Can I Give My Dog Out Of Date Meat? | Quality Dog Resources (2024)

Can I Give My Dog Out Of Date Meat? | Quality Dog Resources (1)

It sometimes happens that we, as dog owners, pick up a can of dog food from our cupboard only to realize that it’s already a couple of weeks or even a month past its “best by” date. It could be that we’ve had the dog food there for a while and simply forgot or we may have bought expired items from the store, but the big question is, is it okay to feed these expired items to our dog?

Let’s find out why in this case there is a big difference between ‘can’ and ‘should.’

Can I give my dog out of date meat?

The simple answer is yes, giving your dog out of date canned meat for dogs will not hurt your dog but it also won’t give him much in terms of nutritional value.

Unlike human food, dog food doesn’t really have a hard expiry date that tells you not to eat it past that date. Dog food has a “best by” date instead which pretty much means that you’re getting the food at its best quality if you eat it before the indicated date. This let’s stores sell old dog food even past its prime, so be sure to take a close look at those dates printed on the labels.

Unfortunately, even the “best by” date doesn’t really tell you when the food was prepared and canned. While the dangers of losing nutritional value, getting mold, and losing its integrity in general is higher for dry kibble, even canned dog food has its limits.

Just so we’re all on the same page, dry dog food has a shelf life of about three months whereas canned dog food can stay on the shelf for five years. It may sound like canned dog food could survive a nuclear holocaust but it’s still not rare to accidentally pick up canned doggie food that’s well past its expiry date.

Keep in mind that expired dog food, even the canned ones, has the nutritional equivalent of cardboard. Could be tasty, could be filling, but has zero of the vitamins and nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy.

Can dogs eat cooked meat left out overnight?

No, your dog cannot eat meat or canned dog food labeled as meat when it has been left out overnight, and neither should you (just in case the thought passed your mind).

Kidding aside, feeding your dog meat that has been left exposed for hours could post a serious danger. Food usually has a safe zone of two hours if you leave it out in the open which you can extend for another two hours if you reheat the meat past 65°C. Whether the meat smells bad or not, it is no longer good for consumption. Your dog will be at a high risk of getting food poisoning.

There is also the matter of fat content. Fat content in dog food is usually the first to go bad, but the good thing is you’ll be able to tell from the strong rancid smell that the food is no longer edible.

Can dogs eat raw meat that has been left out overnight?

No, it is also a bad idea to feed your dog raw meat that has been left out overnight. In fact, it’s an even worse idea than feeding your dog cooked meat that’s been left outside for hours.

Raw meat already has some bacteria that can easily propagate very fast to the millions within a mere four hours let alone 8 to 12 hours. Again, the same rules of keeping food out in room temperature applies. After two hours, you need to reheat or cook it to at least 65°C to extend its life for another two hours. More than that and you will have to discard the meat.

It bears repeating that it doesn’t matter whether there is a bad smell coming from the food or not. Most bacteria that causes food poisoning doesn’t give off a foul scent so it’s always better to err on the safe side.

What is the most dangerous old or rotten raw meat to feed a dog?

The most dangerous rotten raw meat for dogs is raw chicken. The danger in eating raw chicken for dogs is not mainly because of the Salmonella but because of the possibility of causing a common disease in dogs called acute polyradiculoneuritis or APN which causes dog paralysis.

With APN, the dog’s own immune system attacks the dog’s own nerves which can lead to paralysis and a lot of pain. APN is caused by ingesting the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni that is present in raw chicken and can multiply to exponentially large numbers in old or rotten raw chicken.

The first runner up for which old or rotten meat is dangerous for dogs is pork fat. Dogs are already sensitive fatty food as it is. Add the fact that it is old or rotten, and you’ll have a pet that is at high risk of suffering from pancreatitis as well as food poisoning and indigestion.

What is the most dangerous old or rotten cooked meat to feed a dog?

The answer to the most dangerous, old or rotten cooked meat to feed your pet dog is still food that contains very high fat content like bacon, ham, or meat trimmings. The high fat content will compound the problem of high bacterial content and you’ll have the bonus problem of high salt content as well.

However, keep in mind that all cooked food that has been left out for too long or has been allowed to rot can pose a danger to your dog’s health no matter what.

Human stomach vs dog stomach – how do they differ in digesting rotten food?

Surprisingly, dogs and human stomachs have become more similar over the hundreds of years that dogs have been domesticated instead of hunting for food in the wild.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some key differences between dog stomachs and human stomachs. Dogs still have a much more acidic digestive tract which allows them to digest tougher food and they can even eat food that has more bacteria than what humans can handle. On top of that, dogs only digest their food for hours, unlike us frail humans that have to digest our food for days. But despite these advantages, they have become more prone to spoiled or contaminated food than most animals you’ll find in the wild.

While dogs are still keeping a lot of their resistance for spoiled, dirty, and tough to digest food from millions of years of evolution, their stomachs are simply not as tough as wolves, for example, simply because they’ve been eating processed food for hundreds of years.

What are the signs that your dog has food poisoning?

The symptoms for food poisoning in dogs is generally the same as with humans which include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and dehydration or also a combination of any of these things. The effect of food poisoning on dogs can also differ depending on your pet’s sensitivity as well as the amount of bacteria ingested which means that some dogs could even exhibit tremors or experience seizures.

If you see your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, let your vet know but it’s also the rule of thumb to only offer water for 24 hours and observe if, after or during the fasting, your dog’s condition improves. If it doesn’t, take your dog to the vet immediately for further treatment.

Also, be sure to not mistake food toxicity for food poisoning. While the symptoms are practically the same, the treatment could differ and knowing what your dog is suffering from could save your pet’s life. While food poisoning is caused by eating rotten or contaminated food, food toxicity is caused by eating food that are poisonous to dogs (but are often okay for humans) such as chocolate, sugarfree gums and candy, and grapes or raisins among others.


We learned that while feeding your dog canned food past its “best by” date won’t hurt them, it will offer very little nutritional or dietary value and, in the long term, can be bad for your pet. We also learned that feeding your dog food that has been left out in the open for hours as well as rotten food is bad for your dog and can cause food poisoning whether the food was cooked or not.

Food poisoning can be a dangerous to your pet especially if it is allowed to become severe. If you suspect that your dog may have ingested rotten or contaminated food, be sure to call your vet right away.

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Can I Give My Dog Out Of Date Meat? | Quality Dog Resources (2024)


Can I give my dog out of date dog food? ›

Expired foods are not only unappetizing, they could cause health issues, according to Chavez. “Just like us, [dogs] can get sick [from eating expired dog food],” he explains. “In more severe cases, they can have vomiting, diarrhea and stop eating altogether.”

How long does dog meat last? ›

Meat and Organ Meat

It is recommended to wrap the meat in an airtight foil or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn and keep the texture and flavor intact. Ground meat can last in the freezer for up to four months, while whole meat cuts like steaks and roasts can be stored for 6-12 months.

How long is canned dog food good for? ›

An unopened can of dog food can remain fresh for years when stored in a cool and dry location, but only buy the number of cans that can be used before they reach their "best by" dates. Once opened, canned food should be stored in the refrigerator for no longer than seven days.

How long does unopened dry dog food last? ›

Unopened dry dog food tends to have a shelf life of around 12-18 months, but once you open it, you should aim to use it up in about 6 weeks. After that, it will start to go stale.

What happens if my dog eats expired dry dog food? ›

If your dog does happen to get into spoiled or expired dog food, you may see signs of general gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. 2 Depending on the pathogen, though, your dog may become seriously ill. Bacteria like E. coli can cause life-threatening illnesses if left untreated.

Does dog food go bad after expiration date? ›

While dry dog food doesn't technically expire, you could consider that “use by” or “best by” date an expiration date. Over time, some nutrients, like vitamins, start to naturally degrade. Fortunately, nutritionists are acutely aware of this.

What to do with expired dog food? ›

When dog food expires, you should immediately throw it out. Such meals are not only unpleasant to eat but also harm your pet's health, causing vomiting or diarrhea.

How long is Hill's Science diet good for? ›

We do not suggest storing your pet's food in an uncontrolled environment such as a garage or outdoors. After opening, canned products should be covered and stored in a refrigerator at 4 to 7 Degrees Celsius. In general, refrigerated canned foods should be used within 3 to 5 days after opening.

Can dogs eat meat straight from the fridge? ›

Most veterinarians advise against giving dogs raw diets for the same reason humans don't eat raw meat — there are health risks when it comes to the bacteria found in raw food.

Does unopened canned dog food go bad? ›

Pet food manufacturers establish expiration or “best by” dates to ensure the safety of your dog. In general, unopened dry pet foods have a shelf life of 12-18 months, while unopened canned foods are good for two years from the date of manufacture.

Can canned wet dog food go bad? ›

It should be thrown out if it is past its expiration date. Check for signs that the food is spoiled. Fresh wet dog food should have a pleasant smell and a moist, meaty texture. If the wet dog food smells sour, has a slimy texture or has changed color, it may have spoiled and should be immediately thrown away.

Is it OK to store wet dog food in the can? ›

Store opened cans of wet dog food in the fridge. The best way to keep them moist and stop odor from transferring to other food is to use a plastic pet food lid designed to fit the top of the can. If you don't have one of those, you can use plastic wrap or a zip-seal bag, but those don't trap odors as well as a lid.

How many dog years does a dog live? ›

On average, dogs live for 10-13 years which is roughly equivalent to 60-74 human years, although there is no hard and fast way of working this out. When thinking about 'how long do dogs live? ', it's important to note that elements like lifestyle, food and breed can affect a dog's life span.

Does freeze dried dog food expire? ›

How Long Does Freeze-Dried Dog Food Last? Sealed, unopened freeze-dried dog food can last for up to a year, although you need to check the expiration or “best by” date on the packaging. But once you open the packaging, it should be consumed within 1 month to prevent it from going bad.

How do you extend the shelf life of dry dog food? ›

You can extend the shelf life of pet food by freezing it and using airtight containers, but be cautious when using plastic bins as they may pose health concerns. Unfortunately, most pet food companies do not evaluate the stability of their food and its nutrients after the bag has been opened.

How can you tell if dry dog food is bad? ›

How to tell if your dog food is spoiled
  1. There is a noticeable sour or rancid odor.
  2. You see signs of moisture, mold, or bugs.
  3. The bag is past its expiration date.
  4. The food has been exposed to heat or humidity.
  5. Your dog refuses to eat, or shows signs of illness/discomfort after eating.

Can dogs get sick from spoiled dog food? ›

Spoiled or tainted ingredients are used, including rancid fats, spoiled proteins, and/or moldy grains. Some molds excrete toxins (collectively called mycotoxins); some mycotoxins, such as vomitoxin, can make dogs very ill. Others, such as aflatoxin, can kill.

When should you throw out dog food? ›

That's why it's important for you to know the signs of food that has “gone off.” You can tell your dog food is spoiled if: There is a noticeable sour or rancid odor. You see signs of moisture, mold, or bugs. The bag is past its expiration date.

Can a dog eat day old wet food? ›

After opening a can or pouch of wet dog food, transfer any unused portion to an airtight container and refrigerate it for no longer than three days. Always check the expiration date on the wet dog food before feeding it to your dog. It should be thrown out if it is past its expiration date.


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