4Health Dog Food Review (Dry): Evidence-based Analysis

4Health Dog Food Review

4Health Dog Food Reviews4Health dog food review has given this brand a B rating. It scored 80/100 points on our scale.

Recommended brand.

The below NextGen Dog’s 4Health dog food review analyzes product’s ingredients and nutrition, sourcing and manufacturing, any certifications and marketing claims used.

This dog food review was hand-written by a certified veterinarian and used an evidence-based evaluation approach for accuracy.

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Most 4Health dry dog foods are produced by Diamond Pet Foods manufacturer. It is unclear whether or not all ingredients are sourced in the USA (update pending).

The brand offers the following other dry dog food recipes:

  • 4Health Puppy Formula
  • 4Health Small Bites Adult
  • 4Health Large Breed Adult
  • 4Health Mature Adult
  • 4Health Chicken and Rice Adult
  • 4Health Salmon and Potato Adult
  • 4Health Lamb and Rice Adult
  • 4Health Healthy Weight Adult
  • 4Health Performance Formula Adult

For this NGD 4Health dog food review, their 4Health Chicken and Rice Adult Dog Formula has been chosen to represent company’s line of dry dog foods.

Ingredients

4Health dog food has met AAFCO nutrient profile requirements, ensuring adequate nutritional value.

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, millet, brewers rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, fish meal, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, Yucca schidigera extract, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Let’s take a closer look at the most important ingredients and sources of nutrition that may have the biggest impact on dog’s health.

Most important ingredients

Chicken: Chicken is defined by the AAFCO as the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, exclusive of feathers.

Chicken is an excellent source of protein for dogs.

Since ingredients are listed by weight and raw chicken contains up to 80% water, this ingredient contributes much less to overall nutrition when cooked.

Chicken meal: Chicken meal is defined as having been ground or reduced in particle size.

Meat meal is a dried product made through rendering. It can be a highly nutritious and concentrated source of protein that improves the amino acid profile of dog food [1, 2, 3, 4].

Rendering is the process of separating the components that make up chicken, allowing the protein portion to be more concentrated. It’s considered a good source of protein [5].

Cracked pearled barley: Barley by the AAFCO definition consists of 8% sound barley and must not contain more than 3% heat damaged kernels, 6% foreign material, 20% other grains and 10% wild oats.

Barley is a nutritious source of carbohydrates for energy and fiber, which has many known health benefits [6, 7, 8].

Millet: Millet is a small seed grass grain considered a gluten-free cereal.

This is a commonly used ecological food security crop that is safe for dogs [9].

Millet is rich in fiber and B vitamins.

Brewer’s rice: The AACFO defines brewer’s rice as small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels.

It is nutritionally similar to white rice and can be considered a “by-product” of whole kernel rice.

Brewer’s rice is mostly starch and carbohydrates, and doesn’t contain the nutrients and fiber seen in the bran portion of the rice contained in brown rice, for example.

This ingredient is a highly digestible source of energy for dogs, more so than whole kernel, or brown rice is.

It is commonly used in pet foods and is safe for dogs, but the science on its health benefits is still inconclusive [10, 11].

Chicken fat preserved with mixed Tocopherols: Poultry fat has been defined as fat obtained from poultry tissue during rendering.

It contains only the fatty matter natural to the product and should not contain added free fatty acids or other materials obtained from fat.

Fat is an essential part of a balanced diet and is important to the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Chicken fat in particular is a healthy source of fat and a quality ingredient.

AAFCO requires that if an antioxidant is used for fat preservation, as it is in this case with mixed tocopherols, the common name must be listed along with the term “preservative.”

Mixed tocopherols are a Vitamin E compound derived from sources like vegetable oils, fish and nuts and used for preserving foods. They are safe to use [12, 13].

Studies have repeatedly shown the benefits of a diet rich in daily Vitamin E [14, 15, 16, 17].

Plain dried beet pulp: Beet pulp is the dried residue from sugar beets.

It is a common ingredient in many pet foods and is used as a good source of insoluble fiber [18, 19, 20]

Plain dried beet pulp is also moderately fermentable and thus benefits intestinal transit time and can improve stool quality in dogs.

Studies suggest that including beet pulp as an alternative fiber source is promising as there’s a growing body of evidence to its health benefits for pets [21, 22, 23].

Natural chicken flavor: The FDA defines natural flavor as a substance obtained from a plant or animal source.

Natural flavors can also be derived for chemicals “naturally” in a laboratory setting. The term is very vague and sources of the flavoring can be varied.

In general, natural flavors are meant to enhance taste and palatability of dog food, but don’t typically contribute to nutrition [24].

Since the source is unspecified in this case, it is very difficult to comment on the quality of this ingredient.

Flaxseed: Flaxseed contains omega 3 fatty acids, lignans and both soluble and insoluble fiber.

This is a healthy source of essential fatty acids for dogs that can improve dog’s coat, hair and skin [25, 26, 27].

However, most veterinary nutritionists agree that Fish Oil is a better source of Omega Fatty Acid than Flaxseed is.

Fish meal: Fish meal is defined as the clean, dried, ground tissue of un-decomposed whole fish or fish cuttings with or without the oil portion extracted.

Fish meal is a popular choice of a highly digestible protein containing significant amino acids, vitamins and minerals [428, 29].

The health benefits of supplementing dog diets with fatty acids is well documented and can help boost an immune system [30].

Knowing sources of fish used in fish meal is important, however [31]. It is unclear what type of fish is the source for fish meal in this case.

Other additives

4Health dog food has added omega fatty acid blend, but doesn’t specify the source.

Research has shown benefits of omega fatty acids in a healthy diet [3233, 34, 35].

This food also has added glucosamine and chondroitin.

Studies show glucosamine may help improve joint health but evidence is inconclusive [36, 37, 38].

However, the amounts of additives in this diet are unlikely to have much benefit.

A supplement separate from dog food diet is generally necessary to see appreciable results.

Problematic ingredients

4Health has no ingredients added that could be harmful or unhealthy to dogs.

The bottom line on ingredients

Overall, the ingredients in 4Health dog food are average.

4Health dog food contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

The ingredient list is ordered by weight.

Chicken is first on the ingredient list since meat contains significant water, thus making it heaviest. This doesn’t indicate that it is the biggest contributor to overall nutrition.

I would like for more nutritious brown rice to be in the place of brewer’s rice. It would be ideal to know what “natural chicken flavor” is made of.

One important limitation of dog food labels is its inability to provide information on the quality of ingredients.

While the quality of 4Health dog food’s ingredients cannot be inferred, the ingredients themselves are an appropriate part of a balanced diet for dogs.

Nutrient Analysis

Below is a guaranteed nutrient analysis of 4Health Chicken and Rice Adult Dry Dog Food Formula.

  • Protein: 26% minimum
  • Fat: 15% minimum
  • Carbohydrates: undetermined
  • Fiber: 4.0%

Calories: 3,755 kcal/kg (351 kcal/cup) calculated metabolizable energy.

Recommended adult dog food protein content is typically in the range of 20-35% for healthy dogs [39].

Fiber is beneficial to dogs in many ways but further research is required on several health benefit claims [40, 41, 42, 43].

However, crude fiber listed on the label is not a particularly accurate measure of actual total dietary fiber content [44].

Certifications and Claims

Dog food manufacturers can have their foods tested and certified to meet specific regulations.

Some companies often use obscure or undefined statements. Below, we analyze all certifications and claims made by the company for accuracy and definitions.

Certifications

4Health dog food has no specific certifications to evaluate.

Nutrition claims

On their website, the company claims their dry dog foods to be of “optimal nutrition for optimal health.”

Terms “optimal nutrition” or “optimal health” have no actual definition under AAFCO or FDA. They are used solely for marketing purposes.

AAFCO requirements

The nutrition standards set by the AAFCO are voluntary.

The presence of a statement by the AAFCO on the dog food’s label is the most important indicator of dog food’s nutritional adequacy.

Ingredient requirements: 4Health dog food line meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for maintenance.

All of 4Health dry dog foods have an AAFCO statement on the bag.

Using food composition tables of the ingredients, 4Health dog food has been able to show it complies with a set of AAFCO guidelines.

Feeding trials: 4Health dog food has not undergone any food trials with dogs.

Diet trials are the most stringent and costly AAFCO standard, and the highest AAFCO standard that can be met.

The lack of a diet trial does not necessarily indicate that this dog food isn’t high quality.

Other Evaluations

There are a few other factors that are useful to take into consideration for the final assessment of this dog food brand.

“Best by” date on the label

When considering dog food’s quality control, it is important to have a “Best by” date present on the label to ensure proper shelf life.

4Health dog food includes a “Use By” label on their packaging.

While seemingly inconsequential, the presence of this date is an important indicator of a dog food’s quality and the company’s commitment to safety.

Brand and manufacturer

4Health is a trade name owned by the Tractor Supply company. 4Health dog food is sold exclusively through their stores or online.

All 4Health dry dog foods are manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods manufacturers (owned by Schell and Kampeter, Inc) with the exception of their Grain Free Formula which is manufactured elsewhere.

Diamond Pet Foods manufacturer also produces a variety of other dog food brands. Those include:

  • Diamond
  • NutraGold
  • NutraNuggets
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Premium Edge

Diamond Pet Foods is one of the largest dog food manufacturers in the United States. This company has four different facilities across the nation and produces private label dog foods.

As a dog food manufacturing company, they have a comprehensive safety and quality testing program in place.

Testing, safety and quality control

Diamond Pet Foods manufacturer has many testing parameters in place in order to ensure pet food safety.

They do on site mycotoxin and microbiological product testing weekly.

The company also tests for oxidative stability of fats and oils to ensure these ingredients don’t go rancid.

Diamond Pet Foods website claims the company does a test and hold, meaning samples are collected from products before going to distribution and are tested by an independent laboratory. Each sample is kept for the time equal to the shelf life of the product.

Recalls

Diamond dog food has had several diet recalls over the years with their other brands.

4Health dry dog food formulas specifically did not have any recalls.

4Health cat food formula did have a voluntary recall in 2013.

Summary of 4Health Dog Food Review

This brand has scored 80 points out of a possible 100 points for a good B rating, according to our Dog Food Rating System.

4Health Chicken and Rice Adult Dog Food Formula shares many of the characteristics of a decent quality dog food.

This brand does not claim any certifications, but it meets AAFCO nutrition adequacy requirements and includes a “Best By” date.

While ingredients listed are limited in giving insight to their overall quality, they are appropriate for dogs. There are no added artificial flavors or colors.

The manufacturer is located in the USA and undergoes standard safety testing to assure quality. However, the source of the ingredients could not be determined.

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