Do Freeze-Dried Dog Treats Ever Expire? The Answer May Surprise You

What Are Freeze Dried Dog Treats?

Freeze dried dog treats are a type of dehydrated dog treat made by freeze drying raw ingredients to remove the moisture. Unlike air dried treats, freeze dried treats are quickly frozen at very low temperatures and then placed in a vacuum chamber to remove the ice through sublimation.

This process helps lock in more nutrients compared to baking or dehydrating at high temperatures. The lack of moisture also prevents spoilage, allowing the treats to be stored at room temperature. However freeze drying is more expensive than other methods.

Some key benefits of freeze dried dog treats include:

  • Higher retention of nutrients
  • Long shelf life without preservatives
  • Convenient storage at room temperature
  • Lower calorie density due to water removal
  • Easier to digest than baked treats
  • Natural flavors and textures retained

Do Freeze Dried Treats Expire?

freeze dried dog treats

Yes, freeze dried dog treats can eventually expire. According to Bark Post, freeze dried treats can last 15-18 months if unopened and stored in rooms with low humidity. Once opened, the timeframe shortens as they are exposed to air and moisture.

The shelf life depends on how the treats are stored. According to a Reddit user, freeze dried treats will last as long as they have been stored properly and the bag is not punctured. My Ollie states that unopened freeze dried treats can last 9-24 months on average. However, once opened the treats may start to lose freshness more quickly.

So while freeze dried treats can technically expire after being stored for an extended period, proper storage conditions like cool, dry places with sealed packaging can prolong their shelf life. But once exposed to air, humidity and warmth, the treats lose freshness faster. Check packaging for best by dates and store opened treats in airtight containers in the freezer or fridge.

How to Tell if Treats Are Bad

There are a few key signs to look out for to determine if freeze dried dog treats have gone bad:

Changes in texture – Fresh treats should be crunchy and crisp. If they start becoming soft, stale, or crumbly, this indicates spoilage.

Unpleasant odors – Freeze dried treats have very little moisture, so they should not have a strong smell. If you notice a rancid, musty, or sour odor, the treats have likely spoiled.

Mold growth – The low moisture content typically prevents mold, but if you see any fuzzy spots or film on the treats, they should be discarded. Even a small amount of mold indicates the entire package is contaminated.

Trust your senses – if the treats look, feel, or smell off in any way compared to a fresh, unopened package, they should not be fed to your dog. When in doubt, throw them out to be safe. Pay close attention to texture and scent in particular to identify spoiled treats before mold appears.

Sources: https://post.bark.co/food/can-dog-treats-expire/, https://iheartdogs.com/how-long-does-freeze-dried-food-last/

Ideal Storage for Maximum Freshness

Proper storage of freeze dried dog treats is important for maintaining freshness and shelf life. According to The Happy Jack Co., freeze dried treats will stay fresh longest if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight [1]. An airtight container is ideal for preventing moisture from seeping in and causing the treats to spoil prematurely. Petsy advises storing opened packages of freeze dried treats in their original resealable packaging or another airtight container [2]. Exposure to heat, humidity, and light can accelerate the degradation process in freeze dried products.

The optimal storage conditions are similar to how you would store flour or coffee. A sealed container in a dark pantry or cupboard creates the perfect environment. Refrigerating or freezing opened packages is another option to prolong freshness. The key is minimizing air exposure, light, fluctuations in temperature, and moisture.

Freeze Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Treats

Freeze dried and dehydrated dog treats are made using different manufacturing processes that result in differences in texture and shelf life. Freeze dried treats like Laila & Me are made by flash freezing raw meat or ingredients to below -50°C before placing them in a vacuum chamber to remove the ice crystals formed during freezing via sublimation. This preserves the cellular structure of the ingredients better than dehydration, resulting in a light, crispy texture that rehydrates quickly when exposed to moisture. Freeze drying also better preserves nutrients and flavors. Source

comparing freeze dried and dehydrated dog treats

Dehydrated treats are made by slowly removing moisture from ingredients using warm air circulation at temperatures under 200°F. This causes some damage to the cell structure and results in a denser, chewier texture. Dehydration also results in more nutrient loss compared to freeze drying. The dense texture also means dehydrated treats don’t rehydrate as quickly when exposed to moisture. However, dehydration extends shelf life compared to freeze drying. Source

Other Storage Tips

When storing freeze dried dog treats, it’s best not to store them with human food in pantries or cupboards. Keeping them separate prevents possible cross-contamination. Additionally, consider portioning bulk treats into smaller bags if you don’t plan to use them right away. This limits exposure to air each time the bag is opened.

Humidity can also impact shelf life. The drier the storage environment, the better. Storing in an area with high humidity introduces moisture, which can lead to mold growth over time. Monitor conditions and use desiccants or oxygen absorbers if needed. For best quality, keep humidity below 60%.

Other tips include checking packaging seals and only purchasing quantities you know will be used up in a reasonable timeframe. With proper storage, freeze dried treats can retain optimal freshness and nutritional value well beyond the expiry date on the package.

How Long Do Unopened Treats Last?

Unopened freeze dried dog treats can last for up to 2 years past the date marked on the package when stored properly, according to Bark [1]. However, the shelf life depends on the specific ingredients used in the treats. Treats made solely from freeze dried meat with no other ingredients tend to have a shorter shelf life of around 1 year. Treats containing freeze dried fruits, vegetables, or grains will usually last around 2 years unopened.

The key factors impacting shelf life are exposure to heat, light, air, and moisture. As long as the packaging remains completely sealed and intact, freeze dried treats can maintain quality and freshness for an extended time. But any compromise to the packaging can shorten the lifespan.

Once Opened, Use Within…

Freeze dried dog treats will stay fresh for 3-6 months once opened, if stored properly. The low moisture content and lack of preservatives means opened freeze dried treats have a shorter shelf life than unopened bags.

opened package of freeze dried dog treats

According to Zach’s Pet Shop, opened freeze dried treats typically last for 30-60 days. However, some sources indicate they may last up to 1 year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

It’s generally recommended to use opened freeze dried treats within 3-6 months for maximum freshness and to avoid spoilage. But with proper storage, freeze dried treats can often last up to 12 months after opening before going bad.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

When it comes to your dog’s health and safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any doubts about whether freeze dried treats have spoiled, the best option is to simply throw them out.

According to Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, ingesting spoiled treats can cause side effects related to toxin production from bacteria or mold growth. These toxins can make your dog sick, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and other concerning symptoms.

While it may seem wasteful to throw away untouched treats, it’s a minor inconvenience compared to a dog with a serious case of food poisoning or garbage gut. Your dog’s health and wellbeing should always take priority.

If you notice any changes in smell, texture, color, or appearance in freeze dried treats, or you are unsure of their age, follow the adage – when in doubt, throw it out. Your dog will thank you for prioritizing their safety and sticking to only the freshest, high-quality treats.

Best Practices

There are a few best practices to follow to maximize the freshness and shelf life of freeze-dried dog treats:

First, only purchase treats in small batches that you can use up within a few weeks. Buying in bulk may seem cost-effective, but it increases the chances of treats expiring before you can use them all. According to The Happy Jack Co, freeze-dried treats will typically last around 2 years unopened but only a few weeks once opened.

best practices for storing freeze dried dog treats

Proper storage from day one is also key. Keep unopened packets of treats in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity. An airtight container or resealable bag is ideal. Once opened, ensure treats are tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to maximize freshness.

Finally, monitor treats for any signs of spoilage like odor, texture changes, discoloration or mold. Trust your senses – if something seems off, don’t take chances and discard the treats. As the old saying goes, better safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health.

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