4Health Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)

(3.5 / 5)

The 4Health Grain Free product line includes 9 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • 4Health Grain Free Large Breed [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Puppy (4 stars) [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Beef and Potato [A]
  • 4Health Grain Free Pork and Potato [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Duck and Potato [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Turkey and Potato [A]
  • 4Health Grain Free Whitefish and Potato [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Small Breed (4 stars) [U]
  • 4Health Grain Free Chicken and Vegetables (4 stars) [U]

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

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein 27
Fat 16
Carbs 50

Ingredients: Beef, beef meal, pea proteindried peas, whole potato, pea flour, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, whole flaxseed, salt, potassium chloride, brewers dried yeast, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, manganese proteinate, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, copper proteinate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, sodium selenite, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 24% 14% NA
Dry Matter Basis 27% 16% 50%
Calorie Weighted Basis 23% 33% 44%

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 is 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.

Read more:  AvoDerm Grain Free (Canned)

The fourth ingredient lists 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 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 sixth ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

It’s important to note that a number of ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of pea product:

  • Pea protein
  • Dried peas
  • Pea flour

Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.

You see, if we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would almost certainly occupy a higher position on the list — possibly making peas (not meat) the predominant ingredient in this recipe.

The seventh ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).

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.

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 four notable exceptions

First, we find 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.

Read more:  Bil-Jac Farmer’s Bounty (Dry)

Next, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal 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 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 27%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

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 products, brewers yeast 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 named meats 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.