Recently I had a customer tell me that she has been using the same bag of pet food for her cat for months. When I asked why, she told me it was because there weren’t any bugs or rodents getting into it, so there’s no problem with it. Well, let me tell you, this is not only a huge pet food storage mistake but could also pose some potential dangers to both her and her cat.

I had another customer tell me that she holds off on buying the large bags of pet food because the store only sells the smaller bags so she can get them cheaper. That’s another huge pet food mistake. Your pet is just as important, if not more so, than you are, so why would you buy smaller bags of anything for them?

Pet food safety starts with the storage of their food, and there are three main factors that contribute to this: 1) bugs and rodents, 2) air, and 3) moisture. We will discuss these pet food storage issues below.

Bugs and rodents

A primary problem with open bags of pet food is that they are highly susceptible to bugs and other pests. Once you get an infestation of bugs, it’s nearly impossible to completely rid the area of them without having to throw away every single bag in the area. Additionally, bugs are not only unsanitary but can also be very dangerous to your pet’s health.

Mice pose another major threat with open bags of dry pet food as they will eat it! This isn’t typically a problem when pets are eating their food because you are providing them with proper nutrition. However, when a mouse ingests pet food that has been tainted by its urine or feces or that of a bug, then you have a much bigger problem on your hands. Not only could your pet become sick from ingesting the “contaminated” dry food, but there will likely be parasite eggs in the rodent’s feces as well.

If you find bugs in your pet food, then it’s time to throw that food away and vacuum the area thoroughly, focusing on where you store your pet’s food and any other items that may attract pests such as birdseed or dog treats.

Air and Moisture

Another big problem with open bags of dry pet food is they can become stale. In general, most pet foods have a shelf life of 1 to 3 years. That’s not very long when you consider many people hold on to their pet food for much longer than that without going bad. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for pet owners to determine if a bag of dry pet food has gone bad just by looking at it, smelling it, or even tasting a little bit.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell if dry pet food has gone bad, and that’s through the use of a moisture meter. All you need to do is insert the probe end of the meter into the bag and check for moisture levels (the higher the moisture level in most cases means the food has gone bad). If you purchase your pet food in large bags, then it’s a good idea to buy yourself a moisture meter and test the food before you open all of it.