Your dog is most probably your best friend, so you need to keep a proper check on what goes into its stomach. In the modern world, there are tons of ready-to-eat options that you can find very easily in stores. You might think that canned food can be used anytime since it is so well-prepared and well-preserved by pros. However, you need to know that that is not always the case. So, does dog food go bad? Let’s find out.


Shelf Life Of Dog Food

Dry dog food remains edible for two to six months. Canned food is a different story. It can maintain its flavor and quality for up to five years. Of course, this is provided that the container is not opened, dented, or otherwise damaged.

Always be on the look-out for marked down dog food products. The containers might be damaged, and you can never be entirely sure whether its contents are suitable for consumption or not. Who wants to take a risk with their pet?

Opened dry food can remain edible for up to six weeks. However, only if stored in a refrigerator. If at room temperature, it stays somewhat fresh for 24 hours. So, if you are out of home for that period, you do not have to worry about your pet going hungry.

Keep unopened cans of dog food in a cool and dry place. Opened can food should be used within a week of opening, if refrigerated.


Storing Opened Packets/Cans

If you want to maximize the life of your opened dog food, make sure to store it properly. For dry food, keep it in its original packaging and store in a cool and dry spot.
Reseal the packet to maintain its flavor and quality. After opening cans, you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container.


How To Tell If The Food Is Good Or Bad?

Before serving food to your pet, check it for signs of mold and bugs. If there is any mold or insects on it, this means that the food has been improperly exposed to bacteria which has caused it to spoil.

Another way to check if the food is good or not is to smell it. Our sense of smell can sometimes serve as our best detector. Wet food smells terrible if it has gone bad so you will know right away. However, with dry food, it is a little different. If it has gone bad, it may smell like paint or chemicals, and not necessarily bad.

If you are still not sure, have your dog smell the food. He/she is most likely to detect spoilage with his/her incredible sense of smell before you do. And it’s a nice way of involving your pet.


Can Dogs Eat Expired Food?

Some people might feel it is okay to feed expired food to their pet. In many cases, it is alright. And this is because dog food undergoes a unique manufacturing procedure that is aimed at increasing the life of the food. The nutrient-full formula is packed with different ingredients to keep the food good for as long as possible.

However, dog food starts losing its nutrients the moment it is packed and leaves the factory. Packages and cans all have a best by date. They do not have a strict expiry date because the food does not necessarily become unsuitable for consumption past that date. The food only loses its nutritional value beyond its best by date.


What Happens To Dog Food Beyond Expiration Date?

The proteins and vitamins in the dog food will start to diminish considerably after it reaches its expiration date. The nutritional value and energy that the food promised to pump your dog with will also fade over time.

Dry food may retain some of its nutritional value even past its expiration date. However, it is of much inferior quality than when it’s fresh. Feeding your dog such food can fill up its tummy for some time. But, your pet will not have the energy that he requires.

Fat is a primary ingredient of dog food that goes bad first. Fat is responsible for giving your pet the energy it requires. Additionally, it adds most flavor to the food. When the fat expires, you will be able to tell right away that the food has gone bad because it smells foul.

Dogs are quite immune to the smell of spoiled fat and might gobble up the food. But it can cause digestion issues and discomfort. So, being a dog owner, you need to inspect the food properly – after it has reached its expiration or best by date – before serving it.

When moisture permeates bagged food, it can result in insect contamination. You might think it’s alright for your dog to consume a few insects, but it can host multiple problems.

Preservatives can only perform so long. There comes a time when they stop doing what they do: preserve. This leads to bacteria and mold on food, which is quite harmful if ingested.


What Causes Dog Food To Go Bad?

There are multiple factors cause food to rot;

  • If you expose it to air, dog food can go bad quickly. This is because air feeds harmful bacteria that can damage the quality of your pet’s diet.
  • Moisture is the mother of mold. If dog food is kept in an area where there is moisture, mold will form on the food which is very harmful to both humans and animals. It can have a detrimental effect on your pet’s health, and this is definitely something you never want to happen.
  • Heat is another factor that spoils food. If left in high temperatures, dog food goes rancid and becomes unsuitable for consumption. Either store it in the pantry or refrigerator to maximize its shelf life.
  • Canned food is safe from insects and moisture. However, bagged food can be easily contaminated by insects and humidity that permeate the bag.
  • And last but not least, the expiration date or best by date is your best indicator. Always check that date before purchasing dog food, and you’re good to go.



Being a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet gets energy and nutrients from the food he/she consumes. Nothing in life is permanent; the same goes for dog food.

Contrary to normal belief, dog food does go bad and should be avoided. Although dogs are strong and do not seem like they can be affected by expired food, sometimes consuming such food can be dangerous.


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