Our pets rely on us to meet their physical and emotional needs. Giving them a balanced, nutritious diet keeps them healthy, frisky, and ready for a little snuggling. However, it’s not enough to just be particular about what you feed them, but also how you store their food.
Improperly stored pet food not only can lose its flavor and health benefits, but it can actually go bad. You wouldn’t eat meat and vegetables if they’ve gone past their expiration dates, right? Well, then, why should your cat put up with anything less?
To keep your kitty’s dinner tasting fresh, there are certain pet food storage rules you should follow.
One of the biggest problems with keeping a bag of dry cat food on hand is that it attracts unwelcomed rodent guests. Not only do mice like the ingredients, but they will eat through the bag in no time. Indeed, they can chew through layers of paper packaging as well as plastic. And if mice can get into the food, chances are they’ll leave behind their waste, which can contaminate the food.
Also, mice like to hoard away food in tight spaces that humans may never know about, like behind walls. The food will feed mice and other creatures, such as insects.
To keep your pet’s food safe from rodents and insects as well as maintaining its freshness, be sure to:
- Control temperatures
Wherever you decide to keep the food, make sure the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold. It’s best when ambient temperatures stay between 50° and 100° Fahrenheit.
- Use covered containers
One of the best ways to protect your cat’s kibble is to keep it in a covered plastic container. However, don’t empty it out of the bag. Rather, place the entire food bag into the pet food storage container, but close the bag first. The original packaging has been treated to prevent fat buildup, which keeps the food fresher longer.
Another option is a metal or stainless steel container. In fact, this offers even more protection against prying claws and teeth.
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Obviously there is less chance of critters breaking through the metal of canned foods, but you should still inspect each can prior to opening. Dents potentially can compromise the seals even if you can’t see any visible breaks.
In terms of storing wet cat food, it’s pretty straightforward:
- Keep unopened cans in a cool dry location.
- If your cat doesn’t eat the entire can in one feeding, store the leftovers in the refrigerator that’s set at least 40° Fahrenheit. To block particles from contaminating the pet food, and to keep its odors from infiltrating other areas of the refrigerator, manufacturers suggest covering it with a plastic pet food lid that fits the top of the can. These are designed to keep the cat food moist. If that’s not an option, wrap it up in plastic wrap, which is preferred over plastic baggies.
- Opened cans can safely stay in the fridge from five to seven days. Throw out anything that’s been sitting longer.
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Here are a few food-handling guidelines, too.
• Wash your hands before and after handling pet food.
• Use a dedicated scooping device instead of dipping the feeding dish into the food supply.
• Wash your pet’s food and water dishes daily in hot soapy water.
• Keep pet food off counters where you prepare your own meals.
• Don’t allow infants or small children to touch pet food to prohibit transference of bacteria. The young and old are more vulnerable to substances like salmonella.