How Colorful is Your Dog’s Kibble?

The pictures on the label make it appear as though the red kibble is red meat, yellow kibble is chicken, and green kibble is vegetables and greens. When in fact the only difference is the artificial colors used.


colorful, dog, dog food, kibble, dyes, meat, carrots, peas


How It’s Made

Contrary to what you might think, the mixture for each colored kibble is the same. After forming the dough, it is divided, and manufacturers add each dye separately.

This means that the colors don’t indicate what ingredients are in the kibble. The red pieces do not contain any more meat, and the green does not include additional vegetables.

There are two types of approved color additives – dyes and lakes.

Dyes are water-soluble and usually come in the form of powders, granules, or liquids. Lakes are not water-soluble. You will see them in products containing fats and oils.

Lakes are the more commonly found type in dog food, though dyes are used as well.


What’s Wrong With A Little Color?

Nothing, if that color is from fresh fruits and vegetables, but these are chemically human-made dyes which are entirely different.

Some food colorings are synthetically produced. Examples of these color additives include FD&C Blue No. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, and FD&C Red No.40.

Other food colorings come from pigments of vegetables, minerals, or animals. Examples of these natural additives include beta-carotene, radish extract, turmeric, and spirulina.

In some countries, including the UK and Austria, the use of artificial food dyes is banned because studies show as little as 30 mg can cause behavior problems, hyperactivity, and ADHD, in children.

Sadly, the FDA continues to allow companies to use these harmful colors in the US with no warning to the consumer, even though natural options are readily available.

There is also some debate on whether these food dyes are potential carcinogens. Even if it’s not confirmed, taking the chance on something that offers no benefit does not seem wise.

Why Are Colors Used?

So if the dyes are that bad, why do many of the most popular pet foods on the market use them?

Simple, it’s the same reason they cut the kibble into those cute little bone and heart shapes. It sells. Dog food companies know those vibrant colors will draw you in, primarily if they use them to make the kibble appear healthier.

After all, who wants to subject their dog to a boring bowl of brown pellets right?


An Example Food To Avoid

Let’s look at a real dog food ingredient list to find some of the common color additives we want to avoid. Color additives are in bold.

Example Ingredient List

Corn, Soybean Meal, Beef & Bone Meal, Ground Wheat, Wheat Middlings, Animal Fat (BHA Used as Preservative), Corn Syrup, Water Sufficient For Processing, Animal Digest (Source Of Roasted Flavor), Propylene Glycol, Salt, Apple, Hydrochloric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Caramel Color, Peas, Sorbic Acid (Used as a Preservative), Sodium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin a Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin), Dl-Methionine, Calcium Sulfate, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Carrots, Green Beans, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5, Red 40, BHA (Used as a Preservative), Blue 1, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6.

This dog food has just about every color additive possible. It’s also one of the worst formulas I’ve ever seen! Yes, the food above is actually on the market.

Useful tip: Avoid every ingredient (excluding fruits/veggies and vitamins/minerals) listed in this feed.

Ready to learn what to look for in high-quality dog food?


Quality vs. Color

Besides the fact that they are harmful to your dog’s health, there is another reason to avoid foods that use artificial dyes. Feeds using dyes are all similar to the formula above. They all contain corn, unnamed meats, BHA, and many other poor-quality ingredients.

No quality dog food will use these dyes.


No Benefit & Potential Major Risk

In the end, it comes down to the simple fact that these colors don’t benefit your dog in any way. While dogs are not color blind, they don’t see colors as vividly as we do. The chart below explains this well.


As you can see, you’re not doing your dog any favors by giving him a bowl of brightly colored food.

Add that to the fact that you might be putting him at risk for significant health problems down the line, and you’ve got a lose-lose situation.

So make the healthy choice for your pet (and yourself) by avoiding foods and treats with artificial colors!

If you’d like to learn how to add healthy colorful foods to your dog’s bowl, click on the picture below for options!



-Ivy Alexis






Mercola, Dr. Joe. “Artificial Food Dyes” Web. Accessed Oct. 22, 2017. <>

Thixton, Susan “Pets Don’t Care about Colors, Why Dye their Foods?” Jan. 1, 2009 Web. Oct. 23, 2017. <>

“Food Dye and ADHD” Oct. 28, 2016 Web. Oct. 23, 2017. <>






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