How long can canned dog food be left out safely?

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How long can canned dog food be left out safely?

Postby SherriA » Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:41 pm

First, I'd like to thank everyone here for all the wonderful information you so willingly share. I read often, but this is the first time I've posted.

My dog Jack is a 14 year old mutt, very healthy but had to have some teeth out about 6 months ago. After the dental surgery he had to eat soft/canned foods for a couple of weeks and since then I've been giving him a mixture of canned and kibble. Prior to this he always had just kibble (and occasional treats from the kitchen - veggies, meat scraps, cheese, etc). Jack has always been a grazer - he doesn't have set feeding times, just eats throughout the day when he wants to. His weight is great according to the vet and this has always worked well for us.

Recently he had diarrhea for a few days and that got me wondering about leaving the canned food in his dish all day. I've been giving him about 1/2 a can of food mixed with about 1/3 cup of kibble every day. Anything that's not eaten I toss in the morning and put out fresh. If the bowl is empty before the end of the day I give him a little more kibble to get through the evening. The cans say to refrigerate after opening, which I always do, but how long can it be left out at room temp for him to eat before it's not safe?

Jack has been very happy to have the canned foods added to his diet and I'd hate to go back to just kibble, but I don't know that I could get him onto a feeding schedule at this age, or that I really want to. Allowing him to regulate his own food quantities has really worked well; he eats less when he's being lazy, more when he's active and has always been lean and healthy. I could put 1/4 can out in the morning before I leave for work and then another 1/4 can in the evening when I get home, but I don't know if even that is too long to leave it out. Some days he'll gobble up 2/3 the dish before I've even left for work, but other days he doesn't each much of anything until evening and there doesn't seem to be any way to predict when he's going to be hungry.

It's probably not relevant, but he ate Solid Gold Hund'n'Flocken for years, then Solid Gold Holistique, and in the past year we've switched to EVO. I've been giving him a variety of canned foods - California Natural, Innova (including EVO), Wellness, Solid Gold, Prairie, Evanger's, Canidae. A lot of wheat/corn in his food tend to make him lick his feet and chew at his tail, so I've generally avoided grain-heavy foods for most of his life.

You guys seem to know everything there is to know about dog feeding, so I thought maybe someone here would have some ideas.

-- Sherri
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Re: How long can canned dog food be left out safely?

Postby oskakitty » Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:14 pm

I think it would depend on the type of day it is. If it's really hot and humid it probably wouldn't last as long as on a nice cold winter day. I don't really know since I always pick up any leftovers after a few minutes, but once upon a time I had a boyfriend whose mother would leave canned food out in a bowl for her cat all day, and she wouldn't even refrigerate the opened can. That cat was doing fine. I personally wouldn't leave the food out longer than a few hours just to be safe.
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Re: How long can canned dog food be left out safely?

Postby Jen » Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:50 pm

If you put out canned food and he eats 2/3 of it right away, does he then go back to eat the rest of it later when you're not home? I put out canned food for my cat before work, and she eats what she wants and the rest sits out all day. She doesn't go back for more, so I just toss the rest that night. If he leaves it 'til you get home, you could always just toss the old stuff as soon as you get home and give him some fresh, I guess.

Or you can offer it to him, and if he doesn't eat it right away, put it away when you leave and offer it later that night. It probably won't hurt him to do without for a workday, and it might get him to eat immediately the next time.
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Re: How long can canned dog food be left out safely?

Postby SherriA » Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:06 pm

[quote=Jen]If you put out canned food and he eats 2/3 of it right away, does he then go back to eat the rest of it later when you're not home? [/quote]

Jack tends to nibble all day when I'm home, and I believe when I'm at work as well. His food level is lower when I get home from work, so I assume he's nibbling as he does on the weekends and not gobbling it in one sitting. He's a grazer, always has been, a mouthful here, a bite there, and occasionally (maybe once every couple of weeks) he chows down and eats 1/2 his food at once.

I'm thinking maybe I should give him 1/4 of a can in the morning with some kibble, toss anything that's left when I get home and give him another 1/4 of the can with a bit more kibble fresh at that time. Or maybe I should just give him kibble in the morning and put out the canned in the evening when I get home then toss anything that's not eaten by bed time.
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