Sometimes it’s hard to step outside your comfort zone as a dog parent when you’re so used to seeing the same brands on the shelves at your local store.
I know I figured that when I brought Maggie home, she would always use the same brand for her food, but life doesn’t always work that way.
You may be looking into changing your dog’s kibble for a variety of reasons, but you’re not sure where to start.
There are so many brands out there to compare, which is why you should always research products before you buy anything.
Check out this comparison of Blue Buffalo and 4health dog food.
You may discover something about 4health that changes your mind or you could end up relying on a big name brand like Blue Buffalo for your dog’s nutritional needs.
4health Company Overview
If you’ve never been inside a Tractor Supply store, you’ve probably never heard of 4health.
It’s a Tractor Supply kibble brand made with premium ingredients.
It’s meant for puppies and adult dogs because it’s made with an important focus on minerals, omega fatty acids, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants.
Tractor Supply created their kibble brand as an extension of their mission to provide products that help you take care of your home, pets, and land.
They make it easy to maintain your pet’s health while handling your other responsibilities.
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A few of 4health’s best sellers are:
- 4health Adult Large-Breed Original Formula
- 4health Adult Grain-Free Turkey and Potato Formula
- 4health Adult Sensitive Stomach Formula
This brand may be of particular interest to you if you’ve already trusted Tractor Supply for many years or if you want a budget-friendly way to give your dog the best nutritional food in a store near you.
Blue Buffalo Company Overview
Blue Buffalo became one of the biggest dog food players in the game after their company began in 2003.
When their family dog, Blue, got sick, they decided to fight the cancer on a nutritional level.
Since then, they’ve developed the Blue Life Protection Formula which is one of the best selling kibble brands in America.
They offer many blends for all age ranges and health needs, selling products in many stores across the nation.
Many dog owners prefer these best sellers from Blue Buffalo:
- Life Protection Formula Lamb and Brown Rice Recipe
- Life Protection Formula Fish and Oatmeal Recipe
- Freedom Grain-Free Beef Recipe
Blue Buffalo is a standard in many dog households, so if you’re curious about it, this is a good place to start learning about your dog’s potential future food.
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How does Blue Buffalo compare with Pure Balance? How about Science Diet?
Any dog food business that’s been around for a while will have a history of recalls. It’s important to look into past recalls to see if a brand is trustworthy.
4health has had one recall back in 2012, which was related to a manufacturing issue on behalf of its parent company, Diamond Pet Foods.
Some kibble batches may have been contaminated with salmonella, which is why the voluntary recall was posted.
Blue Buffalo has been around longer, which give it more of an extensive recall history.
In 2010, they were recalled for high levels of vitamin D in certain formulas.
In 2015 there was a recall for salmonella and their 2016 recall pertained to possible mold in some kibble bags.
The most recent Blue Buffalo recall was in 2017.
Some canned dog food had unusually high levels of a hormone derived from the beef thyroid that causes health issues if dogs eat a lot of it.
What’s Important When Looking for a Good Dog Food?
Before you buy your dog a new bag of food, you want to make sure that it has everything they need.
Not all kibble is made with the same quality, so always do your research before you buy anything.
Here are a few key factors to look out for before your next purchase:
What kind of ingredients do you want your dog to eat?
Is it important for you that they have only organic ingredients?
Do they need proteins source from specific animals, or nutritional additives like omega-3 fatty acids?
This is important to keep in mind, so check ingredient lists on every bag you consider.
Related: Beef Meal in Dog Food: Should You Avoid It?
Dog owners know that you need to buy a new bag of dog food at least once a month, if not more than that.
It may seem fine to spend a little more on a bag of kibble now, but will you be able to keep that up in the long run?
Consider your budget and the price per bag to make your final decision.
Some dog brands are only sold in stores, while others are only available online.
Most have a mix of the two, but you’ll have to decide what you prefer.
Your schedule may prevent you from heading to the pet store every couple weeks or you could have limited delivery options where you live.
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Your dog always enjoys what they eat, but it’s hard to know what they like when you buy new food.
A great way to figure this out is to look at what your dog has eaten in the past.
Are there specific meats or flavors that they jumped to eat?
Did they avoid eating when you switch them to chicken instead of beef?
If you’re unsure because your dog is new to your family, try getting the smallest bag of kibble possible when you make your final decision on a brand.
You can always go back for a bigger bag later.
If you find a dog food brand you like that has kibble your dog loves, you’ll want to stick with it for a long time.
That means you need to trust a brand to consistently make your dog food that’s healthy for them.
Brand reliability means looking into their company’s history to see if they can produce a high-quality product every time you need to make a purchase.
Comparison of 4health vs Blue Buffalo
So, how do these two brands stack up against each other?
Here are the final results:
Blue Buffalo always has whole meat listed as the main ingredient on their kibble backs.
That means your dog is getting more real food per bite.
It’s also important to note that their Life Protection blends have added antioxidants to bolster your pet’s immune system and digestive tract.
4health avoids adding soy, wheat, and corn to their kibble, which is important.
Many brands use those ingredients as fillers, which could be harmful in the long run.
Their food also contains probiotics to promote digestive health, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids.
It’s great that these brands are so competitive with their ingredients, but I’ll have to hand it to 4health on this one.
Probiotics balance out the digestive tract in ways that antioxidants alone cannot.
That could be the difference between regularity and health complications for some dogs with sensitive stomachs.
As well as being a popular brand, Blue Buffalo is known for being on the pricier end of kibble.
It’s super premium, so it’ll cost around $1.60 per pound. 4health is much more budget friendly, averaging $1 per pound.
Tractor Supply Company can lower their prices because they don’t need to pay for extra shipping fees to get the kibble from a separate production company to their stores.
That gives them an edge in this round, coming out the clear winner as far as price and value goes.
If you want to get 4health, you’ll need a Tractor Supply store in your town or access to their website.
When you buy through them, you can get an autoship discount, but shipping still costs money.
Blue Buffalo is available at most pet stores and online sites where shipping is free.
That makes it more available and easier for pet parents to access.
Both brands have a variety of formulas and flavors for your dog to choose, so you’ll have to let them test out the taste at home.
Customers report dogs loving 4health and Blue Buffalo equally, thanks to their high-quality ingredients.
No company is perfect, but Blue Buffalo has had many recalls over the last decade.
4health has only had one, which makes me think they’ve got their methods of production down to a science.
I’d trust them over Blue Buffalo, but I still recommend keeping an eye on the news either way.
Both of these dog food companies put up a good fight.
4health may have seemed like a non-competitor at first because I hadn’t heard of it, but they care just as much about their product as Blue Buffalo (and maybe a bit more).
4health would be my kibble of choice, but it always depends on the dog at the other end of the bowl.
Consider your dog’s health needs, age and activity levels before buying anything you plan to commit to long-term.