Dog Food Expiration Dates


As a brand ambassador and pet food nutritionist for a small but growing pet food company, I have spent countless hours working inside one of the largest pet retailers in the US.  It has been eye opening on several levels but one of the most worrisome things I’ve encountered has to do with how they handle the rotation of their pet food inventory.  While they do have procedures in place to periodically check the dates on all food, I find day-to-day stocking procedures to be out of sync with best practices.

According to Dog Magazine ( The ‘Best By’ date provided on the food – does NOT tell you how old the product is – it does NOT tell you when the food was manufactured. It only tells you the date that particular manufacturer has determined the food no longer provides the pet with the proper nutrition. While some ingredients in the food might still provide adequate nutrition – other ingredients have faded over time.  So how do you determine how fresh your dog food really is?  Here are a few pointers:

  1. Always check the “best by” date on all cans & bags of food prior to purchasing.
  2. Check the bag at the bottom of the stack or the can at the back of the shelf as well to see if it has a newer “best by” date.
  3. Contact your pet food manufacture and ask them the shelf life of their foods.  If they say one year and the bag or can you chose only has one month left until the end of the “best by” date, than that food was made 11 months ago.

Expired and out of date food can lead to serious health issues for your pet so it is important that you make checking expiration dates part of your purchasing routine whether you buy your food in a store or online.