Shelters are busy environments, where time is always something difficult to find. Because it is always a rush, sometimes our attention can slip… and this is when certain “zootechnical” errors may occur. One of the most common I see concerns food storage.
Poor storage = consequences
Proper storage condition is indeed crucial to preserve the quality of the diet you are feeding your animals:
– It decreases the risk of food contamination: poor storage exposes the food to air-borne pathogens/bacteria (which are definitely NOT uncommon in shelter environments) or any other type of “organic” contamination (I’ve seen some bags of food soiled by animal dejections like urine or feces for instance when the animals are allowed in the room where the food is stored: this kind of accident is not uncommon).
– It decreases the risk of nutriment alteration: sometimes the food is put in an open-ended container and kibbles are directly in contact with air. Prolonged exposure to air will lead to oxidation of the lipids (=fat) that are present in the kibbles. They become rancid and the quality of the product is then altered.
– It decreases the potential consequences on animal health: poor storage can lead to decreased palatability of the diet, as well as clinical signs such as vomiting / diarrhea because of the modifications that occurred after the bag of food was opened.
What we recommend
#1: Keep the food inside its original bag and put them all together inside a clean closed plastic bin as showed on the picture below. This will add extra layers that will protect the food from alteration/contamination.
#2: Do a regular cleaning / disinfecting of your food plastic containers (as described here) In a perfect world, we’ll do it each time we switch to a new bag of food.
#3: Do not re-fill a new bag with “older” kibbles, or re-fill a container that still contains “older” kibbles. This will expose the new bag to contamination.
#4: Have a separate storage room / kitchen, away from the kennels / catteries. Good way also to decrease organic contamination of the diets.
#5: Temperature / ventilation / humidity of the storage room MUST be controlled. Remember that cold can decrease the palatability of the diet and warm/humid conditions favor bacterial overgrowth. These elements are crucial as well.