So, you’re spending the money on this expensive food for your dog or cat so, in an effort to save a little money, you buy the bigger bag. Here’s the problem, that food has a shelf-life, and it’s a lot shorter than you think it is. We recommend not keeping dry food (kibble) any longer than a month, and some say, you should be aiming for 2 weeks. Why? Because of oxidation. What we’re talking about here is a meat-based pantry item, and that makes for an unstable shelf-life. As soon as you open your bag of food, the oxidation process begins, and it is exacerbated each time you open the bag for feeding time. Oxidation causes the fats and oils in the food to go rancid. Not only can that make your dog or cat sick in the short-term, but it can have long-term effects as well. Rancid oils and fats cause inflammation, and inflammation is a major contributing factor for a whole host of diseases including cancer and heart disease.
“But I keep my food in a plastic bin,” you say. Well, believe it or not, that’s actually worse, unless you’re dropping the actual bag inside the bin, then it’s about the same. Why is it worse? Because plastic is porous. The fats and oils from the food settle in these pores and oxidize.
When a customer comes into the store complaining that their pet spontaneously became ill while eating their food, we ask the same questions:
“How old is your pet?”
“Have you introduced any new food or treats recently?”
“Have they gotten into anything?”
If the answer to the last two questions is no, the next question is, “How long ago did you buy the bag?” The answer usually goes one of two ways. Either the food was purchased months ago and is long past the recommended 2 – 4 weeks for freshness, or it’s a fairly new bag. If it’s a new bag, the next question is always, “How are you storing your food?” Four out of five times, the food is being stored in a plastic bin and that bin hasn’t been cleaned in months, if ever. Just as you wouldn’t continue to use the same container to store your lunch every day without washing it, you shouldn’t do it with your pet’s food either. The rancid oils that have gathered in the pores of the plastic have now contaminated your brand new bag of food. Time to cut your losses, throw out the food, clean the bin thoroughly with HOT water and soap, and buy a new bag because there’s no saving this one. Because of the porous nature of plastic, it is best not to bother with it, but if you do, put the entire bag into the bin so that the food is contained within the bag, keeping the oils from settling into the plastic. Even better, invest in a stainless steel food bin. It is important to remember that you still must clean the bin thoroughly after each bag to remove the oils and fats.
Remember, it may cost a little more in the long run to buy smaller bags, but one trip to the vet for uncontrollable diarrhea will sink any savings you achieved buying the bigger bags.
*Side note* What you CAN do to get more for your money is freeze a portion of the bag. So, if you have an extra freezer in your garage or basement, you can keep a small amount of food out at a time and store the rest of the bag in the freezer to prevent the food from oxidizing. You’re still going to want to make sure to seal the bag well to preserve freshness and prevent freezer burn.