Whilst there are a massive plethora of different brands and types of dog food on the market today, not all of them are a good fit for every dog, and dog owners often spend a significant amount of time weighing up the various different options when picking the right food. That said, once you have ascertained the right diet for your dog and have used it for a while and are happy with it, generally this is something that you won’t pay much mind to, until your dog is approaching their next life stage, which often indicates the need for a change of diet.
There is no denying that feeding the wrong sort of diet to your dog can cause problems, such as not fulfilling all of their requirements or potentially, simply not agreeing with them very well and running the risk of causing stomach upsets. However, one other important thing that dog owners all too often overlook is how they store, prepare, serve and clean up their dog’s food, and this in itself can cause problems if something is not quite right.
While dogs will willingly eat all manner of disgusting things, including faeces, roadkill and worse if given the chance, spoiled or bad food can and often does cause problems such as stomach upsets and a failure to thrive in the dog, and this is something that no dog owner should overlook.
How you store, prepare and manage your dog’s feeding protocol is something that you should be vigilant about, in order to preserve the freshness of the food and keep it fit for consumption-and this applies to dry food just as much as meat!
In this article, we will look at some of the potential pitfalls to avoid and risks to navigate when it comes to keeping your dog’s food fresh and good to eat, and what can happen if something goes wrong.
Wet food for dogs comes in forms such as tins, trays and pouches, all of which are designed to provide one or maybe two meals for your dog. This means that the chances of food being opened and left to spoil are minimised, but not negated entirely.
If you open and serve a brand new packet for every meal, your dog eats it promptly and you wash the bowls after use, you are highly unlikely to run into any problems. But just like our own tinned or fresh meat-based foods, an opened tin, tray or packet that you wish to save for later needs to be treated with respect, to avoid spoiling.
Open wet food should be stored in the fridge, and in a plastic container rather than a tin. You should also label it with the date you opened it, and dispose of it promptly if it is not used when you planned to use it. Some dogs may prefer their food being left at room temperature briefly before eating it, but take care to ensure that it is not left out for long enough that it begins to spoil.
Dog food left uneaten in the bowl can spoil quickly too, in the summer months of the year. If your dog does not eat their wet food promptly, consider feeding them smaller portions divided into more meals. Wet food can spoil if left out within just a couple of hours in the summer, and if left out all day it is apt to be covered in flies and even potentially starting to smell. If the food has started to dry or get crusty, throw it out immediately-even if you hate waste, this food is not fit to give to your dog!
Also, don’t forget to wash your dog’s bowls with hot water and washing up liquid after every meal, just as you would with your own.
Dry food-also known by other names such as kibble, biscuit etc-tends to be safer and more able to stand up to being left out for longer than wet food, because it takes longer to spoil.
However, dry food can and does spoil too, and with the added disadvantage that it can be harder to tell if this has happened.
Don’t overfill your dog’s bowl so that the same kibble is out for more than 12 hours ideally or 24 hours at maximum-dogs should not free-feed like cats do, and their meals should be of a size that they can eat comfortably in one go.
Kibble can become stale over time, and it can also become a host for bacteria and other nasties. If your dog grazes from a bowl of kibble that you keep refilling and rarely empty, wash and replace, this can cause a host of problems.
First of all, the kibble at the very bottom of the bowl will be the oldest and also, every time your dog eats the will spread their own saliva and bacteria from within their mouths into the bowl, where it will start to affect the kibble.
When it comes to storing kibble, the bags it is sold in are designed for the purpose, so think carefully before decanting it into another container. If you do store it in another container, make sure that you empty, wash and dry it after each time it empties, and do not simply pour fresh kibble on top of old in the container.
Also, while buying large bags of food can save money, if the bag is likely to take your dog months to get through, the quality of the bag towards the end won’t be great.
Ultimately, a good rule to follow when it comes to storing, serving and clearing up your dog’s food is to follow the same rules that you would when feeding yourself. Wash up, keep open food in the fridge, don’t leave food out festering, and don’t expect your dog to eat spoiled food when you would not do so yourself!