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  1. Animal Health Literacy

Proper Storage of Pet Food & Treats


Proper storage of pet food and treats maintains the products’ nutritional value and keeps information handy in case there’s a problem. Proper storage also prevents your cat from getting into his own food and eating too much or your dog from getting into your cat’s special diet food. Overeating or eating food that is meant for another pet can lead to health problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or more severe conditions.

Help keep your pet healthy by following these safety tips for storing pet food and treats:

  • Store pet food and treats in the original container or bag. This allows you to have the UPC code, lot number, product name and manufacturer, and “best by” date easily available in case of a product defect or recall. “When you file a complaint about a pet food, the lot number and ‘best by’ date, along with the full product name, are important for you to provide,” explained Lauren Carey, a veterinarian and pet food expert at FDA.

    Less than half of the pet food complaints that FDA receives include the lot number. The lot number helps FDA identify when and where the pet food or treat was made, making it easier and faster for the agency to address problems with a specific product.
  • If you want to store dry pet food in another storage container, put the entire bag into the container rather than pour the kibble directly into it.
  • If you need to pour the dry pet food into another storage container, make sure it’s clean, dry, and has a lid that fits snuggly. A lid helps to maintain the food’s freshness and to prevent your pet from getting into it. Be sure to save the UPC code, lot number, product name and manufacturer, and “best by” date. You can tape that information to the outside of the container so it’s handy (but remember to change it when you open a new bag of kibble). 
  • Wash and dry the storage container between finishing up one bag of kibble and filling it with another to get residual fat and crumbs off the container’s surfaces.
  • Store dry pet food and unopened canned food in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be less than 80 F. Excess heat or moisture may cause the nutrients to break down. If your pet is overly persistent or clever at getting into her pet food, store it in a secure location that she can't access.
  • Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Set your refrigerator to 40 F or below.
  • Wash and dry pet food bowls after each use. Also wash and dry scooping and measuring utensils after each use and use them only for pet food. Wash water bowls daily.
  • Keep pet treats in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply of treats at once.
  • Pet food and treats, like many other types of food, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. You can lower your risk of getting a foodborne illness from contaminated pet food by following these safe handling tips.

What to do When There’s a Problem—Reporting Problems with Pet Food & Treats

Problems with a pet food or treat include a foul odor, the can or pouch is swollen or leaking, you find a foreign object in the product, or your pet becomes sick after eating it. If your pet has a health problem related to a pet food or treat, stop feeding the product and call your veterinarian. FDA encourages you to report complaints about a pet food or treat to both FDA and the manufacturer of the product. Please see Report a Problem.

For More Information

If you have questions or want more information, please contact FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine at 240-402-7002 or AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov.


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