Best Pet Food Containers

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best pet food containers

Chances are your dog or cat eats kibble at least on occasion. For a lot of companion animals, kibble makes up a major portion of their diet. If you are like many pet owners, you leave that kibble in its bag rather than storing it inside a designated container. Unfortunately, that means your furry family member may well be dining on stale, oxidized, or moldy food. That’s not healthy for cats or dogs, and while a canine might very well dig in anyway, felines are likely to walk away from a bowl of food that doesn’t meet their discriminating standards. 

Luckily, it’s easy to keep pet food fresh until the very last morsel has been devoured. A pet food container prevents spoiling and makes it easy to dish out your pet’s meals without spilling or digging into a crumpled pet food bag.

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The capacity of pet food containers is often listed in quarts or pounds. It’s a good idea to match your pet food container size to the kibble bag size you usually buy.

Why use a pet food container?

You might think a container for pet food is frivolous because most pet kibble comes in a lined bag. Although it’s true that a pet food container isn’t an absolute must, if you are concerned about your pet’s nutrition, storing kibble inside a pet food container is the best way to maintain its nutritional integrity from the first bite to the last.

Food stays fresh. The major reason for keeping kibble in a sealed container is freshness. A properly designed pet food container has a sealed top that keeps out oxygen and moisture. Exposure to oxygen leads to stale food, and eventually, rancid kibble as the fat oxidizes. Moisture encourages the growth of mold. A sealed pet food container can help prevent these problems.

Kibble tastes better. Fresher food tastes better whether you’re a human, dog, or cat. Although it’s true that many pooches aren’t too picky about kibble freshness, some will walk away from a bowl of stale or spoiled food, and most felines will turn up their noses at food that doesn’t smell right.

It’s cost-effective. Premium brands of pet food can be pricey, but when you store the food properly, you can often go with a larger bag of kibble, which is generally a better price by volume than the smallest available size.

It looks better. Big bags of dog or cat kibble aren’t the most attractive additions to your pantry or kitchen. Keeping the bag tucked inside a pet food container looks neater.

It keeps out pests. It’s not just your dog that loves his kibble; many other creatures love dog and cat food as well, including insects, mice, and rats. A bag on its own is easily opened or penetrated by a hungry pest, but a sealed metal or plastic container is much harder to breach.

It keeps out your dog. If Rover is always on the lookout for a chance to break into his or the cat’s kibble for a midnight snack, he may well tear open a bag if he gets a chance. That’s not an option when the food is sealed inside another container.

Before refilling a pet food container, first wash it with warm water and liquid dishwashing soap.

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Key considerations

Size

The 40-pound bag of kibble you’d get for a St. Bernard isn’t going to fit in the 4-pound-capacity container perfectly suited to the needs of a Chihuahua. Luckily, there are options available to hold everything from your dog’s small bag of treats to a 50-pound bag of kibble.

Material

There are two materials typically used for pet food containers: plastic and metal.

Plastic pet food containers can be clear or opaque, but either way, it should be BPA-free food-grade plastic. Don’t use a cheap plastic box not specifically intended for food storage; chemicals can leach out of non-food-grade plastic and contaminate the food, potentially harming your pet’s health.

The choice of transparent or opaque is up to you. Transparent containers make it easy to see how much food you have left at a glance, but opaque plastic keeps your pet’s food supply looking a bit more attractive, which you might appreciate if the container is stored out in the open.

Depending on container design, the lid will either screw, clip, or snap in place. The lid should fit securely enough to seal the contents from oxygen and moisture exposure. Some plastic pet food containers, particularly larger ones, have a small flap on the lid that you can open to pour the kibble without removing the lid.

Metal pet food containers are most often stainless steel. These containers have a contemporary, sleek look that is especially appealing if the container will be on display. Stainless steel won’t crack or warp, which can occasionally be an issue with plastic. What’s more, stainless steel is inert, so there is no fear of chemicals leaching from the metal into your pet food. On the downside, you’ll pay more for a stainless steel container, and you won’t be able to eyeball its contents. Most stainless steel pet food containers have a hinged pop-up lid that raises at the touch of a finger.

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Did You Know?
A clear pet food container makes it easy for you to see how much kibble is left at any given time.
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Features

Handles: Small pet food containers usually don’t have or need handles, but if you’re lifting a large container of kibble, you’ll appreciate a helping hand. This might come in the form of grooves for grasping, pivoting D-shaped handles, or a single long handle running down the length of the container. Both plastic and metal containers are available with handles.

Wheels: Typically only found on large containers holding 10 pounds or more, wheels make it a breeze to roll the container over to your pet’s bowl at mealtime and then back to storage. Most wheeled pet food containers have pop-up lids so you don’t have to lift the lid all the way to access the food. Both metal and plastic pet food containers are available with wheels.

Stackable: Plastic stackable food containers let you store more kibble without taking up more floor space in your pantry or kitchen. This is particularly helpful if you have both cats and dogs or if you keep different types of kibble on hand for your pets.

Wall mount: A few plastic pet food containers are designed to be mounted to a wall. Typically, a handle or lever allows the food to pour out of the container’s bottom when pulled. This is a handy feature if floor space is at a premium, but it’s not as easy to fill or clean these types of containers.

Included bowl: If you really want to minimize the space needed for pet care, you’ll appreciate a food container with a lid that doubles as the holder for pet food bowls. Plus, this elevates the bowls a bit, which is ideal for feeding large dogs.

Tilt-out: Another ingenious design that saves floor space is the tilt-out pet food container. These containers have two or three stacked compartments that tilt out for easy access. Often, there is a foot pedal for hands-free use.

Scoop: Some containers come with a scoop or measuring cup for ladling out your pet’s perfect portion size.

Pet food container prices

There’s no need to break the bank on a pet food container. After all, you need that extra money for treats and toys for your furry family member!

Under $20: For this price, you can get a basic plastic container that holds up to 15 pounds of kibble.

Between $20 and $35: In this price range, you have a lot of options, including large containers that hold up to 40 pounds of food. Wheels, stackable designs, wall-mounted containers, and containers with included bowls and scoops are all found in this price bracket. Other than treat-size containers, however, you won’t typically find stainless steel at these prices.

Over $35: If you want a very large plastic pet food container or a stainless steel pet food container of any size, expect to pay a minimum of $35. Some of these products cost over $100.

If you’re concerned that unintended critters may try to chew through a plastic pet food container — raccoons, mice, and so on — opt for a metal container or a plastic container with rounded edges and corners that are difficult to chew.

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Tips

  • Keep portions in mind. While kibble bags typically state serving portions based on body weight, consider that a starting point and decrease or increase the portion based on your pet’s age, activity level, and health. Remember to take into account any other foods or treats your pet eats during an average day.
  • Know your pet’s grazing tendencies. While some dogs and many cats prefer to leisurely graze on their kibble throughout the day, most dogs gleefully gobble it down as soon as it’s served. For these dogs, having two set mealtimes, one in the morning and one in the evening, is best.
  • Limit quantity for grazers. For free-feeding pets who nibble their food throughout the day, provide only as much food as they will eat within 24 hours. Beyond that, the food is likely to spoil.
  • Choose stainless steel or food-safe ceramic pet bowls. While food-grade plastic is fine for a pet food container, it’s best to use stainless steel or glazed food-safe ceramic for food and water bowls. Plastic food bowls easily scratch, and those scratches can harbor bacteria and other germs.
  • When selecting a bag of kibble, check the expiration date. Don’t serve your pet expired food, which might be stale or rancid.
  • Decide whether you’ll store the whole bag or just the kibbles. It may be a better idea to store the entire bag inside the container so you can check the lot number and expiration date if necessary. However, this isn’t doable with some designs, such as wall-mounted and tilt-out pet food containers.
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Pet food containers aren’t just for cat and dog food. Consider investing in a pet food container for rabbit food, gerbil food, hamster food, or ferret food, too.

FAQ

Q. How do I clean my pet food container?

A. Most plastic containers are dishwasher safe, but their large size or bulky shape might make that impossible. You can scrub out the container by hand using warm water and liquid dishwashing soap instead. Rinse the container thoroughly, and let it dry completely before refilling it with kibble.

Q. Are there containers for treats?

A. Absolutely! You’ll find a wide range of small containers, typically holding one pound or less, designed for pet treats. These can be metal, plastic, or ceramic. Many have cute designs or come in bright colors, as it’s likely you’ll be displaying your treat container on a kitchen counter. As with containers for kibble, your treat container, whatever its material, should have a tightly fitted lid to keep the treats fresh and mold-free.

Q. What about storing canned food?

A. Canned or wet pet food is relished by many cats and dogs. Once open, however, you need to either serve the entire can of food at one meal or store the remainder in the refrigerator for two or three days maximum. But don’t put an open or foil-covered can of food in the fridge; it’s likely to spoil quickly. Instead, use tight-fitting pet can covers to help prevent spoilage and mold growth.

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