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How Long Does Dog Food Last? Vet-Reviewed Safety Facts

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

dog with kibble food

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Budgeting is extremely important to many people since it helps ensure there’s enough money for all the necessities. One of the best ways to budget is by knowing how long things can be expected to last. There are two things to consider when talking about how long something lasts. The first is how long something will stay good after opening, and the second is how long it will take to use up all of something. When it comes to dog food, knowing both of these things can help you budget better and make smarter decisions when selecting food for your dog.

The short answer is that wet dog food is good for a few days after opening, while dry dog food starts to lose freshness around 6 weeks after opening.

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How Long is Dog Food Good for After Opening?

How long your dog food can be expected to be good for after opening will depend on the type of food and the storage environment. Wet dog food is usually only good for a few days. Some people prefer to throw it out after 2–3 days, but it can last for 5–7 days if sealed and refrigerated.

Dry kibble has a shelf life of 18–24 months before opening; however, once opened it’s likely to start losing a significant amount of freshness around the 6-week mark. Usually, it will just start to become stale and may lose some of its palatability. If stored improperly, it may begin to grow mold. It’s important to keep dog food sealed up tight to keep bugs and rodents out of it as well since these can lead to contamination that will make the food unsafe before it begins to go bad.

Check also for expiration dates on the dog food packaging.

woman buying dog food in pet store
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

How Long Will Dog Food Last Your Dog?

How long dog food will last for one dog is extremely variable, depending on the food itself and the age, size, activity level, and health status of the dog. Your vet can help you determine your dog’s daily calorie needs, as well as help you determine your dog’s body condition score. A body condition score allows you to tell if your dog is underweight, overweight, or at a healthy weight based on their body appearance.

For small dogs, you can expect your dog to need between 80–300 calories per day. Medium dogs typically need 300–500 calories per day, and large dogs need 500 calories or more. At least 90% of your dog’s daily diet should come from their primary food source and not from treats and extras.

Figuring out your dog’s calorie needs will help you determine how much food you’re getting for your money. Many manufacturers and retailers will provide the number of cups per bag or the number of calories per can for dog foods. This will allow you to do the math to determine just how long a specific food might last your dog based on their baseline nutritional needs as determined by your vet and an honest assessment of your dog’s activity level and body condition score.

Chihuahua dog lying down on white cloth with dog food bowl beside her and ignoring it
Image By: Phuttharak, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

You can expect wet dog food to last up to 7 days after opening, while dry dog food will start losing a significant amount of freshness around 6 weeks after opening. Knowing your dog’s calorie needs can help you determine how much dog food you should purchase at a time and how long you can expect a purchase to last you. Your vet will be able to help you determine how much your dog needs and when their food intake needs to be adjusted.

Featured Image Credit: Ekaterina Markelova, Shutterstock

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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