Dog Food, Safety and Ingredients

7 Signs Of Bad Dog Food That Require Immediate Action

Signs Of Bad Dog Food

The shelf life of dog food varies depending on its type and storage conditions. Dry dog food typically lasts about 12-18 months unopened, and once opened, should be used within six weeks. Wet dog food, once opened, should be refrigerated and used within a week. Always check the expiration date on the package and store food in a cool, dry place to ensure freshness.

However, many pet parents fear that dog food, once opened can go bad and harm their pooch. This guide explains all the signs that tell if the food has gone bad.

Signs Of Bad Dog Food

Signs that Show Dog Food Has Gone Bad


Dog food that has gone bad often emits a rancid or unusual odor. This is due to the degradation of fats and oils in the food, which can become oxidized or spoiled. If the food smells different from when it was first opened or has a sour or off-putting smell, it is likely not safe for consumption. A change in odor is a clear indication that the food’s quality has deteriorated.


The presence of moisture in dry dog food can be a sign of spoilage. Moisture can lead to the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria, making the food unsafe. Dry dog food should remain dry; any clumping or dampness in the food suggests possible contamination. Moisture can enter the food due to improper storage, such as leaving the bag open or storing it in a damp area.


Infestation by pests like insects or rodents is a common problem in improperly stored dog food. These pests can contaminate the food with their droppings or by eating it, leading to potential health risks for your dog. Signs of pest infestation include visible insects or rodents, droppings in the food, or damage to the packaging. Keeping dog food in a sealed container can help prevent pest infestation.


Mold Growth

Mold growth on dog food is a clear sign that it has gone bad. Mold can produce toxins that are harmful to dogs and can cause food poisoning. If you see any signs of mold, such as fuzzy or discolored spots, the entire batch of food should be discarded. Mold growth can occur in dry and wet dog food if stored in a humid environment or kept beyond its expiry date.

Dog Refusing to Eat

If a dog suddenly refuses to eat its usual food, this could be a sign that the food has gone bad. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and may detect subtle changes in their food that humans cannot. If your dog is normally not a picky eater but starts showing disinterest in its food, it’s worth checking for other signs of spoilage.

Dog Getting Sick

If your dog becomes sick with symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea after eating its food, this could indicate that the food is spoiled or contaminated. This is especially true if the symptoms persist or occur repeatedly after meals. In such cases, it’s important to stop feeding the suspected food immediately and consult a veterinarian.

Expiry Dates

The expiration date on dog food packaging is a critical indicator of its shelf life. Feeding your dog food past its expiry date can be risky as the nutritional value may degrade, and there’s an increased risk of bacterial growth and spoilage. Always check and adhere to the expiry dates, and purchase quantities of dog food that can be used within this time frame.

Expiry Dates

Why Dog Food Goes Bad Quickly?

  • Exposure to Air: When dog food is exposed to air, it can lead to oxidation and rancidity, especially in fats, causing the food to spoil quickly.
  • Heat Exposure: High temperatures accelerate the degradation of nutrients and increase the risk of bacterial growth, leading to faster spoilage of dog food.
  • Improper Storage: Storing dog food in damp, unclean, or pest-infested areas can result in contamination and rapid spoilage due to mold, bacteria, or pests.

How to Store Dog Food Properly so it Stays Fresh?

Dry Food

  • Airtight Containers: Store dry dog food in airtight containers to protect it from air and moisture, which can lead to spoilage.
  • Cool, Dry Location: Keep the food in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources to prevent degradation.
  • Original Packaging: It’s often best to keep the food in its original packaging inside an airtight container, as these bags are designed to preserve freshness.
  • Avoid Moisture: Ensure that the storage area is not damp or humid to prevent mold growth and maintain the food’s quality.

Wet Food

  • Refrigeration After Opening: Wet dog food should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week to prevent spoilage.
  • Sealed Containers: Store the opened wet food in a sealed container to maintain freshness and prevent contamination.
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination: Use clean utensils when serving wet dog food to avoid introducing bacteria from other food sources.
  • Discard Unused Portions: If any wet dog food remains unused beyond a week, it’s safer to discard it to avoid feeding your dog spoiled food.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *