Colorings in Dog Food: The Numbers

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imageThis week we continue our discussion of colorings in dog food by analyzing our data to determine just how common is the use of artificial food colorings in dog food. If you read our MythBuster post yesterday, you would know that dogs don’t really see yellows, oranges or red coloring – so having pretty pink kibbles is not for the dog!


Last week we listed some of the artificial colorings that have been used on dog food:

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


We ran a search on the above ingredients on our dog food database to see how often these artificial (and useless) ingredients appeared.  As shown in the chart below, 27.3% of all dog foods and 29.3 % of all dog foods and dog treats contain at least one of these coloring agents.

food coloring in dog food



The good news is that this is far less than some of our readers had guessed!  The bad news is that close to 3 out of 10 commercially available foods uses some artificial coloring in their food recipes.


Next, we looked at the specific colorings to see which were the most common.  As you can see in the picture below, the generic “color” (or “coloring”) was the most common, followed by Yellow #5.


common dog food colorings


What color is your dog’s food?

Is your dog’s food brightly colored?  If so, you might want to check the ingredient list to see why.   Remember, fruits, vegetables, and real food products like chicken and salmon (vs. poultry or by products) will provide all of the coloring you or your dog would ever need.  Bon Appétit!

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. Very well written and interesting post. I’m not a fan of food coloring too since I can mostly see black/white/gray.
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…New logo! Enjoy the sights!My Profile

    • I know! Our post yesterday on dogs being colorblind showed they don’t see these reds and yellows very well at all, so what’s the point?

  2. Great series! Though there’s not as much as I thought there might be… there’s still way too much! Figures though, since they’re marketing to humans.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Adopt Chowder, a Senior Black Dog in Missouri | Tuesdays TailsMy Profile

  3. We avoid all those human eye catching pretty colored treats because they are obviously full of artificial color, but I don’t think a lot of people consider that when they select food and treats.
    emma recently posted…Shhh, Don’t Tell Mom I Was Drinking Beer While Shopping | GBGV | Monday MischiefMy Profile

  4. Manufacturers are just trying to get humans to buy the product with the colored kibble. If we show them we don’t like the unnecessary colors by not buying that brand, they will stop making colored kibbles which is an added cost to them.
    jan recently posted…Yum! Chicken nuggets made in China—what could possibly go wrong?My Profile

  5. Well, considering your post yesterday said that dogs see limited colors then why oh why would a dog food company need to make a colorful dog food?!? Unless of course the color is solely for the human buying the food.
    Oz the Terrier recently posted…Make a Run to Anastasia State ParkMy Profile

  6. Well, I’m glad the numbers were less than what I guessed, but really, the number should be at zero, shouldn’t it? I just don’t see the point…but I guess unless people stop buying it, the manufacturers won’t see the point either. You think it might save them some money to have one less unneeded ingredient though!
    Jan K recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails – Meet ChloeMy Profile

    • All you say is accurate, but who knows why food companies do some of the things they do.
      mkob recently posted…Colorings in Dog Food: The NumbersMy Profile

  7. Typically colorful treats are dangerous. I know … I experienced it and it was not good. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…Coconut Banana Strawberry Frosty KONGMy Profile

  8. Well, I appreciate that once processed, the food would not look very appetizing. Jasmine’s diet had the best ingredients, many of them quite colorful on their own. Once it all got blended together, it ended up grayish brown color, or brown-green color, depending on what was in it at the time. Dog’s don’t care about what color their food is. So why put it in there?

    And if you really want some colors, add some ingredients that will do that. Want some very fresh meaty color? Add some red beets. That colors it quite nicely. Want it really green? Add some spirulina or wheat grass.

    There is enough controversy about the ingredients that need to be in the food. Why add things that really don’t serve any purpose for the dogs whatsoever?
    Jana Rade recently posted…Too Young For Pot: Cookie’s Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen PeroxideMy Profile

    • Exactly – adding vegetables is great for the dogs…not that they really care about the color all that much, but it makes it more attractive for me I guess.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 9-11-13My Profile

  9. Our food is brown color, but I suppose there could be coloring in it. Must check the label.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Follow-up Friday 9-13-13My Profile

  10. Interesting. Nellies diet purina om is yellow. G and g purina pro plan adult is brown.
    joann stancer recently posted…Black And White SundayMy Profile

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