Written by: Hyo Song, MSc. | April 19, 2019 |

4Health Original Formula Review

We take an in-depth look at the Original Formula recipes from 4Health. We chose and analyzed one product to serve as the representative for this line as a whole.

Overall Customer Rating:

Let's get started . . .

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!

Quick overview:

The 4Health Original line for dogs consists of 9 dry formulas and 7 wet formulas.

Specifically formulated to offer optimal nutrition for optimal health.

The ingredients are sourced from various countries, such as Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia.

Contains probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids.

Formulas are 100% grain free, no corn, no wheat, no soy.

So: Do 4Health’s Original Formulas really offer optimal nutrition for optimal health while tasting great? Let’s find out!

For a full company review see: 4Health Dog Food - Brand Analysis

List of all available recipes:

  • 4Health Mature Adult [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Chicken & Rice [U] [Dry]
  • 4Health Healthy Weight Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Lamb & Rice [U] [Dry]
  • 4Health Large Breed Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Performance Dog Food [A] [Dry]
  • 4Health Puppy Formula [U] [Dry]
  • 4Health Salmon & Potato Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Small Bites Formula [U] [Dry]
  • 4Health Beef & Vegetable Stew [A] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Beef & Vegetable Stew Adult Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Chicken & Rice Formula [A] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Chicken & Rice Adult Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Chicken & Rice Puppy Formula [G] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Chicken & Vegetable Stew [A] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Lamb & Rice Formula [A] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Salmon & Potato Dinner [M] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Senior Chicken & Rice Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]

Featured Product

4Health Salmon & Potato Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

4Health Salmon & Potato Formula Review

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.

Real salmon and vegetables

Contains potato, natural anti-inflammatory and supporter of joint health.

No corn, wheat, or soy

Species-specific (pre) and probiotics

Read on for an in-depth look at the ingredients, nutritional analysis, and customer sentiment.

Where to purchase:

Ingredient Analysis

Quick Peek of What's Inside

  • Quality

    Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal

  • Questionable

    Canola Oil, Tomato Pomace

  • Potential Allergens

    Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Egg Product

DOG FOOD LABELING

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.

FIRST FIVE INGREDIENTS

Since ingredients on dog food labels must be listed in descending order by weight, analyzing the first five ingredients has become a popular way of sifting the good from the bad at a glance. 4Health Salmon & Potato Formula includes the following.

Salmon

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

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.

Peas

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.

Other Ingredients

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.

Nutrition Analysis

ⓘ All the product information on this page is based on data collected from the manufacturer's product website on January 2nd 2019. If something changed, please let us know.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 & Omega-6

(sources unlisted however. . .)

Major sources of energy. The Dog Food Project’s Sabine Contreras states: “Independent researcher Dr. Doug Bibus (formerly University of Minnesota) completed a fatty acid study with dogs and recommends a ratio between 2:1 and 4:1. Personally, I believe that a quality food should contain a ratio of at least 7:1, the lower the better, especially if skin and/or coat problems are present. When my dog suffered from severe flea allergy dermatitis I switched to a food with a ratio of 2.5:1 and had great results within just a few weeks.”

Metabolizable Energy

3,500 (ME in Kcal/kg)

ME is defined as the amount of energy available from pet food once the energy from feces, urine, and combustible gases has been subtracted. Essentially, ME is the energy left for your pet's body to use once all digestion is complete.

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.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

ⓘ Nutritional information as published by the dog food manufacturer.

 

PROTEIN

0%

(minimum)
FAT

0%

(minimum)
FIBER

0%

(maximum)
CARBS

0%

(estimate)
ASH

0%

(estimate)
MOISTURE

0%

(maximum)

DRY MATTER ANALYSIS

ⓘ The manufacturer's published guaranteed analysis values normalized for moisture content.

PROTEIN

0%

(minimum)
FAT

0%

(minimum)
FIBER

0%

(maximum)
CARBS

0%

(estimate)
ASH

0%

(estimate)
CALORIES

0/100g

(estimate)

CALORIE BREAKDOWN

Using the calculations provided by the AAFCO, 4Health Salmon & Potato Formula has approximately 350 calories per 100g (99 calories/ounce): 25% from protein, 34% from fat, and 40% from carbohydrates.

VITAMINS, MINERALS & OTHERS

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.

Vitamins & Others

Biotin

Choline

Folic Acid

Niacin

Pantothenic Acid

Pyridoxine

Riboflavin

Taurine

Thiamine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B12

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

Micro-Minerals

Calcium

Chloride

Magnesium

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sodium

Macro-Minerals

Chromium

Cobalt

Fluorine

Copper

Iodine

Iron

Manganese

Molybdenum

Selenium

Silicon

Zinc

Sulfur

Customer Sentiment

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?

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1
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Recipe Selection
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Final Verdict on 4Health Origina Formulas

4Health Salmon & Potato Formula Review

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.

Premium ingredients, starting with real meat

Company has a great recall (or lack thereof) track record.

Most customers report their dogs loving the taste of the recipes.

Good for all breed sizes.

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.

Where to purchase:

Citations

  1. https://vet.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/DecipheringFactFromFictionIngredients.pdf
  2. http://www.fao.org/3/y1453e06.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-canola-oil-healthy#section2
  5. https://truthaboutpetfood.com/canola-oil-in-pet-foods-is-it-healthy/
  6. https://www.darwinspet.com/steve-brown-focus-on-nutrients-part2-choline/

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Dognutrition.com is powered by an engine that runs on a deeply rooted love for dogs. Our goal is to research and publish quality material to help you raise a safe and healthy dog. We rank and review the latest dog food, toys, supplies and more; we also keep you posted on the latest dog food recalls and health concerns.

About the Author

Hyo Song, MSc.

Hyo Song, MSc.

Hyo loves dogs, plain and simple! She holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology, and a Masters in Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery; as well as a degree in Music. Loves spending time with her beautiful 11-yr old Siberian Husky named Hero, has been featured in several scientific publications and is active in providing help to dogs in need.

Read More Posts By: Hyo Song, MSc.

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