Dogs

How to safely store your dog’s wet food

If your dog loves canned food, he’s just like my dogs (and cats :)). Wet dog food has its benefits, but it is also prone to bacterial growth and can pose a serious health hazard. So to keep your pup safe and happy, you need to know how to store it properly.

Here are the answers to some burning questions like does wet dog food need to be refrigerated, how long can you keep it in the fridge, and how to warm it up safely. And a few other tips and tricks on how to keep it fresh longer ☺️

Benefits and drawbacks of wet dog food 

Wet dog food is a popular option for many pet parents due to its texture, flavor, and moisture content. And to be honest, I haven’t seen a dog that would prefer kibbles over canned food, but maybe there are a few exceptions out there somewhere 🙂 

However, wet dog food has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of them:

Benefits of wet dog food:

  • Moisture content: Wet dog food typically contains more moisture than dry kibble, which can help keep your dog hydrated
  • Flavor: Many dogs find wet dog food more appealing than dry diets
  • Variety: Wet dog food comes in a wide range of flavors and formulations, allowing pet owners to find a product that meets their dog’s specific dietary needs and preferences. 
  • Softness: If your pet lost his teeth from old age (or some other reason), high-quality wet food is the best way to feed him a balanced and nutritional diet 

Drawbacks of wet dog food:

  • Cost: Wet dog food can be more expensive than dry kibble, making it less cost-effective for some pet owners.
  • Shorter shelf life: Once opened, wet dog food has a shorter shelf life than dry kibble and needs to be refrigerated and used within a few days.
  • Dental health: The soft texture of wet dog food may doesn’t provide the same dental benefits as dry kibble. Dry food helps manually remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth, while wet food can have the opposite effect. If you feed your pup wet food, you need to have an efficient dental routine in place to keep his teeth healthy. 
  • Messy: Wet dog food can be messy and sticky, making it more difficult to handle and store than dry kibble.

It’s important to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of wet dog food before deciding what to feed your pet. 

And no one said that you cannot combine them 🙂 But please keep in mind that both kibbles and canned food have their feeding guidelines. Sometimes it’s not easy to find a proper balance and not overfeed your pup when you combine them 🤷‍♀️

It’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pup’s individual needs.

Types of dog wet food:

There are various types of wet dog food available on the market, including:

  • Canned dog food: This is the most common type of wet dog food, and it is available in various flavors and formulations.
  • Pouched dog food: This type of wet dog food is similar to canned food but is packaged in flexible pouches instead of metal cans.
  • Trays and tubs: Wet dog food is also available in trays and tubs that are convenient for feeding and storing.

Now, I’m not going to talk about all those different cooked and raw food diets, that would be a theme for another whole article. In this post, I focus on commercially available wet dog food. 

How to safely store wet dog food

Wet food does generally have more moisture content than dry pet food. Higher moisture means faster bacterial growth, so it requires extra care when it comes to storage and handling.

Improper storage can easily result in food poisoning.

→ How to store unopened wet food:

Cans and pouches are sterile products, which means they do not spoil before their expiration date. They can be stored in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight and heat sources. There is no need to keep them in your fridge. 

The golden rule of every storage system is the “FIFO” approach – First In First Out. This means that you should feed your pup cans that are the oldest (but not expired!). This way you minimize the risk of having expired cans in your storage room. My tip: if you buy new cans of dog food, put them behind those you already have. 

Always check the expiration date on the wet dog food packaging before feeding it to your dog.

Do not feed your dog expired food, as it may cause illness or digestive problems.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for storing and using their products.

→ How to store wet dog food after opening:

Wet dog food needs to be refrigerated after opening to prevent spoilage and maintain its quality. 

Once you open a can or pouch of wet dog food, any unused portion should be immediately refrigerated to keep it fresh.

You can leave the food in the can, however, it needs to be closed! Exposure to air promotes bacterial growth and oxidation. 

You can transfer the food to an airtight plastic container or keep it in the can and use plastic wrap. Or you can buy a plastic can lid in your local pet store. Sometimes super premium brands give free can lids as gifts when you buy their dog food 🙂

If you use pouches, you can leave the food in its original bag, just roll down the sides tightly and use a bag clip.

Dog care tips dog food 5

→ How long can you keep wet dog food in the fridge?

Most manufacturers recommend storing your dog’s food in the fridge for a maximum of 5-7 days.

Any uneaten dog food should be thrown out after that time.

→ Can you freeze canned dog food after opening?

Big brands like Hill’s or Royal Canin don’t recommend freezing their wet dog food, as this causes changes in texture and aroma profile. It also decreases the nutritional value.

However, if for whatever reason you need to freeze your dog’s food, you can. I do it when I have some leftovers right before we leave for a vacation.

You can freeze it in a ziplock bag or a freezer-safe airtight container. 

Don’t forget to label it with the date and type of food. Trust me, without a label you won’t be able to recognize what’s inside in a few days.

Frozen food is perfectly safe for your dog IF you warm it up properly. But more about this later👇

Important safety tips if you feed your dog wet food

  • Store unopened cans or pouches in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources
  • Wet dog food can spoil quickly if left out at room temperature for too long. Serve it promptly and refrigerate any unused canned food in a sealed container or with an airtight lid
  • Keep the opened can in the fridge. Discard any uneaten food after 5 days to prevent spoilage
  • Use a clean spoon or scoop to serve your pet’s food
  • Always check the expiration date on the packaging to ensure that the dog food has not expired. Do not feed your dog food that has expired, even if it looks and smells okay.
  • Throw away any leftover food from your dog’s bowl within 4 hours and clean the bowl thoroughly
  • Make sure you’re following the feeding instructions on the wet dog food packaging and not overfeeding your pet, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your dog’s wet food stays fresh and safe to eat, and your pet can enjoy healthy and nutritious meals.

why does wet dog food need to be refrigerated

How to safely warm up canned dog food

Pet food companies recommend serving their food at room temperature. Food just below the body temperature has a more intense aroma and taste than cold food. Especially picky eaters or sick dogs prefer warm food over cold one.

But if you don’t know how to warm it safely, you can harm your pup. Leaving the food out to warm can take a couple of hours. During this time, bacteria and fungi have a small party inside… 🤷‍♀️

So how can you warn up your pup’s food safely? Here are a few tips you can try ☺️

How to safely warm up canned dog food:

  • Use a microwave: Transfer the food to a microwave-safe dish and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds. Never put the can in the microwave! 
  • Add water: A good option is also to add a small amount of hot water to the wet dog food to help it warm up evenly
  • Use a plastic bag (or a ziplock): Transfer the food in a plastic bag or a ziplock and immerse it in hot water. Use hot, not boiling water. 

How to safely defrost wet dog food:

  • Frozen food should be defrosted in the fridge. It takes time, but this is the safest option for defrosting any kind of food. 
  • If you don’t have enough time, you can immerse the food in its container in hot water or use your microwave if you have a defrosting program

Signs that your wet dog food has gone bad

It is important to keep an eye on wet dog food to make sure it is fresh and safe for your pet to consume. Even if you follow all the rules above, always check the food before you give it to your pup. 

Here are some signs that the wet dog food may have gone bad:

  • Foul odor: If the wet dog food has a bad odor, like a sour or rancid smell, it is a clear sign that it has gone bad and should be discarded.
  • Mold or discoloration: If you notice any mold, discoloration, or unusual texture in the wet dog food, do not feed it to your dog. Even if the mold is only at a small part of the can, the food inside is already full of mycotoxins. You have to throw away the whole can!
  • Bloating or swelling: If the can or pouch of wet dog food is bloated or swollen, it may indicate bacterial growth, and the food should be thrown away.
  • Your dog refuses to eat it: If your dog suddenly refuses to eat his food, it may be a sign that it has gone bad, and you should not force your pet to consume it.

If you notice any of these signs, do not feed the food to your pet, and dispose of it immediately. 

It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health and nutrition.

Signs of food poisoning in dogs

Food poisoning can occur in dogs when they consume contaminated or spoiled food, including wet dog food. 

At vet clinics, we usually see food poisoning if a pup finds a garbage bag and/or eats some rotten stuff.  However, dogs can get food poisoning from spoiled dog food too. 

Here are some signs of food poisoning in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration: Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
  • Fever: Dogs with food poisoning may develop a fever as their immune system tries to battle the toxins

If you suspect that your dog has food poisoning, it’s important to contact your vet right away. In severe cases, dogs may require supportive care, such as intravenous fluids or medication to control vomiting and diarrhea. 

printable pet planner for busy dog owners

As a pet parent, it’s up to you to choose the best food for your furry friend. Nowadays, we have so many options to choose from… From fresh foods, raw meat diets, kibbles to cans, and pouches. It can be overwhelming.

On top of that, you need to adapt it to individual life stages. An adult dog will have other nutritional needs than a puppy or a senior. So it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet about which diet is best for your dog.

Here’s a complete guide on different dog food types, with pros and cons for each 🙂

Whatever you decide, make sure you are storing your pup’s food safely. Wet dog food has a high moisture content, which means it also spoils quickly.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your pet stays safe and healthy while enjoying the benefits of wet dog food. If you have any concerns or questions about feeding wet dog food to your pet, ask your vet! He has the best qualification to help you ☺️

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am and want to get more pet health tips, subscribe to my newsletter! Now you will get a free pet planner as a bonus 🤗

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