Black and brown long haired dachshund eating Kabo gently cooked chicken meal

The Importance of Proper Storage of Fresh and Raw Pet Food

Ever feel sick or queasy after a questionable meal and immediately think, must be food poisoning? Food poisoning is never a fun experience for anyone and it isn’t just limited to humans, our dogs can get food poisoning as well. The culprit behind food poisoning is usually contamination of food by bacteria and other microbial species. This is why the storage of semi-moist foods like fresh and raw pet foods is so important.

There are several species of bacteria that can cause fido to feel unwell:

  • Salmonella (most common)
  • E. Coli
  • Clostridium Botulism 
  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium perfringens

Ingestion of contaminated food usually results in a dog that is lethargic with vomiting and/or diarrhea. In minor cases, dogs will pass the bacteria so keeping them comfortable and hydrated is the best mode of care. In more severe cases, veterinary care may be required.

Improper storage, production and handling of pet food either by owners or producers is how pet food becomes contaminated with bacteria. As pet owners, ensuring that you are properly storing your pet’s food is the best way to ensure that they will not get food poisoning.

Heat destroys bacteria. This is why dry kibble, canned and fresh foods are less likely to be contaminated than raw dog food. In the last 5 years, there were more raw food recalls by the FDA for bacterial contamination than all other types of pet food combined. This is because raw food is not cooked to destroy harmful microbes like other types of food.

Even after cooking or heating, bacteria can still be introduced into food. Moisture is another risk factor for microbial contamination. If a dog food is classified as moist or semi-moist, such as fresh or raw food, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria if not stored properly. This is because many bacteria use water as a growth medium.

To limit the possibility of contamination in semi-moist foods, ensure that the meals are immediately frozen upon purchase/shipping. Only defrost meals the night before serving and limit storage in the fridge to 1 day for raw and 2-3 days for fresh food. For raw diets, store and defrost food away from your own cooked and ready to eat foods in order to reduce microbial contamination of human foods as well. Furthermore, it is not recommended to defrost food at room temperature or on the counter and instead defrost meals overnight in the fridge. Lastly, never keep or feed food past its expiration date.

A study by researchers at the examined microbial growth of pathogens on raw food at various temperatures. The scientists found that there was a notable rise in the species and number of bacteria in food stored at 2°C versus 7°C, with greater contamination as temperature increased. 

Overall, in order to keep pets safe from food poisoning, ensure that you are practicing hygienic handling and storage of semi-moist foods. Keep meals frozen until ready for use and defrost meals in the refrigerator. If you suspect that your dog may have food poisoning, contact your veterinarian. Stay safe!

View Sources

Morelli, Giada, Paolo Catellani, Riccardo Miotti Scapin, Sofia Bastianello, Daniele Conficoni, Barbara Contiero, and Rebecca Ricci. "Evaluation of microbial contamination and effects of storage in raw meat‐based dog foods purchased online." Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 104, no. 2 (2020): 690-697.

van Bree, Freek PJ, Gertie CAM Bokken, Robin Mineur, Frits Franssen, Marieke Opsteegh, Joke WB van der Giessen, Len JA Lipman, and Paul AM Overgaauw. "Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs." Veterinary Record 182, no. 2 (2018): 50-50.

Wu, Yifan, Run Fan, Yinchao Wang, Lei Lei, Andrea T. Feßler, Zheng Wang, Congming Wu, Stefan Schwarz, and Yang Wang. "Analysis of combined resistance to oxazolidinones and phenicols among bacteria from dogs fed with raw meat/vegetables and the respective food items." Scientific reports 9, no. 1 (2019): 1-10.

Acott, K., A. E. Sloan, and Ted P. Labuza. "Evaluation of antimicrobial agents in a microbial challenge study for an intermediate moisture dog food." Journal of food science 41, no. 3 (1976): 541-546.

Doulgeraki, Agapi I., Danilo Ercolini, Francesco Villani, and George-John E. Nychas. "Spoilage microbiota associated to the storage of raw meat in different conditions." International journal of food microbiology 157, no. 2 (2012): 130-141.

Doulgeraki, Agapi I., Danilo Ercolini, Francesco Villani, and George-John E. Nychas. "Spoilage microbiota associated to the storage of raw meat in different conditions." International journal of food microbiology 157, no. 2 (2012): 130-141.

FDA. “Recalls & Withdrawals” (2020). https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/safety-health/recalls-withdrawals

Try Kabo

Freshly cooked dog food. Delivered.

Now serving Ontario, British Columbia, Montréal, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
Formulated by expert nutritionists.
Free delivery!
Learn More
Days 1 & 2
75% old food
25% Kabo (cooked, kibble, or both)
Days 3 & 4
50% old food
50% Kabo
Days 5 & 6
25% old food
75% Kabo
Days 7+
100% fresh, human-grade Kabo!
Try Kabo

Freshly cooked dog food. Delivered.

Now serving Ontario, British Columbia, Montréal, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
Formulated by expert nutritionists.
Free delivery!
Learn More

More from our blog

Want more healthy tips for your dog?

Subscribe to our newsletter

* Add a notice about your Privacy Policy here.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.