It’s a given that dog parents buy the best dog food for their pooch.
But even the most expensive ones have a shelf life.
So how do you tell that it isn’t safe to eat anymore?
Keep reading to discover:
- 9 signs that your dog food has gone bad.
- The method for reporting bad dog food to the FDA.
- Why you should always check dog food packaging.
- 7 simple storage rules so that dog food lasts longer.
- And many, many more…
Table of contents
- How do you know if dry dog food is bad?
- How to tell if wet dog food is bad?
- 9 signs of bad dog food
- What happens if a dog eats bad dog food?
How do you know if dry dog food is bad?
You know if dry dog food is bad when there are signs of mold, it’s past the expiration date or it has a rancid smell. Bugs getting inside due to damaged packaging or exposure to heat and humidity also causes it to go bad. If your dog doesn’t want to eat it or gets sick after eating, it’s gone bad.
How to tell if wet dog food is bad?
You can tell if wet dog food is bad when there is damage to the packaging. Which means that there’ll be mold or bugs inside. It will also have a rancid smell because it’s exposed to heat or humidity. Your dog won’t want to eat or they get sick from bad wet dog food.
9 signs of bad dog food
#1: It’s past the best by date
Dog food manufacturers place a best by or expiration date on their cans and bags of dog food.
So you can easily tell how long you can store them.
If it’s past that date, then there’s a good chance that the dog food has gone bad.
You need to keep an eye out for the best by or expiration dates. So that you can keep giving your doggo safe and nutritious food.
Note: In general, dry dog food lasts up to 1 year. While canned dog food is good for 2 – 4 years after manufacture.
But these dates are estimates. The manufacturer determines these by testing in ideal conditions.
That’s not always the case in all of our homes.
Always monitor your dog’s kibble. There are other reasons why it could go bad.
Want to know more about this?
Then keep reading to find out!
#2: Damages to packaging
Another telltale sign of bad dog food is damaging to the packaging.
Dog food manufacturers test their bags and cans for:
- Ability to keep food fresh.
They’re designed to protect the food inside for the longest possible time.
But there are occasions when the manufacturers can’t avoid damage.
For example, there are issues such as damaged bags or cans. Or improper storage practices
And if the packaging can’t do its job, then it gives way to a lot of problems.
#3: It’s exposed to air
This is one danger when there are damages to the dog food bag. Or the dog food isn’t stored properly.
It’s exposed to the air. This speeds up the oxidation process.
And according to PetMD, this makes the dog food degrade faster.
It also promotes bacterial growth. As it offers the ideal environment for them to survive.
So keep your dog food bag tightly closed. Or store it in an airtight container.
“What if it takes a long time for my dog to consume 1 sack of dog food?”
It’s sensible to buy smaller bags of their food if this is the case.
The same goes for canned dog food.
Buy cans that correspond to your dog’s feeding portions.
Dr. Jennifer Coates says that excess canned dog food should go into the refrigerator for at most, 7 days.
If it’s exposed to air at room temperature for more than 4 hours?
Then it has to go into the trash.
#4: It’s exposed to hot and cold temperatures
This is a result of improper food storage.
And it happens when the dog food isn’t stored in a place that has a consistent temperature.
Or it’s not temperature controlled, such as basements.
This exposes the dog food to fluctuating:
This compromises the nutrients in the dog food. And as a result, the dog food gets bad faster.
The FDA recommends these storing rules to prevent feeding your dog bad food.
For unopened cans and bags of kibble:
- Store in a cool dry place.
- The temperature should be less than 80°F (26.6°C).
- Don’t throw away the dog food bag.
- You can put the bag inside a clean, dry container with a fitted lid.
When handling opened canned food here are the precautions to take:
- Refrigerate or throw out promptly if your dog can’t finish it.
- Set refrigerator temperature to 40°F (4.4°C) or lower.
- Don’t let your dog eat food from cans that are swollen or leaking.
Watch this video for more information on storing dog food:
#5: There are signs of mold
Mold is a sign that humidity affected the dog food.
It causes moisture to form inside the bag. And when that’s trapped inside, there’s a perfect environment for mold to grow.
So before you let your pooch dig into their breakfast, inspect the bag for signs of mold.
You’ll know this when you see:
- Moist spots.
- Fluffy growth on the kibble.
- White or gray dust on the food.
“How does mold happen on dog food?”
It happens when mold spores land on moist areas, like food. The spores float through indoor and outdoor air.
And when it lands on moist kibble, the spores can grow. The process produces chemicals that break the food down. And results in rot.
According to the EPA, mold is a part of the natural process of decay. But it’s dangerous when it grows inside the home. Such as on our dog’s food.
“What happens when dogs eat moldy food?”
Mold produces mycotoxins. This study says that eating these can have life-threatening effects on your pooch.
Mycotoxins produced by the fungi penicillium is present in moldy food. Which is why it’s dangerous when dogs get into the garbage can.
When canines eat food contaminated with it, they display the following signs:
- Too fast heart rate.
- Abnormal movements.
A study of 6 dogs affected with this mycotoxin, shows the effects:
- 1 euthanized dog.
- 3 complete recoveries.
- 2 with neurological symptoms 2-3 months after.
The researchers concluded that for some dogs, it’s a long road to complete recovery.
Aflatoxins by Aspergillus flavus
This is mold that typically grows in pet food with ingredients like:
It grows in places where there’s damaged plant tissue.
So it happens because of an error on the source of ingredients.
For example, the grain used in a certain batch of dog food gets damaged. Then there’s a big chance of aspergillus flavus growth.
It doesn’t have an immediate effect. And the toxin can build in your dog’s system.
The MSD Manual says this causes:
- Sudden death.
- Enlarged livers.
- Lack of appetite.
- Internal bleeding.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Severe liver damage.
- Reduced growth rate.
“What happens if people find mycotoxins in dog food after they’re released?”
This almost doesn’t happen. As pet food manufacturers are strict about inspecting each batch.
But there are times when dog kibble gets contaminated.
PhysOrg reported that in early 2021, many dogs died from aflatoxin poisoning.
The pet food company already issued a recall in December of 2020. By then, 28 dogs had already died.
Tests revealed that there were very high levels of aflatoxin in the kibble.
And by January 2021, the FDA reported at least 110 dog deaths linked to the toxin. And 210 sick dogs because of it.
Warning: If your dog exhibits signs of mold poisoning, call your vet immediately. Provide diet history and pictures of the dog food label including the lot number.
Next, check the recalls and withdrawals directory of the FDA. Don’t feed the dog food there to your pooch.
You can also report a complaint to the FDA. Check out their instructions on how to do it.
#6: Bugs or small animals have gotten inside
Do you see a hole or an opening in the packaging?
If so, there is a possibility that small animals or bugs helped themselves to the dog food.
This contaminates the kibble. And it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria like Salmonella.
Canines can also get this from contaminated water.
The most common sign of salmonella poisoning is gastroenteritis or stomach flu.
Your dog will have:
- Abdominal pain.
The SVA states that severe infections can lead to sepsis shock and death.
“What’s the treatment for salmonella infections?”
Vets will recommend supportive treatment to keep dogs strong enough to fight it.
PetMD tells us that it will include:
- Antimicrobial medicine.
- Plasma or blood transfusions.
It’s also advised to separate an infected dog from the family. And observe strict hygiene when caring for one.
#7: It has a rancid smell
Dry dog food’s usual smell isn’t that appealing for humans. And that’s natural.
But if there is a rancid smell, it might have gone bad.
For example, if it smells like chemicals and paint.
Canned dog food is safe for long storage. As long as the can isn’t damaged in any way.
If it has gone bad, it will smell like spoiled food.
#8: Your pooch doesn’t want to eat
Our dogs have superior noses than us. This is why you’ll find them sniffing the ground to explore the world.
They can smell that their kibble has gone bad. Even before we can do that.
So if your dog turns away from their food. Or they turn away after one sniff, it could mean that there’s something wrong.
Especially if they’re usually always hungry doggos.
Of course, it could be that your dog doesn’t find their food appetizing.
To be safe, check their dog food bag for signs of mold or moisture.
Take note of its odor. Is it the same smell or not?
But if that isn’t the case, then you can put a small number of treats or protein in their kibble.
This can help encourage your dog to eat.
Further reading: 9 Reasons Why Your New Puppy Isn’t Eating Or Drinking Much
#9: Your dog gets sick after eating
This one sure sign that the dog food has gone bad.
This can result in food poisoning for your pooch.
The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.
Other signs include:
- Reduced appetite.
- Lack of coordination.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach they may display the more severe signs.
“What can I do if my dog has food poisoning?”
- Put your dog in a 24 hour fast. Don’t offer food. Make them drink water only.
- Take them to the vet if they continue to vomit within that period.
- If they don’t vomit in the 24 hours but vomit after that, take them to the vet.
- Take them to the vet if they vomit water or show neurological signs. Like seizures or lack of coordination.
What happens if a dog eats bad dog food?
If a dog eats bad food they can get sick. Bad dog food is often contaminated with bacteria and mycotoxins from mold. They will often have:
- Abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
So try to buy dog food that isn’t near or past its best by or expiration date. Check for damaged packaging. And research the brand that you’re buying.
This ensures that you’re giving the best to your dog. Especially in terms of: