Coloring in Dog Food – Unnecessary Evils

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This week, we will discuss one of our ‘pet peeves’ with the commercial dog food industry – food coloring in dog food.  For what it’s worth, we don’t understand or advocate food coloring in human food either but we will keep this focused on dog food.
Why is there coloring in dog food?

For humans, color and plating can make a dish look more (or less) appealing.  The “presentation” is one of the great things about a fine dining experience.  This doesn’t mean that the food needs coloring, rather, that a plate full of vibrant colors and an attractive arrangement make a difference.


Now let’s consider this from the dog’s perspective.  Do you think that they care what color their food is?  Of course not.  Food is food.  Their decision on how much or whether they like it is driven by smell and taste alone.  Dogs are partially color blind anyway, so the bottom line is that color doesn’t matter to them. Check out the pictures just above and below. The one above is full of color while the one below is brown. Guess what SlimDoggy Jack thinks when he sees either one of these? “Yum, food!”.
dog food2
So why is there added coloring in dog food?  This is really the key question, isn’t it?  The reason why color is added to dog food is simply to make the dog food more appealing to the HUMAN!  Yes, you heard that right; it is to make YOU think the food is ‘good’ and has nothing to do with the dog at all.


Colors are not created equal

The color of your dog’s food should reflect the ingredients that are used in the recipe, not by means of artificial dyes and other chemical additives that are nutritionally void at best and impose health risks at worst.  The color of the dog food should come from natural ingredients like high quality proteins, fruits and vegetables.  Further, as long as the recipe contains quality ingredients, it doesn’t matter what the resulting color is.  Trust me on this, your dog won’t care.

Yet, there still are many dog foods with artificial color added.  Some of the typical ones are listed below:

  • Color (or coloring) – who knows what this is?
  • Blue #2
  • Red #40
  • Yellow #5
  • Yellow #6


If you see these in the ingredients of your dog food, you should reexamine your choice in foods and see if there isn’t a higher quality choice available to that does not contain these types of additives.

Of course we wondered how many of the commercially available foods and treats actually contain one of these artificial colorings.  We will report on our findings next week.  Any guesses?  What percentage of foods and treats do you think contain one or more of those artificial colorings? Answer in our comments section below. Special SlimDoggy food scoop to the closest guess!


We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

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  1. I won’t buy a dog food or treat with coloring in it and I’ve written to several manufacturers to ask them to remove them. I wish more pet owners would do this.
    jan recently posted…Eighteen police dogs married in ceremony in Sri LankaMy Profile

  2. Not surprised, until there was an uprising about human food, which still is inadequately regulated, we were subject to all sorts of things just to make it seem appealing….

  3. I couldn’t agree more. It’s all about marketing, isn’t it? They think we humans will buy the “prettier” looking food, or that we’ll think the different colors represent different vegetables or something….and I imagine a lot of us get sucked into that! I’m going to guess that 45% use it….but I hope it’s even less than that!
    Jan K recently posted…Happy (Belated) Birthday to Me (Cricket)My Profile

    • Good guess. We will reveal the answer next week…Stay Tuned!

      Similar things happen with human food and beverages. I am an athlete and for years used Gatorade as a replenishment beverage. My routines can get pretty intense and I would sometimes cramp up without it.

      About 2 years ago, I realized that I didn’t want all of that yellow/blue/purple dye in my body so I stopped using it and, for that matter, any beverage with artificial (and might I say, unneeded) coloring. Who cares what color it is?!
      steve recently posted…Coloring in Dog Food – Unnecessary EvilsMy Profile

      • Oh no, I never thought about Gatorade and other beverages having artificial coloring. I don’t drink it, I always stick to plain water, but I don’t work out that intensely. However, my husband drinks it, he works out much harder. Can I ask what you would suggest instead of Gatorade for a power drink? Thanks!!
        Jan K recently posted…Happy (Belated) Birthday to Me (Cricket)My Profile

        • I make sure to eat a balanced diet (with lots of veggies) and drink plenty of water. I mix in some salty foods (including tomato juice) in the summer. Other than that, no more ‘sports drinks’ for me.
          steve recently posted…Coloring in Dog Food – Unnecessary EvilsMy Profile

  4. One of Kirby’s favorite meals is what I call Chicken Gruel – not pretty at all – seems all he cares about is the aroma and flavor!

    • That’s exactly right…smells good? Tastes good? I’m eating it.
      Slimdoggy recently posted…Maggie MischiefMy Profile

  5. Unnecessary evils indeed! My guess is about 55% of the commercial products use them.
    Champ’s Mom recently posted…Tuesday Already?My Profile

    • Be sure and come back next week for the answer!
      Slimdoggy recently posted…Maggie MischiefMy Profile

  6. We humans insist on colouring our own food, it is no wonder we want to colour the dogs . . . .
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…You Go Girl!My Profile

  7. I’m going to guess that it is really high. 80 % maybe?

  8. Great post! I have a feeling there’s a huge percentage of dog edibles with food coloring 🙁
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Looking BackMy Profile

    • Unfortunately, it’s higher than it should be. Check back next week.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 9-4-13My Profile

  9. I don’t understand food coloring in dog food or treats.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–On The Inside Looking OutMy Profile

  10. the grocery store foods seem to be the ones with the most color in them, they are all junk! Your right they do it all for us.

  11. We try to stay away from coloring. Titan doesn’t care what it looks like. As long as it smells like humans… I mean meat, he’ll eat it. 😉
    Bren recently posted…What Do You Know About Beaverdam Pet Food?My Profile

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