Do You Check Pet Food Expiration Date?

Ever bought a bag or cans of pet food only to get them home and notice the “Best By” date is past or is close at hand?  The pet food expiration date is important in determining if it’s safe to feed the food to your pet.

When shopping, take a moment to look at the expiration date on the bag or can of food before purchasing.  I’ve been shopping on occasion and seen food that’s out of date or close to the expiration date still on the shelves.

pet food expiration

How Is Pet Food Expiration Date Determined?

The pet food expiration date is set by manufacturers based on how long the ingredients in the food will last before beginning to degrade. Once degradation starts, the food loses its nutritional value. It’s best to replace any food once it’s past the expiration or “Best By” date.

How Long Will I Need To Store Food?

When buying pet food, consider how much food your pet eats daily and how long food can be stored safely once opened. For dry food, it’s best to buy a bag that will be consumed within a month.

The mega bags may be cheaper but if it will take months to finish, it may become stale or rancid and lose nutritional value. Store dry food in the original bag if possible, tightly closed and not exposed to light.

If it isn’t possible to store using the original bag, keep the portion of the bag with the lot number, expiration date and manufacturer in case of a recall.

Prefer buying dry pet food in larger quantities but won’t be able to use it within a month after opening? Keep food fresh longer by freezing a portion of it in an airtight bag until ready to use.

Keep open bags of dry food in a cool, dry place.  I’ve noticed people storing it in the garage.  This may be fine during the cooler months, but once summer arrives, the heat may cause quicker spoilage.

Storing Canned Food

For canned food, once opened refrigerate any leftovers and put a lid on the can. This keeps the food fresher and minimizes odors in your refrigerator. After opening a can of food, it’s best to use the next day, or within two days of opening.

Pets are good about letting us know if their food doesn’t taste or smell quite right.  If your pet stops eating his regular food suddenly but will readily eat a treat, it could be a sign his food may have spoiled.  Smell the food to be sure it hasn’t gone rancid.  When you smell it, if it seems to have a strange odor, discard it immediately.

Although the focus of this post was pet food, the same rules apply to treats, too.  Be sure to check the Best By/Sell By Date on the bag before purchasing.

Also check for storage instructions. I recently obtained a bag of treats and storage instructions stated to use within 45 days of opening bag.




Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.