Dog owners choose to serve raw dog food to their canine friends for many reasons, including food allergies, digestive issues, medical reasons, and enhanced health. Understanding how to store raw dog food properly is essential because, as a dog owner, you don’t want to do anything that puts your beloved pet at risk. Improper food storage and handling, aside from potentially making your dog sick, can waste your money if the food goes bad.
Taking care to store and feed a raw pet food diet properly can pay off for your pup’s health, and the following food storage tips will help make “going raw” an easier pursuit for both of you.
The Best Way to Store Raw Dog Food
Simply put, store your pup’s raw food exactly how you would store food for humans. The same way you would store raw ground beef or uncooked chicken.
Wrap the raw meat securely in sealed, air-tight packaging to keep the food from drying out in the freezer and prevent any juices from leaking onto other foods. The freezer’s icy temperatures will ensure that your canine’s raw pet food stays free of growing bacteria.
The good thing about subscribing to the best dog food delivery service brands that offer raw pet meals is that they come in sealed packs and are delivered frozen to maintain freshness. We Feed Raw is one of the most popular dog food subscription brands today that offer premium quality raw diets.
Should You Keep Raw Dog Food Frozen?
To preserve the freshness of your dog’s raw food, keep it frozen. When ready to use it, thaw raw pet food and treats in your refrigerator.
Storing raw dog food at temperatures below freezing stops the growth of dangerous microbes on raw meat, including mold and yeast. The arctic temperatures also slow down the enzymes and ripening of any fruits or veggies mixed into your pup’s frozen meals.
Controlling the temperature range keeps the raw dog food safe. Certain bad bacteria grow at temperatures as low as 46.5 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). The food might look, smell and taste normal, but the bacteria is still growing.
If you happen to have a freezer malfunction and the food has warmed for more than one to two hours, discard the raw food for the safety and health of your pup.
How Long Does Raw Dog Food Keep in the Fridge?
When defrosting your pet’s raw food, it will stay fresh and safely edible for four to five days in the fridge. If the food has been defrosted outside of the fridge and reached room temperature, it will keep safely for two to three days in the fridge afterward.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the danger zone for bacteria growth is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit .
Why is this zone dangerous? Because foodborne bacteria grow more quickly in these temps, with some types doubling their numbers within 10 to 20 minutes. The harmful bacteria include Salmonella, Listeria, E. Coli, and Campylobacter.
If you find you have defrosted too much food, you can refreeze the remainder. Place divided food portions into separate packaging, and pop them back into the freezer for later meals.
Set a Daily Thawing Routine
Feeding your furry friend a frozen raw food diet (that’s a tongue-twister!) takes a bit of planning, but once you get a routine going, it becomes a breeze. When you need thawed food to feed your pup, put enough separated portions in the fridge to have food for one to two days.
Keep the food in its wrapper or transfer it to a clean container used only for raw pet food. Wash this container each time you empty it before placing new food in so that no bacteria transfer from one batch of food to another.
You can also defrost the food on the counter for one to two hours, then move it to the refrigerator, or move it directly from the freezer to the fridge if you have more time.
If life happens and you end up in a time crunch, place the frozen food in watertight packaging and run it under lukewarm water until you feel it softening up. You can also immerse the sealed package of food into a tub of cold water.
Once you feel the food has softened enough to cut through it, usually in 20-30 minutes, remove it from the water and place it in the refrigerator until feeding time. Replace the water every 30 minutes or so and continue to soak if the food is still not soft enough to cut off a portion for your pooch’s meal.
Never use the microwave to defrost your pup’s raw food. Even though the food might still look raw, some parts heat up enough to become cooked. This process negatively impacts the quality and nutritional content of raw food.
Use Good Food Safety and Handling Techniques
Feeding your doggy family member a raw food diet is not as time-consuming or complicated as it might seem. Following our guidelines above will avoid any issues that typically come up when feeding this diet.
When you purchase ready-made raw dog food, such as the type that comes in tubes, look for brands that package the food into meal-sized portions and save yourself a little work.
Remember to check expiration dates on the food so that you buy only fresh products with enough time left so that you can store and use them within their best-by dates.
Keep these additional food-safety tips in mind:
- Use a bowl made of stainless steel if you can because it cleans very easily and keeps you and your pet safe from foodborne bacteria from raw meat.
- Keep your pup’s raw dog food well-packaged and separated from other foods.
- If your pup does not finish all of its food, put the remainder in the refrigerator for at most two to three days.
- Wash all surfaces, containers, utensils, and your hands with hot, soapy water after coming into contact with the raw dog food.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Should raw dog food be served frozen?
Your pup may have trouble eating frozen food and won’t enjoy it as much. Keeping raw food frozen is only done to extend its shelf life. It is best to thaw the food in your refrigerator for at least a few hours before feeding your pooch.
How do you store raw food?
Keep the raw pet food well-packaged in air-tight wrapping. Keep the food frozen and only thaw the portion you will use up within a few days. Keep thawed food in the refrigerator until ready to feed your pup. If your pup does not finish its food, put the remainder in the fridge for up to two days.
How long can raw dog food be left down?
If you are taking the raw food out of the refrigerator, you can leave the meal down for your dog to enjoy for one to two hours. Any unfinished food should be packaged and returned to the fridge. If the raw food has been sitting out for more than two hours, or the food’s temperature has reached above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours, you are better off discarding it to keep your pup safe from foodborne bacteria and illness.
How do you store raw dog food in the freezer?
Divide up your raw dog food into meal-sized portions. Package each separately so that you can defrost them one at a time if needed. Use packaging that is fully sealed, air-tight, and watertight. If you need to thaw some food in a hurry, you can place the sealed package into a bowl of cold water for 20 to 30 minutes until it softens enough to cut up for your pup.