All dogs are required to eat one or two times per day to maintain a healthy weight. As a pet parent, you have to get their food on a regular basis either from the vet or a big-box store. The big question is, do dog food expire?

Before diving into the answer to that question, it’s important to know how food expiration dates apply to dogs compared to humans. Let’s dive in to learn more!

Factors Influencing Shelf Life

Dog food on the shelf does have an expiration date that can range anywhere from several months to a couple of years, depending on the type. Factors include the following:


The ingredients in dog food have an expiration date, just like other food products. The best way to determine how long to keep dog food on the shelf is to read the label carefully. It will tell you how long the food is good for.

Most dog food manufacturers will tell you that their food has a shelf life of 1-2 years. This doesn’t mean that the food will spoil after that time, but it can lose its flavor and nutritional value.

It’s important to keep an eye on the ingredients in dog food, as some of them can spoil faster than others, and it’s possible for bacteria to start to grow. If in doubt, it’s best to throw out the food and get a fresh supply.


The packaging of dog food plays a major role in determining if and when it will expire. Dog food that is kept and packaged in airtight containers, like cans and sealed plastic bags, usually has a long shelf life, usually up to three years.

Dog food stored in plastic bags that are not sealed and are exposed to the air will spoil and expire sooner, usually after about six months. Frozen dog food can also be stored for a longer period of time due to the low temperatures in the freezers.

Generally speaking, if the packaging is in good condition and it doesn’t smell bad, it is probably safe to feed your dog the food. When in doubt, it is best to discard the product and buy a new one.

Storage Conditions

Dog food should always be kept in a cool, dry place, as incorrect storage conditions can cause it to expire quickly. Sunlight and hot temperatures can affect the vitamins and minerals in dog food, leading to a faster expiration.

If it is marked with a “sell by” or “use by” date, then it may expire within that time frame. It’s important to check the packaging regularly for signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell, a strange texture, or discoloration. If these changes are present, discard the dog food immediately and replace it with a fresh supply.

Types of Expiration Dates

Dog food expiration dates vary depending on the type of food and the manufacturer. Most dog food has three different types of expiration dates: 

“Best By” Date

Best-by dates are important for the longevity of your pet’s precious supply of dog food. After all, expired food won’t fulfill all their nutritional needs and could potentially make them sick. A best-by date for all dry, canned, and wet dog foods is usually printed on the packaging or written by the manufacturer.

It is not a requirement to have this date, but manufacturers include it so that we pet owners know we should only use the product before the best-by date. The best-by date is not an indication of when a product will spoil but rather an indication of when the product has been at its peak quality.

Generally, it is advised to discard any dog food that is marked with a best-by date that has already passed. Overall, it’s important to pay attention to the “best by” date and switch up your dog food so that your pet always has fresh, healthy food.

“Use By” Date

Most commercial dog foods have a “Use By Date,” which is the manufacturer’s suggested time to consume the product. This is typically a guideline to ensure optimum freshness and nutrient content, and if you plan to feed your dog the food past the date, note that the freshness and quality may diminish.

If the food has been opened, it might be wise to feed the food to your dog before this date, as opened cans and bags are more susceptible to excess moisture, mold, and bacteria. Be sure to store dog food in a cool, dry place, and always check for any signs of spoilage or unusual odors before feeding it to your pup.

Expiration Date

The shelf life of dog food depends greatly on the expiration date label. Most canned and dry dog food will stay fresh and safe to feed as long as it is not expired.

However, an expiration date is not a guarantee of safety, as food products may spoil even before the expiration date has passed. Furthermore, most wet dog foods have a much shorter shelf life than dry dog food.

Once home, owners should make sure to store the dog food according to the instructions on the label and use it before the expiration date. Also, it is important to check the freshness of the food, smell it, and discard any spoiled food that may have gone bad before the expiration date.

Signs It Is Already Expired

Signs that the food has expired include a change in color, odor, texture, and taste. The expiration date on the label may also have passed, or the food may contain large amounts of mold or bacteria.

If the food has been opened, it should be kept in an airtight container and used within four weeks. If the food is not used within this period, it should be discarded. Knowing the signs of expired dog food is important for protecting your pet’s safety.

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An Answer to “Do Dog Food Expire?”

So, do dog food expire? It is important to read the expiration date on your dog food packages carefully. If the dog food has expired, it should be discarded immediately and not fed to your pet.

Monitoring expiration dates and keeping your dog food properly stored will help you provide the best nutrition for your pup. 

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