Can you freeze dry dog food? How to store dog food properly

can you freeze dry dog food? how to store dog food properly
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re worried about keeping your dog’s food as fresh as possible for longer and wondering whether you can freeze dry dog food, this guide will fill you in on how to store wet and dry food to ensure it lasts while also maintaining its nutritional value.

Diet is a top priority for dog owners. It’s not only important to research and buy the best dog food for your pooch so that you know that they’re eating healthy, balanced meals, but you also need to think about storing their food properly so that it stays fresh and doesn’t go bad, making your pet ill. 

If you’ve ever asked yourself does dog food expire the answer is yes. Most dog food packaging will have an expiry date on it and if you don’t follow this advice your dog could end up with an upset stomach, food poisoning or worse. 

Once the pack is open and if not stored correctly, dog food will perish even faster as it’s affected by air, moisture and room temperature. So, here’s what you need to know about storing your dog’s food and keeping it fresh for longer. 

How to store wet dog food 

Depending on the brand a can of closed wet dog food can last anything from a few months to a few years. However, once it’s open, it needs to be stored properly and even then it will only be good for three to five days. 

Check the expiry date on the can to make sure it’s still in date when opening. Then make sure it’s stored in an airtight container and put in the fridge straight after it’s opened.   

wet dog food

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to store dry dog food after opening it   

While dry dog food lasts longer than wet dog food, it is still perishable and needs to be stored in the right way. Here’s what to do to make sure it stays as fresh as possible:

Seal the bag

Once you open the bag of dog food, you’ll need to check it’s sealed properly in order to keep out any air or moisture as this is how bacteria gets in. Roll down the sides of the bag and seal it tightly using a bag clip.  

Keep it in an airtight container 

If kibble is exposed to air, the oxygen breaks down the oils in the food, which speeds up the process by which it goes bad. To prevent this from happening, keep the bag of dog food in an airtight container.

The best options for these are stainless steel or glass as they have better seals, are easier to clean and last longer. If you do choose to use a plastic container you will need to keep it clean and dry and replace it regularly as the chemicals in the plastic can seep into the food. 

Leave it in the original packaging 

Instead of emptying dog food out of its bag and into a container, place the whole bag into the container. This will add an extra barrier to prevent air and moisture from getting in. Plus, keeping the original packaging means you have the expiry date and manufacturer details in case there is a problem with the food.  

Clean the container regularly 

Before you place the dog food in the container make sure you wash it using hot soapy water or white wine vinegar, rinse it and dry it thoroughly. When you buy a new bag of dog food, don’t mix it in with the previous bag. Rewash and dry the container to prevent oils building up and turning the food rancid and to stop mold from forming due to excess moisture. 

Store it somewhere dry 

Store the dog food somewhere dry and cool such as a pantry– nowhere hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (you may want to avoid garages and sheds). This will prevent moisture causing mold and high temperatures breaking down the nutrients in the food.  

Freeze it 

If you’re worried about dry dog food going bad, buy it in bulk and freeze it so that it is preserved for longer.  

dry dog food

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How long can you keep dry dog food for?  

Unopened dry dog food may last from 12 to 18 months, but once opened it may only be good for as little as two to six weeks. Check the expiry date to be sure. If there is no expiry date it is best not to take a risk and to throw the dog food out as you don’t want your dog to get ill. 

Dry dog food that has gone bad may start to smell bad or change texture. You may notice mold on the inside of the bag. If it looks and smells fine, but your dog won’t eat it, this may also be a sign that it’s past its sell-by date.  

Can you freeze dry dog food?  

Not only can you freeze dry dog food, but it is a great way to keep it fresh for longer. It can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for six to nine months. Simply take it out in small quantities and defrost.  

Can you store dry dog food in ziplock bags?  

We wouldn’t recommend storing dry dog food in ziplock bags unless you are freezing it as the seal is not airtight enough. If you are using them to freeze dry dog food, buy smaller ziplock bags so you can get more air out of them and to avoid attracting extra moisture as the food defrosts from the inside. 

This will also allow you to divide the food up into smaller portions to take out as needed instead of defrosting a big bag. Instead of storing the bags in the freezer on their own, place them inside an airtight container for a double barrier. The best way to freeze dry dog food is to use a vacuum sealing machine so that no air can enter the bag.  

Can you freeze dog food in a Kong?  

The Kong chew toy is a great way to give your dog food or treats while keeping them stimulated as they attempt to extract the food. 

A Kong can be stuffed with anything that is safe for your dog to eat – all in moderation. Try mixing wet food with kibble and then topping with a treat such as peanut butter or cream cheese. Once stuffed put the Kong inside a sealed container and freeze. 

For a full list of recipes you can try out at home see our guide to Kong fillers.

kong recipes

(Image credit: Kong)

How do you freeze-dry dog food? 

Freeze-dried food is raw dog food (using fresh, raw ingredients such as meat, fish, eggs and vegetables) which has had the moisture removed from it using low temperatures and high pressure. This alternative to a raw food dog diet provides your pet with all the nutrients it needs in a meal that is designed with a longer shelf life in mind.  

You can buy freeze-dried dog food online, but you can also make it yourself. Once you have chosen your ingredients (make sure you research recipes for a nutritious, balanced meal) cook these in a crock put on a low heat for eight hours. Once cooked, mash the ingredients together, cool and then divide the mixture into smaller portions. 

Using a freeze-dryer or vacuum chamber freeze-dry the portions and then store them in an airtight container. Remember to label the portions with the meal name and date they were put in the freezer so that you eat the oldest ones first.  

How much freeze-dried dog food should you feed your dog? 

Although freeze-dried dog food has many health benefits for your pet because it is made up of raw, natural ingredients, this also means it is not as easy to digest. Make sure you research the amount to feed your dog. This will depend on their weight and typical activity level of your pet.

If you are changing their diet to freeze-dried food make sure you incorporate freeze-dried food gradually (for example one meal a day over a 10-day period) and give your pooch plenty of water.  

Zara Gaspar
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language.  Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities.  A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.