brands.

As a general rule, the majority of dry dog foods have a shelf life of one year and canned goods are usually fine to use for up to two years from the date of manufacture. Always ensure that you stick to these guidelines and check the dates before buying products. If you only notice that a product is past its expiry date once you get it home or it is delivered, rather spend the time and effort to exchange it than risk your dog's health buy feeding it to him/her.


The type of preservatives used in both wet and dry dog food can affect the shelf life of the product. Natural preservatives like vitamin E generally break down more rapidly than their artificial counterparts like BHT, BHA and ethoxyquin. For this reason natural dog food products usually have a shorter shelf life than those with artificial preservatives.

If you prefer to feed natural dog foods, then keep in mind that you may need to compensate for this fact by purchasing smaller quantities of these types of dog food on a more regular basis.


Like with your own food, the most common sources of damage to dog food are heat, humidity, oxygen and direct light. Oxidation occurs when the fat in foods is exposed to oxygen and heat, leading to a process wherein foods become sour, depleted of vitamins and nutrients and can cause food poisoning and severe illness.

Storage of your dog's food should be done in such a manner to ensure that environmental influences are limited. Room temperature is generally acceptable for both dry and canned dog foods but temperatures should not exceed 32 degrees Celsius. Also, temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius may change the appearance, taste and texture of tinned dog foods but shouldn't affect the nutritional value of the food.

Avoid storing dry dog foods in any rooms that may be subject to moisture (think laundry, basements etc.) as this will accelerate the growth of mould. Also, if possible try to keep dry foods in their original bags or airtight containers to avoid infestation of insects and rodents.

Once opened, canned foods should ideally be covered with a tight lid and stored in the refrigerator and used within 3 days.