How to Tell If Dry Dog Food Is Bad: Signs and Tips

Dry dog food, known as kibble, is popular with many dog owners due to its convenience and long shelf life.

However, just like any other food product, dry dog food can go bad over time.

How to tell if dry dog food is bad?

In this guide, let’s see the common signs that can help you determine whether pet foods have gone bad and tips to keep your furry companion safe.

How to Tell If Dry Dog Food Is Bad?

how to tell if dry dog food is bad

To determine if dry dog food has gone bad, be attentive to unpleasant odors, color changes, mold, insects, oil separation, and texture variations.

Also, check the expiry date, moisture, mold, or signs of heat exposure and packaging integrity.

Unusual Smell

Can dry dog food go bad? Yes, and an unusual or bad smell from your dry dog food can indicate that the kibble products have gone bad.

If you detect a strong, sour, rancid odor, or ay other rancid dog food symptoms, it likely suggests that the fats in the food have started to break down, leading to spoilage.

Change in Color

It could mean that the food has undergone chemical reactions due to exposure to heat, light, or humidity when you detect a sizable change in color, such as fading, darkening, or the emergence of strange patches.

These modifications could impact the flavor and nutritional content of the food as well as indicate possible spoilage.

Texture Changes

Can dog food go bad? The texture of dry dog food is an important clue about its quality.

Premium kibble should maintain a uniform consistency—neither overly hard nor excessively soft.

When you observe the kibble becoming exceptionally rigid, brittle, or even tacky to the touch, it could be a definite sign that moisture has been absorbed or the food package has become stale.

Mold or Insects

I would immediately throw away the food when I spotted any mold symptoms, such as black areas or a powdery texture.

Additionally, watch for insects or vermin that may have invaded the kibble because they might contaminate it and lead to food poisoning in your furry friend.

Oil Separation

Does dry dog food get stale? Another indicator of potential spoilage is oil separation.

Dry dog food often contains fats and oils; over time, these components might separate from the dry kibble, creating an oily residue.

While some oil separation can be normal, excessive oiliness or a rancid smell could signal that the food bag has deteriorated.

Expiration Date

The expiration date provides valuable information about the freshness and safety of the food.

Does kibble go bad? If the food is past its expiration date, it’s best to avoid feeding it to your dog, as it may have lost its beneficial nutrients and could be harmful.

Packaging Integrity

The integrity of the packaging plays a crucial role in assessing the quality of dry dog food.

Therefore, you should carefully examine the packaging for damage signals, such as holes, tears, or punctures.

Damages to packaging can allow air, moisture, and contaminants to enter, potentially affecting the freshness and safety of the food inside.

Pet’s Disinterest

If your pet suddenly loses interest in the dry dog food they used to devour eagerly, it could be a sign that something is amiss.

Canines generally have good senses of smell and can detect changes in the odor of their nutritious food. 

Your dog may not find the kibble appetizing if it emits an odd or disagreeable odor, indicating that it is now past its prime.


Even a small amount of moisture can cause the kibble to become less crunchy and more prone to spoilage.

Furthermore, a damp environment is a breeding ground of mold growth and the degradation of the food’s nutritional value.

Heat Exposure

Does dry dog food spoil? Long-term exposure to high temperatures can hasten the breakdown of nutrients and the development of dangerous germs in the kibble.

As a result, your dog may suffer from spoiled food and face health issues.

Improper Storage

Does dry dog food go bad? Dry dog kibble might deteriorate as a result of poor storage procedures.

Fresh food may degrade more quickly once the food bag is left unclosed or improperly sealed, allowing moisture, air, and pollutants to enter.

Your Dog Getting Sick 

If you notice that your dog gets sick shortly after consuming dry dog food, it could be a sign that the food is bad.

Dogs have sensitive digestive systems, and consuming contaminated kibble can trigger gastrointestinal issues such as throwing up after eating, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.

If you suspect your dog’s health is negatively affected by its rotten food, you must stop feeding them the questionable food and consult a veterinarian.

Ways To Keep Dry Food For Dogs Fresh

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To ensure that your beloved buddy receives the finest nutrition possible, it is essential to keep kibble that is dry and fresh.

Here are a few practical methods to keep dry dog food fresh:

Store in Airtight Container

Transferring dry dog food into airtight containers can significantly extend its shelf life.

Metal and glass containers are particularly effective at keeping air and moisture out, preserving the food’s quality and flavor.

These containers also prevent pests from infiltrating the food.

Keep in a Cool, Dry Place

Extreme temperatures can degrade the food’s nutritional value and texture, so finding an optimal storage spot is essential.

Typically, I put them in a cool and dry location, away from direct sunlight and humidity.

Avoid Humidity

Choose a storage area not susceptible to high humidity levels, such as basements or rooms near water sources.

Keeping the diet in a dry environment will help maintain its integrity.

Keep Original Packaging

If you’re not using an airtight container, keeping the dry food in its original packaging is best. The packaging is made to protect the food from air and moisture.

To enhance preservation, ensure the packaging is properly sealed after each use by folding it tightly and securing it with clips or tape.

Use Desiccants

Desiccants are a cheap and practical way to preserve the freshness of your food, and you can get them in supermarkets or online.

The shelf life of animal food can be increased by adding a desiccant tablet to the container used to store it.

Rotate Stock

To prevent the accumulation of old or expired food, practice stock rotation.

When you purchase new bags of food, place them at the back of the storage area and move the older loads to the front.

This way, you’ll use the older food first and minimize the risk of using expired products.

Avoid Mixing Batches

When refilling the storage container, avoid mixing different batches of dry kibble.

Each batch might have different expiration dates or nutritional profiles, so keeping them separate ensures you use one pack before opening another.

Clean Container

Residual crumbs, oils, or moisture can accumulate over time, potentially affecting the quality of the new food.

Therefore, you must regularly clean and sanitize the storage container before refilling it with fresh food.

Remember, cleaning the container helps maintain a clean and safe environment for storing food for your pet.

Monitor Expiry

Always examine the expiration date on the packaging before feeding your dog.

Use the “first in, first out” principle to ensure that older food gets consumed before newer purchases.

Discard any diet that has passed its expiration date to prevent feeding your dog potentially spoiled food.

Freeze Extra Portions

If you purchase dry dog food in bulk or have excess servings that won’t be used promptly, think about freezing them.

To keep the food fresh until you’re ready to use it, divide it into airtight containers and store them in the freezer.

Don’t Use After 6 Weeks of Opening

To maintain optimal freshness, avoid using crunchy kibble that has been open for over six weeks.

Over time, exposure to air can cause the food to degrade and lose its nutritional value.

If you haven’t used the entire bag within six weeks, replacing it with a fresh one is better.

Always Inspect Dry Food Before Buying

When purchasing dry dog food, thoroughly inspect the packaging for any signs of damage, tears, or holes.

Avoid buying products with compromised packaging, as they could expose the food to air and contaminants.

Don’t Get Dry Food From Open Bins

Refrain from purchasing dry dog food from open bins or bulk containers at pet stores. These exposed bins are linked to contamination and a higher risk of spoilage.

Instead, opt for sealed bags with intact packaging to ensure the food’s freshness and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How Long Can Dry Dog Food Sit Out Before Going Bad?

Dry dog food can sit out for a certain period before it starts to go bad. Generally, it’s best to avoid leaving dry dog food out for more than 4 hours.

Some argue that they can let the kibble at room temperature for 1 day.  But don’t risk your beloved pet’s health.

My pooch once vomited when I fed him dry food that had left out for 6 hours.

After this time, the food is at risk of becoming contaminated by moisture, humidity, bacteria, and pests.

To maintain its freshness and safety, store dry dog food properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

If you notice any changes in the food’s appearance, smell, or texture, it indicates that it may have gone bad.

How Do I Know If My Dog’s Food Is Good?

Your dog’s food is still good if:

  • Smell: Quality dog food should have a neutral and appealing aroma. It might be spoiled if the food smells unusual, rotten, or foul.
  • Appearance: Check the color and texture of the kibble. Fresh dog food should have uniform color and consistency.
  • Packaging: Inspect the packaging; it should be good to go if it’s free from damage, such as tears, punctures, or holes.
  • Expiration Date: Always check the expiration or “best by” date on the packaging. Using dog food past its expiry date can reduce nutritional value and taste.
  • Insects or Mold: Look for any signs of insects, pests, or mold in the food. The presence of these indicates that the food has deteriorated.
  • Texture: The kibble’s surface should be consistent, not hard or soft.
  • Moisture: If you notice condensation inside the packaging or container, bubbles, or clumps, the food may have been exposed to humidity and might be spoiled. Also, feel the kibble with your hands to see whether it’s damp.


Your puppy’s health is closely tied to the quality of the food it consumes, and being vigilant about the condition of its dry dog food is crucial.

How to tell if dry dog food is bad?

By knowing the signs of food spoilage, checking expiration dates, and storing kibble properly, you can ensure that your furry friend enjoys safe and nutritious meals daily.

Don’t compromise on the quality of your dog’s food – stay informed and take the necessary steps to keep their meals fresh and wholesome.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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