Yellow Colors in Dog Food

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Since we don’t have another ingredient beginning with the letter “X”, we will skip ahead to the letter “Y” in our dog food ingredient series. Today we are writing about the yellow colorings in dog food, specifically, yellow #5 and yellow #6.


What is Yellow Coloring?

Yellow food coloring is an artificial coloring agent that is used in many pet and human foods to enhance its visual impact. Yellow #5 (Tartrazine), and Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow) are two of the seven dyes approved by the FDA for use in foods.
yellow foodcoloring

Common names for Yellow Coloring

Yellow dye is listed as either yellow #5 and yellow no. five, or tartrazine, and yellow #6 and yellow no. 6 or sunset yellow.


Why are Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 in Dog Food?

Yellow #5 and #6 are added to dog food to make the food look more appealing. Which is actually quite silly since dogs do no care what color their food is. The colors are added to make the food look more appealing to the human pet owner.


Is Yellow Coloring Commonly Used in Dog Food?

Yellows #5 and #6 are present in 4% of all dog foods. Yellow #5 is twice as prevalent as yellow #6. Yellow dyes are also common in treats. They are present in over 12% of all treats.


Common Benefits or Risks of Yellow Coloring

There are no benefits to artificial yellow colorings, only risks.


Both Yellow #5 and #6 are linked to various health problems.


Yellow #5, derived from coal tar and can cause sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Yellow #5 is associated with allergic type reactions as well. It has been banned in several European countries.

Yellow #6 is derived from petroleum. Yellow 6 has been linked to ADHD and some forms of cancer. Yellow 6 is banned in several European countries and is being phased out of the UK.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has published a report on the health risks of artificial colorings in food. In this report, the authors state that:

“The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens … Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”


With all of these potential problems, it is a wonder that dog food companies are still including this in their food recipes.
slimdoggy frown

Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level

Yellow #5 and #6, as well as all artificial colorings, provide no benefit and present the potential for serious health problems. They all get the SlimDoggy Sad Face.


Miscellaneous facts about Yellow Coloring

The other FDA approved food colorings that might show up in a pet food’s ingredient list are:

  • Blue #1
  • Blue #2
  • Green #3
  • Red #40
  • Red #3


Sources and further reading


Editor’s note: to view all of the dog food ingredients we have covered, search on the tag “ingredients” or click here:

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  1. I would give it a sad face too, color is just for us humans because we like colors so much and think our dogs will like it too.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Tasty Tuesday~Jones Natural Chews Mother LoadMy Profile

  2. Our food has none of that, thank dog.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Choosing the right kennel for your dogMy Profile

  3. Our food is brown. Like meat. And our treats have nothing artificial, including colors.
    Flea recently posted…Stuffed Bone GiveawayMy Profile

  4. I apologize in advance for my comment, but yellow food coloring just makes me think of yellow snow which is a bad thing! I’ve been told since I was a pup not to eat yellow snow, so why would I eat yellow food? Food coloring should just be left out. The worst are those cheap foods and treats that are as colorful as an Easter basket! Just bad!
    Emma recently posted…Look Who’s Happy With Venison And BisonMy Profile

  5. We try to stay away from a lot of artificial coloring.
    2browndawgs recently posted…A Day In The Life Of Freighter And WhistleMy Profile

  6. You could probably do an entire post on the many ridiculous things pet product companies do to appeal visually to humans.
    Pamela recently posted…Why Do People Keep Saying Dogs Are Like Wolves?My Profile

  7. Bad yellow – bad yellow!!! No artificial coloring – EVER!

  8. The only yellow things we get are bananas! Yummy ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…I Love Lucy Pet FoundationMy Profile

  9. Sugar loves yellow color. WHY? cause bananas are yellow. If there\’s no benefits it\’s silly for food brands to add yellow color. Golden Woofs

  10. Yuk! This is sooooo bad! Petroleum…Banned in the EU!! We are glad that this isnt in our food!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…A Deep Freeze – Instinct Raw Boost TreatsMy Profile

  11. …I have to add. Yukky ingredients like this just shouldn’t be allowed. I think some people don’t know better or get the best food that they can afford and we shouldn’t be setting people up for unhealthy foods!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…A Deep Freeze – Instinct Raw Boost TreatsMy Profile

    • You’re right – the manufacturer’s should just stop using this stuff – dogs don’t care!
      mkob recently posted…Yellow Colors in Dog FoodMy Profile

  12. You won’t find any artificial colors in our pups’ diet 🙂 Our pack is giving anything artificial the sad face as well! Great post!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Those Paws Were Made For Walking…#walkyourpetmonthMy Profile

  13. Eventually the dog food companies will have to realize that a lot of people are on to this. For me, I avoid any kind of food or treat that even looks artificially colored!
    I suppose it does go along the lines of cutting homemade dog cookies into the shapes of bones, etc. We really only do that for ourselves because the dogs don’t care what shape they are!
    Jan K recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Christmas Toy ScoreMy Profile

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