1) Pet food is a perfect food for pests - Would you be surprised to know that one of the favorite foods of beetles and moths that feed on packaged foods is good ol’ dry pet food? Those doggie kibbles and kitty krunchies provide a nutritious and convenient food source for both insects and rodents. Think about it. Dog food isn’t much different than commercial rat food that you buy from the pet store. And when entomologists rear cockroaches for research studies, they often feed them dry dog food. It’s convenient and the roaches love it. When a customer complains of moths or beetles infesting packaged foods in their home, we don’t immediately head to the flour or cereal. The first thing we check is stored pet food because that is by far the most common source of an infestation.
2) Pet food is always available - The other reason pests like pet food is that it’s easily available. In most pet homes, pet food is left out all the time. Pet food that is left in pet bowls overnight is a particular problem since night is when mice and cockroaches forage. Train your pets to eat at serving time. Remove the food after a reasonable amount of time and don’t leave it out overnight. Sweep up those stray kernels on the floor or under the stove, too; it doesn’t take much to feed cockroaches or mice.
3) Pet food is not stored properly - When pet food is stored in a home, it’s often in its original packaging, a heavy paper bag with the top rolled down, or an opened cardboard box. This isn’t much of a barrier for either insects or mice. Mice will chew into paper, cardboard, or plastic bags to get to the food, even if you tie off the top. Food beetles and moths can easily get into even sealed packages. Transfer the pet food into a large plastic jug or other container with a sealed lid.
The worst situation is when pet food is purchased in large, bulk bags. The big bag is kept in the garage or basement and the homeowner refills a smaller container for immediate use. Most pests that infest stored foods are found in foods that are older, or damp, or not in prime condition. We check food products that have been around a while first since they are most likely to be infested. If it takes you a long time to reach the bottom of that big bag, you’re apt to find Indianmeal moths or warehouse beetles feeding near the bottom. Buy smaller bags if you can. If you must buy large bags of dog or cat food, store the bag inside a large, galvanized or plastic trash can with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the lid on! The same applies for storage of birdseed and for food for gerbils, hamsters, and bunnies. Feed the pets, not the pests!