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

4Health Special Care Formula Review

We take an in-depth look at the Special Care 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 . . .

On the hunt for an easy to digest healthy dog food?

Perhaps your dog is having metabolism troubles and has put on a few extra pounds over the year, time to put a reverse on it? The Special Care recipes from 4Health may be just what you're seeking.

It's no fun when your dog's in a bit of slump, we know how important it is to get them back to their happy state. These Special Care formulas aim to provide your dog targeted nutrition in support of sensitive skin, sensitive stomachs, and weight loss diets. Ahead we'll evaluate their effectiveness.

Quick overview:

The 4Health Special Care line for dogs consists of 3 dry formulas and 3 wet formulas.

Specifically formulated for special dietary needs including sensitive skin, weight management, and sensitive stomachs.

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

Formulas focus on Limited Ingredient Diets, Weight Management, and Skin Care.

Contains hydrolyzed salmon as one of its distinguishing features.

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

So: Do 4Health’s Special Care Formulas really offer targeted nutrition with a narrow selection of high quality ingredients? Let’s find out!

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

List of all available recipes:

  • 4Health Special Care Sensitive Skin Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Special Care Weight Management Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula [M] [Dry]
  • 4Health Special Care Sensitive Skin Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Special Care Weight Management Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]
  • 4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula [M] [Wet / Canned]

Featured Product

4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula Review

4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Wet Formula Reviewed

Every 4Health Special Care Formula has fresh meat as its first ingredient, followed by wholesome vegetables and a rich balance of vitamins and minerals.

This line is also free of any grains as well as corn, soy, and wheat — all of which are common causes of food allergies in dogs. 4Health formulas also include Omega fatty acids and species-specific probiotics to help promote healthy skin and shiny coats.

With close to average fat, protein, and carbohydrate contents as well as moderate amounts of named meats, there is little to dislike about 4Health Special Care Formulas.

Overall, 4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula is an above-average wet/canned dog food, earning 4.5 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list.

Meat is the #1 ingredient.

Antioxidants & Omega Fatty Acids

Limited ingredients; no grains, corn, wheat, or soy.

Species-specific (pre) and probiotics

Read on for a detailed breakdown of the ingredients and nutritional analysis.

Where to purchase:

Ingredient Analysis

Quick Peek of What's Inside

  • Quality

    Chicken, Fish, Salmon, Turkey

  • Questionable

    Pea Fiber, Pea Protein, Carrageenan

  • Potential Allergens

    Chicken, Fish, Salmon, Turkey

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 Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula includes the following.

Chicken

The first ingredient in this formula is chicken, an excellent source of protein for dogs. Per the AAFCO, chicken is the “combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone.” It also excludes feathers, heads, feet and entrails.

Chicken also provides all the essential amino acids for your dog, as well as choline, selenium, phosphorous, and pantothenic acids.

Chicken Broth

The second ingredient is chicken broth, a common addition to canned dog foods for its flavor and moisture. 4Health does not specify if this is a bone-based broth (a.k.a. stock), which would increase its nutritional value.

While some may swear that broth has immune-boosting properties, there have not been many studies to validate such claims. Thus, we would say that chicken broth provides only modest nutritional value.

Potatoes

Next, we have 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.

Chicken Liver

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.

Fish

The next ingredient is fish, an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the term “fish” is vague and does little to inform us of the quality of the ingredient.

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.

Other Ingredients

The next ingredient in this formula is turkey. Per the AAFCO, turkey is defined as “the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses.” It is naturally rich in protein, riboflavin, essential amino acids, and phosphorus.

Salmon is another excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs. Plus, most dogs love the taste of salmon.

Next, we have pea fiber. Although very high in fiber, pea fiber is primarily insoluble fiber. If used in large amounts, pea fiber can have an adverse effect on digestion. This ingredient is considered to be a filler and thus has little to modest nutritional value to dogs.

Beet pulp is another controversial ingredient in this formula. Some consider this high-fiber by-product of sugar beet processing as a filler, while others say it is a great source of fermentable fiber that helps with digestion and colon health.

The 10th ingredient in this formula is pea protein, another ingredient widely considered to be a filler. It is high in protein, which must be taken into account when analyzing the protein content of this food.

There is an important issue to be considered here: ingredient splitting. This is the practice of manipulating ingredient weights so that it would appear as if real meat is the primary ingredient — when it might not be so.

If we were to combine all the pea ingredients together and report them as one, this combination would likely move up on the ingredient list in this formula.

Peas and other legumes have also become the primary suspects in a recent FDA investigation after several dogs eating grain-free diets developed canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).(2)

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.

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.

Carrageenan is a common ingredient sourced from seaweed and used as a thickener in many canned/moist pet foods. Although carrageenan has been used as an additive in the food industry for many years, a 2013 report from the Cornucopia Institute provided evidence that it may be linked to serious illnesses.(3)

Pumpkin is a highly nutritious ingredient that can benefit your dog’s urinary health, digestive health, and weight management. In addition to its high fiber and anti-inflammatory properties, pumpkin also contains high amounts of cucurbitacin. This compound is toxic to intestinal parasites like worms.

The next ingredient is inulin, a dietary fiber that is characterized as a prebiotic. Prebiotic is the food source of probiotic, which helps maintain healthy gut microflora.

Potassium chloride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is often added to canned pet foods to increase gelling strength. It is also a source of potassium, which can help with pH balance and muscle functions.

Choline chloride is 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.(4)

Salt is a common additive in dog food as it is a necessary mineral for all animals.

This food also contains Yucca Schidigera extract, which can help reduce your dog’s stool odor. Yucca also has anti-inflammatory properties.

From here on, the list includes a number of other items, mainly additional vitamins and minerals.

Listed ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Potatoes, Chicken Liver, Fish, Turkey, Salmon, Pea Fiber, Beet Pulp, Pea Protein, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Pumpkin, Inulin, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Ascorbic Acid), Iron Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 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

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

1,102 (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 Special Care Sensitive Stomach Formula has approximately 110 calories per 100g (31.2 calories/ounce): 28% from protein, 56% from fat, and 16% from carbohydrates.

VITAMINS, MINERALS & OTHERS

4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach 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 concerns about ingredient splitting and the limited insight into the quality of the ingredients, the ingredients themselves are appropriate for dogs. The product has many characteristics of a above-average quality dog food.

But what do the customers say about 4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach 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 significant improvements in their dogs’ digestive problems. Based on the reviews, dogs seem to love the taste!

4Health does not have a dedicated page on ConsumerAffairs.com, but Diamond Pet Foods (the manufacturer) has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 370 reviews. Since Diamond manufactures many different brands of pet foods, it is important to remember that the customer ratings and reviews may not be applicable specifically to 4Health.

Generally speaking, 4Health products are few when it comes to availability on Amazon or Chewy.com. All in all, we highly recommend 4Health Special Care Formulas. Do you?

How do you rate this product line?

Overall Quality
1
Nutritional Content
1
Recipe Selection
1
Availability
2
Price
2
Average
  yasr-loader

Final Verdict on 4Health Special Care Formulas

4Health Special Care Sensitive Stomach Wet Formula Reviewed

Overall, 4Health Special Care Recipes collectively are an above-average wet dog food, earning an impressive 4.5 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list. Focusing on providing quality nutrition to dogs with special diet needs requires careful formulation. All indications are that 4Health took the task on commendably.

Reasonably priced for a special diet food.

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

Zero additives and zero fillers. Full nutrition via all-natural ingredients.

In closing, we do recommend considering 4Health Special Care Formulas as a specialty diet choice for your dog stricken with stomach and/or skin issues; or if your doggo needs to shed some pounds.

Where to purchase:

Citations

  1. http://vet.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/DecipheringFactFromFictionIngredients.pdf
  2. https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm
  3. https://truthaboutpetfood.com/why-carrageenan-can-be-dangerous-to-your-pet/
  4. 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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