How do I store wet dog food?

Wet dog food, also known as canned dog food, has a high moisture content and requires proper storage to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage. There are several factors to consider when storing wet dog food, including the type of can or pouch, storage temperature, use-by date, and safe food handling. Following proper storage guidelines will help keep wet dog food fresh and safe for your dog to eat.

Should I store wet dog food in the can or transfer it to another container?

Wet dog food can be stored in the original can or pouch it comes in from the manufacturer. However, some pet owners prefer to transfer the contents to a different container. Here are some pros and cons of each approach:

Storing in the original can/pouch:

  • Convenient – no extra prep work required
  • Prevents contamination from transferring food
  • Lets you easily see label/ingredients
  • Takes up shelf space as-is – no consolidation

Transferring to a different container:

  • Allows consolidation of opened cans into one container
  • Can free up shelf space from cans
  • Useful for mixing flavors or brands
  • Increased risk of contamination from transferring
  • Harder to see label/ingredients

If transferring food, be sure to use clean, airtight containers made of food-safe materials. Glass, plastic, or stainless steel containers with tight-fitting lids work best. Wash containers thoroughly before each use. Transferring into a different container also allows you to mix flavors or brands together into one container.

What is the best temperature to store wet dog food?

Ideally, unopened cans of wet dog food should be stored at room temperature, between 60-75°F. Once opened, it’s best to refrigerate wet food. Keep opened cans or pouches of wet food for your dog in the refrigerator at 40°F or below.

Some key temperature tips:

  • Avoid freezing unopened cans – this can damage the can and affect texture
  • Refrigerate opened wet food promptly in airtight containers
  • Don’t leave opened containers at room temperature more than 2 hours
  • Refrigerate any unused portion immediately after feeding your dog

The high moisture content of wet foods means refrigeration is key for preserving freshness and preventing spoilage once exposed to air. Take care not to store wet pet food in the refrigerator door, as the temperature fluctuations from opening/closing can shorten its shelf life. Place containers towards the back where temperatures are most consistent.

How long does unopened wet dog food last?

Unopened cans of wet dog food typically have a shelf life around 2 years from the date of manufacture. However, it’s always important to check the “best by” or “use by” date printed on the can or pouch.

Follow these tips for unopened wet dog food:

  • Store at room temperature before opening
  • Check “best by” or “use by” date and use accordingly
  • Don’t purchase or use products past their expiration date
  • Write the date opened on cans once they are opened

Discard all cans that are past their expiration date. Also, inspect unopened cans carefully. Look for any signs of damage, rust, leaking, swelling or contamination before opening them. If you see any issues with the condition of the can, play it safe and throw it out.

How long does opened wet dog food last?

Once you open a can or pouch of wet dog food, it will typically stay fresh for 3-5 days if refrigerated, or up to 2 days at room temperature. Always discard any uneaten portion after these time frames.

Follow these guidelines for storing opened wet dog food:

  • Refrigerate opened containers immediately
  • Use refrigerated wet food within 5 days
  • Use wet food left at room temperature within 2 days
  • Discard any uneaten portion after 2-5 days
  • Never re-freeze thawed wet food

If you’re mixing together several opened cans in a large container in the refrigerator, use the shortest “use by” date among them to determine when to dispose of the full mix. It’s also smart to divide a large batch into smaller portions to limit waste if you can’t use it all up in time.

What are some signs wet dog food has spoiled?

There are several indicators that opened wet dog food has potentially spoiled and is unsafe to feed your pet:

  • Mold – Mold will appear fuzzy or discolored
  • Sliminess – Food takes on a jelly-like slimy texture
  • Discoloration – Unnatural darkening or change in food color
  • Unpleasant smell – Foul, sour, or ammonia-like odor
  • Off taste – Food no longer smells or tastes normal
  • Gas bubbles – Bubbling or foamy appearance

If you notice any of these signs in opened wet food, discard it right away. Do not feed it to your dog. It’s better to be safe than risk illness from spoiled food.

How should I handle wet dog food safely?

Proper food safety practices are important when dealing with perishable wet pet foods. Here are some key handling tips:

  • Wash hands before and after handling open containers
  • Clean food bowls thoroughly between uses
  • Don’t mix fresh food with old leftovers in container
  • Use clean utensils each time, don’t re-dip dirty utensils
  • Throw away any cans with deep dents, rust or damage

Additionally, don’t feed wet food directly from the can or container. Always transfer it to your dog’s bowl. Never swap food between pets or re-use wet food that has been served. Any bacteria from your pet’s mouth can contaminate leftovers. Play it safe and throw away any uneaten wet food after mealtime.

Can I freeze wet dog food?

It’s generally not recommended to freeze wet dog foods. The high moisture content and delicate textures don’t hold up well to freezing. The freezing process can cause a grainy texture and loss of flavor/nutrients once thawed.

However, if needing to preserve opened wet food a bit longer, some sources say it can be frozen for 1-2 months. When thawing, do so in the refrigerator over 12-24 hours. Never re-freeze food once it’s thawed.

What are the best containers for storing wet dog food?

The best containers for storing wet dog food are:

  • Airtight – Has tight seal to block air and prevent drying out
  • Leakproof – Sturdy base and no leaks with liquid foods
  • Durable – Won’t crack from dropping or degrade over time
  • Transparent – Allows you to see contents inside
  • Refrigerator and freezer safe – Won’t become brittle and crack in cold temperatures

Look for containers made of food-safe materials like glass, plastic, or stainless steel. Avoid reactive metals like copper, iron or zinc. Containers made specifically for pet food storage are ideal. Mason jars or other glass storage jars with tight lids are a budget-friendly option. Proper seals are key for keeping air out.

Match the container size to the amount of food to limit air exposure. Use shallow, wide containers for large amounts rather than tall, narrow ones. Only open containers when needed to maintain cold temperatures inside.

Here are some ideal containers for wet dog food storage:

  • Pet food storage containers
  • Glass jars or plastic containers with airtight lids
  • Food storage bins with sealed lids
  • Yogurt/cottage cheese containers with lids
  • Tupperware style containers

Where should I store wet dog food at home?

The optimal place to store wet dog food at home is the refrigerator or freezer. Key things to consider with home storage:

  • Refrigerator temperatures should be 40°F or below
  • Use rear of refrigerator for most consistent temps
  • Freezer temperature should be 0°F or below
  • Avoid doors/shelves if opening frequently
  • Designate shelf just for pet foods to avoid cross contamination

If keeping food in its original can, store upright and tightly grouped to prevent tipping. For opened food containers, store lids down to prevent spilling and leakage. Keep food elevated above refrigerator bins where condensation collects.

Avoid storing wet pet food anywhere at room temperature for prolonged periods. Also keep out of direct sunlight, as the heat and light exposure can accelerate spoilage.

Ideal in-home storage spots:

  • Refrigerator – back shelves or designated area
  • Freezer – shelf space or storage bin
  • Cool, dark pantry – short term only until refrigerated

How should I store wet dog food when traveling?

Transporting and storing wet dog food requires a bit more planning to keep it fresh. Here are some useful tips for travel:

  • Pack food in insulated cooler with ice packs
  • Limit time removed from refrigerator before cooler
  • If driving, add cooler to air conditioned cabin rather than hot trunk
  • Use freezer ice packs and limit cooler openings
  • Store unopened cans at room temperature until opening
  • Refrigerate or insulate opened cans promptly after feeding

Portable coolers and cold storage packs designed for travel are very useful for maintaining safe temperatures. Look for hard-sided models that are easy to wipe clean after use. Soft-sided lunch bags with cooling gels or ice packs can work for smaller amounts.

Avoid leaving wet food unrefrigerated for more than 1-2 hours at a time, and only open containers when ready to immediately feed your dog during travel. Reseal and return to insulated cooler bag right after feeding when on the go.

Ideal travel storage items:

  • Hard plastic or insulated cooler bags
  • Freezer gel packs or blocks
  • Insulated lunch bags
  • Cold storage water bottles

How should wet dog food be stored when camping or hiking?

Bringing wet dog food camping or hiking requires extra planning for remote locations without refrigeration. Some tips include:

  • Pack cans in hard coolers with freezer blocks for insulation
  • Limit time coolers are opened to maintain interior temperature
  • Transfer opened portions to insulated bowls with lids right after feeding
  • Consider dehydrated or freeze dried foods that rehydrate with water
  • Use puncture-resistant cans or pouches less prone to damage

Look for high quality coolers designed for extended outdoor use that hold ice for up to several days. Pack coolers tightly to limit shifting during transport. Nestle sealed cans in ice for chilling. Reserve some ice packs in freezer bags specifically for quickly cooling opened cans after feeding.

Opt for pouches rather than cans to limit weight and reduce chance of punctures. Bring only what you expect to use during the duration of your trip. Transferring unused portions between multiple smaller containers lets you reseal and reuse.

Ideal camping/hiking wet food storage:

  • Rugged rotomolded coolers
  • Insulated, lidded dog bowls
  • Plastic pouches or foil lined bags
  • Reusable freezer packs

How do I transition my dog from dry to wet food?

When transitioning your dog from dry kibble to wet canned food, take it slowly to allow their digestive system time to adjust:

  1. Mix a small amount of new wet food into their current dry food – Start with a mix of 75% dry 25% wet
  2. Gradually increase the ratio of wet food over 2-3 weeks
  3. Aim for an evenly mixed 50-50 combination by the end
  4. Monitor stool for any diarrhea or looseness
  5. Slow the transition if digestive upset occurs
  6. Keep portions consistent with previous dry food amounts

A gradual transition prevents shocking your dog’s stomach by suddenly changing their diet. It gives their digestive enzymes time to adapt to the new food’s different texture and moisture levels.

If stool becomes loose, go back to the previous ratio for several days before trying to increase the new wet food again. This allows their system to adjust over time. Making a very slow switch also helps picky eaters to accept the new flavor and texture.

Tips for transitioning to wet dog food:

  • Mix wet and dry food thoroughly
  • Start with more dry kibble than wet
  • Take 2-4 weeks to fully changeover
  • Monitor stool and adjust as needed


Properly storing wet dog food helps maintain its safety, nutritional value and palatability. Keep canned or pouched wet foods refrigerated after opening, use airtight containers, and follow expiration dates closely. Transition dogs slowly when changing to wet food from kibble. With the right storage and handling, wet foods can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.

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