Since dogs and cats have no real interest in what color a food is, colors added to pet foods and treats are solely for the pet owner’s benefit. However, food dyes are heavily linked to serious disease. So why dye pet food?
Science has determined that cats have the ability to distinguish between blues and greens, but have limited ability to see shades of red. Dogs can distinguish blues and violets, and have difficulty distinguishing between reds, yellows, and greens. There is no scientific evidence to prove that dogs or cats prefer a food or treat of any particular color. We can only assume the dyes added to some pet foods and treats are to enhance the look of the food to the pet owner; perhaps making the food appear to be ‘meatier’ or ‘healthier’.
Science also tells us that food dyes are linked to serious disease. The Public Citizen Health Research Group has tried, unsuccessfully, to force the FDA to ban dyes linked to disease. They report that in 2005, over 6 ½ million pounds of Red #40, over 4 million pounds of Yellow #5, and over 600 thousand pounds of Blue #2 were used in pet foods and other products. Red #40 is linked to lymphomas, Yellow #5 is linked to allergies, thyroid tumors, and lymphocytic lymphomas, and Blue #2 is linked to brain tumors. http://www.feingold.org/Research/dyesinfood.html
Although there is no research to prove a pet prefers a food or treat with added dyes, it would be a safe guess that there is research that sales improve with added dyes. The meatier a treat or food appears, the more likely an unknowing pet owner is to purchase it. Add into this the fact that pet food regulations allow unqualified claims on a pet food label such as Premium or Choice, dyes and good marketing more than likely sell lots of pet foods and pet treats.
Don’t trust the pictures or marketing on the front of the label, look at the list of ingredients. It’s one more thing to look for, however adding dyes to your list of pet food ingredients to avoid is recommended.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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