How Long Does Canned Dog Food Last?

Picture of a Bassett Hound

Ask most dogs and they will tell you, “Woof, woof, woof.” Seriously, most dogs will indicate that they prefer canned dog food to kibble. Canned dog food often has a higher percentage of protein and fat than kibble and dogs are very fond of both of these nutrients. When it comes to how long dog food will last, the results are not nearly as clear.

Canned dog food

Canned or wet dog foods are made with very few or no preservatives. Preservatives are not usually a big issue with canned dog foods because once the containers are filled with food and sealed, they are placed in a device called a retort. The retort is a heat sterilization device that brings the pressure and temperature of the containers to a specific level that is designed to kill bacteria. It also pressure seals the can so there won’t be any spoilage. This process kills any potentially harmful bacteria or mold in the products. The cans will be able to stay on the store shelf until their “Best used by” date.

The cans should be stamped with a batch code and a “Best by” date so they can be identified if they need to be recalled at a later date.

There should be quality control technicians checking on the cans and their contents throughout the canning process.

How long does canned dog food last?

Properly sealed from the manufacturer, a can of dog food can last for years. However, canned or wet dog food will have a “Best by” or “Best before” date stamped on the can. You should pay attention to this date and use the food before it expires. Most cans that you see on the shelf in your local pet food store will have an expiration date 6 to 18 months in the future.

The way the canned food is stored will also affect how long the food remains good. It should be stored in a cool, dry location. This includes the warehouse at the factory where it is made; the trucks that transport it; and the stores that stock it. It’s always possible that somewhere along the way a can of pet food was accidentally stored in the sun for a few days or got banged around. If you notice something “off” or not right with your dog’s canned food, contact the manufacturer and let them know.

Even though most canned dog food can last a long time as long as it’s not opened or damaged, it’s best to only buy the number of cans you can feed your dog in a short time. Don’t buy cans that you won’t be able to use before their expiration date. And, obviously, don’t buy cans that have been dented or damaged since the food could be compromised.

How long does an open can of dog food last?

The answer to this question is not very long! As soon as you open a can of pet food it’s fair game for bacteria. Just as you should not leave wet dog food sitting out for your dog very long, you should not leave a can of dog food sitting out exposed. Cover the can and store it in your refrigerator after opening it. If may be good for up to seven days though most canned food is better if your dog eats it within 3-4 days.

If you don’t think your dog can eat the entire can of food in a few days, we suggest that you freeze small portions of the food and thaw them later as you need them.

If you have opened a can of dog food and left it sitting out at room temperature, throw it away if it’s been sitting out for more than four hours. Make sure you clean your dog’s dish before you re-use it.

Even though it costs a little more to buy smaller cans, it can be a good idea to buy your dog small cans of food instead of the big cans if he can’t eat all of the food in a large can in a short time.


Canned dog food can last a very long time if it is stored in a cool, dry place. After it is opened, be sure to put the uneaten food in your refrigerator. It can last up to seven days in the refrigerator after it’s been opened. If you have a small dog that can’t eat large meals, it can be a good idea to buy small cans so you don’t have to save leftover dog food in the refrigerator.



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