Safe and Sound: Storing Raw Dog Food with Confidence


Eating raw dog food provides many benefits for our furry friends. The diet allows them to thrive on fresh, minimally processed ingredients that are similar to what their ancestors ate. But there are also risks if this perishable food is not stored properly. Bacteria and other pathogens can grow rapidly in raw meat and fish, potentially causing illness. That’s why understanding correct storage methods is so critical for any owner feeding a raw diet. This guide will explore key factors like containers, temperature, handling, and hygiene to give you confidence in safely storing raw dog food.



Raw dog food has surged in popularity over the last decade as more pet owners recognize its nutritional advantages. Replicating the ancestral diet of dogs, raw food contains natural proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals without artificial preservatives or additives. This fresh food provides maximum digestibility and bioavailability that cooking inevitably destroys. Owners feeding raw report shinier coats, cleaner teeth, better breath, higher energy levels and reduced allergies in their pets. But the risks of foodborne illness from bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli cannot be ignored with this perishable fare. Improper storage allows pathogens to multiply rapidly, posing a grave health threat if consumed. That’s why safe handling and correct storage methods are so critical.

This article will explore the key factors for keeping raw dog food safe and nutritious. We’ll start by understanding exactly what raw dog food is. Then we’ll dive into suitable storage containers, ideal temperature ranges, cleaning essentials, handling techniques and monitoring the freshness of your supply. Follow these tips and you can have full confidence in storing raw food for the health of your cherished pooch. Let’s get started!

Understanding Raw Dog Food

Raw dog food aims to mimic the natural ancestral diet of dogs in the wild. It is composed of raw, fresh meats, bones, organ meats, vegetables, fruits and supplements. While cooking kills nutrients and enzymes critical for health, this food retains its natural benefits through gentle processing like freezing, dehydrating or cold-pressing. Raw diets provide digestive enzymes and probiotics that aid dogs’ gastrointestinal health. The ingredients also offer optimal protein bioavailability and essential fatty acids. Going raw can relieve allergies, strengthen the immune system, clean teeth and reduce stool volume.

Pet owners choose raw feeding for the noticeable improvements in their dogs’ health, energy, skin and coat condition. Raw diets contain muscle meat, organ meat, edible bones and vegetables. Muscle meat provides protein while organ meat delivers essential nutrients like iron, Vitamin A and B vitamins. Raw meaty bones supply calcium and phosphorus. Veggies like broccoli, spinach and celery offer antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients. Some owners also supplement with fish oil, probiotics, vitamins and minerals.


The Importance of Proper Storage

Improper storage of raw meat and fish allows rapid growth of bacteria, parasites and molds. Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other pathogens thrive on raw animal products and byproducts. These can multiply to dangerous levels within hours if left at room temperature. Similarly, spoilage microbes produce toxins that make dogs ill. Proper refrigeration, freezing and food handling limit harmful microbe growth to keep your pet safe.

Feeding spoiled, contaminated raw food puts your dog at risk of foodborne illnesses which may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, sepsis and even death in extreme cases. Certain at-risk groups like the very young, old and immune-compromised are most vulnerable. But even healthy dogs can suffer from toxic microbes. Always err on the side of caution with strict food safety practices. Your dog’s health depends on it!

Suitable Containers for Raw Dog Food

Choosing the right container is essential to keep raw meat and fish safe for your dog’s consumption. It must protect the food from cross-contamination and seal in freshness.

Plastic and glass containers with airtight lids work best for raw storage. Look for BPA-free plasticware. Sturdy deli containers maintain temperature well and their transparency allows you to monitor the contents. Mason jars also create a good seal if closed properly. Glass sounds breakable but actually holds up well to freezing. Always choose containers designed for food rather than general household storage.

Avoid containers with cracks, scratches or stains that may harbor bacteria. Don’t reuse yogurt tubs or food takeout containers; their permeability encourages contamination. Prevent leaking with a tight seal. Lids with clamps or latch mechanisms secure better than friction lids.

Match container size to portion needs, as repeatedly opening packages exposes food to microbes and reduces quality. Small single-serve amounts keep food fresher. Label containers with contents and dates for easy tracking.

Temperature and Raw Dog Food Storage

Temperature plays a critical role in limiting microbial growth to keep raw food safe. Proper refrigeration or freezing prevents spoilage and kills parasites and pathogens.

Raw meat, fish and eggs should be kept at a maximum of 40°F. Refrigerate promptly after bringing food home, not left out more than two hours. Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the interior stays chilled to under 40°F.

The freezer maintains quality nearly indefinitely at 0°F or below. Frozen foods last six to 12 months. Freeze serving sizes in individual containers to avoid repeated thawing and deterioration.

Thawing is where trouble arises if not done properly in the refrigerator or cold water bath. Never thaw on the counter, as bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature. Thawed foods should be used within a day or two. If in doubt, throw it out.


Hygiene and Cleaning

Meticulous hygiene prevents illness when handling raw food. Cleanliness keeps containers, utensils and surfaces free of harmful microbes. Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat, fish and eggs. Use hot, soapy water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Clean countertops, cutting boards, sinks and tools that contacted raw food with hot water and soap, then disinfect. A mild bleach solution works well for sanitizing.

Run containers through the dishwasher or hand wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Air dry completely before reuse. Replace any stained, cracked or warped containers. Discard utensils like knives and feeding bowls if their condition is compromised. A diluted vinegar solution helps remove odors from storage bins.

Never place raw meat or fish in proximity to other food during shopping, storage or preparation. Cross-contamination can transmit bacteria throughout the kitchen. Designate a separate section of your refrigerator exclusively for raw proteins. Always supervise your dog during feedings and promptly pick up any scattered morsels.

Proper Handling Techniques

Special care must be taken when handling raw food to avoid contamination. Here are some guidelines:

  • Wash hands and surfaces before and after contact with raw food.
  • Keep raw meat sealed until ready to serve. Minimize exposure.
  • Use designated cutting boards and utensils just for raw foods.
  • Rinse all produce well before adding to recipes.
  • Defrost frozen meat and fish in the refrigerator, never on the counter.
  • Avoid contact between raw foods and other ingredients during prep.
  • Refrigerate or freeze raw foods within 2 hours of preparation or purchasing.
  • Clean up spills immediately and sanitize the area.

Exercising caution will greatly reduce risks to you and your pet. Always monitor kids and immunosuppressed individuals around raw food since they are more susceptible to bacteria.


Monitoring and Rotation

Keep close track of the age and freshness of stored raw food. Label packages with the contents and date, and place newer items toward the back. Follow a first-in-first-out system, using up older foods before newer ones.

Make note of any changes in color, texture or smell that may indicate spoilage. Discard foods past their prime, however painful it may feel to waste pricey provisions. It’s not worth risking your pet’s health.

To minimize waste, buy product in quantities that can be used up before deterioration. Alternatively, rotate multiple protein sources to add variety to your dog’s diet. For example, substitute beef, turkey, lamb, duck, rabbit or venison so no single food lingers too long. A diversity of meats also provides a range of nutrients.

Create a raw food inventory with dates and follow it closely. Your meticulous monitoring ensures your dog only consumes fresh, high quality fare you feel good about serving.


When done properly, feeding raw dog food provides huge benefits for your dog’s health and vitality. But perishable raw meats, fish and eggs also carry risks from pathogenic bacteria if handled incorrectly. By understanding suitable storage containers, ideal temperatures, hygiene, handling and monitoring, you can have full confidence your raw food is safe. Follow these tips to give your dog the evolutionary diet it thrives on, securely stored to prevent illness. Committing to proper storage means you can safely nourish your pet with raw foods for years to come.

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