Knowing when to chuck that chow
Q: What's the best way to store pet food, and how can I know if it has gone bad?
A: Pet foods contain preservatives to help ensure that food stays fresh, but once you open a can or a bag, the freshness level starts to decrease. You can take several steps to help food stay fresh and to know if it's time to replace it.
* Check the "best by" date before buying. Don't buy the food if you don't think you'll be able to use it all before the date given.
* Once you open a bag of dry food, use it all within four to six weeks.
* If you feed dry food, keep it in the original bag instead of pouring it into another container. The fat in the food forms a film on the container, and you'll need to clean it regularly with soap and water to prevent the food from becoming rancid. It's better to place the original bag inside an airtight container to help it stay fresh and prevent raids by bugs or mice.
* Store dry food in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees. Heat can cause fat in food to go rancid more quickly.
* If your pet doesn't eat an entire can of food at one meal, refrigerate the remainder in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. The food will keep better that way than if you leave it in the can covered with a plastic lid or aluminum foil.
* Use your nose. Give dry food a good sniff to make sure it doesn't smell stale. And even if it smells all right to you, trust your pet's sniffer. If he turns up his nose at the food or eats with less enthusiasm, it may be time to replace it.