There is more variety in dog food selection today than ever before. Some dog owners prefer dry kibble, while others prefer canned (wet) food. Still other give their dogs a diet of raw meat, claiming it is a more natural alternative than processed food. Depending on your dog's taste, a combination of quality dry kibble and canned food is a compromise that gets many tails wagging. When considering canned dog food, it's a smart idea to check the shelf life before buying.
Shelf Life of Unopened Cans of Dog Food
Before purchasing canned dog food, check the "best if used by" or "use by" date on the container. If this is hard to find or not there, avoid the food as it is likely a low-quality product. Canned dog food should have a shelf life of two to five years from the date of canning. Because canning is a sterilizing process, undamaged canned food can potentially last much longer, but it's best to throw it out if it is past the "use by" date.
Shelf Life of Opened Cans of Dog Food
Once canned dog food has been opened, it is exposed to air and potential contaminants. Open cans should be covered with a tight-fitting lid (found at most pet food stores) and refrigerated. After three days, any uneaten food should be discarded.
Storing Canned Dog Food
A can of dog food's shelf life depends on storage conditions. Ideally, the cans should be stored in a stable, room-temperature environment (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not store cans in an area where the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. If stored in a low-temperature environment (below 50 degrees), the appearance and texture may change, but the safety and nutritional value of the food will still be OK.
Brand Differences in Shelf Life Expectancy
The brand of canned dog food should not affect the shelf life expectancy. Both premium dog foods and less expensive brands are preserved using heat sterilization and vacuum preservation to last two to five years from the date of manufacture.
Jason Gordon is a professional writer and editor. In addition to online work, he has written for "Texas Highways," "AAA Southwest," "Glimpse," the "University of Washington Daily" and the "Dallas Morning News." Gordon's passions include animals, reading and finding the perfect pairings of pastry and espresso.