Pet Food Storage In Small Places

When moving aboard our 42′ sailboat almost a year and a half ago, it was critical to find a safe place to store dog food right away before we untied the lines and left the dock for good.

With not one, but two large dogs, we go through a fair amount of dog food every month and we needed a creative storage solution. We searched high and low for air tight/water tight/bug tight containers. We searched even harder for containers that would fit in the odd-shaped storage areas we have on our boat. With roughly 360 square feet of living space, storage comes at a premium. Granted, every square inch of the design was carefully thought out, storage is still very limited.

The most important part to me was finding a well-sealing container that wouldn’t serve as a smorgus board for bugs. I’m absolutely terrified of getting an infestation after reading several warnings from other boat owners about making sure every crumb is accounted for.

I found a company online that has several of the best solutions for storing dry pet food, Gamma2. They also happen to be based out of Carlsbad, San Diego! We love to support local businesses from our home town 🙂

We were so excited when our (4) SoftStore 30 bags arrived. The SoftStore bags are exactly what I was envisioning when searching for a storage solution. They can mold into any area where a rigid container might not fit. These bags are lined with a food-grade plastic and the lids have the patented Gamma Seal design to make them totally air tight.

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On average, we can carry two 40lb bags worth of dog food and have fit it all into the 4 SoftStores. They hold 30-35 lbs (8.0 Gallons) if stuffed full, but we like to leave a little room on top so the bag is more malleable. That way we can save our precious storage space and the bags fit into all the odd size nooks and crannies of the two cabinets we have chosen for them.

It’s much easier to fill the SoftStore bags with two people, but it’s not too difficult for just one person either.

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Gunner is not the free-feeding type of dog. If we left food out for him, he would keep eating until he throws up. It’s actually kind of a good thing that we don’t free-feed the dogs, so we don’t have to worry about bugs feeding on the dog food at night.

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The SoftStore 30’s are stored under the settee where we can access them with little trouble twice a day.

There are two compartments with 12″x12″ openings and we can fit two SoftStore bags in each one.

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To fit them way back underneath we needed to leave a little air in the bag with the lid partially unscrewed. If you press all the air out, it’s harder to adjust the bag. Once we got them in there, we screwed the lids down all the way.

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The front-most compartment is where the filters are for our water maker and this is where it was a little more tricky to find containers that will fit while still utilizing the entire area.

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To access the food, we lift up part of the wood board covering the compartment with one hand, unscrew the Gamma Seal lid with the other hand, and then grab a full scoop of food. SOO easy!!! I had been really nervous about how difficult it might to be to store the dog food inside the boat AND be able to access it without a hassle. Turns out its one of the easiest things we do everyday.

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Now that we have them, we simply CANNOT imagine storing our dog food any other way. If we didn’t have our SoftStore bags, we wouldn’t be able to stow away the dog food anywhere else and it would still be sitting in the original bag on the couch next to us every day. Oh, and we’d probably have cockroaches too!!

How do you store pet food in your tiny house?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Pat Dunham - February 27, 2015 Reply

Awesome information. I was thinking that this would be a valuable tool to store other soft foods like flour, oatmeal, rice etc. You could put them inside the product in their own sealable containers. Then push the air out and seal it all up.

Joy - February 27, 2015 Reply

Seems over complicated to me. Those very sturdy thick contactor type trash bags would do just as well .

Wade - February 27, 2015 Reply

If you are not living on a boat as I am. I live out of my van with my dog. I stressed this as well till I realized every town has a pet food store. So I think if space is an issue just buy less and more often. Wellness dog food has a re sealing bag that when empty is the best trash bag because it seals all the smell. Most pet stores have nice containers as well but I like this product for the boating purpose.

I question having 2 large dogs on a boat? I am single van dweller with a 35lb border collie. He seems to much at times. 2 dogs with no where to go? Also would like to see what shape these bags are in after a year. Me personally I found clothes are easier to put in these spaces. Then use your closet for dog food.

    Jody Pountain - July 16, 2015 Reply

    Wade, if you are able to buy more often that is great! Unfortunately it’s very inconvenient for some of us to get to the pet store.

    In response to your questions, I think breed has a lot to do with the ability to have pets in small spaces. border collies are bred to run. If you run with him often the sleeping arrangement shouldn’t be an issue.

    I’ve got a 14yo weimaraner and an 8yo boxer/pit and both prefer to lay around all day and be near us. We take them to the beach and walks on land when we can.

    I’ve been using the SoftStore30 bags for almost two years now and the inside plastic liner is a bit dented from the scoop I’ve used, but they are in great condition otherwise. No rips or tears or any reason to replace them.

    Closets work great, if you have them 😉 Our closets are even stranger shapes than where we keep our dog food now.

LynnW - February 27, 2015 Reply

I have one of these containers; bought it maybe 8-10 years ago for traveling with my dog for weeks at a time. It works GREAT! It’s durable, easy to carry with the strap, seals well (didn’t try dunking it, but with some contact with water or rain it still kept the food dry).

My dogs aren’t the types to get at food by eating through a dog-food bag or simple garbage bag (like labs are), so they had not interest in trying to chew through the bag, but a rodent might be able to do damage.

I clean it in between fillings, which is surprisingly easy to do, and the inner bag can “pooch” (pun intended) out to dry more quickly.

I’ve used it 2-6 times a year. The inside plastic is a bit abraded, but still holding food well. MUCH better than even a construction-grade garbage bag, as one of those can hang on a sharp corner and rip; this won’t.

Mike Wofsey - February 27, 2015 Reply

Something that I’ve noticed, especially in boats and small homes, where space is critical, consider upgading your dog food. If you look at the protein content of the cheaper box-store brand of dog foods, you’ll see that much of it is just filler. The dog needs twice or three times much, and they poop two to three times as much. But I switched our dog to a high quality dog food (Blue Wilderness Salmon). The premium dog food is more expensive than the cheap box-store dog food, but our dog only needs to eat half as much. Our 60-some pound coonhound gets a level cup in the morning and a level cup at night, which maintains her weight perfectly. (Ignore the feeding recommendations on the bag, they’re designed to sell as much dog food as possible.)

The Blue has about twice the protein and food value of the cheap dog food, and it’s a high quality meat (salmon) verson some probably horrible cuts from the abbatoir’s floor that are undoubtedly in the cheap brands.

She poops about half as much too and much prefers the taste of the good stuff, it has the look and smell of fish oil, which must be good for her. Our dog good budget actually seems to have gone down since switching too, one 24 lb bag lasts a solid two months and more.

alice h - February 27, 2015 Reply

The gamma lids for regular 5 gallon buckets are great. Pretty sure I wouldn’t trust these bags around rodents but you could put a selection of them in a clean, new metal garbage can and it would improve the insect free storage for those. I like that you can collapse the bag as the contents are used.

Daniel - February 27, 2015 Reply

I’m curious about other aspects of having dogs onboard a relatively small boat, e.g.: What about exercise? Is there a … well, dog toilet onboard? If you do longer tours (days to weeks), does this work well with dogs? How do you make sure your dogs can move around the boat, yet not accidentally fall into the water? How about quarantine or harbor/island visits? In general, are there good websites/blogs/books dealing with having pets onboard a sailing boat?

(Sorry for the bulk of the questions, new to the topic and curious :-))

    Jody Pountain - July 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Daniel! Feel free to visit our website for more info 🙂 http://www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com

    We take them to the beach and walks on shore as often as we can. They don’t like long passages anymore than we do, but they handle it well. There are MANY restrictions for visiting other countries, most of which are not easy. They go potty on a piece of astroturf on deck. There are lots of us that blog about our sailing adventures with pets and we all stick together helping eachother out. The blogging community is wonderful.

    Definitely check out our page though for more info! http://www.facebook.com/wherethecoconutsgrow

Becca - February 27, 2015 Reply

Awesome! Love seeing creative solutions

Jeanne Frostad - February 27, 2015 Reply

Great article and I know these bags are working well on the boat. I do like the idea of The Blue dog food……makes sense. Happy Dogs sailing and playing on the beach.

Rick Sarvas - March 7, 2015 Reply

We use similar containers for storing feed for our horses when we attend events. They are durable and keep the feed dry.

Kathi - April 10, 2015 Reply

I live on a small 27′ sailboat and use this bag for my cat’s food. It fits under the settee seat perfectly and keeps the food nice and dry. It’s amazing!

We're Still Here! 6-month recap - Where The Coconuts Grow - April 12, 2015 Reply

[…] Places – Creative storage solutions for a LOT of dry dog food in a tiny floating home >>Click here<< for the full […]

Elaine - July 10, 2015 Reply

Such a storage solution is a great idea! I have a three months old german shepherd, so I guess I better prepare! 🙂

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