how long does dog kibble really last?

how long does dog kibble really last?

Hint: Once opened...not that long.

Buying bulk bags of kibble can seem like a great way to save money when choosing food for your pup. Often sold at a lower cost per pound than smaller bags, the apparent savings can be appealing. But most dog parents are not aware that unless the food is consumed within a short window of time, it can spoil quickly. The potential result? Lots of waste, stale kibble, and a dissatisfied pup. Read on to learn more about how long dry dog food lasts and 6 tips and tricks for keeping your pup’s kibble fresh.

is your dog’s food fresh?

So how long does a bag of dry pet food really last after it's been opened?

According to renowned dog nutrition experts, Steve Brown and Beth Taylor, approximately 2 weeks. Yes, just 2 WEEKS! Yikes!

What about the expiration date on the bag, you ask? While it is true that the shelf-life of an unopened dry dog food product can be up to a year, once a bag of kibble is opened, the two-week count-down begins, making the expiration date on the bag somewhat misleading.

Why does a bag of kibble only last for 2 weeks once opened? It's all down to a sneaky process called oxidation.

Pet food bags are designed to keep kibble stable and safe for your pet to eat. But, when a bag is opened, and the kibble is exposed to air, the oils and fats in the food start to react with oxygen, gradually causing them to break down and eventually turn rancid (a term used to refer to spoiled food, which in the case of kibble can be detected by a plastic, chemical-like smell). Sounds yucky, doesn't it?

the trouble with rancid fats

Worryingly, a number of animal studies have indicated that vitamins in food are destroyed when oils and fats go rancid (Source: Pavcek PL, Shull GM. J Biol Chem 146(2):351-5, 1942). This means that when your dog consumes old kibble, they may not be absorbing all of the nutrients, vitamins and fats they need for a healthy, well-balanced diet.

To make matters worse, the consumption of oxidized fats has also been linked with a range of health concerns, including decreased immune function (Source:

While this all may sound concerning, don't despair! There are a number of steps you can take to help your chosen kibble product stay fresh and nutritious for as long as possible.

here are 6 tips to help get the best from your pet’s dry dog food:

TIP 1: Avoid feeding your dog bags of dry dog food that may have been torn or damaged, and do not feed your pup food that has passed its expiration date.

TIP 2: Store your pet's kibble in a cool, dry environment (exposure to heat and moisture amplifies the oxidation process).

TIP 3: Between each use, keep the kibble tightly sealed in its original packaging. If you do use air-tight storage bins, it's best to store the kibble in its original bag and place it inside the container. (Check out more of our tips for kibble storage here).

TIP 4: Throw away kibble that has a plastic, chemical-like smell (a warning sign that the food has gone rancid).

TIP 5: If your dog is refusing to eat its kibble at mealtime, don’t force them to eat - your pup may have detected that the food is spoiled.

TIP 6: Consider moving away from economy-size bulk kibble that is more prone to these issues.

Pallaby dry dog food being poured
Pallaby dry dog food being poured

feed your dog pallaby.

If you are looking for an alternative to your usual bulk bag of kibble, consider switching to pallaby. Delivered in compostable, pre-portioned pouches, pallaby pet food is optimized for freshness, and is consumed quickly after the pouch is opened. Even better, each pouch is tailored to fit your pup's nutritional needs.

Tell us about your dog so we can create a personalized meal plan.