Colouring in Pet Food: Will It Harm Your Pets?

Have you ever wondered where the shades of coloured kibbles come from? Are the sources natural or synthetic? What values do they add to your pets? Generally, colours in pet food are used to indicate the type of food. For example, yellow represents chicken, green for vegetables and red for fish. These food colouring and dye aim to accentuate the original ingredients used in the pet food, which may lose their original colours during the manufacturing process. But are they safe in the first place? We have just the right answers for you.


Get to Know Food Colouring

Food colouring is any chemical or natural dye, additive, pigment or other substance made or derived from vegetables, animals, minerals or other sources that are added to food or drink to enhance its appearance, making it look fresher, extra appealing and more appetising. The food regulations determined by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulate that colours added to pet foods must be of the same quality as those added to food for human consumption.

Diving in a little deeper, there are two types of food colouring listed by the FDA such as those that are

  • subject to FDA’s certification process: man-made colours obtained from complex organic chemicals that were originally derived from coal tar or petroleum, and
  • exempt from the certification process: colours obtained from plants, animals or mineral sources.

With the loss of natural colours throughout the manufacturing process, colourings can come in handy to help pet owners recognise the food that the kibbles represent. Like we mentioned, yellow for chicken and green for vegetables. This serves as a vital purchasing factor as colourings stand out more to attract pet owners compared to natural colours.

dog and cat having meals

It is relatively rare for cats and dogs to get allergies to food colourings as their allergies are prone to be triggered by protein in their food instead. As long as the food colourings listed on your pet food label are FDA-approved, it is safe for your pet’s consumption. Hence, it is entirely safe to go for either artificially coloured, naturally coloured or non-colored kibbles. After all, it is the pet food’s palatability that matters to your pet’s appetite.

Don’t Worry, It’s Safe

Following FDA’s guidelines is always the safest bet. They provide strict guidelines on food colouring that include the types of foods that may use the colouring, the amount of colouring allowed and how the colour must be identified on the packaging. Hence, you may have spotted the major three food colourings —Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 that account for 90 per cent of all dyes used. There are certainly pet safety and health concerns on long-term consumption of food colourings. 

There may be insufficient research to show that long-term consumption of food colourings will lead to health and safety risks in pets, but we cannot deny that some food colourings, especially those used in large amounts, may impose cancer-causing effects on pets and these are the food colourings that are NOT FDA-approved.


Colours Are For You, Not Your Pets

Did you know cats and dogs can’t really tell colours? Science has determined that cats are able to distinguish between blues and greens but have limited ability toward reds. On the other hand, dogs can distinguish between blues and violets, but difficult to distinguish between reds, yellows and greens. From here we can almost conclude that the taste of pet food matters more than colours. 

With the little or almost no effect colours have on pets, food colourings appeal more to pet parents as they judge the quality and palatability of the pet food by the colours. Human behavioural studies have proven that humans generally prefer bright colours which naturally this rule applies to pet food as well. The brighter the pet food (more food colourings), the more likely pet parents will purchase them.

As more pet parents become more health-conscious and skew toward the natural or organic trend, they would source primarily for natural-labelled pet food. Not just the ingredients, but the food colourings of the food as well. This health-skewed consciousness has gradually transformed the pet food industry to offer product alternatives with natural-coloured and non-coloured kibbles while retaining the quality and nutrition value the pet food caters to pets. This transformation is inevitable in the pet food industry, thus manufacturers have to adapt to stay on top of the trend. Like Pet World Nutritions, it is our commitment to consumers – the pet parents that we always abide by the strictest and safest measures of manufacturing healthy pet foods.

Coloured kibbles are meant for the eyes of the pet owners – the key drivers of the market demand that determine the future trend of pet food. Pet food manufacturers will have to meet their requirements for various aspects of pet food such as ingredients, texture, packaging aesthetic, nutritional value, price, taste, colourings and other aspects. With the many aspects of pet food and diverse preferences of pet owners to meet, manufacturers are bound to offer options. Take colourings for instance. This aspect alone consists of 3 options: natural-coloured, artificially coloured and non-coloured. It eventually depends on the pet owners to decide what is best for their pets.


A Promise From Pet World Nutritions

Owner kissing the cat's head

As a pet-loving company, we provide uncompromisingly nutritious pet foods for the pet owners and pets to build more sweet memories together. We are a long-established pet food provider and are committed to bringing good quality time to you and your pets through good health. We take every aspect of pet food seriously, and this definitely includes food colourings. 


We use only FDA-approved colourings in our coloured kibbles. Every amount of food colourings used within the recommended dosage. They are strictly regulated and follow the safety guidelines provided by FDA and our nutritionists. Hence, our kibbles can achieve the desired appearance to the pleasure of our customers without compromising on the quality, taste and nutritional value served in every kibble. 

For pet parents that prefer an all-natural kibble that comes without a single drop of food colouring, we hear you! We also offer the non-coloured kibble to meet your needs. Our ProDiet Kitten Series, Adult Classic Tuna and Senior Series are all non-coloured kibbles. You may check out more information about these kibbles at our product page. We totally understand the word ‘artificial’ on the pet food label may raise doubt in your decision-making when you purchase the pet food. Hence, we are ready to deliver our all-natural range of kibbles to you, from ingredients to colourings – we go fully NATURAL. Moving forward, we at Pet World Nutritions will continue to increase our palatable range of pet offerings, so you can have more choices to find what is best for your pet.


Author ProDiet

More posts by ProDiet