Storing dog and cat food can be a hassle. It should be kept sealed, in a cool, dry place, so not in the garage, unless yours is air conditioned!
While a lot of people buy big bags to make it more cost effective, research has shown that though the “sell by” or “use by” dates are usually dated sometime in the next year, once the bag is open it will start oxidizing and turning rancid so it’s best to use a bag of food within 7 to 10 days to ensure freshness. This means usually buying smaller bags, unless you are feeding quite a big dog, several dogs or several cats the same food.
Some premium pet foods such as Wysong suggest to keep their products “in a cool, dry, dark environment, and might even consider storing unopened packages in the freezer to further extend shelf life.” But if you don’t have freezer space to share then, a smaller bag is best.
The original packaging for dry pet food helps protect the kibble from oxygen and humidity. The premium pet food companies use high quality packaging, including the use of oxygen barrier bags made of petroleum products. This packaging, in particular, is very effective at keeping out oxygen and moisture. Some foods like Orijen even have resealable bags to make it easier. But even though the bags do their very best to keep the food fresh, we also need to select a cool spot in our homes that is “between 50 and 70ºF and away from sunlight”, according to Orijen.
It is important not to dump your pet’s food in a container as fats and oils in the food will settle at the bottom and sides of the pet food storage bin and become rancid, therefore contaminating the fresh new food you pour in. Even if you wash it out every time, there are contaminants that can seep into your pet’s food. A good example of this by the makers of Fromm, “when you store tomato sauce in a reusable plastic container. The sauce often dyes the sides of the container red and cannot be washed out.” Off course, you can use a glass container if you have one that can be tightly shut and you wash it out completely every time you place new food in.
Why do we worry about the food becoming rancid? According to Steve Brown, a pet nutrition expert in an article for The Whole Dog Journal,
“Rancid fats reduce the nutritive value of the protein, and degrade 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.”
So keeping the food in the original bag is important, but that does not mean you can’t place the entire bag in a container. A container with a tight fitting lid is best, so no need to throw out a container if you already have it, just make sure the whole bag fits in there and that the bag and container are sealed shut every time.
Another very important reason to keep the original bag of pet food is that it contains the barcode, batch code, and expiration date. This identifies the particular batch of food you’re feeding your dog or cat. Which can be very important information to have in the event of a pet food recall, if you suspect any problems with the food or if for any reason your cat or dog doesn’t like it and you need to return it.