Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Red #3

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We continue our Dog Food Ingredients A to Z series with the letter “R”. Today’s ingredient is Red #3.


What is Red #3?

Red #3, and other red colorings like red #40, as well as all other artificial food colorings, are artificially made food coloring chemicals. Red #3 is a color similar to cherry red.


Common names for Red #3

The most common name variation is Red 3 or Red number 3 and Erythrosine.


Why is Red #3 included in dog food?

There is no nutritional reason to include Red #3 in dog food.  Red #3 is most often used in lower quality dog food to make it more visually appealing to the human.  As silly as that sounds it is true.


Is Red #3 a commonly used ingredient in dog food?

Red #3 is seen in about one half of a percent of dog foods.  However, red dyes in general are seen in almost 5 % of dog foods.


Common benefits or risks of Red # 3

There are no benefits of Red #3.  It is used to make low quality dog food look more appealing to the human!  A dog does not care what color their food is. Even if it does look like cherries!

In 1990, the FDA issues a partial ban on Red #3, citing research that high doses have been found to cause cancer in rats.


Miscellaneous facts about Red #3

Red #3 is used to achieve a “Cherry Red” type of color.  That would be interesting if we were talking about a water color painting and not food ;-).


Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level

slimdoggy frown

Without question, Red #3 gets the Slimdoggy frown.  Avoid foods with this ingredient if you are financially able to.


Sources and further reading


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 do my best to avoid foods (for myself and my dog) with ingredients I don’t recognize or can’t look up. I also try to avoid foods with dyes. It’s hard, because like you said, so many dog foods use these types of ingredients. I tend to rotate the same couple of brands that I trust.
    Lindsay recently posted…These dogs love the snow! Well, mostly (35 photos)My Profile

  2. A sort-of friend feeds her dog food that is multi-colored. If I can save the dog from this silliness I am willing to lose the human friendship.
    jan recently posted…A scientific study of dog farts—I could not make this stuff upMy Profile

  3. Thanks for that info! I had no idea that any dog foods had dye in them. Yuck!
    KB recently posted…Recalls – the most exciting kind of training!My Profile

    • Many do, but there are lots that don’t. Check the ingredients to be sure. Use our iPhone app, which has the ingredients of near 2,000 foods.
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Red #3My Profile

  4. That is bad 🙁 , anyway thanks for the info
    YourSpecialDog recently posted…Easiest dogs to trainMy Profile

  5. All those colorful cheap foods are so bad. Food color/dye in general is bad for dogs and humans, but there is no reason to have food color in dog food/treats except to attract the human eye. We avoid it most of the time.
    emma recently posted…How To Move A Large Object | GBGV | Monday MischiefMy Profile

  6. Great info I always avoid food dyed
    Retro rover

  7. yea the food coloring…..pointless if you ask me!
    great info!
    ((husky hugz))
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…UGH!My Profile

  8. oh how I want to eat the pie. People associate good food with color. Seems all the grocery store foods have colored kibble to make it more appealing so the people buy it even know it has no nutrients in it.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Frozen Tundra And Snow FunMy Profile

  9. Since I don’t think we can see red, its to make the food look more appealing to humans, right? My canned food looks orange but that’s because of the sweet potatoes in it try that instead! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Snowed in: Keeping Your Dog ActiveMy Profile

  10. I’ve often wondered what is the point to adding colors to food? The only reason I could think of was exactly what you said, to make it visually pleasing.
    I will admit I often fall into this trap with my own snacks, but not with Petal’s snacks and certainly not her food. I don’t care what color her food is as long as it’s a normal and natural color. No Red #3, please. I also think it’s funny that they add it to kibble to make it visually pleasing to us humans, as if we’re eating it! Wouldn’t it be safer to make it look unappetizing to a human, especially the little humans, since we shouldn’t be eating it? 😉

    Anyway. Thank you for sharing this!
    Marquie recently posted…Tasty Tuesday: Tasty ReviewsMy Profile

    • Good point, b ut I’m sure there’s been thousands spent in ‘market research’ that shows the coloring increases sales.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Red #3My Profile

  11. I think the trend is away from artificial coloring in dog foods, thank goodness. It was worse when I was a kid. I think most foods had artificial coloring.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–Too Cold To Enjoy The SnowMy Profile

    • I think you are right – in human foods as well – so that’s good news.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1-8-14My Profile

  12. Interesting! Food colouring in dog food (of any colour) seems ridiculous to me. Unnecessary added ingredients.
    Jen K recently posted…Bringing Toys to the Dog Park – A Good or Bad Idea?My Profile

  13. So silly, isn’t it? Bad enough they put in stuff for practical purposes (such as hold it together, keep it moist, keep it from spoiling …) Why put something that doesn’t serve any purpose at all other than make it look better? Grrr

    Yes, when you take the best foods, such as meat, organ meats and vegggies, and blend it all together, it will end up kind of brownish-gray, or even greenish poop color if you add some stuff such as wheat grass or spirulina. So what?

    Find me a dog who cares what color their food is.
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