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Does Dog Food Expire? 4 Tips to tell if dog food has gone bad!

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Dogs Vets

Does Dog Food Expire?

Processed dog foods are convenient options for most pet parents. However, even though they have been preserved to stay long, they still come with an expiration date. While some food labels contain best by dates, others have expiration dates to indicate their longevity.

And you might be wondering: is there a difference between best by and expiration date? Let’s read more about that in this article.

Best by vs expiration dates?

As a responsible dog parent, you always check the best by or expiration date before buying your dog food, right? You might think the two terms mean the same.

Wrong! Expiration dates and best-by dates mean two separate things.

Of course, both indicate the shelf life of a product. But usually, a best by date is used to indicate when a particular food item is no longer in optimum condition for consumption.

This doesn’t mean the food is totally bad. It simply means that after that date, the food will begin to lose its essential qualities such as taste and nutritional value.

On the other hand, the expiration date represents the food’s last date of safe consumption.

After this date, it is expected that the dog food should be discarded.

How to store dog food

Most dry dog foods come with instructions to store in a cool and dry place. Warm temperatures can make the food moist and cause it to deteriorate. Likewise, you can store canned foods in a cool, dry place.

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If you buy dog food in bulk, consider distributing them in storage bags made of high-quality dog treat packaging material.

However, if there is any leftover canned food, keep it in a refrigerator; otherwise, throw it away.

Unfortunately, it might be impossible to store kibble in its original packaging properly. Kibble can be stored in a container without taking it out of its bag.

You can also store kibble in a refrigerator.

Recently, frozen foods for dogs started to be on the rise, and that a very good alternative to store while and their nutritional values, without neglecting the taste.

How to tell if dog food has gone bad

Remember to always check the expiration date of the dog food before buying. Once it has passed the expiration date, it is no longer safe for consumption!

But it is possible for your dog food to go bad before its expiration date and here are some signs that your dog food has gone bad.

Weird smell

Every brand has a unique smell for its products. So, if your dog’s food smells strange, it’s probably gone bad.

Obvious mold growth

Of course, mold growth signifies that the food is moist and unfit for consumption. Discard the whole bag or can if you notice any mold in it.

Changes in texture, color, or shape

Kibble is typically brown, but once it starts to turn green or black, it is no longer edible.

Signs of bugs

Never feed food that contains bugs or other insects to your pet. Even when the bugs are dead, it’s safer to dispose of them than feed them to your pet.

Is it still safe for dogs to eat expired dog food?

No, it is not safe for dogs to eat expired food. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. So, people feed their dogs foods that have passed their expiration dates by a few days or weeks.

This is unhealthy! You can still provide your dog food when it’s a few days past its best before date. However, your dog shouldn’t eat any expired food! Why?

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Dog food that is expired loses its nutrients. So, if you feed your pet such food, it might begin to suffer from malnutrition. Besides, dog food that has expired begins to spoil since its preservative value has decreased.

Spoilt food contains toxins such as mycotoxin and aflatoxin that can make your pet sick. It doesn’t matter if the food still looks or smells good.

Dispose of any dog food that has passed its expiration date. If you notice the food growing mold even when it hasn’t passed its expiration or best by date, dispose of it immediately.

But what about the best by date? The best thing to do is: As soon as food has passed its best-by date, let your dog eat it within a week. After a week, discard any leftovers.

In short

Never feed your dog expired food. Always check the expiration or best before dates before picking them up from the store. It is better to buy food that is close to its manufacturing date. And if you notice any signs that the food is bad after opening it, discard it immediately.

Questions People Ask (FAQ’s)


How long can you store dry dog food in the refrigerator?

Generally speaking, dry dog food that has not been opened is good for up to 18 months, whereas wet canned food is good for up to two years from the date of purchase. Of course, once a food item is opened, its shelf life decreases from months to weeks or even days as a result (depending on whether it is wet or dry).

How can you tell if your dog’s food has gone bad?

An overpowering sour or rotten odor can be detected.

  • It appears like there are moisture, mold, or pests in the area.
  • The bag has reached the end of its shelf life.
  • The meal has been subjected to high temperatures or high humidity.
  • Your dog refuses to eat, or he displays signs of illness or pain following a meal.

What happens if my dog consumes dog food that is expired?

If your dog accidentally consumes damaged or outdated dog food, you may notice signs of general gastrointestinal irritation such as vomiting and diarrhea.

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Secondly, on the other hand, Your dog could become critically ill, depending on the pathogen. If bacteria such as E. coli are left untreated, they can cause a life-threatening infection.

How long does an open bag of dry dog food last?

How long does a bag of kibble that has been opened last? A typical dry kibble product will have a shelf life of around a year when stored properly.

However, after you open the bag, you only have about 2 weeks to complete it before the oils in the kibble meal begin to become rancid and ruin the food. Oils turn rancid when they are exposed to oxygen, a process known as oxidation.


How long does dry dog food stay fresh if it hasn’t been opened?

12-18 months is a reasonable period of time.

Pet food producers provide expiration or “best by” dates in order to ensure the safety of your dog’s food supply. The shelf life of unopened dry pet meals ranges between 12 and 18 months, whereas the shelf life of unopened canned pet foods ranges between 2 and 3 years from the date of manufacturing.


Is it okay to store dry dog food in the refrigerator?

It is possible to store canned dog food in the refrigerator for up to two days after it has been opened. All that is necessary is to use a plastic can lid (which many veterinary clinics provide) or a tightly fitting aluminum foil temporary lid to prevent the food from drying out.

Where is the expiration date on Purina dog food?

In addition, the bag’s expiration date will be printed on the other side of the bag.

Is there an expiration date on Purina One dog food products?

Our Purina ONE dog food, if indoor, has an 18-month shelf life when stored properly. We hope you have found this material to be useful.


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