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Protect Your Investment & Your Pets With Proper Pet Food Storage!

We hope that our Pet Food 101 Nutrition Series in the NW Pets Learning Center has already convinced you that better quality pet food is perhaps the most important single thing you can do for your pet!  Now that you have taken the time to invest in a high quality pet food, it is also important to protect the nutritional integrity and taste of premium dry pet food once you get it home, and to be properly prepared to keep your piece of mind in the unfortunate event of a product recall!

Many of our pet food customers buy and feed about one bag of dry food per month.  Therefore, there is a substantial period of time that elapses between the time that a bag of food is opened and the last bit of the package is consumed by your pet.  After your pet food is opened, fats in the food can go rancid and other fragile ingredients can break down, causing it to lose some of its nutritional potency. Another key issue is that the longer the food is exposed to air (oxygen), the more likely it will start to taste stale and be less appealing to your dog or cat.  This could be why your pet doesn’t seem to “like” their food as much when you get near the end of a bag!

The main culprits that conspire to degrade your pet food are heat, air, and moisture.  First, make sure that dry food is stored at room temperature or cooler (preferably inside your house if your garage is 90+ degrees in the summer!).  Second, pet food should be protected from air and moisture.  The oxygen in the air we breathe is awesome for making life on Earth possible, but it also causes the fats in pet food become less stable and ultimately rancid, while moisture provides a great environment for mold to flourish.

A question we often get in our stores is if it is recommended to remove the food from the bag and put in a bin, can or other receptacle once it is opened.  Pet food bags are specially constructed from multiple layers of material that provide a barrier between your pet’s food and the oxygen in the air outside the package.  Therefore, it is actually preferable that the food is kept in the original bag (which can be rolled down and clamped tight with a clip) or that the bag is put inside your food bin rather pouring the food into the bin alone.  One other option when feeding from larger bags is to keep a smaller, air-tight “side” container (one made for cereal works well) for daily dispensing, while the majority of the food remains in the original bag with the air removed.

Another thing to keep in mind is the “expiration” or best-by dates stamped on your package of food.  If dry food is stored in the manner described above, it’s generally okay to continue feeding your food for a few months beyond the best-by date unless it smells “off,” or shows signs of mold.  A good rule of thumb is to try to have your pet consume the contents of a bag of food within a month or two after opening or else it can become stale and less appealing.

One final and very important word of advice is to keep the package (bag) on hand until your pet is completely finished with the food you are feeding from it – whether the food is kept in the bag or put into a separate container!  In the event of a product recall, you will need the date code to be certain about whether you have any of the affected food in your pantry.  Also, having the original package facilitates a return of your product to the store.  While all of the food we sell is 100% unconditionally guaranteed, most pet food manufacturers require the bag and its proof of purchase or “UPC” code to complete a return.

As always, if you have any questions about your pet’s diet, please post your question on our facebook page, e-mail us at admin@northwestpets.com, or call us at one of our store locations!