How Long Can You Leave Dry Dog Food Out – A Guide for Dog Owners

Medically Reviewed By Pet Expert

Dry dog food is an essential part of a healthy diet for your pup. But how long can you leave it out before it becomes a health hazard?

The answer depends on various factors, such as the type of food, the environment, and your pet’s health.

Proper storage and careful monitoring can prevent your pet from consuming spoiled food and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

I’ll discuss how long you can leave dry dog food out and tips for storage and safety. Read on to learn more about how to keep your pup safe and healthy.

What is dry dog food?

What is dry dog food?

Dry dog food ↗ is usually made from a combination of grains, such as wheat or corn, and meat by-products, such as chicken or fish.

Traditional dry dog food does not contain any added water, which means it must be rehydrated before befoyour pup can consume it.

Dry dog food is typically inexpensive and can be bought bulk to save money.

Dry kibble can also be made from various nutritious ingredients, like whole grains, vegetables, or other fruits, which can help promote a healthy lifestyle.

However, not all dry dog food is created equal, so choosing a high-quality option is essential, especially if your pup is prone to food sensitivities or allergies.

Factors that determine how long you can leave dry dog food out

The type of food – Certain foods are less prone to spoilage than others, so don’t assume that all dry dog foods can be left out indefinitely.

For example, higher-quality foods with added vitamins and minerals, such as canned dog food, can be left out for extended periods before becoming a health hazard. Also, foods with high fat or protein content can last longer than those with grain or starch.
The environment – The temperature and humidity of the environment where you store your dog’s food can also significantly impact spoilage.

Dry dog food is best stored in a dry, calm, and dark place, such as a cabinet, to reduce the risk of mold and contamination. Avoid storing dry dog food in the garage, which tends to be warmer and more humid than indoor areas, or in the kitchen, which tends to be friendly and damp.
The health of your pet – Dogs with compromised immune systems, like seniors or those with underlying health conditions, may be at greater risk of contracting foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, if they consume spoiled food.

If your pup is at risk of foodborne illnesses, you may want to be extra careful with their feeding practices to avoid infection.

Proper storage tips

Select a cool, dry place to store your dog’s food to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Typically cooler and drier areas include a pantry, cabinet, or basement. Avoid storing dog food in the kitchen, especially in the drawers, where it is more humid.
Avoid storing dog food in plastic containers, which can trap moisture and promote bacteria growth. Also, avoid storing dry dog food in metal containers, which can trap moisture and encourage bacterial growth. Instead, use a sealable container made from a material, such as plastic or a hard-sided material.
Be sure to check your dog’s food for signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, an odd smell, or an unusual texture. If your dog food smells or looks strange, throw it out immediately

Signs of spoiled dry dog food

An off smell or a sour odor is a sign that your dog food has gone wrong. Spoiled food often smells terrible, while fresh food has a neutral smell.
Mold growth or other signs of bacterial growth. Spoiled dry food often shows signs of bacterial growth, including mold growth, discoloration, or a slimy texture.
Differentiation in texture. Dry dog food that has gone bad will have a different texture than fresh food. It may be more complex or softer than average.

Signs of foodborne illnesses

Diarrhea or vomiting. If your dog has consumed spoiled food, it may experience diarrhea or vomiting.
Lethargy or an unusual decrease in activity. If your dog consumes lousy food, it may experience lethargy or decreased activity.
Abnormal weight loss or weight gain. If your dog has consumed spoiled food, it may experience abnormal weight loss or gain.
Lethargy, low energy, or an unusual decrease in activity can be a sign of many health conditions in dogs, so it’s important to rule out any potential causes. If you notice these signs in your pup, consult a veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Best for leaving dry dog food out

Best for leaving dry dog food out

Limit the amount of time your dog’s food is left out. Ideally, you should feed your dog before leaving the house, but if you can’t, try to limit leaving their food out for longer than an hour.

Feeding your pup in a clean area can help reduce the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. Be mindful of water sources and potential contamination.

Be careful where you place your dog’s water or water bowl, and ensure there is no potential contamination nearby.

Avoid placing water bowls on surfaces that can collect dust, and be careful if you have young children who may be prone to spilling water bowls.

Alternative feeding options to dry dog food

Canned dog food – Canned dog food is a great alternative to dry dog food, as it is typically higher in protein and has fewer calories than dry food. Canned dog food also provides vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are less likely to leave behind crumbs. However, canned dog food is not necessarily better than dry dog food, so don’t assume that canned food is healthier than dry.
Wet dog food – Wet dog food is similar to canned dog food, so it is a great alternative to dry dog food. However, wet dog food is more likely to leave behind crumbs to clean up after your pup.
Raw or freshly prepared food – Although not all dogs can tolerate a diet, if your puppy can, it provides a wide variety of nutrients and a minimally processed diet.

How long can dry dog food sit out before going bad?

It’s essential to know how long you can leave dry dog food out before it goes bad. Generally, you should only leave dry dog food out for up to four hours.

How long can dry dog food sit out before going bad?

After four hours, the food loses its nutritional value and quality and can become unsafe for your dog to consume. This is because dry dog food contains high fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

These ingredients are susceptible to bacteria growth and spoilage. When the food is exposed to air and moisture, the bacteria multiply quickly, making it unsafe for your pet to eat.

Furthermore, paying attention to the temperature when leaving dry dog food is essential. Dry dog food should never be left in temperatures higher than 70°F. If the temperature is too high, the food will spoil much faster.

To keep your dog safe, always store their dry food in a cool and dry place. Also, seal the bag of food tightly to prevent moisture or air from entering. Additionally, you should include only a few large amounts of food in one sitting. Instead, portion out small amounts of food at a time and store the remaining food away immediately after feeding your pup.

Overall, the best thing you can do is to buy good quality dog food with a long shelf life and pay attention to how long you leave it out. Always store the bag in a cool and dry area and portion out small amounts at a time. Doing so will ensure that your pup stays happy and healthy!

Does dry dog food go stale if left open?

Does dry dog food go stale if left open?

Yes, dry dog food can go stale if left open. Like most packaged food items, dry dog food will go stale if exposed to air for too long.

The more oxygen the food is exposed to, the faster the ingredients break down and lose their nutritional value. In addition, once the food has been exposed to air, various contaminants such as bacteria and mold could start to grow on it.

To ensure that your dog’s food remains as fresh as possible, it’s essential to store it correctly. Keep the food in its original packaging or an airtight container. Make sure that the container is clean and free of any moisture.

You should also keep the food away from direct sunlight and heat sources. If your dog’s food has already been opened, you can still extend its shelf life by transferring it to an airtight container.

This will help keep out any oxygen and contaminants that could cause the food to spoil. It’s also important to pay attention to the expiration date listed on the package.

If you’ve had the food open for a while and it’s nearing its expiration date, it’s best to discard it and get a new bag. It’s always better to be safe than your pet’s health!


How long should you leave a dog’s food out?

You should leave a dog’s food out for 30 minutes.

How do you keep dry dog food fresh after opening?

After opening dry dog food, it should be kept in its original bag, folded or clipped for freshness, and stored inside an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The container should be washed and dried between finishing up one bag of kibble and filling it with another to get residual fat and crumbs off the surfaces. The pet food should be used within six weeks of opening, and the storage area should be kept at a temperature of 78º F with the lower of humidity possible.

Amy Brown
Amy E. Brown is a licensed psychotherapist (serving and author of three self-help books. She’s also a dog rescuer in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Her life-long love of literature and writing developed from her passion for author Jackie Collins novels. She discovered at the age of 12 that she wanted to become a published author. She is a Quora contributor who writes about mental health and addiction issues in both the United States and throughout the world. She is the owner and founder of Blamberg & Associates LLC, which is a private practice specializing in psychological and addiction issues. She has been working with physically and emotionally scarred people for over 30 years.