Feed Your Dog This Not That: Coloring

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One of the most senseless ingredient functions in dog food is coloring.  Dog food color can be enhanced in many ways, but when ingredients are added specifically to add color while adding no nutritional value, then those ingredients are at best, useless and at worst, harmful.


Why Colorings are Added to Dog Food

In order to determine the value of adding coloring to dog food, we must first look at why they are added in the first place.  The sad answer to this is that coloring is added in order to make the dog food more appealing to the human.  Food Brands that use coloring believe that the human pet parent will be more likely to buy their food if it contains a rainbow of colors, even if those colors are neon bright or obviously derived chemically.  The array of colors will often act to distract the human from the fact that the food itself is of low quality and its recipe contains artificial ingredients and species inappropriate sources of nutrition.

Feed this Not that_coloring

Meanwhile, the dog doesn’t care one bit what color their food is.  First of all, a dog’s color spectrum is much more limited than a human’s so they will barely notice the color enhancements.  Second of all, a dog will first use her sense of smell to determine if a food is worth eating or not. Color has nothing to do with that decision.


When it comes to dog food color, dried kibbles tend to be less colorful and more monotone than wet food.  This is due to the cooking process involved with the production of dry kibble.  As such, any kibble that is colorful should raise a red flag to the pet parent.  It is likely that the enhanced color is coming from artificial additives.


Wet foods, meanwhile, can often be more colorful due to a different cooking process.  Often times, you can see the specific ingredients (like carrots, or peas) that provide the color.


In any case, there is no need for added colorings in a dog food recipe.  The color of the food should come from the natural ingredients in the recipe.  In the case of kibbles, a monotone appearance is not a bad thing (and is often preferable to a multi-colored kibble), while in wet foods, colors should come from the ingredients that provide nutritional value.

Feed Your Dog This Not That: Coloring

Feed This Not That
Cherries Red dyes
Blueberries Blue dyes
Carrots Combinations of red and yellow dyes
Peas Combinations of blue and yellow dyes
Real meat, fish, fruits and vegetables “Artificial coloring”


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  1. I remember the time we bought pink hearts because they looked so cute … Today we are much smarter and look for the ingredients and not for the color… :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog WONDER-WEIM-WEDNESDAYMy Profile

  2. Wooftastic post SlimDoggy!

    We agree completely! The only rainbow I want to see is made from the bountiful array of veggies my huMom puts in my food.

    nose nudges,

  3. Wrong just wrong! But I do see why they do it to get people to buy but peeps need to be smarter than that. Thanks for educating us.
    Sand spring chesapeakes recently posted…Not Guilty International UpdateMy Profile

  4. It is amazing how far we have come when it comes to feeding our dogs. I think when I was a kid (eons ago) there were two brands of dog food and both of them were full of grains, fillers, and artificial coloring. Now, I cook great food for my dogs and we eat canned soup. LOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Wednesday’s Wingman WestieMy Profile

  5. You left one out: “Caramel” coloring. Isn’t that the same garbage they use to color humans’ soda products?

    Unfortunately, the only wet food Shadow will eat these days has the “caramel color” (and probably a ton of sugar used to make it) in it. So, each time I feed her, I spend about 5 minutes removing as much of the gravy and rice as possible before letting her eat the meat and veggies. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the only one that works right now.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Finally Some Sun!!My Profile

  6. Those real colorful foods and treats are the absolute worst! Stick to natural coloring whenever possible!
    Emma recently posted…Being A Dog Blogger Is ExhaustingMy Profile

  7. Oh my goodness yes!! I do not understand the colored bones!!

  8. Thanks for another educational post. It’s scary what gets pawned off as ‘healthy’ food for pets. 🙂

  9. Personally I always thought colored food looked suspicious. I’ve got to try some peas in the Boys diet. Haven’t done that before.

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