4Health Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

4Health Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The 4Health Grain Free product line includes five dry dog foods. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the product’s web page, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • 4Health Grain Free Pork and Potato
  • 4Health Grain Free Duck and Potato
  • 4Health Grain Free Whitefish and Potato
  • 4Health Grain Free Beef and Potato (4 stars)
  • 4Health Grain Free Turkey and Potato (4 stars)

4Health Grain Free Whitefish and Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

4Health Grain Free Whitefish and Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 49%

Ingredients: Whitefish, fish meal, pea protein, dried peas, tapioca, whole potato, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried plain beet pulp, whole flaxseed, natural flavor, salt, potassium chloride, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, manganese proteinate, l-carnitine, copper proteinate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%16%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%33%43%

The first ingredient in this dog food is whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast. This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.1

Although it is a quality item, raw fish contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.2

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

The third ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The sixth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient includes sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

The eighth ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With three notable exceptions

First, fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

4Health Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, 4Health Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 49%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein, dried peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

4Health Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of various species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

08/22/2014 Last Update

  1. Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Jess

    We have been through two 30# bags of the 4 Health Turkey & Potato — 1st bag was great, our American Bulldog loved it, his skin cleared up, his poops were dark and firm so his anal gland issues cleared up, his coat was shiny. 2nd bag of the exact same food — he doesn’t seem to like it, his skin is bad again, his poops are soft and no longer dark and all anal gland issues have returned. What the heck? Have they changed the formula? Is the Turkey & Potato manufactured by different companies — is Turkey & Potato switching from Dads/Ainsworth to Diamond too? Either they changed the formula, or I bought a mislabeled bag. TSC just referred me to Dads/Ainsworth and so far no response from them. The first bag worked so well, I just don’t know how to make sure I get that same stuff the next time?

  • Diane B

    Thanks for the suggestion. The itching has not stopped and he’s been on 4Health Turkey and Potato now for a month. I’m finishing this bag and trying something else. I’m also considering Wellness Core from the Editor’s Choice options for October.

  • Caitlin Flesher

    Hi Diane, I know your post was from a while ago but if you haven’t found anything yet I have heard the Zignature dog food brands are wonderful for dogs with allergies.

  • 4FootedFoodie

    Hi Sean,

    The manufacturer wouldn’t affect the rating, but ingredients and the guaranteed analysis would.

  • Sean

    Just want to clarify… so the Beef & Potato + Turkey & Potato have a higher rating because it’s manufactured by Ainsworth and not Diamond?

  • Bobby dog

    Hi Linda:
    There’s a thread on the forum side that might be helpful. A poster made a list of low sodium and low fat dog food. I know you are not looking for low fat, but there might be some foods listed that you could research further. I would suggest if you find a food from the list that you still call to verify the sodium content; recipes can change without any warning to customers.

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/dry-dog-food-with-low-salt-and-low-fat/

  • Linda Leino-Mahac

    My vet suggested that I feed my little dog a dry food with lower salt. I
    thought that would be an easy task — only to find out salt is not
    listed on dog food labels. You have to call each company. In calling
    around, I found the 4Health that I was feeding (from TSC) was very high
    in salt. I settled on chicken and brown rice from Blue (also sold at
    TSC).

    I wish we could get companies to label their dog (and cat) food honestly in regard to ingredients, salt, sugar, etc.

  • Bobby dog

    The last info I had about 4Health kibbles are Diamond manufactures the GF Pork, Duck, Whitefish and all grain inclusive recipes. Ainsworth manufactures the GF Beef and Turkey recipes.

    Edit: You can also ask Diamond and Ainsworth what they manufacture.

  • Diane Scott Kunkle

    Unfortunately I asked and asked and JUST found out it went to Diamond. Had I know the difference I too would have made the change sooner. thanks so much, I appreciate your information :)

  • Diane Scott Kunkle

    Exactly what I have been trying to get as of late. Yesterday I purchased the big bag of Duck GF 4 Health. It was the small disk type kibble. I was advised the seal on the packaging is slightly different on the different manufactures of the food

  • Diane Scott Kunkle

    I will have to look better at the bags. I am not a fan of Diamond, due to the 2007 incident and so many pet deaths. But that is my personal thing. I never used to keep the bag after purchase but we do now. I will write TS again to see where all their foods are made and hope it matches what I am waiting for from the FDA. I really like TS, and hope they don’t let me down

  • Bobby dog

    Hi Diane:
    I used to feed the GF 4Health kibble and when I found out the fish recipe went to Diamond I stopped. I wasn’t sure if the remaining GF recipes were going to Diamond and just don’t want the hassle of keeping up with who manufactures this food.

    FWIW, a while ago an employee of TSC wrote you can tell the difference between the Diamond and Ainsworth manufactured 4Health kibbles by looking at the bag design. Diamond makes the grain inclusive and several of the GF’s, their bag design has a seam going down the middle on the back of the bag and the nutrient analysis is printed differently than the info on the Ainsworth bags. I have noticed the differences when I checked out the bags at my TSC, but you never know if this will always be the case since package designs can change.

  • Diane Scott Kunkle

    Finally, after making a complaint to the FDA I got the answer about Tractor Supply’s White Fish and potatoes grain free. IT is NOW made by Diamond foods (form your own opinion). They “say” the recipe has not changed but as I advised Diamond it does NOT take a scientist to see that it has in fact changed. My dogs were happy healthy and shiny coats eager to eat. Not after the change that took place I found out, in April 2014. We needed food and bought Blue from TS but I should not have to pay $60 for #28 pounds, when we were happy with the 4health GF. Yesterday, I went to TS needing food and felt the bags to see if they were the saucer type disks or the chunks. I bought the duck Gf version. I bet I looked like a nut feeling the bags. But the disks have never been a problem and the extruded chunks have been. Not feeding them something that makes them vomit, and not like. I still have to find out if ALL the flavors are going to change. in the meantime we are happily feeding Duck. BTW I feel stupid that I did not know the FDA was the “dog food police”. I am hoping they can shed light on who is making what. As if we don’t have enough stress over are we feeding healthy, now we have to know who’s cooking it.

  • Katrina Fletcher

    Just wondering if you have had any reply. I am considering switching to this and now based on the reviews am afraid I am making a mistake.

  • Diane B

    Our vet just recommended 4Health Turkey and Potato because our old (14.5 yr.) 55 lb. mixed breed shelter dog has a real itching problem and a ‘hot spot’ that we’ve tried everything marketed, I think, to get it healed. We have been successful by putting a Comfy Cone or a Pro Collar on him, but then when we try to let him be without the cone/collar…he goes right back to the same spot on his hip and opens it up again. Since his last grooming he’s been bothered by excessive itching again. We’ve been feeding him grain-free kibble plus some meat (cooked) + juices mixed with water for the last 4 years – changed from cheap kibble to Innova, then to Taste of the Wild 5* Sierra Mt. formula because of review found here. Now, I’m in the process of changing slowly over to this 4Health variety. What are your thoughts on this for an itching cure?

  • Carol Martin

    I feed my dog 4health lamb and rice. Does anyone know if this has changed? He has not been eating as well and as been shedding a lot more than usual. I thought was just the hot summer but after reading this, I’m not so sure.

  • Sherry Noss

    I feed the 4Health Beef and Potato GF to one of my dogs that is allergic to chicken and poultry and grains … I wish I could find another food to rotate that is in the price range or cheaper that doesn’t contain poultry….. it is hard as most do in one form or another….

  • Emma

    Just bought a fresh bag of lamb and rice for my boxer. He has had 3 servings and puked after each meal. We noticed the color and shape of the pieces has changed. Will be calling TSC and the vet in the morning.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Have you calculated the price difference on a price/feeding basis? If you’re feeding less, the bag will last longer, so you’ll be buying fewer of the more expensive bags over the long term. For example, if one bag of food costs $50 and you’re told to feed 2 cups per day, and another costs $100 and you’re told to feed 1 cup per day… it’s costing you exactly the same to feed your dog! (because you’ll go through that $50 bag of food twice as fast, which means you’re buying two $50 bags of food for every one $100 bag of food)

  • LadyCubsFan

    Since the change in the 4Health Grain Free White Fish we switched to Earthborn Holistic Grain Free the fish kind, stools look good, dogs are eating it up, recommended amount less than 4Health but the cost is a bit crazy. Wish I could find something else Grain Free, no chicken with the price tag of 4Health.