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Storage Tips for Your Cat & Dog Food

Where you store your cat and dog food can make a big difference in the quality and freshness once it is opened. Here are some common questions and recommendations for optimal storage for all of Hill’s dry and canned cat and dog food.

How should I store my cat or dog’s dry food?
Bags of dry Science Diet®, Ideal Balance™ and Prescription Diet® cat or dog food should be stored in a cool, dry environment under 100°F (38°C)? This is to prevent destruction of vitamins and oxidation of fats leading to rancidity. Pet foods will retain their best flavor if stored in the original bag, which provides a fat barrier. Storage at temperatures of 120°F (48°C) for more than 48 hours can accelerate the normal degradation or destruction of the vitamins.

Can I store my cat or dog’s canned food in the garage?
Storing your cat or dog’s food in an uncontrolled environment - such as a garage or outdoors – is not recommended.

  • For dry cat and dog food
    • Store the food in a cool and dry environment. It is best to store the bag off the floor to reduce potential infestation.
  • For canned cat and dog food
    • Prior to opening, store cans in a place where the temperature is between 50-100°F. Do not freeze canned cat or dog food as it can change the texture and taste of the food.

Should I use a plastic storage container for my cat or dog’s food?
Many cat and dog owners like to transfer their cat or dog’s dry food from the bag to another container. Studies by Hill's® packaging engineers have shown that storage in a variety of plastic containers (garbage cans, zip-to-close bags, garbage or kitchen bags, rubber/plastic containers, plastic pails, etc.) may impart an odor and taste to dry pet foods that adversely effects the taste of the food. Zip-to-close bags, garbage and similar bags will also not prevent fat from accumulating on the outside of the bag. Storage in clean metal containers (small metal tins, metal garbage cans, etc.) is acceptable. If you do prefer using a storage container, keep the food in the original bag within the container to create an ideal storage location.

How do I store open cans of cat or dog food?
Opened cans of Science Diet®, Ideal Balance™ or Prescription Diet® cat or dog food should be stored in the fridge to retain moisture, minimize exposure to air and reduce transfer of odors to other food. The best way to store opened cans of cat or dog food is to use a plastic pet food lid that fits the top of the can to prevent moisture loss and transfer of odors. If a plastic lid is not available, plastic wrap also provides a very good moisture, air and odor barrier. Zip-to-close bags provide good moisture barriers but do not provide good oxygen and odor barriers.

Sometimes my pet doesn’t eat everything. How long is my cat or dog’s dry food good once it’s in the bowl? How long are the cans good once opened?

  • For dry cat and dog food
    • Dry food can be left in your cat or dog’s bowl indefinitely if the bowl is kept in an area that is cool, dry, out of direct sunlight and not subject to contamination by insects and vermin. However, we recommend that your cat or dog’s food bowl is washed and filled fresh each day.
  • For canned cat and dog food
    • Your pet’s bowl should be emptied of moist or canned food not eaten by your cat or dog within 4 hours if the ambient temperature is above 50°F. Opened cans should be stored in the fridge, at temperatures between 40-45°F, for a maximum of 5-7 days. Any cat or dog food remaining after that time should be thrown out.

How can I tell if an unopened can or bag of cat or dog food is still good?
For dry cat and dog food

  • The datecode on our plastic bags is located on the left gusset, near the four-digit SKU number, toward the bottom of the bag. The datecode on our medium and large bags will be located on the top of the bag, generally the front flap. The example below shows that this bag of pet food is best before April 2010. After April 1, 2010, the unopened bag of pet food should be discarded.

For canned cat and dog food

  • Please refer to the best before date stamped on the bottom of all canned products. The example below shows that this can of pet food is best before December 2010. After December 1, 2010, the unopened can of pet food should be discarded.

Remember, what you feed your cat or dog is critical to their health but where you store your cat and dog food can also make a big difference to your furry loved ones. Keep these tips in mind for optimal pet food storage.


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