Is Food Coloring Safe For Dogs?

Is Food Coloring Safe For Dogs?

Author WDF Staff


Food coloring is a widely used substance in human nutrition. Many manufacturers add different food coloring to their food to make food more appealing to our eyes. People have always been concerned about food coloring and the dangers it represents to our health, and there have been reports that some food coloring has consisted of toxic ingredients.

With all that said, you might wonder why you put food coloring in dog food. Sadly, most dog food brands use food coloring to prepare dog food. Why is that? You are about to find out.

What is food coloring?

Food coloring, or a color additive as it is usually called, is any substance that enhances the appearance of food. This substance comes in many forms, including liquid, powder, and gel. Food coloring is used a lot in human nutrition, but this doesn't necessarily mean that dogs should do it too.

IMPORTANT: The majority of human food coloring could potentially be toxic for dogs because of the different components found in it. If you want to add food coloring to your dog's food, you must secure to only use a safe type for your dog.

dog eating treat

RELATED: Human Foods That Can Kill Your Dog

Do all dog food consist of food coloring?

Many commercial dog food contains food coloring. We bet you didn't know that. The main purpose of this practice is to make food more appealing to the eye. But since dogs don't see the world and colors the same way we do, this would suggest that they add food coloring to please the human eye, which doesn't make much sense from our point of view.

When the food is processed, it will lose its original color, and because of that, manufacturers often time add food coloring to replace that color.

RELATED: Dog Food Recipes - Vet Approved Homemade Dog Food

Troubles from the past

In the past, many manufacturers used food coloring to make dry dog food, but the problem was that this food coloring contained some toxic ingredients for dogs. These ingredients slowly poisoned dogs, and the FDA banned all toxic food colors from the pet food market.

Some of the dangerous ingredients were

  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Lead

Today, the FDA regularly checks and updates all the necessary recommendations regarding the food coloring allowed to be used in the pet industry to protect our dogs and their health.


RELATED: Healthiest Human Food Dogs Can Eat

Is food coloring safe for dogs?

We would always advise to avoid any food coloring and other ingredients that aren't natural, but unfortunately, this is only sometimes possible. The same thing applies to food coloring. Since many commercial dog food brands use food coloring for preparing their dog food, we only have a little choice.

Generally speaking, food coloring is safe for dogs if it's used in the correct type and if everything is by the rules. In this case, you have nothing to worry about, and your dog will not experience health problems regarding food coloring.

FDA has approved 9 different color additives, and for everyone who wants to use food color, we suggest that you follow these rules.

The most commonly used additives include

  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Red 3
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6

Some of the mentioned additives can be banned in certain countries, which is still controversial.

RELATED: Dog Food Allergies: What Are They & How To Spot Them

Can I add food coloring to homemade cookies for dogs?

If you like to prepare food for your dog by yourself, or if you are regularly making doggy treats, you probably wonder if you can use food coloring when cooking. You must always ensure that you use safe ingredients for dogs, and the same applies to food coloring.

You can add food coloring to your dog treats to make some great icing, but you must ensure that it is completely safe for your dog. The last thing you want is to poison your dog.

If you follow the rules set by the FDA, you have nothing to worry about, and you can be sure that you will use the right type of food coloring when preparing food or treats for your pooch.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo