Food coloring is one of the ingredients we discourage our readers from here to avoid when picking the best dog food. Coloring can be used to make food look more attractive to humans, but it offers no nutritional value for your pup. In addition, some dogs may have allergic reactions to certain dyes.
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What is dog food coloring?
Dog food coloring is any kind of color added to dog food. The purpose of this additive is to make the food more visually appealing to pet parents. Just like we are attracted to colorful foods, our dogs are as well. In nature, dogs are attracted to bright colors because it means that the food is fresh and full of nutrients.
However, when it comes to commercial dog food, the colors are often not natural. In fact, most of the time, these dyes are synthetic and have no nutritional value whatsoever. So, while your dog may be drawn to the colorful kibble, they’re not actually getting any benefits from it.
The earliest recorded case of manufacturers using food coloring was in 1880s when coloring was used to conceal spoilage or discoloration in non-fresh food. They contained several toxic chemicals including mercury, arsenic, and lead.
In 1906, the Food and Drugs Act banned the use of food coloring that was made with these toxic chemicals. In 1960, the US passed the Color Additives Amendments which brought more regulatory oversight on food coloring. However, there are still many synthetic dyes that are used in food today that have not been proven to be safe.
The three most common food colorings used in dog food are:
- Blue 2 – Also known as “brilliant blue,” this coloring is often used in cereals, sports drinks, and candy. It is derived from coal tar and has been linked to behavior problems in children.
- Yellow 5 – Also called “tartrazine,” this coloring is found in processed foods, cereals, snacks, and candy. It is derived from coal tar and has been linked to hyperactivity, migraines, and asthma in children.
- Yellow 6 – This color is used in many processed foods, cereals, snacks, and candy. It is derived from coal tar and has been linked to kidney tumors, bladder cancer, and adrenal gland tumors.
While the FDA considers these food colorings to be safe for human consumption, they have not been tested for long-term safety in dogs. In addition, dogs metabolize food differently than humans, so what may be safe for us could be toxic for them.
The table below has details on studies done on food dyes.
Natural vs synthetic food coloring:
There are two types of food coloring – natural and synthetic. Natural dyes are made from sources like vegetables, minerals, and invertebrates. On the other hand, synthetic dyes are created in a laboratory from petroleum products.
Most of the time, dog food companies use synthetic dyes because they’re cheaper and more consistent than natural dyes. However, this comes at a cost to your dog’s health.
Below are some examples of natural food coloring options
- Turmeric to produce dark yellow
- Spinach for green
- Cochineal bug to produce red
Synthetic dyes have been linked to cancer, organ damage, and behavioral problems in dogs. In addition, these dyes are often made from petroleum products, which can be toxic to your pup. So, if you’re looking for the best
Are there any benefits to dog food coloring?
The short answer is no. There are no benefits to your dog when it comes to food coloring. In fact, there are actually some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of.
The table below shows that there are overwhelmingly more studies that show the negative impacts of food coloring in dog food;
First, synthetic dyes have been linked to health problems in dogs, including cancer. A study done by the National Academy of Sciences found that rats who were fed food dyed with yellow 5 and yellow 6 had an increased risk of cancer. While this study hasn’t been done on dogs, it’s still something to be aware of.
Second, food coloring can also cause allergic reactions in some dogs. If your dog is allergic to a certain dye, they may experience skin irritation, diarrhea, and vomiting.
So, while food coloring may make your dog’s food look more appealing, it’s not worth the risk. There are plenty of healthy and nutritious dog foods on the market that don’t use synthetic dyes.
Are there natural food coloring for dogs?
Yes, there are natural food coloring options for dogs. However, these are not as common as synthetic dyes. Natural dyes are usually made from fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, beets, and spinach. These dyes are safe for dogs and will not cause any health problems.
Are there FDA-approved dog food coloring?
Yes, the FDA does approve some dyes for use in dog food. However, these dyes are not completely safe. The FDA has only approved three dyes for use in dog food:
– Blue 1: Initially approved by FDA in 1969, Blue 1 received full FDA approval in 1982.
– Blue 2:
– Yellow 5:
These dyes have been linked to health problems in animals, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.
The bottom line:
Dog food coloring is an unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredient. There are no benefits to your dog, and it could cause health problems. If you’re looking for healthy and nutritious dog food, choose one that doesn’t use synthetic dyes.
In conclusion, we advise against feeding your dog food with synthetic
If you’re insistent on feeding your dog food that contains coloring, natural options like beets and turmeric are available. These won’t offer any health benefits
Is food coloring safe for dogs to eat?
According to the FDA, approved hues are safe for people and pets in both human and animal meals if they are used correctly. It’s unusual for consumers to have an adverse response to food coloring chemicals. The same may be said about cats and dogs, who tend to react adversely to components in their rations.
Why we do not recommend food coloring in dog food:
Dogs, like people, are individuals. Just because a food is safe for most doesn’t mean it’s safe for all. A small number of pets may have an allergic reaction to a food coloring agent. Reactions range from contact dermatitis (red, itchy skin) to gastrointestinal upset (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea).
Some food colorings are made from coal tar, which is a known carcinogen. Not all food colorings are made this way, but it’s something to be aware of. If you’re concerned about the safety of food coloring, choose a pet food that doesn’t use it. There are plenty of healthy and delicious options available.
Is Red 40 harmful to dogs?
Red 40 is the most popular artificial food dye which also has a bad reputation. It is linked to asthma, allergies, thyroid tumors, lymphomas, ADHD, and chromosomal damage. Some studies indicate that Red 40 is tainted with cancer-causing contaminants.
Can dog have food coloring?
While the FDA has approved three dyes for use in dog food, we advise against feeding your dog food with synthetic coloring. These dyes have been linked to health problems in animals, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. If you’re looking for healthy and nutritious dog food, choose one that doesn’t use synthetic dyes. You can also try natural food coloring options, like fruits and vegetables. These are safe for dogs and will not cause any health problems.
Is blue food coloring bad for dogs?
Yes, blue food coloring can be bad for dogs. The FDA has only approved three dyes for use in dog food: Blue 1, Blue 2, and Yellow 5. These dyes have been linked to health problems in animals, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. If you’re looking for healthy and nutritious dog food, choose one that doesn’t use synthetic dyes. You can also try natural food coloring options, like fruits and vegetables.
Is Wilton food coloring safe for dogs?
Wilton food coloring is not safe for dogs despite it being approved by some countries including the US and Europe. However, as a synthetic food dye, it can be linked to health problems in animals. So, if you’re looking for healthy and nutritious dog food, choose one that doesn’t use synthetic dyes like Wilton food coloring. You can try natural food coloring options instead, like fruits and vegetables. These are safe for dogs and will not cause any health problems.
Homemade dog food coloring options:
There are plenty of natural food coloring options that are safe for dogs. These include:
– Annatto seeds
– Matcha powder
These ingredients will add color to your dog’s food without any of the health risks associated with synthetic dyes. Plus, they may even offer some health benefits! For example, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce pain and swelling. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is essential for healthy vision, skin, and immunity.
- RED – Beetroot, Strawberry, Raspberry.
- PINK – Beetroot, Strawberry, Raspberry.
- ORANGE – Turmeric, Pumpkin, Squash, Carrot, Sweet Potato (Kumara)
- YELLOW – Egg Yolk, Turmeric.
- GREEN – Wheatgrass, Kale, Spirulina, Green Veggies.
Dog Food without red dye:
If you’re looking for dog food without red dye, there are plenty of healthy and delicious options available. You can find pet foods that use natural food colorings, like fruits and vegetables. These are safe for dogs and will not cause any health problems. Alternatively, you can choose a pet food that doesn’t use any synthetic dyes. There are plenty of healthy and delicious options available.
Below are some of the best dog food without red dye:
- Nom Nom Fresh Pet food
- American Journey Limited Ingredient Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Taste of the Wild Pacific
- True Acre Foods Grain-Free Chicken & Vegetable
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken
- Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature
Is food coloring safe for cats?
No, food coloring is not safe for cats. The FDA has only approved three dyes for use in cat food: Blue 1, Blue 2, and Yellow 5. These dyes have been linked to health problems in animals, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.
What does red dye do to dogs?
One study found that Red 40 caused reticuloendothelial tumors of the immune system. They can cause an upset stomach and vomiting. Grape juice, paprika, and turmeric can all be used to color dog food a natural red.
A study found that red dye contains p-Cresidine which is known to cause cancer. Red 3 was banned by FDA and concerns have also been raised about Yellow 5 and 6, which are linked to allergies and hyperactivity.
Artificial food coloring is not necessary for dog food and can even be harmful to your pet. If you’re looking for healthy and nutritious dog food, choose one that doesn’t use synthetic dyes. These are safe for dogs and will not cause any health problems
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org