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6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review

dye free dog food

Dyes, or artificial colors, are common in lower quality brands of dog food. There are several risks and concerns with dyes that you should be aware of. Most dyes and artificial colors are being used less and less frequently, especially the higher up the quality list you go.

However, there are many budget-friendly and well-known brands that still use dyes in their formulas.

Why does this matter? Will dyes hurt your dog? In this article, we will examine the effects dyes and artificial colors can have on dogs and how to avoid foods that contain them. We will then give you the best dye free dog foods for all life stages.

Most Affordable
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 1
American Journey LID Lamb and Sweet Potato Recipe6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 2
  • Delivers high-quality animal proteins
  • Complete and balanced nutrition
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Best Overall
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 3
Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 4
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Crafted by a Vet Nutritionist
  • 50% off First Order
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Most Popular
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 5
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 2
  • Powerful antioxidants from fruits and vegetables
  • Features novel proteins including real smoked salmon
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Best Dye Free Dog Food

Here is the list of the most notable dye free dog foods on the market today, for all life stages. It should be noted that most of the brands on this list don’t ever use artificial colors or dyes in any of their formulas. However, if you select a different recipe you should always check the ingredient list prior to purchase, just to be on the safe side.

IMAGE PRODUCT  
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 7
Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Crafted by a Vet Nutritionist
  • 50% off First Order
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 8
American Journey Limited Ingredient Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Real, deboned lamb as the first ingredient
  • Delivers high-quality animal proteins
  • Complete and balanced nutrition
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6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 9
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Made in the USA
  • Features novel proteins including real smoked salmon
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6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 10
True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe
  • USA-raised chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Crafted with farm-grown fruits and veggies
  • Complete and balanced grain-free dog food
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6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 11
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Grill Puppy Formula
  • Formulated with DHA
  • Starts with real turkey and chicken
  • Zero grain, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
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6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 12
Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken, Turkey & Duck Recipe
  • Mature diet with real chicken and turkey as top ingredients
  • Blended with turkey, duck and salmon
  • Made in the USA
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Our Dye Free Dog Food Picks

  1. Nom Nom Heartland Beef Mash
  2. American Journey Limited Ingredient Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
  3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  4. True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free
  5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Puppy Canned Formula
  6. Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken, Turkey & Duck Recipe
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 13  

1. Nom Nom Heartland Beef Mash

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 14
Nom Nom is a premium dog food company making human-grade dog food when you order it.

Nom Nom is a premium dog food company making human-grade dog food when you order it. They have a variety of recipes to choose from that are suitable for all breeds and life stages. You won’t find many ingredients at all, and never colors or dyes. Every recipe is hand made from the highest quality ingredients, used in part and in whole.

One of the most popular recipes, Heartland Beef Mash, first five ingredients are: Ground beef, potatoes, carrots, peas and egg.

What Customers Like

  • The ingredients are the highest quality and taste amazing.
  • Little waste as most dogs cannot wait to eat.
  • Easily digested for proper nutrition absorption and energy.

Common Complaints

  • Can easily be overeaten, careful portioning must be administered.
  • Storage for freshness is difficult.

2. American Journey L.I.D. Lamb and Sweet Potato

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 15
American Journey is quickly making a name for itself with high quality ingredients and a minimal ingredient list. The Lamb and Sweet Potato recipe is not only dye and color free it is also chemical and potato free.

American Journey is quickly making a name for itself with high quality ingredients and a minimal ingredient list. The Lamb and Sweet Potato recipe is not only dye and color free it is also chemical and potato free. Even picky eaters tend to gravitate towards the bowl when it’s filled with any flavor from American Journey.

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The first five ingredients are: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Pea Starch.

What Customers Like

  • Easily mixed with wet food toppers for added nutrition.
  • Smaller kibble for most breed sizes.
  • Added vitamins and minerals promote healthy growth.

Common Complaints

  • Without much starch, mixing with water can break down the kibble quickly.
  • Some food may be left over during meal time as it can fill bellies fast.

3. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Formula

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 16
Taste of the Wild offers a wide range of flavors and recipes with their proteins being source form the local regions on the name. Wild Pacific Stream uses salmon, ocean fish and salmon meal as well as fruits and vegetables from the Pacific regions of the United States.

Taste of the Wild offers a wide range of flavors and recipes with their proteins being source form the local regions on the name. Wild Pacific Stream uses salmon, ocean fish and salmon meal as well as fruits and vegetables from the Pacific regions of the United States. The never use dyes or coloring in any of their recipes, much like most others on this list.

The first five ingredients are: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas

What Customers Like

  • Great flavors with no artificial additives, colors or dyes.
  • Easily digested, promoting nutrient absorption and growth.
  • Mixes well with water or wet food for topping.

Common Complaints

  • Kibble can be too large for smaller breeds.
  • More picky eaters may not like all the flavors.

4. True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 17
True Acre Foods have created a reasonable dog food formula that gives quite a lot of value for money. All of True Acre's dog foods are made with ingredients sourced from trusted farms, and without grains, wheat, corn or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Using chicken as its main protein source, True Acre Foods have created a reasonable dog food formula that gives quite a lot of value for money. Whilst it only contains an average amount of protein and fat at 24% and 13% respectively, this is all from animal protein sources.

All of True Acre's dog foods are made with ingredients sourced from trusted farms, and without grains, wheat, corn or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Whilst peas are listed as one of the ingredients, it will be difficult to escape this ingredient within this price bracket.

The first five ingredients are: Chicken, Peas, Pea Starch, Canola Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal

What Customers Like

  • Affordable
  • Made from USA-raised chicken
  • Crafted with farm-grown fruits and veggies
  • Free of any grains, wheat, corn or artificial colors or flavors
  • Contains natural fibers

Common Complaints

  • Has Peas (may trigger sensitive dogs)

5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Puppy Canned Formula

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 18
Blue Buffalo comes in again on the list as a great option for puppies that need a wet food in their diet. Not only is it dye free and color free, it is also packed with protein rich meats, vegetables and vitamins and minerals to help your puppy grow strong, healthy and properly.

Blue Buffalo comes in again on the list as a great option for puppies that need a wet food in their diet. Not only is it dye free and color free, it is also packed with protein rich meats, vegetables and vitamins and minerals to help your puppy grow strong, healthy and properly.

The first five ingredients are: Turkey, chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, and potatoes.

6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 19 What Customers Like

  • Easily portioned, stored and served.
  • Can mix with dry foods as a topper.
  • Flavors are rich and all breeds seem to love them all.

Common Complaints

  • Some of the ingredients are larger and are often eaten around, leaving waste.
  • Can lead to obesity with high crude fat if not portioned.

6. Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Canned Dog Food

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 20
Chicken Soup Mature wet is also perfect for a dye free food aimed towards senior dogs. Their formulas only use the best ingredients, sourced naturally and include not only proteins and grains, buy vegetables, fruits and berries as well.

Chicken Soup Mature wet is also perfect for a dye free food aimed towards senior dogs. Their formulas only use the best ingredients, sourced naturally and include not only proteins and grains, buy vegetables, fruits and berries as well.

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The first five ingredients are: Chicken, chicken broth, turkey, salmon, and chicken liver.

What Customers Like

  • Easily mixed with dry food for better consistency in older mouths.
  • Digests quickly for better vitamin absorption.
  • Helps promote activity and health in the later years.

Common Complaints

  • Does contain milk, which should be watched or vet approved.
  • Not all flavors are liked by all dogs.

Are Dyes in Dog Food Bad?

In almost all instances the answer to the question “are dyes bad for my dog?” will be yes. In this case, it is always better to err on the side of caution. While not every breed, nor indeed every dog within a breed, will have adverse effects from dyes, it is highly possible.

6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 21

While we won’t sit here and tell you that a bowl (or even a 25-pound bag) of food that uses dyes will harm your dog, over time, it can. There are other effects of dyes that can affect dogs without being medically relevant, too. Let’s look at what food dyes do.

Allergies

By and far, the most common side effect attributed to food dye is allergies. A lot of dogs are allergic to the compounds used to create the food coloring and as a result, will have allergic reactions. As you can imagine, this is a very dangerous side effect.

To compound the problem, some breeds (and again, individual dogs within a breed) can develop this allergy over time. So while you don’t see any effects after the first few bags of dog food, you could well get a reaction with the next one. Let’s just hope you are home if this happens.

Hyperactivity

Just like the case with children, dogs too can become hyperactive after consuming food dyes and artificial colors. The main problem here is that some dogs are naturally hyperactive and have a higher heart rate and metabolism.

When this condition presents, the dog will be more active, energetic and burn through calories. Not to mention the increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Because the metabolism is also kicked into a higher gear, the food won’t last as long in the system, making the dog hungry, eating more and repeating the cycle.

In extreme and severe cases, the hyperactivity can cause heart complications as well, especially in smaller breeds that have a faster heart rate naturally.

6 Best (Healthiest) Dye Free Dog Foods: Our 2020 Review 22

Fur Discoloration

One of the non-medical conditions that often occurs is the discoloration of the dogs’ fur. While the dyes will rub off on almost every dog, light-colored fur is the most susceptible. This is especially true around the muzzle, face and front paws of the dog which gets the dye while eating.

In some cases, depending on the breed, the fur color and the amount ingested, discoloration can become noticeable in the body and legs as well.

Tumors

While it hasn’t been scientifically established in canines, the threat of tumor growth from dyes is known in humans. It only makes sense that the threat is real for our furry friends as well. Even if it isn’t proven, yet, why take the risk?

Tumors in dogs are more difficult to diagnose before they become a problem (mainly because they can’t tell if something hurts or is wrong, like a child or adult can). However, if the risk is there, it should be avoided if possible.

What to Look for on the Label

When you examine the ingredient list, all dyes and artificial coloring must be listed. This makes it easier to identify if you know what to look for. This list of natural and artificial dyes and colorings is far too broad in size and scope for an article of this nature. Instead, we will focus on the most harmful and notable ones to look out for:

  • Blue 2
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6

If you see any of these on the list, you will know that the food has dyes included. If there is a natural dye, such as caramel, or annatto, it will also be listed. In these cases, the term “natural” dye will also be presented, usually in parenthesis.

Is food dye toxic to dogs?

If FDA-approved colors are used according to direction, they should be safe in both human and pet foods. It's relatively rare for people to have allergies to food colorings. The same goes for cats and dogs, who tend to have allergic reactions to proteins in their foods.

What color should dog food be?

The best dog food will usually be a natural brown or gray color, without anything added to appeal to the human eye. The focus instead is on nutrition. Many of these dog foods contain real meat and no byproducts or fillers.

What color dog food is bad for dogs?

Your dog does not care what color their dog food is. First and foremost, they can't see colors as humans do, and natural, non-colored dog food will be brown colored after cooking. Any other color can be attributed to the artificial dyes of Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6 and Blue 2.

Why do dog food manufacturers put artificial food colors in dog food?

Coloring agents are often added to pet foods to modify the appearance of highly processed foods, providing an artificial rich and meaty look in an attempt to make the food appear more appealing to pet owners. Many of the artificial coloring agents used in dog foods have been associated with potential problems.

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