4Health Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The 4Health Grain Free product line includes three dry dog foods.
Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product website. So, it’s impossible for us to report life stage targets for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- 4Health Grain Free Beef and Potato Adult
- 4Health Grain Free Turkey and Potato Adult
- 4Health Grain Free Whitefish and Potato Adult
4Health Grain Free Beef and Potato Adult formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
4Health Grain Free Beef and Potato Adult Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef meal, pea protein, whole potato, dried peas, tapioca, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried plain beet pulp, whole flaxseed, natural flavor, salt, potassium chloride, beef tallow (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|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||17%||44%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||35%||38%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef 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 includes beef meal. Beef meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh beef.
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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth 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 fifth 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The seventh item is 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, we find beef tallow, a fatty by-product of beef rendering. Tallow is high in saturated fats.
Historically, tallow was used to make soap and candles. But today, due to its low cost, this fat is typically associated with lower quality pet foods.
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 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 Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, 4Health Grain Free dry 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 46% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the pea protein, dried peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
4Health Grain Free dry dog food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
02/09/2013 Original review
02/09/2013 Last Update