How You Store Dry Pet Food Will Affect Your Pets’s Health
from The Natural Paw blog
Keeping an open bag of dry dog food for weeks in your kitchen or garage will cause changes in the food that may lead to serious health problems. Learn how to properly store dry dog foods to help your dogs and cats live longer.
Would you keep a loaf of bread open in your kitchen for 39 days?
We hope not. That’s how long the typical opened bag of dog food lasts. Lengthy storage time and poor storage conditions lead to nutrient degradation, oxidation of fats, and infestation by molds, mites and other food spoilers. One in three dogs dies of cancer. We think improper storage at home is a major contributing factor.
Dry dog foods usually have a one-year “shelf life.” That means the food is “good” for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many dry foods stamp a “best if used by” date on the package. This applies only to unopened bags.
High-quality dog food companies use bags that provide protection from oxygen and moisture. If the bag is intact, not enough oxygen and moisture can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation or microbial growth problems. Though problems can occur between the manufacture of food and the customer opening the bag, it’s what happens after the bag is opened that we are most concerned with in this article.
What happens after you open the bag of dog food?
As soon as you open a bag of food, oxygen, moisture, light, mold spores, storage mites, and other potential spoilers enter the bag.
Oxidation of fats
Oxidized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems in humans. The same is true for dogs.
Dog food companies use antioxidants (sometimes vitamin E and other natural sources) to forestall oxidation. Every time the bag is opened, oxygen enters. Eventually the antioxidants are all oxidized (used up) and some of the fats are damaged, starting with the more fragile omega –3 fatty acids.
Degradation of all micronutrients
Vitamins particularly susceptible to oxidation and damage due to long term room temperature storage include vitamin A, thiamin, most forms of folate, some forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal),vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. The nutrition in the food at the bottom of a bag left open 39 days will be considerably less than the nutrition in the top of the bag. Fresh is best.
Molds and mycotoxins
Storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (most kitchens) promotes the growth of molds. Some of the waste products of these molds (mycotoxins) are increasingly being implicated as long-term causes of cancer and other health problems in humans, poultry, pigs and other animals. Dogs are particularly susceptible to these toxins[i].
Keep food fresh!
1. Keep food in its original bag, even if you use a container. Plastics can leach vitamin C out of the food. The components of the plastics themselves may leach into the food. Rancid fat, which lodges in the pores of plastics that are not food-grade, will contaminate new batches of food.
2. Keep food dry. If the food looks moist, throw it away.
3. If the food has off color, throw it away.
4. If the food smells rancid or like paint, throw the food away.
5. If your dog says no, do not force her to eat.
6. Avoid leaving food in a hot car! Heat will leach micronutrients and ruin the food’s nutritional value.