In addition to this 4health Small Bites dog food review, you can check our main review of 4health dog food for even more information on how the food is made, recalls, company history, and their quality control history.
As with many private label brands, information about 4Health is harder to find than for national brands. However, Tractor Supply Company does provide ingredients and nutritional information on their company web site, so you can find out more about this food than many other private label foods. They advertise the food in their store circulars, too. Since it is a private label brand you can only buy it at Tractor Supply Company stores.
Ingredients in 4health Small Bites Formula for Adult Dogs
Chicken, chicken meal, millet, cracked pearled barley,ground rice, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, fish meal, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dried chicory root, L-Carnitine, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, yucca schidigera extract, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, 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.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
As with other 4Health foods, the first two ingredients in this food are meat proteins – chicken and chicken meal.
Chicken usually sounds better to most dog owners but if the water content were removed it would come much farther down the list.
Chicken meal on the other hand has had about 90 percent of the moisture removed. It’s a concentrated form of chicken and it contains several times as much protein as the chicken. Together the first two ingredients are a good source of protein for dogs and provide lots of omega-6 fatty acid, along with other vitamins and minerals. The total protein percentage of the food is given as 26 percent with 10 percent moisture. If you do the math, this means there’s about 29 percent protein if you figure dry matter basis. The carbohydrates in the food, however, come out to about 40 percent which is somewhat high. 4Health definitely has other foods with lower carb percentages even considering that their foods contain grains.
The next three ingredients are grains: millet, cracked pearled barley, andground rice. Millet doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value though it does provide some Manganese and some calories, as well as a plant source of omega-6 fatty acid. Some dogs may be able to eat foods that contain millet if they have problems with other grains, however.
Additional Ingredients Of Interest
Cracked pearled barley is a slow-digesting grain that helps dogs feel full and which keeps the blood sugar steady. It’s a good source of dietary fiber and Manganese as well as omega-6 fatty acid.
Ground rice appears in other 4Health foods and it’s unclear if it’s whole grain brown rice or white rice. Ground whole grain brown rice would provide more nutrition while ground white rice would be something like a white rice flour. However, white rice is easier to digest and better for a sensitive stomach. If you have heard about arsenic in rice, at this time the FDA says that there isn’t enough arsenic in dog foods to harm dogs but pronouncements form the FDA are always subject to change. There are many good dog foods that don’t contain rice if you are worried about feeding your dog rice.
Chicken and chicken meal, along with fish meal, flaxseed, and vitamin E supplement provide some of the fat in the food, but a major source of fat is thechicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols). Chicken fat is a good named animal source of fat. It has omega-3 fatty acid and it’s especially high in omega-6 fatty acid. Mixed tocopherols are a form of vitamin E so this is a natural preservative.
The food also contains flaxseed and fish meal which are both good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, among other things. There is some debate about whether plant sources of omega-3 fatty acid, such as flaxseed, are as good as animal sources, such as fish, but in either case, omega-3 fatty acid is important for your dog’s health. It’s necessary for good skin and coat, heart health, the brain and central nervous system, and other functions. Flaxseed is a good source of Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Thiamin and Manganese. If you breed dogs you should be careful about feeding your dogs food that contain flaxseed prior to breeding or while they are pregnant since flaxseed has been linked to problems with reproduction.
Fish meal is an excellent source of animal omega-3 fatty acid which is believed to be superior to plant sources of omega-3 fatty acid because of its palatability, digestibility, and the ease with which it’s absorbed, among other things. Diamond, which makes 4Health for Tractor Supply, says that their fish meals are free of ethoxyquin. Fish meal is often made from menhaden but it can be made from various kinds of fish or a mixture of fishes.
4health Small Bites also contains some important supplements. L-Carnitine is often added to weight control dog foods to help convert fat to energy and muscle mass. Its purpose is to help keep dogs slimmer. I don’t know why this ingredient has been added to this food in particular. This is a food for adult dogs, not a food for overweight dogs and the food doesn’t have a very high fat percentage. It only contains 12 percent fat or 13.3 percent by dry matter basis. That’s on the low side compared to many premium dog foods today. It does have a high percentage of carbs – about 40 percent – so perhaps there is some thought here that the L-Carnitine will help convert carbs to energy and muscle? I just don’t know.
The food also contains glucosamine and chondroitin which are usually added to foods as joint supplements. However, it’s debatable whether they are added in amounts that will really help dogs or if they will still be viable after dog food processing. If your dog has joint problems or arthritis, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet. You can buy your own joint supplements and give them to your dog separately to make sure he is getting what he needs, in the amount he needs.
Yucca schidigera extract is also added. This is often added to dog foods to reduce odor associated with their stools.
The food also contains vitamin E supplement and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). These vitamins function as natural preservatives in dog foods.
Finally, the food contains added vitamins and chelated (“proteinated”) minerals. Chelated minerals are minerals that are bonded to amino acids – organic substances – making them easier to digest and absorb.
- Crude Protein ….. 26.0% (min.)
- Crude Fat ….. 12.0% (min.)
- Crude Fiber ….. 4.0% (max.)
- Moisture ….. 10.0% (max.)
- Zinc ….. 150 mg/kg (min.)
- Selenium ….. 0.4 mg/kg (min.)
- Vitamin E ….. 150 IU/kg (min.)
- L-Carnitine* ….. 30 mg/kg (min.)
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids* ….. 2.0% (min.)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids* ….. 0.3% (min.)
- Glucosamine* ….. 450 mg/kg (min.)
- Chondroitin Sulfate* ….. 150 mg/kg (min.)
- Caloric Content: 3,439 kcal/kg (322 kcal/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profile.
Tractor Supply Company states the following in their description of this and other 4Health foods:
“4Health Small Bites Formula for Adult Dogs is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your toy or small breed adult dog.”
It also says that it is formulated for all life stages. However, this is NOT the same as an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy. AAFCO statements are present on the packaging of 4Health products but it would be nice if the company would make them available on the web site.
4Health Small Bites Formula for Adult Dogs looks like a reasonably good food for adult dogs. The name is a little confusing. Apparently it’s not just made for adult dogs. It’s made for Toy and small adult dogs. With this in mind the higher carbohydrate content of the food makes a little more sense as it’s important for small dogs to avoid blood sugar spikes/hypoglycemia and some of the carbohydrates in the food can help in this regard. Overall, this looks like a good food for small dogs. It has good meat protein, a named animal fat source, mostly reasonable added supplements, chelated minerals, natural preservatives, and good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Recommended for small dogs.
4health Small Bites for Adult Dogs has received our 4 paw rating.
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