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4Health is a private brand by Tractor Supply Company, who launched the pet food line in 2010 to provide consumers with premium-quality pet food without the premium price tag.
According to the company, real meat is "always the first ingredient."
But is 4Health’s Original brand's promise of “optimal nutrition for optimal health” all that it claims to be? Let’s find out!
4Health Salmon & Potato Formula Review
Every 4Health Original Formula has fresh meat as its first ingredient, followed by wholesome vegetables and a rich balance of vitamins and minerals.
They also never include any corn, soy, or wheat in their formulas.
With near-average protein, fat, and carbohydrate contents as well as moderate amounts of named meats, there is very little to dislike about 4Health Original Formulas.
Overall, 4Health Salmon & Potato Formula is an above-average dry dog food, earning 4 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list.
Read on for an in-depth look at the ingredients, nutritional analysis, and customer sentiment.
Quick Peek of What's Inside
In the United States, the guidelines for pet food ingredient labels are established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and individual state regulations.
The AAFCO requires that ingredients must be listed in descending order of weight (including water weight). This means that ingredients that appear at the top of the ingredient list — typically the main proteins, carbs, and fat sources — are present in higher amounts by weight in the food than items at the bottom.(1)
Although it is difficult to determine how much of an ingredient is actually in the food (due to high water content in meats and vegetables), you can assume that the first few ingredients are in the highest amounts. Therefore, the first few ingredients of a dog food can tell you a lot about the quality of the product.
The first ingredient in this formula is salmon, an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Many dogs love the taste of salmon. However, raw salmon contains about 80% water. After cooking and processing, most of the moisture is lost.
This means that salmon likely accounts for a smaller percentage of the total content of the final product
Ocean Fish Meal
The second ingredient is ocean fish meal, a fish-protein concentrate that contains 300% more protein than fresh fish. It is also an additional source of fish oil, which benefits dogs’ skin and coat health.
According to the AAFCO, fish meal is defined as “the clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil.” (2)
Although neither Tractor Supply Co. nor Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. specifies the source species for this ingredient, dog owners may be pleased to know that Diamond only uses fish meals free of ethoxyquin, a controversial fat preservative.
The next three ingredients are potatoes, peas, and cracked pearled barley. These three ingredients are sources of carbs, fiber, and additional protein.
Potatoes are a source of gluten-free carbohydrates. They also provide fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese. However, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value for dogs.
The fourth ingredient is chicken liver. This organ meat contains up to 100 times the nutrients of muscle meat, including vitamin A, several B vitamins, and CoQ10. It is also a rich source of protein.
Cracked Pearled Barley
Cracked pearled barley is a cereal grain that supplies healthy nutrients like additional protein, complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested, vitamins, minerals, and fiber beta-glucan. Despite this, cracked pearled barley is still of only modest nutritional value for dogs.
The sixth ingredient in this formula is egg product. We do not know if this form is wet or dry, and quality can vary significantly. However, eggs are often referred to as nature’s most perfect protein source and is also a great source of fat and vitamin E for dogs.
The next ingredient is millet, a small-seeded grass grain and a healthy source of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Millets are much more easily digested than wheat, and is also hypoallergenic and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Dogs with thyroid issues should avoid food with millet due to its ability to suppress thyroid activity.
Next, we come upon the first two questionable ingredients in this formula, canola oil and tomato pomace.
Canola oil is derived from rapeseed, and has been marketed as the “heart healthy” because it is low in saturated fats, high in unsaturated fats, and has the optimal 2:1 ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids.(3)
However, 90% of the world’s canola crop has been shown to be genetically modified. Also, the processing method for canola oil is highly unnatural(4) and results in harmful trans fats, which cause diseases like fibrotic lesions of the heart.(5)
Tomato pomace is an inexpensive by-product of tomato manufacturing, consisting of the pulp, skin, and seeds. It is a great source of soluble fiber, maintains a healthy digestive tract, contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, and slows digestion, thereby increasing mineral absorption.
However, some people scorn tomato pomace as a low-quality filler that has no nutritional value for dogs.
Next is natural flavor, which is a natural flavoring additive. It can come from various plant or animal sources but does not contribute to nutrition.
The 11th ingredient on this list is flaxseed. It is one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. Flaxseed is a popular dog food ingredient because its nutrient-rich profile can benefit dogs’ skin and coat.
There is some concern that flaxseed is not good for reproduction, but no dog-specific studies have been done.
Salt is a common additive in dog food as it is a necessary mineral for all animals.
Next, we have choline chloride, a source of the essential B vitamin choline. It is essential for liver function, proper brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, and other processes in your dog’s body.(6)
Choline chloride is often added to dry dog food because potatoes and grains have low levels of choline. However, some people have expressed concern that choline chloride is unstable and can react with other supplements.(6)
This formula uses a lot of pre- and probiotics, such as:
- dried chicory root
- dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus fermentation product
- dried Bifidobacterium Animalis fermentation product
- and dried Lactobacillus Reuteri fermentation product.
Pre- and probiotics can help your dog’s digestion and modulate the immune system.
Glucosamine hydrochloride and Chondroitin sulfate are also added to this food to aid in joint health. The sources of these ingredients are unknown, and benefits are also inconclusive.
But to be realistic, these ingredients are so far down the list that they are unlikely to have much benefit.
Dried kelp is often added for its trace minerals like iodine, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Then we have carrots, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, spinach, and cranberries, all of which are nutrient-rich and high in fiber.
After these, we have rosemary extract, an often-used antioxidant and preservative. Rosemary can cause problems if your dog has epilepsy or seizures.
Parsley flakes are not only good for your dog’s breath, but did you know that it can also help with arthritis, urinary tract infections, and cancer? This nutritional powerhouse also contains large amounts of vitamins and minerals.
This food also contains Yucca Schidigera extract, which can help reduce your dog’s stool odor. Yucca also has anti-inflammatory properties.
L-Carnitine is also added to this product. This amino acid nutritional supplement plays an important role in fat metabolism and can help with recovery in working dogs.
From here on, the list includes a number of other items, mainly additional vitamins and minerals.
Listed ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Egg Product, Millet, Canola Oil, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Dried Kelp, Carrots, Apples, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Spinach, Cranberries, Rosemary Extract, Parsley Flake, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Reuteri Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, 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.
Note: That some nutritional percentages reported are only estimated values, and are indicated as such as (est). Each dog food manufacturer is required by law to publish a Guaranteed Analysis, which defines each product’s maximum values of fiber, moisture and ash in addition to the minimum values of protein and fat contained within. Exact nutritional percentages are not available and hence all calculated values (including carbohydrate percentages and calorie amounts) are determined using these minimum and maximum published values and therefore may differ from actual values.
ⓘ Nutritional information as published by the dog food manufacturer.
ⓘ The manufacturer's published guaranteed analysis values normalized for moisture content.
4Health Salmon & Potato Formula has a large variety of added vitamins and minerals. The minerals are chelated (ex: Iron proteinate), meaning that their binding to amino acids make them more biologically available.
4Health’s claims of “optimal nutrition for optimal health” have no actual definitions under AAFCO or FDA. These terms are simply used for marketing purposes.
While we have limited insight into the quality of the ingredients, the ingredients themselves are appropriate for dogs. The product has many characteristics of a decent quality dog food.
But what do the customers say about 4Health Salmon & Potato Formula?
It has a very high rating on Tractor Supply Co.’s website, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Most customers reported being extremely satisfied with the quality of the ingredients for the value, and many noted improvements in their dogs’ digestive and skin/coat health.
All in all, we recommend 4Health Original Formulas. What about you?
How do you rate this product line?
After taking a closer look at the 4health Original Salmon & Potato Formula for your adult dog, do you feel like getting a bang for your buck? Because this dog food, according to value shoppers, is reasonably priced. But it's not all about cost.
Putting a price on your dog's health is impossible, the good thing is that all indications point to this formula being a premium dog food on top of it. Briefly going over it all once more, here are some additional highlights to add onto the above.
Finally, we do recommend considering 4Health Original Formula recipes for your adult dogs food bowl. But be sure to choose the right recipe for you and stay away from any potential allergens your vet warned about.
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