#1. DON'T LEAVE YOUR PETS FOOD UNSEALED. Air and humidity can rapidly degrade food and increase risk of bacterial contamination like Salmonella. The oils and food will expire causing GI upset. To prevent bacteria, pet food should be sealed in a safe container after every feeding. High quality pet food bags have been designed to keep out the elements and maintain freshness for as long as possible. I feel comfortable knowing I've done everything possible to keep the food fresh. The best option would be to use an air tight pet food container, buy high quality food, keep the food in the bag and store the bag in the container. If you choose to pour the food directly from the bag to the container, your container should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before buying a new bag of pet food.
#2. DON'T LEAVE PET FOOD SITTING OUT TO LONG. I'm guilty of leaving food sit out for a few hours. The dogs are not always as hungry as I think they are and will leave morsels after their breakfast. I sometimes leave their food out until lunchtime thinking they might get hungry. It all depends on the manufacturer and how long you can keep dry food out. The best way to know is by calling the manufacturer directly. On the other hand, canned food can only be left out from 2 to no more than 4 hours. Any unused canned food should be put into the refrigerator immediately. It's also important to contact the manufacturer to find out how long the canned food can be fed once it has been opened and placed in the refrigerator. Unopened dry and canned foods should be kept at room temperature and away from heat, humidity and infestation.
#3. DON'T FORGET TO CLEAN FOOD BOWLS AFTER EACH FEEDING. I thought I was on top of this but after reading this article, I was surprised to read that the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) actually recommends washing pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use. This is to prevent infectious agents such as Salmonella or Listeria from accumulating on the items. If you use a plastic container to store your pet food, wash the container when empty, and make sure it is completely dry before adding new food.
#4. DON'T ALLOW YOUNG CHILDREN TO HANDLE PET FOOD. Children and pet food simply don’t mix. Kids tend to be less reliable in their sanitary habits before and after handling pet food (if not supervised) and they are more likely to incorrectly measure an appropriate meal for your pet. This can harm both your child (exposing them to dangerous infectious agents) and your pet (promoting overeating and issues with obesity).
#5. DON'T KEEP PET FOOD PAST IT'S EXPIRATION DATE. These "best by" or "use by" are established to ensure the safety of your pet. The expiration dates are found on the side or bottom of the bag or can. If you can't find the date, you can call the manufacturer and they will help you locate the date. Feeding expired food can possibly harm your pet.
More information on animal health and well being can be found at www.petmd.com.