How to Determine If Dog Food Is Rancid?

Rancid dog food may look or smell "off;" follow your instinct and throw it out to be safe.

Rancid dog food may look or smell "off;" follow your instinct and throw it out to be safe.

Dry or canned dog food lasts forever -- right? While your pooch's food may have a long shelf life, it begins to degrade as soon as it is opened -- or if the container is compromised. So if your dog can't refuse anything, become his savvy dog food sleuth.

Check the expiration date on the dog food packaging. Dry kibble can have a shelf life of several months after it is opened; canned dog food is typically good from one to five years, as long as the can is not dented or damaged. While shelf life can extend past the expiration date, try to use the food prior to that date for the most nutritional value, as well.

Contact the manufacturer to find out when the dog food was actually made. The packaging should have numbers printed on it to assist the company in giving you this information. Purchase dog food that is six months old or less to give your dog the freshest option on dry or canned food.

Look for signs of mold, moisture or bugs in your dog's food before you serve it to him. All indicate improper exposure of the food to bacteria, causing it to spoil.

Smell the food. While wet food may actually smell spoiled, dry kibble may have an "off" odor that resembles chemicals or paint.

Watch your dog's reaction to the food; if he suddenly quits eating it, pitch it. His fine sense of smell and taste may detect spoilage before you can.


  • If you are ever unsure, don't take any chances; rancid dog food can make your pooch sick. Throw it out and buy fresh food.


  • Avoid buying damaged -- but marked down -- packages or cans of dog food from the store. While these may seem like a good buy, the chance of contamination and spoilage is much higher.

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About the Author

Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."

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