Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.
You want what’s best for your dog as a dog owner and that involves feeding them with nutritious food that satisfies all of their demands.
Easy to say, right? But have you ever given the ingredients in your dog’s food any thought?
One ingredient that you may want to avoid is red dye which, unfortunately, does appear quite regularly in dog foods.
The problem is, red dye might be especially harmful to dogs with allergies or gastrointestinal issues, and the long effect is somewhat unpredictable.
With all that concern in the back of your head, maybe choosing a dog food without red dye should be the way to go for you.
In this post, our team has conducted in-depth research and put together a list of natural dog foods that has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in them (consider reading our buying guide in the section after that too).
All you need to do? Just pick the one you fancy.
Quick one: Here are our top 3 picks 👇🏼
- Best Dog Food Without Red Dyes
- Natural Dog Food Buying Guide
- In Conclusion: Best Dog Food Without Red Dye (Natural Dog Food)
Best Dog Food Without Red Dyes
- Best Overall Natural Dog Food: Ollie Fresh Dog Food
- Best Alternative: Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
- Best Natural Wet Dog Food Option: Castor and Pollux Organix Butcher and Bushel Natural Dog Food
- Best Natural Wet Dog Food Alternative: Purina Beyond Natural Dog Food
- Best Natural Dry Dog Food Option: Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
- Best Natural Dry Dog Food Alternative: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
- Most Affordable Natural Dog Food (Dry): Diamond Naturals Dog Food
(click on links to jump to individual sections)
Before you go on, know this: The term “natural dog food” is only loosely defined by the business. As a dog owner navigating this, it is better to consider natural foods as those that are prepared using ingredients that resemble what’s found in nature. Be aware that a wet or fresh recipe differs greatly from a factory-produced dry food pellet as they are produced in a way with less processing, use more water, cooked at lower temperatures. That translates to more “natural” dog food. Thus, the preference is in this order: Fresh – Wet – Dry. The following list falls into this criteria and does not use any artificial colors, flavoring, and preservatives.
1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food
Ollie is a brand of fresh dog food that is excellent in utilizing only the best, whole ingredients in all of its recipes.
Customers, including myself, adore the premium protein ingredients, which include a wide range of real meat as a protein source, as well as the presence of healthy fruits and vegetables.
The fact that a veterinary nutritionist developed each recipe gives an added layer of assurance and trust.
I love that Ollie offers customizable meal plans, which is another one of its advantages.
Customers have a wide range of protein sources to pick from, and it’s simple to change the portion size to suit their dog’s needs.
Once you get started, you will definitely appreciate how convenient it is to have freshly prepared meals delivered directly to your house.
What’s really important too is the fact that dogs love Ollie meals. My two girls certainly love them to bits and guess what, they have also shed less after starting this diet.
Of course, every dog is different and can have their own particular food preferences.
However, a lot of Ollie customers have stated that their dogs like the freshly prepared food and always eagerly anticipate mealtime.
Read our Ollie dog food review.
|Uses premium, whole ingredients
|Higher price point compared to other brands
|Formulated by a professional nutritionist
|Need to wait for thawing
|Customizable meal plans
|Convenient and fast home delivery
2. Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
Continuing with the choice of fresh dog food, we also want to give a shout-out to Nom Nom.
They were one of my final choices before I decided on Ollie, but the good news is that our team member is with them now!
So, Nom Nom is a fresh dog food company that takes pride in using human-grade ingredients and making meals in small quantities, thus ensuring consistency and quality.
Customers value the emphasis on using entire, high-quality ingredients as well as the fact that the food is prepared in a kitchen rather than a factory.
Each meal is made to order, pre-portioned, and delivered directly to your door on schedule.
It also features one of the broadest selections of recipes and has an excellent customer service team.
You can mix and match recipes in your deliveries and change the serving portions, but all of this does come with a price tag.
|Wide variety of meals cooked in small batches
|Customization can only be done through an agent, rather than online
|Free shipping to your doorstep
|Very good customer service
3. Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Butcher & Bushel Organic Carved Turkey Dinner in Gravy
Now we move on to the next best option which is wet dog food, and the one that takes our top spot is from Castor and Pollux.
They produce excellent organic wet dog food at a fair price through their Organix series.
In fact, this line is one of the most talked about in America as the company experiences huge growth over the last decade or so, turning into one of the top organic dog food companies in the country.
It is not surprising at all, because of the company’s commitment to using only USDA-certified organic ingredients and avoiding the use of any hazardous chemicals or additions.
Well, in this case, you can be assured that this product contains no contentious preservatives, flavors, or colors, nor any other unwanted substances.
It is almost like a gourmet meal for your dog thanks to its outstanding meat and fat quality and well-balanced proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
|Use of high-quality organic ingredients subjected to strict regulation
|Considered high-priced versus regular brands
|Great for all dogs including those with allergies or digestion issues
|Higher than average calories
|Chelated minerals used for optimum nutrition absorption
4. Purina Beyond Natural Dog Food (Wet)
Next on our list is from the dog food giant Purina.
Overall, Beyond Natural Dog Food is excellent.
It has more meat than the vast majority of store selections, and the variety of grains is much better than the corn and sorghum that make up most other brands.
Despite being a more recent line, it has quickly become well-known because of its excellent value.
It contains a number of high-quality components but is still considerably less expensive than most of its competitors.
You can also find lots of grain-free options, making them suitable for most dogs even those with allergies and food sensitivities.
This particular wet food focuses on using only natural ingredients and does not come with any fillers.
Interestingly, many dog owners including our team have reported that this option is great for picky eaters too.
No more fussing around!
|High-quality and simple ingredients
|Average in terms of the amount of protein
|No problem even with fussy eaters
5. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
Now, we move on to a couple of dry dog food options.
Kicking it off is this particular kibble from Hill’s Science Diet, one of the most highly recommended and popular brands of dog food in America and throughout the world.
Not only are they great with dogs, but pretty much all of the company’s recipes do not contain any artificial coloring, flavors, or preservatives at all!
Science Diet does not offer many product lines, in contrast to many other companies.
Instead, everything is grouped together under the label Science Diet, which serves as the formula line.
This eliminates the need to worry about selecting a formula from a list of names that frequently have no meaning, making the process more simpler and convenient for many dog owners.
These come in a variety of sizes and in three flavors: salmon, lamb, and chicken.
A few specific dietary options are also available, such as those for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs, weight control, oral care, good mobility, and ideal digestion.
So once more, Science Diet stands out by offering a wide range that caters to almost all dog parents.
|Plenty of choices available, even for special needs
|Recipes may contain peas that are not suitable for some dogs
|High-quality ingredients used
6. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
An excellent alternative to Diamond is the Pacific Stream dry dog food from Taste of the Wild.
Using real meat as its main protein source, the company has a strong focus on natural ingredients based on a dog’s natural diet.
Compared to other brands in the market, they offer unique and exotic meats such as bison, wild boar, and roasted duck too!
Customers also value Taste of the Wild’s use of a range of fruits and vegetables, which offer crucial nutrients and antioxidants.
Additionally, the company employs grains that are simpler for dogs to digest than other grains, like quinoa and brown rice.
|High in nutrients evidenced by dry matter score calculation using guaranteed analysis numbers
|Might contain plant protein, which can mean lower-quality ingredients
|Value for money
7. Diamond Naturals Dog Food
Rounding off our list is a recipe from Diamond Pet Food.
Its products are manufactured in America and what’s unique is that they incorporate superfoods and whole foods in its recipes to provide comprehensive nutrition sourced from organic, holistic sources.
While there are many dry dog food that uses fillers and coloring, Diamond Naturals is free from all that unnecessary stuff that your dog doesn’t need.
You can also expect that real meat is always used as the main ingredient, and further enhanced with the use of powerful ingredients such as salmon oil, chia seed, and flaxseed.
To top it off, all that goodness comes with a small price tag that makes it accessible for all dog owners.
|Inclusion of superfoods for an additional boost in nutrition
|Includes salt and other controversial ingredients such as meat meal
|Enhanced with prebiotic fibers for better digestion
|Value for money pricing
Natural Dog Food Buying Guide
Importance of choosing natural, healthy dog food
For a number of reasons, choosing natural, healthy dog food is crucial to your dog’s development.
The first and primary factor is a balanced diet.
Feeding dogs a diet deficient in critical nutrients can cause a number of health problems since dogs have certain nutritional needs that must be satisfied in order for them to thrive.
Choosing a natural dog food will help you avoid unnecessary additives and artificial ingredients in addition to ensuring that your dog is receiving all the nutrients they require.
Artificial preservatives, colorants, and other additives are frequently used in inexpensive, low-quality dog diets to increase shelf life and improve the food’s appearance.
These components may be unhealthy for your dog’s health and may be a factor in a number of health problems.
Things That You Should Look for on a Label
- Real ingredients: Choose a dog recipe that has actual, full protein as the first component, like chicken, beef, or fish. Foods that mention byproducts or unknown meat origins as the major ingredient should be avoided.
- Limited use of preservatives and colorants: Artificial preservatives and colors should be used in the smallest possible quantities in natural dog food. Instead, look for natural preservatives like vitamin E. Also, keep an eye out for mentions of Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Green 3. They are known to cause health problems with long term use.
- Use of fruits and vegetables: Your dog can benefit from the essential nutrients and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, hence you should seek out dog food recipes with a variety of these elements.
Why do manufacturers add artificial colors to dog food?
Artificial coloring does not have to be added to dog food.
It is a fact that a lot of professionals and experts think that artificial colors are unneeded and even dangerous for dogs.
However, some producers of dog food still add artificial colors to their products
One such reason is to make the meal more enticing.
The majority of people favor foods with bold, vivid colors, and this is also true with dog food.
Artificial colors can be used to enhance the visual appeal and make it more appetizing.
Another possible reason is to hide the usage of inferior ingredients.
They can be used to improve the appearance of poor-quality, unpleasant foods.
Finally, certain manufacturers may utilize synthetic colors to set their products apart from those of rivals.
Is red dye harmful to dogs?
Red dye, also known as Red 40, is a synthetic food coloring derived from petroleum that is commonly used in a wide variety of products, including dog food.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers Red 40 to be safe for human consumption, most experts believe that it may be harmful to dogs.
In many instances, red dyes have been known to cause issues such as inflammatory bowel diseases, allergies, hyperactivity, fur discoloration, and even cancer in severe cases.
There have been studies that show Red 40 to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens.
This applies to really almost all food dyes available in the market. The only acceptable ones are natural food dyes such as annatto, paprika, and beet juice.
In Conclusion: Best Dog Food Without Red Dye (Natural Dog Food)
Finding a dog food that satisfies all of your requirements might be challenging, but it’s important to make the extra effort to make sure that your dog is receiving the best nutrition available.
It took me a bit of trial and error to find the perfect food for my pupper, but now she’s happy and healthy and I feel good knowing that I’m feeding her the best I can.
Check out other articles about dog diet on our blog such as Zesty Paws Mobility Bites review, Taste of the Wild vs Purina Pro Plan, my dog is still hungry after eating raw food, Heritage ranch dog food review, and many more!
You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.