The saying bigger is better doesn’t always apply to your bag of pet food. Buying the 50 pound bag of kibble for your 9 pound dog who eats less than a cup of food a day is not only unnecessary (even with a best by date of one year), it is also dangerous to their health. 


Ideally, a bag of kibble should be consumed within seven days of opening in order to maintain freshness and preserve nutrient quality. Thereafter, a process called oxidation happens when fragile fats come into contact with oxygen and thus makes that precious fat go rancid. The more times the bag is opened, oxygen introduction increases and problems quickly arise. 


So what happens to rancid fats in the body? They can run amuck and destroy vitamins and minerals which can create deficiencies. They can also lead to malnutrition, hair loss, diarrhea, kidney and liver disease as well as cancer. 


But what about the preservatives in the food? Manufacturers add these to slow the oxidation process and help keep the food shelf stable for long periods. You may see natural, food-based antioxidants and preservatives listed on the ingredient list like “mixed tocopherols (vitamin E),” “ascorbic acid (vitamin C),” or “rosemary”. Be sure to NEVER buy foods and treats with the preservatives of TBHQ, BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin as these have been shown to cause cancer and organ failure. 


 How to help keep your pets kibble fresh:


  1. Understand that the “best by date” only applies to unopened bags of food.
  2. Buy smaller bags and use the food within seven to 14 days of opening.
  3. Look for food-based preservatives, but know they don’t last for long. 
  4. Know the fat source. Do not buy food with fish oil or omega-3’s added as these are the quickest to oxidize and go rancid. Always add your fish oil and omega-3 fats after the fact into their bowl of food. 
  5. Keep the food in the bag it came in. Do not store it in a plastic container as chemicals from the plastic can leach into the food.
  6. Do not store your food in the garage or outside. Keep it closed tightly in a cool, dry and dark place in your home. 
  7. Keep the bag CLOSED! Open bags invite mass amounts of oxygen and bugs.


If you’re feeling adventurous, portion out your pets daily servings into a Food Saver bag and vacuum seal them to really keep the air out! This is also a super convenient way to travel with your pet food! 


Write the date on the bag when you first open it to help keep track. And if it’s been way too long and you have no idea how old the food is or it’s been kept in unsavory conditions, remember the key phrase: when in doubt, throw it out!