Can Dogs Eat Food Coloring? (Yes, for the most part)

Whether you want to decorate a dog treat for your pet’s birthday, have seen food coloring listed as an ingredient in dog food, or want to make a print of your pet’s paw. You may be wondering whether or not food coloring is safe for dogs. Can dogs eat food coloring? Or is it best to completely avoid food coloring when it comes to your dog’s diet?

To answer the question, ‘can dogs eat food coloring?’ we’ll need to take several things into account. Read on to find out more about how you can safely give your dog food coloring.


Can my dog have food that contains food coloring?

Foods that are made for humans are likely to contain ingredients that aren’t suitable for dogs. While dogs can eat some types of food colorings, processed foods made for humans are likely to include other ingredients such as emulsifiers and flavorings that aren’t suitable for dogs. They may also contain salt and other seasonings that are toxic to dogs. It’s, therefore, best to completely avoid processed foods meant for humans. Your dog should only have food that contains natural coloring.

You may have noticed that dog food contains food coloring. Many commercial dog food producers add color to their foods to make them seem more appealing. This is because the ingredients lose their original coloring when processed, and color is added to make the food look nicer. Yellow is added to chicken, red to imitate rare beef, and green for fresh vegetables.

These colors are added to please the owner, as dogs cannot visualize the same colors as we are. Many pet owners are worried that food coloring does more harm than good as they have no nutritional value.

can i give my dog food coloring


The problem with food coloring

In the past, a worrying amount of food coloring was used in dog foods, and some even contained toxins that slowly poisoned the dogs, including mercury, arsenic, and lead. You’ll be pleased to know that the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 banned toxic food colors from pet foods.

In 1960 a Color Additives Amendments was created after by-products of coal processing were used to make food coloring. Coal-tar dyes were added to a variety of foods, including candy and pet foods. These started to make people sick, and the government created stricter rules.

Nowadays, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all food colorings that are added to pet foods. Only certified food coloring can be added to foods, and there are also rules about the amount of coloring allowed.

As long as the FDA has approved food coloring, it should be safe for dogs. It’s rare for dogs to have allergies to food colorings, but it does happen. Many dog food companies are starting to add natural alternatives to create the desired colors in their pet foods.


Can I add food coloring to a dog treat?

If you’re attempting to make a doggy treat for your pets’ birthday, you may want to make an icing that’s colored with food coloring. When making homemade treats such as cookies or cakes for your dog, ensure that all the ingredients you use are natural. Never give a dog any foods that are meant for humans.

When it comes to adding food coloring, look for one that’s natural as these are safe for dogs and won’t harm your pet. These can be found at most major health food stores.


Can I make a paw print using food coloring?

If you own a puppy that’s very small and cute, you may like to make a piece of paw print art. Pawprints make great art and can act as a memory of how little your dog’s feet were when he’s fully grown. While pressing your puppy’s paw into the paint to create a print may seem like a good idea, many pet owners are worried about what effect the paint will have on their dog.

Rather than pressing your dogs’ paw into paint, which may be toxic and could be dangerous if accidentally digested, you can use food coloring. Ensure that the food coloring you use is a natural one, then put a little in a dish and put your puppies’ paw in it. Carefully press his foot on a piece of paper. You may need to try a few times to get the perfect paw print.



As you can see, there are situations where it’s ok for dogs to eat food coloring as long as it’s the natural variety. Food colorings approved by the FDA are also safe for your pet. More and more dog owners have started to look for products that don’t include the word “artificial” on their ingredients list.