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How Long Are Dog Treats Good For After Expiration?

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Tim Rhodes

Feeding dogs may seem a simple task at first, but once you get into the details, things may start to give you some stuff to think about more deeply, so you may be asking yourself – how long are dog treats good for after expiration?

Selecting a particular brand and a specific type of dog food is not something that can be done in isolation.

There are a lot of factors that have to be taken seriously before one can choose which treat to offer to one’s dog.

They have to be carefully looked into, so that one may not end up feeding the wrong diet to one’s pet.

Table of Contents

How Long Are Dog Treats Good For After Expiration?

It may come as a surprise for someone new to having pets that dog food does expire.

And providing your dog with food that has contaminated may prove to be fatal if continued for a long time.

Luckily, there are some easy steps which, if followed, can help in, first, curbing the process of contamination and know-how long are dog treats good for after expiration.

Is It a Surprise That Dog Food Expires?

It should not be a surprise to discover that the food offered to pets can go out of date.

Since they are manufactured using preservatives, they are bound to lose touch over time.

Even if handled properly, dog food cannot remain nutritious forever.

As is the case with food produced for human beings, it stands a fact for pets too.

It is mainly because of the natural and artificial preservatives and packaging and environment, that, in some or the other way, result in the decay of food items.

Once opened and exposed to the outside environment, the food inside a packaging starts to age.

The reasons may vary, but the result is the same—contamination of the food.

So, it should not come as a surprise to notice some drastic changes in dog food, even if extreme care is taken of it.

Best By Date

While buying treats for your dogs, keep a keen on the dates on the packaging.

There is a clear difference between the manufacturing date- which is not always given on dog foods- and the “best by date” expiration.

The term “best by date” means that once the packaging is opened, the food is safe to be used before the mentioned date.

This does not mean that food will be poisonous by that date but will start losing nutritious elements from that date onwards.

Why Do They Expire?

Most dog foods start to degrade over time, but some other factors also cause, and at times expedite the process.

It starts with the preservatives that react to the overall environment.

Though the word “preservatives” does not enjoy a good reputation, they are essential to keep the food safe for consumption.

There are various natural and synthetically produced preservatives used in dog foods.

Pet food-producing companies keep knowledge of the types of preservatives used in particular food with them; they would use that information to determine the expiration date for their products.

As preservatives differ in their expiry time, what is common is that in every product the food is no longer protected once the degradation starts.

If the packaging is not handled carefully the food inside may get exposed to air, humidity, and excessive heat, all lethal to the quality of food.

Airtight packages must be dealt with as such; they should be properly treated before, during, and after use.

Air, while entering the food bag, allows bacteria to grow and multiply.

If the food is stored in an area that has moisture, the pet food can grow moldy.

Not only the preservatives but also the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals will begin to diminish and the food will lose its nutritional value and no longer be nutritionally complete and balanced.

And if the temperature is too high most of the time, the food can go rancid.

How Long Does It Take?

It generally takes from 6 months to 3 years for the dog food to expire.

In dog foods, you can see the expiry date on the back of the bag.

But, that date does not necessarily mean the food is no longer safe.

If used at any time between these two, it is safe for the dogs.

It is because the date mentioned on the can, or bag, is not about the time for the food to become poisonous, but only lose nutrition.

If you do not want your dog to have symptoms of loss of nutrition, you may not choose to feed him after the “best by” date has passed.

What actually “best before” means is that the food no longer offers the quality of nutrition it promises.

The highest level of nutrition is provided to your dog before the official expiry date.

In other words, the food can still be taken by the dog, but with less amount of nutrition.

The expiration date also had other dynamics attached to it.

One is that of the manufacturer, as it differs from one to another manufacturer; also, the type of food and its container.

Pouched and canned foods have a life shelf of 1-5 years, while dry dog foods take from 4 months to 3 years.

It is always a good idea not to buy in bulk, and have small stocks that can finish on time.

What Are The Signs Of Expiration?

Dogs, unlike men, have an incredible sense of smell.

They can immediately tell if they notice any changes in the odors of their food.

While some think that dogs cannot differentiate between contaminated and fresh food, others think that if dogs notice any change in the way their food typically smells, they may abstain from eating it.

So, if you notice your dog trying to shy away from its treatment.

The one that normally charges it at kibble, and now does not seem like to be interested in eating, is the first sign of taking notice of the expiration of dog food.

Another noticeable thing would be the overall color of the food.

Moisture can well affect the food inside a container and one can, upon opening up the bag, easily see if the moist has found a place inside.

Moist can alter the appearance of food and even result in bugs, visible to the naked eye.

Third, and the most obvious way of judging the expiration of food is to see the expiration date on the bag.

Though generally, it is safe from 6 to 18 months for the dog food to be taken by the pet, yet the expiration date can well keep informed the owner to be sure if the date has exceeded well the benchmark.

The fourth way is to witness excessive heat or humidity.

This is especially the case for the regions with heat waves and high humidity.

When the owner himself/herself sees such sudden or gradual, change in eating patterns, he/she may well want to see if the changed circumstances have done some damage to the dog food.

Most concerned owners do keep abreast of such things, as they love their dogs and take care of them the way they look after themselves and their off-springs.

Lastly, even after noticing smell changes your dog somehow eats the food, it will display signs of illness which should prompt you to take immediate notice of.

The second best exercise would be to take your dog to a vet who can right away take charge of the matters and suggest some basic cautionary steps, in order not to let your dog’s health get further deteriorated.

What To Do To Prevent It From Contaminating?

Foremost, make sure there are no signs of damage to the packaging.

Dry or canned, dog foods are not meant to long last.

It is, therefore, of utmost importance to keep your dog feel safe.

In an environment typically suggested by the manufacturer coupled with some common sense ideas.

If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded or closed.

Store dog food away from the area where human food is prepared or stored.

Ideally, keep dog treats in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees F.

Dog foods, just like any other manufactured food item contain preservatives that react to the outside world, especially to moist and heat.

Properly refrigerated and kept airtight can help in prolonging the life of food.

Refrigeration helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Therefore, it is useful to soon put unused or discarded dog food, in a refrigerator.

Other precautionary steps include: washing your hands before and after feeding your dog, and keeping children under 5 away from the dogs while they eat.

Is It Safe To Feed The Dog Expired Food?

Feeding dogs expired foods can lead to numerous health problems, and risks, for the dog.

The very first problem your dog will face is indigestion.

This usually results because of the spoiled ingredients within the food.

Indigestion can be accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting.

So, if your dog shows these symptoms, it is better to stop feeding it expired packaging food and seek veterinarian help.

In the long run, if the dog is persistently fed expired food it may display signs of lethargy and weight loss.

Since these two symptoms cannot be seen immediately, they can be very harmful to the dog’s health.

If left unchecked, it can lead to organ and bone issues.

Food contaminated with mold and bacteria can result in foodborne illnesses which, at times, can prove lethal.

Types Of Dog Food

Dog foods are as varied in nature and packaging, as those meant for human beings.

With every type having its way of taken care of, and time limit for use.

But the most important thing is to choose the best nutritious food, irrespective of the packaging.

A food, which can cater to the most needed ingredients for the growth and well being of your dog.

Having said that, let us put a glimpse of the five types of treats a dog can be offered.

Dry:  preferred by most of the owners because it is the most economical of all.

Not only that, but it also does not need a thorough look after.

It lasts for a longer period.

It is good for your dog’s teeth, as it needs chewing which in return results in keeping the dog’s teeth healthy.

Again, while choosing dry food, keep in mind the ingredients a particular item offers.

Canned: convenience and availability, make this type of food a popular one.

Owners can buy canned food from any nearby supermarket.

But, these are wet and expensive.

They need constant look after; else they can get contaminated if exposed to the environment. 

Being expensive does not mean that every type of canned food is healthy, and contains all the necessary ingredients.

Owners have to make sure they spend their money on buying the best canned food for their dogs.

Canned items have the most problems with proteins.

The real concern must be the amount of digestible protein in a given canned food.

Indigestible protein is useless for your dog as it passes through its system.

Since these types are wet, and to keep them wet, canned food is 75% water.

A higher amount of water means fewer nutrients.

So, be wise and select canned food items that offer a maximum of nutrients.

Semi-moist: the least nutritional of all dog foods.

They have artificial flavors and colorings.

This kind of food can be a real treat for your dog, for example, if your dog accomplishes a certain task and you want to reward it with a food item, a semi-moist type would be best.

As they provide the least amount of nutrition, you would not want to feed your dog regularly or over time, it might become deficient in nutrition.

Home-cooked: if an owner simply loves his/her dog and possesses an ample amount of time, he/she can, and should opt for making the dog food at home.

This is helpful in many ways.

It will help feed the dog fresh food, also the owner can keep a track of what ingredients the dog is having.

The food cooked at home can help balance the diet for the dog.

The time invested this way is worth it.

You will not have to worry as to what your dog is having to eat, as you will be sure of that.

Before deciding to take up this project, make sure you understand the basics of nutrition.

Raw:  a traditional way of feeding the dogs.

Meat and some bones, and mixed organs, natural source of phosphorus and calcium.

Raw food is best digested by dogs because of strong stomach acids and short intestinal tracts.

But, consult a veterinarian before deciding to feed your dog raw food.

How To Buy The Best Treats For Your Dog

If you are having a dog, it means you also care about its well being.

Therefore, it is very necessary to be careful while choosing to buy your dog the best it can intake.

You would not want to risk your dog’s health, and want to see it happy and energetic all the time.

You can do this by following some easy steps:

Treat With Maximum Nutrition

Always make sure you buy the package that offers the most nutrition.

Do not compromise on this as it makes the building block for your pet’s life.

It does not necessarily mean that dog foods high in nutrition are expensive.

Many low or medium-priced foods are rich in nutrients.

Keep Altering The Food And The Manufacturer

Do not make one type of food and a company, your trademark.

This practice will help you avoid feeding your dog an excessive amount of the same nutrients, and at times, keeping it deficient.

Companies use the same amount and type of minerals in the different packaging items.

All in all, mixing the things adds to the spice for your dog and helps it develop taste for different items and also makes sure he does not miss on the much-needed nutrients.

Your Dog’s Current Health Conditions

It is helpful, while buying food, to keep into consideration your dog’s overall condition.

It ranges from physical characteristics, behavior, and overall health.

If you want it to grow bulky, then feeding a lot of fat may be a good option.

Highly active ones need more calories to move around with ample energy.

The breed is yet another dynamic to keep in mind.

Manufacturers produced treats for particular breeds, so next time when in a supermarket do see which group the item is made for.

Lastly, your dog’s reproductive status may also be another factor that has to be looked after while feeding it certain foods.

If you are planning for it to have a large family, you may want to opt for food that can enrich it with the required ability to produce off-springs.

Learn The Terminologies Of Packaging

Keep yourself abreast of the vocabulary used on the bag/packaging.

Try to understand those technical terminologies as they contain a lot of information, and at times may mean different from what they may sound like at first glance.

Broadening your knowledge around dog food can be very helpful in choosing the best.

Look Out For Allergic Ingredients

You should know what ingredients your dog is allergic to.

Read the packaging carefully and try to avoid buying food items that your dog may not like, or maybe harmful to, once taking in.

You would not like your dog to be eating something that may irritate it.

Do Research On Your Dog Food And The Company

Visit the websites of the companies to see what they offer.

If things are not clear then make calls.

Getting in touch with the expert can well help you identify the needs of your dog, and you can choose the best treatment for it.

Knowing your dog and its needs can be beneficial in picking the best-suited food.

Final Thoughts

By now, matters surrounding dog food should be much clearer to you.

What may, in the first place seem easy math may not at all be that simple.

There are a lot of things that need to be kept into consideration before embarking upon buying your dog a treat.

You have to understand your dog and it’s needed.

They may include age, physical condition, breed, and some other essentials.

The product you want to buy must be something that suits your dog’s overall conditions and that’s why you have to know how long are dog treats good for after expiration.

Investing a bit of time and energy in feeding your dog the best it should have can lead to a long and healthy life for it, and, in return, your dog can give you the company you long for.

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