Updated at: 14-06-2022 - By: Jane Brody

If you have pets, one of the surest ways of keeping them healthy is by ensuring that you feed them with fresh quality food. You can choose to feed your dog with either wet or dry food. Wet food, unlike dry food, comes with more maintenance issues.

Keeping dry dog food fresh is more straightforward than doing the same with wet food as all you need for the former is keep it in an airtight container and it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks or even months depending on the amount in the bag or box. Wet food, on the other hand, can only go as far as the use-by date on the can but if unopened. Once you open the can, everything changes, and that is where you ask yourself how long you can leave wet food out?

How Long Can You Leave Wet Dog Food Out

Many dogs prefer canned food to dry food at any given time. The reasons behind this are wet or canned food comes with savory flavors, a softer texture, and a smell that triggers the dog’s taste buds working. Before feeding the canned food to your dog, you have to ensure that it is at room temperature.

Unlike dry food, once you open the can and your dog refuses to finish the meal, you will have no option but to discard the remains and refrigerate whatever you had not poured into the bowl. Even with refrigerating, you cannot keep leftovers for long, and eventually, you will have to throw away everything. Even though keeping the food refrigerated may maintain its flavors, it is essential to establish a healthy routine and habit for your dog.  So how long can you leave wet dog food out?

How Long You Can Leave Wet Dog Food Out

If after 30 minutes after serving the canned food to your dog, it stays uneaten, then you will have no option but to discard the remains. If the temperatures are warm, you need to get rid of the leftovers in 20 minutes. High moisture and warm temperatures help to promote the growth of bacteria and mold to the wet food making it dangerous for the dog.

After discarding the food, ensure that you wash the bowl to get rid of any germs left behind before the next feeding session. If there is any leftover food in the can, place it in the refrigerator ensuring that you close the can tightly. Before the next feeding, ensure that you warm the food to room temperature to release the aromas and entice the pet into eating the food.

Keep the opened can in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days after which you throw it away. If you have different recipes of opened cans in the fridge, make sure to mark each can with the date of opening to help with easier tracking and disposal.

Alternative foods

If you find yourself throwing away wet food every so often, then it is time to think of alternatives. One of the best options is dehydrated foods. With dehydrated food, all you need to do is add warm water to the meal and feed your dog without having to worry about opening any cans of uneaten food.

Dehydrated food is also much easier to store than wet canned food as it is more compact. Another alternative is transitioning the dog to dry food, which comes in the form of crunchy kibbles.


Dogs taking the dry food for the first time may not like it so make the transition gradual with small portions of the dry food until you are sure the dog can manage the meal without any wet food addition. Dry food comes with many health benefits, some of which are strengthening the teeth, jaws and freshening the dogs breathe.

Can You Freeze Wet Food?

Another question that many pet owners ask is whether you can freeze canned food to make it last longer. Freezing canned food extends its shelf life by a few more months. Some people though think that freezing takes away the nutrients but if you store in tightly sealed freezer bags or cans, there is no reason why the food cannot retain the flavors and the nutrients.

You have to read the labels on the period you should freeze the canned foods. If you are making your DIY wet food, you can freeze for between four and six months. Always remember to feed the food at room temperature.

Wrapping it up

It is crucial as a dog owner to ensure that your pet stays healthy at all times. One way of ensuring this is by feeding your pet with diets that contain high-quality ingredients. While maintaining a healthy diet for your dog is essential, you should also ensure that the food does not go wrong especially if you are feeding the dog with wet food, which is more susceptible to damage due to poor storage.

Always check the expiry dates on the cans and if you have any food left uneaten, discard it after twenty to thirty minutes depending on the temperature surrounding the pet. Keep the food well refrigerated to prevent any contamination, and you will have a healthy, happy, and disease-free dog running around.

Related: How Long Does Dry Dog Food Last

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