Dog owners, and all pet owners for that matter, should be careful when checking the dates on their pet food. After all, we often give our dogs their food and we do not check the dates on the tin or pouch.
The date on pet food is the ‘Best By’ date. In most cases, this date simply means that the food may no longer provide the level of nutrition as stated on their guarantee. The best nutrition levels may have faded but in most cases, according to the manufacturer, the food is still good enough for the dogs to eat.
There is nothing on the food packaging about shelf life, and in fact the shelf life of pet food varies anything from 4 months to 3 years for dry food and 1 to 5 years for canned or pouch products.
The Best By date unfortunately, does not tell you when the food was made or how old it is, only when the guaranteed level of nutrition will last til.
If you want your dog to eat naturally preserved food then you need to find food that is really fresh, as natural foods start to lose their nutritional value straight away. To ensure your dog is eating fresh food, then the best way to do this is the call the manufacturer and ask them what the shelf life is for the food that you’re considering. It will be different for wet versus dry food so be specific.
If they say the shelf life is 2 years, for example, and that best by date is January 2009, then you know the food was made in January 2007. If it is now September 2008, then you know that this particular bag or pouch is 19 months old.
Normally, a pet owner will look at the best by date and if they see January 2009, they think the food still has another 4 months before it expires, but this is not the case.
In an ideal world, the dry food you feed your dog should be less than four months old and used within two months, so personally I prefer to ensure that I purchase and use the dog food within six months.
To help food stay fresh, store it in an airtight container – try the ones that you can purchase for your cereal. That is better than just opening the bag and leaving it in a cupboard or even worse, in the utility room. Canned food should be covered and stored in the fridge as soon as it has been opened and be sure to use it within a couple of days. You can buy cheap pet food covers to cover the top of the open tin.
Never use any food after the best by date as the nutrition is important for your dog’s health, especially if it is canned food.
Start to learn the habit of checking the best by date before you purchase the food, particularly if you are shopping at discount supermarkets such as Aldi.
Following the steps in this article will ensure that you are giving your dog better nutrition and it might just save you from a trip to the vets with a sick dog.