If you are creating a food storage stockpile of emergency goods, be sure to include your four-legged friend and their food in your system.
To store dog food long-term, use airtight containers, food-grade buckets, or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Remember to keep the dog food in a cool, dry, and dark place that is away from direct sunlight, and to rotate the stock periodically.
After extensively researching food storage techniques and survival skills, I have gathered enough information to determine how to store dog food long-term. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most effective ways to prolong the shelf life of dog food in your emergency stockpile.
How Long Does Dog Food Last?
Much like with all the goods in your food storage system, dog food will eventually go bad. Each dog food product is a bit different and the expiration date can vary depending on the brand that you buy and the amount of preservatives inside.
The best place to start when determining how long dog food will last is to check the original packaging on the product. In general, you can expect dry dog food to last around 6 to 18 months if it’s unopened.
That said, the shelf life of dog food can be pushed back considerably longer than this if you take additional steps to prevent contamination. If stored properly in the right conditions, dog food can last as long as 25+ years.
Dried vs Canned Dog Food
If you are like most pet owners, you likely feed your dog a combination of both dried and canned food. The shelf life of each product is a bit different, but you can ultimately count on canned food lasting a lot longer in its original packaging.
Canned dog food products often have plenty of preservatives and the container itself secures the shelf life. Most canned dog food can last upwards of 5+ years without implementing any additional storage techniques. Granted, the storage location still needs to be suitable.
Dried dog food, on the other hand, typically lasts around 18 months to 2 years when left unopened. Given that the dried food is exposed to some air, this will naturally affect how quickly it starts to go bad.
Although canned dog food is an easier solution for long-term storage, that does not mean that you should disregard dried food in your stockpile. Dried food will make up the bulk of your pup’s diet and you can push back the shelf life exponentially by storing it properly.
How Long Does Dog Food Last Once Open?
As soon as you open dog food, you can expect the shelf life to diminish. Canned food, in particular, does not last long at all once open, with most products having a shelf life of just 5 to 7 days, even when kept in the fridge.
Dried dog food, however, will last for as long as 6 to 8 weeks after it's been opened. So long as the storage conditions are stable, dried dog food should still be safe to consume after this period.
What’s likely to happen is the flavor and quality of the dried dog food will start to deteriorate after 8 weeks. The dried food may be safe to consume, but your pup might not enjoy it as much and it will begin to lose nutrients.
Which Dog Food is Best for Long-Term Storage?
If you are looking for a quick and easy solution, canned dog food has a longer shelf life without you needing to implement any additional food storage techniques. So long as the canned food is stored in a cool and dark place, it should last upwards of 5 years.
However, canned dog food is only reliable for short-term emergency stockpiles. If you are creating a long-term system that you want to count on for months or even years, it’s best to incorporate dry food into the mix as well.
Although dried dog food usually only lasts for 18 months to 2 years, you can improve this shelf life by taking additional measures to store it properly. By doing so, even dried dog food can last for 5 to 25+ years depending on the storage method you choose.
How to Store Dog Food Long-Term
You can never predict the next emergency, but you can certainly do your best to be prepared for it. Practicing food storage, commonly referred to as prepping, is becoming an increasingly popular trend, with more people creating stockpiles at home than ever before.
If you have a beloved canine companion at home, it’s important that you don’t leave them out of the picture when prepping.
Just like you and everyone else in your household, your pup needs to eat. If you want to ensure that your dog is healthy and happy during an emergency, staying stocked with dog chow is going to be a must.
With that said, to secure or improve the shelf life of dog food, you need to implement some food storage techniques to make it last as long as possible. Consider the following methods to store your dog food long-term.
Although the original packaging that your dog food came in is not the best solution for long-term storage, it is hands down the most practical and straightforward.
Dog food already has a decent shelf life of 18 months to 2 years for dried food and upwards of 3 to 5 years for canned food. If you are creating a short-term system, this shelf life should already suffice for your prepping needs.
If you decide to take this route, simply rotate the dog food bag in your system with the food that your dog eats daily at home. This way you can always swap out the new dog food that you buy with what you have stored in your stockpile.
Airtight Containers + Oxygen Absorbers
Some pet owners like to transfer their dried dog food from the original packaging into airtight containers. While this may seem like a logical approach, it’s not always the most reliable for long-term storage.
The main reason why dog food doesn’t last as long in the original packaging is that there is still a considerable amount of air inside that will contaminate the product.
To prevent air from affecting the quality as quickly, buy a quality dog food container with a sealed lid and throw a couple of oxygen absorbers inside.
This should add at least a year or two to the dried food’s shelf life. To prevent any risk of contamination, I suggest rotating the stock in plastic containers every year or so with new food.
Food Grade Buckets + Oxygen Absorbers
Food-grade buckets are a crowd favorite among preppers. When you need to store a large amount of food in one container, 5-gallon food-grade buckets are the way to go.
Preppers with pets often rely on this method for storing dog food as it’s one of the most reliable ways to secure the shelf life for decades. Food-grade buckets are airtight and feature sealed lids that prevent any kind of oxygen leaks.
By storing your dog’s chow in a food-grade bucket, it can last for upwards of 25+ years. This is one of the best storage methods for dog food given how much you can store in one container and how impressive the shelf life is.
To seal the deal on the prolonged expiration date of the dried dog food, I recommend filling the food-grade bucket to the brim and placing a couple of oxygen absorbers inside.
Mylar Bags + Oxygen Absorbers
If you want a sure thing, mylar bags are the ultimate solution for storing dog food long-term. Since they were popularized, mylar bags have been a game-changer among preppers, with many considering this to be the best way to store virtually any food item, including dog food.
You can buy a set of mylar bags and store dry dog food inside based on the instructions of the product. Once you fill the mylar bag with dog food, throw an oxygen absorber inside to remove any air, as this is necessary to secure the shelf life.
With this method, you can count on your dog food lasting for 25+ years in the right conditions. While the shelf life is certainly secured with mylar bags, the packaging itself can be quite vulnerable to punctures, especially if you have any pests around the house.
To ensure the dog food does not become contaminated, I recommend placing the mylar bags inside boxes or food-grade buckets, as this will prevent pests and rodents from getting in.
Where to Store Dog Food Long-Term
The storage conditions of your stockpile will heavily influence how long the dog food lasts, even if you choose secure methods such as food-grade buckets and mylar bags. In general, any storage location that you choose should be cool, dry, dark, and away from direct sunlight.
You can ultimately choose an area in your home that you feel is best, but keep these conditions in mind when picking a place. That said, these are some of the most common places to store dog food long-term:
Tips for Storing Dog Food Long-Term
If you’ve chosen a secure method for storing dry dog food, you can count on it lasting considerably longer than what’s labeled on the packaging. An airtight container combined with an oxygen absorber can improve the shelf life of your puppy's food exponentially.
However, wise preppers like to take additional measures when storing food, which applies to dog food as well. Proper dog food storage needs to be approached in the same way that you would the rest of the goods in your stockpile.
If you want your pet food to last, I recommend considering the following tips when creating your system.
1. Buy Low Fat Dog Food with Preservatives
Although using dog food containers and storage method techniques will drastically improve shelf life, you should also try to buy products that are low fat. Fats and oils result in food going bad a lot faster, which is why I recommend buying lean pet food.
In addition, look for products that have natural preservatives as this can be a huge boost for securing the shelf life.
2. Use Oxygen Absorbers
Dry dog food storage works a lot better when you incorporate oxygen absorbers.
Air contamination tends to be the main thing that ruins long-term stockpiles, which is why oxygen absorbers are highly recommended for any storage method you choose.
3. Watch Out For Pests
Pest prevention is an important part of storing dog food long-term. Rodents are particularly clever when it comes to accessing stockpiles and they can chew their way through different types of containers quite easily.
Remember to check on your stockpile periodically and keep an eye out for droppings or chew marks. To prevent pests from accessing sensitive packages, keep products in food-grade buckets or other durable containers.
4. Check Expiration Dates
Whenever you buy food for your stockpile, it’s important to check expiration dates. This applies to both dry dog food products and food fresh products such as canned goods.
Buy dog food that has been recently packaged and log all the expiration dates so you know when your stock is going to go bad.
5. Rotate Stock
Regardless of which storage method you choose, remember to rotate your stock. Dog food lasts a long time if you implement food storage techniques but you can keep the contents of your stockpile fresh by rotating every 6 months to a year.
If you are logging expiration dates, simply swap out the pet food in your stockpile with the most recent products that you buy from the store.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker