How long can you keep dry dog food once opened?

Updated 05 January 2024
Read time: 4 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer

If your dog is a dry food dude but you’re not entirely sure how to keep their kibble at its best, you’re in the right place. Dry food is known for lasting longer than opened wet food, raw food and cooked human food - but when it goes bad, it tastes bad, not to mention loses its important nutritional value. 

So how long is too long to have dry dog food hanging around? Read on to learn how long you should keep dry dog food once opened, so you avoid putting your pooch off their meals with a sad bowl of stale kibble.

Does dry dog food go stale if left open?

Easy answer: yes, your sack of dry dog food will go stale much faster if you leave it open. Unopened dry dog food tends to have a shelf life of around 12-18 months, but once you open it, you should aim to use it up in about 6 weeks. After that, it will start to go stale.

Easy answer: yes, your sack of dry dog food will go stale much faster if you leave it open. Unopened dry dog food tends to have a shelf life of around 12-18 months, but once you open it, you should aim to use it up in about 6 weeks. After that, it will start to go stale.

How can you tell if dry dog food is bad?

There are a few ways to detect dry dog food that is not only past its best, but shouldn’t be fed to your pooch at all. 

  • Bad smell. Fresh dry dog food doesn’t exactly smell of roses, but you will definitely note the scent has changed and smells distinctly off.
  • Moist and crumbly. While wet dog food loses its moisture when expired, dry dog food will lose its crunch, go a bit soft and crumble in your fingers.
  • Mould. Moistness means mould - and it’s best to throw the kibble away if any greenery is starting to bloom!
  • Insects. Bugs love the decaying warmth of stale dog food - yum! If you spot any crawlies, definitely throw the food away. 
  • Your dog isn’t keen. If your dog is usually a firm foodie but turns their nose up, the food probably isn’t fresh enough.
  • Your dog becomes unwell. A given, but if your dog gets sick, their food should be considered the first culprit. 

Is it OK to put dog food in a plastic container?

It might seem like a great idea to pour dog kibble from the original bag into a plastic container - but it’s actually one of the most common mistakes dog owners make, for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, plastic containers or bins draw oil and fats from the kibble, causing it to oxidise and go stale much quicker. Secondly, if you’ve thrown away the bag, you won’t be able to check important information in an emergency - such as which of the ingredients may have caused a reaction in your dog, or when the expiry date was. 

What you can do is keep the food in its original packaging, and then put the entire bag into a plastic container to ensure the food stays its best. The bags are usually designed to ensure optimal freshness and crunchiness so that the food stays super nutritious, too.

Can old dry dog food make dogs sick?

Sure can - dogs may get dodgy tummies if they eat bad food, just like we humans do. Lots of dogs will reject stale or expired dry dog food, but those that don’t might suffer from stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea. Get in touch with your vet if this happens to your dog and causes concern.

dalmation dog with it's head in a bag of dog food


How to keep your dog food fresh:

There are plenty of ways to keep your dog’s kibble at its tastiest and crunchiest. To save you money, avoid waste and keep your pooch happy each dinnertime, follow these tips each time you buy new dry dog food…

Keep in a cool, dry place 

It’s a classic, back-of-pack phrase for a reason - store your dry dog food ideally in a dark cupboard, away from all moistness and heat and you’ll prolong its life nicely. 

Store in the original packaging

As mentioned above, dry dog food sacks are designed for freshness, whereas plastic containers will draw oil from the food so it will go stale much quicker. If you’ve already bought one of those plastic dog food bins though, that’s great - just pop the whole bag inside it. 

Buy smaller bags more often

This is especially smart if you have a smaller dog who doesn’t eat as much. Buying dry food in smaller bags and more often could be the key to keeping the kibble super fresh.

Make note of when you opened it

If you’re someone who loses track of things like birthdays and anniversaries, attach the date you opened the bag on a sticky note, so you’ll know when the food might be getting old. 

Always throw stale food away

If there’s even a small chance you think the dry food might smell strange or is going a bit soft, get rid and buy a fresh batch for your dog to munch on. Your pooch will thank you for it.

The freshest dry dog food is the most nutritious, and we believe your dog deserves the tastiest and best there is. To keep your pooch well-fed and content on their daily kibble, try our Pooch & Mutt range of grain-free dry dog food - made with organic, all-natural ingredients to keep your dog happy and healthy from the inside out. 

Comments (9)

Bought 1.6kg bag of Primal Regular Sized kibble from Amazon which was delivered today, bag states expiry date of December 2023 should It not be fresher than that or am I being too picky?

sandra - Apr 11 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Sandra, we always aim to give you at least 6 months on our food before the expiry date. If you have any concerns please reach out to our customer service team [email protected] :)

Team Pooch - Apr 11 2023

What is in your opinion one of the best dry dog food for you 4 month old.

Bryan C - Dec 13 2023

Over the last week our dog has been sticking his nose up at the salmon pooch & mutt and just picking up and spreading it round the kitchen in disgust… when he does eat some it makes him vomit. Do you think something is wrong with it? We only opened the bag last week and it’s a 10kg bag so a little upset if it’s off and making him poorly 😩 regards

Holly Rowley - Dec 13 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Bryan,

For pups this age we would advise our Puppy Complete Superfood, to ensure they are receiving all the nutrients a growing pup needs. If they have any allergies, you can take a look at the food from our Functional dry food range and most of these are suitable for puppies from 8 weeks old.
If you need any further help, please reach out to us at [email protected] :)

Team Pooch - Dec 13 2023

Once o open the bag, can I store the sealed bag in the freezer?
I have a Shih Tzu and he doesn’t eat much and I bought the smallest bag available, but it’s still more than he’ll eat in a few days

Sherry - Jan 10 2024
Pooch Admin

Hi Sherry,

We wouldn’t advise freezing our dry food and our bags come with a resealable top, so they can be stored in a cool dry place for up to 12-18 months. :)

Team Pooch - Jan 10 2024

Is it ok to use a dry dog food bin with a air tight seal

Stephen - Apr 18 2024
Pooch Admin

Hi Stephen, Absolutely! We do have our dry food bags that have a re-seal, but you can absolutely use a dry food container with an air tight seal. :)

Team Pooch - Apr 18 2024

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