Skip to Content

How long should you leave dog food out?

How long should you leave dog food out?

I always enjoy feeding my dog. Watching her face light up when she sees me grab her favorite can of food is something I never get tired of. She just cannot control her excitement and you can tell by her wildly wagging tail!

Of course, even if she loves her food, she doesn’t always clean out her bowl. Whenever that happens, I wonder what I should do with the food. 

More often than not, I just leave the food in the bowl because I think she’ll eat it eventually. Is that the right thing to do, though?

In seeking the answer to that question, I’ve unearthed some other pieces of useful information related to dog food. You can find them all in this article so please read on if you wish to learn more about how to properly handle leftover dog food.

How Long Should You Leave Dog Food Out?

Leaving dog food out may be a habit you have developed as a pet owner. Many pet owners put food in their dog’s bowl before they leave for work in the morning. That way, there is something for their pet to munch on throughout the day.

So, is that habit good or bad for your dog?

Generally speaking, allowing leftover dog food to remain in your pet’s bowl is not a big issue. That’s the case regardless of whether you feed them dry or wet food.

Still, there are limits on how long you can leave the dog food out. The limits depend on the type of food you’re feeding your pet.

How Long Should You Leave Wet Dog Food Out?

Both the wet and dry variants of dog food provide pets with sufficient nutrients. You don’t have to worry about your dog growing unhealthy if they prefer one over the other.

The only reason why you should choose wet food over its dry counterpart is if you’re worried about your pet’s water intake. Wet food gets more moisture into your pet’s body. It still shouldn’t be a substitute for water, but it can be helpful in that regard.

When giving wet food to your dog, you should always remember when you first placed it in the bowl. All that added moisture can be good for your dog’s body, but it can also lead to faster spoilage.

On warm days, you should not let the wet food stay in the bowl for longer than four hours. Past that point, the wet food may start to spoil.

If you cannot remember exactly when you first put the wet food out and you’re worried that it’s spoiled, you can check its smell. Wet food that gives off a sour odor is likely already spoiled. The food is no longer safe to eat at that point so dispose of it properly.

Tips for Storing Wet Dog Food

Serving the entire can of wet dog food to your pet is probably not a good idea. Go ahead and store the leftovers so you can serve them at a different time.

Detailed below are some of the tips you must keep in mind when storing wet dog food.

Transfer the Wet Dog Food into a New Container

Leaving the leftover wet food in the can is an option, but you’ll have a hard time managing its odor. Consider transferring the wet food instead of leaving it in its original container for easier storage. Ideally, you should use a container with an airtight lid, but a resealable bag can work in a pinch.

Store the Wet Dog Food in Your Refrigerator Only

Place the leftover wet food in the refrigerator for proper storage. Don’t store the wet food in the freezer because it might taste different after you thaw it out.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Give the Leftover Wet Food

Even if it’s stored properly in your fridge, you cannot hold on to the leftover wet food for too long. You can only let it stay in your refrigerator for up to three days max before it starts to spoil. After the three days have passed, you should dispose of the leftover wet food.

How Long Can Dry Dog Food Sit Out?

Dry dog food is capable of lasting longer than wet food. That’s part of the reason why many pet owners prefer it. You can buy a big bag of dry food and just store it in your home for your pet’s future meals.

Even if the dry food is already in the bowl, it still retains its long shelf life. The dry food will remain safe to eat for a long time.

There is no real set time when dry food will start to spoil. The best you can do is keep an eye out for the signs of spoilage.

You’ll know that the dry food has gone bad if it’s covered in mold or infested by bugs. Also remember to check the packaging as that will usually provide an expiration date.

Tips for Storing Dry Dog Food

Proper storage maintains the quality of the dry dog food. Included below are the things you must do to keep the dry food in good condition.

Keep Air away from the Dry Dog Food

You do not want to leave the dry dog food exposed because that will cause it to grow stale. Keep it in the bag and keep it sealed so air doesn’t get in. You can also store the dry food in a large airtight container if you have one available.

Store the Dry Dog Food in the Right Room

Don’t just store the dry dog food in any part of your home. The storage area you choose should be dry so moisture does not infiltrate the container.

The storage area also cannot be too warm or too cold. A room that’s no warmer than 85 degrees Fahrenheit will be suitable to serve as the storage area for the dry dog food.

Note the Expiration Date for the Dry Dog Food

Don’t forget about the expiration for your dog’s dry food. You can either hold on to the packaging so you can always check it for the expiration date or just take a picture of the label with the date in question.

Is It OK to Leave Dog Food Out All Day?

If you have a packed schedule for the day and you aren’t sure when you’ll return home, you may be thinking of leaving a lot of dry food in your pet’s bowl.

Doing that should be fine, right? Well, not exactly.

Different issues could arise if you leave the dry food out all day.

First off, your dog may eat too much during one sitting. Later in the day, your dog may feel hungry again and there’s no more food left for them.

You should also be worried about potential pests. They may target your dog’s food and you don’t want that.

The quality of the dog food may also deteriorate if it stays in the bowl too long. After the dry food grows stale, your dog may no longer want anything to do with it. The food will just go to waste at that point.

Instead of leaving dog food out all day, you can use an automatic feeder. The automatic feeder will release food at set intervals so your dog won’t go hungry even while you’re out of the house.

Using an automatic feeder will be less wasteful than filling your dog’s bowl with too much food and letting it sit out all day.

What Is the Best Time to Put Out Food for My Dog?

You don’t have to stick to strict mealtimes when feeding your dog. All you have to do is feed them around the same general timeframe each day.

If you want to feed them late in the afternoon, you can do that. Going with an early evening feeding time is also fine. You can pretty much choose any timeframe as long as you’re consistent with it.

Mealtimes should also be separated by about 8 to 12 hours. Separating mealtimes that way will stop your dog from getting too hungry between their meals. It will also stop them from overeating.