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How to Keep Mice Away From Dog Food: 8 Helpful Ideas

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

Mouse inside a bowl of food

If you’ve ever opened your pantry to discover a chewed and destroyed bag of dog food, you know how annoying (and expensive) a rodent infestation can become. Dog food, dry or canned, is just as attractive to mice as it is to your household canines.

In this article, we’ll offer you eight ideas for how to keep mice away from dog food, as well as list some of the dangers that mice pose to your household.

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The 8 Ideas for Keeping Mice Away From Dog Food

1. Store Food In Sealed Containers

dog food in plastic container
Photo Credit: APN Photography, Shutterstock

Keeping the bag protected from mice is essential if your dog eats dry food. The simplest way to accomplish this task is to store the food in a chew-proof container. Any sealed container is better than nothing, but using a metal one is your best bet. Determined mice may still be able to chew into a plastic container.

Sealing up your dry dog food will also help keep it fresh and crunchy longer, which your pup will surely appreciate.

2. Don’t Leave Dry Food Out Overnight

Mice are opportunistic scavengers that take advantage of any easy meal source. If you leave your dog’s dry food out in the bowl overnight, mice will quickly be attracted to this obvious meal source. If you free-feed your dog, pick up the bowl at night and either place it in a secure location or discard any uneaten kibbles.

Even if you meal feed, check the bowl at bedtime to ensure your pup hasn’t left any scraps behind.

3. Feed Wet Food On a Schedule

Even when dried and crusted, leftover wet dog food is an irresistible attraction to mice. If you feed your dog a canned or fresh diet, do so on a regular schedule and remove any uneaten food after a short period. Avoid leaving any amount of canned food out overnight.

Old wet food quickly starts to smell and may attract other household pests like flies, ants, or roaches. Don’t let your dog’s tasty treat turn into a delight for mice and flies as well.

4. Use Elevated Food Bowls

Elevated Luxury Dog Bowl
Image Credit: PetFusion, Amazon

Elevating your dog’s food can help eliminate messes that attract mice and make it more difficult for rodents to access the bowls. As a bonus, elevated feeders can help dogs with back or neck pain eat more comfortably. Many different elevation options are available, or you could try making your own.

Mice are good climbers, so this may not be a foolproof method of keeping them away. Feeders made of slick material, like metal, ceramic, or hard plastic, may be more difficult for mice to climb.

5. Clean Up After Meals

Dirty dog bowls and scattered kibble will act as mouse magnets if you neglect to clean up after your dog eats. In addition to attracting pests, unwashed dog dishes can also serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, including dangerous varieties that could sicken people as well as pups.

Give your dog’s bowls a good scrub each night, or toss them in the dishwasher if it’s safe to do so. Break out the broom and sweep up any stray dry food that escaped the bowl. These precautions will help keep mice away and your house tidier overall.

6. Restrict the Amount You Feed

A simple way to keep mice away from dog food is to restrict the amount you feed your dog to only what they can eat at one time. Meal feeding is already a better option than free feeding when it comes to keeping your dog at a healthy weight.

Carefully measuring the amount you feed at each meal helps ensure your dog gets what they need with nothing left over to attract mice. Every food varies in the number of calories per cup it contains. Your vet can help you calculate how many calories your dog should eat daily to make measuring easier. The most challenging job may be resisting your dog’s begging for more to eat!

  • Optimize the benefits of your dog’s diet with our calorie calculator here.

7. Use Scent Deterrents

peppermint oil
Image Credit: doTERRA International, Pexels

Another option to keep mice away from dog food is to use scent deterrents. Peppermint oil is one readily available option, but you may be able to find commercially prepared scents as well. You could also use cat hair.

Place the offensive scent (try moistening a rag with peppermint oil) around your dog food storage bin or bowls. However, you’ll want to be cautious that whatever you choose won’t irritate your dog if they come into contact with it. Avoid using toxic substances or poison that could harm your pets or kids in the house.

8. Keep Mice Out of the House

Finally, keep mice away from dog food by keeping them out of your house altogether. Ensure all human food is kept securely locked away and promptly clean up spills and dirty dishes. Remove old clothes and paper products that mice could use as bedding.

Block any potential entries into the house by sealing cracks in the foundation, blocking heating vents with wire mesh, and installing chimney screens. Trapping and removing mice should only be used as a last resort. Without fixing the conditions that attract the rodents into your house in the first place, other mice will move right back in.

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The Dangers of Mice

Mice urine and excrement can contaminate your food and dog food. Because they’re constantly eating, mice leave behind a lot of waste wherever they go. One estimate suggests that about 20% of the world’s food is contaminated or eaten by mice and rats every year.

Mice also carry numerous dangerous diseases that can infect humans and pets. These include salmonella, leptospirosis, hantavirus, and bubonic plague. The mice can pass on these diseases by depositing waste, bites, and secondarily from fleas.

In addition to these dangers, mice cause a lot of damage by chewing woodwork, including walls and furniture. They are also a common source of electrical fires as the result of gnawing on wiring.

mouse sitting on clay pot
Image Credit: Vladimir Turkenich, Shutterstock

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Whether you view mice as adorable creatures or dangerous pests, keeping them away from your dog food is essential for the safety of both you and your pet. These eight ideas are generally simple and inexpensive to accomplish. Not only will they save you from wasting dog food, but they can also prevent contamination from mice pee and poop.


Featured Image Credit: MainelyPhotos, Shutterstock

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