Is Red Food Coloring Bad for Dogs?

Food Coloring Dangerous for Dogs
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Is red food coloring bad for dogs? You might wonder when you see some colorful dog foods with their vibrant green, red, or yellow kibble chunks. Some naturally occurring food colorings are safe. However, you should definitely stay away from artificial food dyes and even some natural alternatives.

Food Coloring Dangerous for Dogs, Adults, and Children

The sorts of colors and dyes that are permitted for use in pet food are listed here, along with those that you should avoid.

FDA Approved Doesn’t Mean Safe

The FDA has allowed the use of nine color additives in food, including pet food. Originally created from coal tar, these hues are now made from petroleum.

Nine synthetic dyes are now approved by the FDA. FD&C Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are the ones that are most frequently used. All of them come from petroleum. Bright tones and stability in items are popular among manufacturers. They are also less expensive than natural substitutes.

Iron oxides, which appear in the colors red, yellow, and black, are also found in pet food and have several FDA-approved uses. Rust is obviously the more well-known word for iron oxide.

Although some of these permitted colors are prohibited in some other nations, the FDA deems them to be safe. Children’s hyperactivity is one of the well-known negative effects of artificial food colorings.

is red dye in dog food bad
Food Coloring

Some dyes have the potential to cause cancer. Allergic reactions may be brought on by others. Artificial food colors are all, to some extent, poisonous and offer no nutritional benefits. whether genotoxic, carcinogenic, allergic, or polluted (meaning they can damage DNA).

According to studies conducted in Europe, iron oxide is an irritant to the skin and eyes. Rats’ lungs have been demonstrated to become inflamed after being exposed to iron oxides. Concerns about genotoxicity are also present.

It is recommended to keep your dog’s food free of all artificial colors.

“Natural” Colors In Dog Food

Additionally, “natural” hues like carmine (produced from insects), annatto (from seeds), and caramel color are permitted by the FDA (sugar heated with ammonium, acid, or alkali compounds).

The following natural hues should not be used in your dog’s food:

Because it produces harmful byproducts including acrylamide and carcinogenic pollutants when treated with ammonium, caramel color has drawn attention. It usually contains extra sugar because it is composed of corn syrup. Although ammonium is not required to make caramel color, it is unclear how much manufacturing has shifted to safer practices.

When found in foods like carrots or sweet potatoes, beta-carotene provides a lovely natural color. However, it is usually chemically produced or solvent extracted from molds or algae, therefore it is advisable to stay away from foods containing this color unless you are certain that it comes from veggies.

Is Red Dye in Dog Food Bad?

The female cochineal insects are dried and crushed to produce carmine, also known as cochineal. After that, they are submerged in an acidic solution to create the brilliant red dye.

is red dye in dog food bad for dogs and what happens
Photo by Skyler Ewing on

In certain people who are hypersensitive to the proteins found in insects, carmine has been demonstrated to trigger food allergies. Asthma has also been a problem for factory employees who were exposed to carmine. Anaphylaxis, a severe and occasionally fatal allergic reaction, has been demonstrated to be brought on by even minute doses.

Safe Colors In Dog Food

The achiote tree (Bixa orellana) produces the seeds required to make annatto, which is a common ingredient in food and beauty products. It gives food flavor as well as color. It even possesses some medical qualities, including antioxidant, antibacterial, and perhaps anti-cancer activities, as well as potential benefits for eye health.

Annatto has occasionally caused food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome, despite the fact that side effects are uncommon. Although it’s normally harmless in dog food, it may be the cause of your dog’s food allergies if you detect they exist.

Turmeric, beet juice, and paprika are a few examples of natural colorings that are becoming more popular with consumers. Although they may be more expensive than what is reasonable for mass-produced pet foods, these are safer for your dog.

It’s crucial to keep away from FD&C dyes, caramel color, and synthetic beta-carotene.


Toxicology of food dyes

In vitro and in vivo indications of the carcinogenicity and toxicity of food dyes

Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants: eightieth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives

Safety and efficacy of iron oxide black, red and yellow for all animal species – – 2016 – EFSA Journal – Wiley Online Library

Carcinogenicity and regulation of caramel colorings

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

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