We know a lot of people out there are still feeding kibble out of habit or convenience and we hear a lot of questions about when kibble starts to go bad and why. We'll get into it, but kibble's shelf life is way shorter than we think it is and that short shelf life can lead to major health and nutritional issues for your dog. Here's what you can do about it...

What's the confusion with kibble's expiration date?

If you look at your bag of kibble, it will show you an expiration date or a "best by" date that's one year out. But studies show that the shelf life of kibble is actually closer to 2 weeks. Major difference.

Why does kibble go bad so quickly?

There are a host of issues with kibble from low quality ingredients to high heat processing to very little protein. On top of all of those issues, kibble is sprayed with fats from meat to make what is otherwise dehyrdrated, low quality starch somewhat appetizing for your dog. That fat though turns rancid once you open the bag. The expiration window goes from one year to two weeks.

Why does the fat in the kibble go rancid?

It's all due to a process called oxidation. Once the bag of kibble is exposed to oxygen (right after you open it), the fatty oils in the kibble begin to break down and degrade. That degredation turns the food toxic and foul-smelling.

What happens nutritionally and to my dog's health as the fat turns rancid?

A whole set of problems ensue once kibble begins to go bad. As the fats spoil, they lose their shape and mollecular structure. Digesting these fats becomes difficult and introduces toxins to your dog's body. Rancid fats are linked to diarrhea, cancers, liver and heart disease.

On top of this, as the fats turn racid, they also deteriorate any protein, vitamins and antioxidants originally in the food (which isn't much to begin with in kibble.) Your dog ends up feeling full without any of the important nutrient absorption. He's essentially eaten fillers, but wasn't able to absorb any of the nutrients.

What can you do about kibble going bad?

If you're feeding kibble, it's important to store it in an air-tight container and buy it in 2 week quantities at most. This means, despite what dog food manufacturers want you to believe about buying in bulk, it's generally a bad idea. You're best off buying smaller quantities 2 weeks at a time.

If you can though, switching your dog's food to a natural, nutrient-rich option like raw food is your best bet. We could go on and on about the benefits of raw, but a balanced and complete raw food diet is made of the high quality ingredients. If stored in the freezer, raw food lasts for 6 months without any spoilage.