4Legs is really easy to get hold of as it’s available at Woolworths, Coles, IGA, and Drakes. On the website I’m told their dog foods are “delicious” and “scrumptious”, but as that’s just marketing does it really mean anything?
Let’s take a look!
4Legs dog food review
What the marketing says
I always laugh at typos on what should be a professional website. This review sprung up on the first page of the 4Legs site:
So there you have it, 4Legs is the only wet god food!
4Legs is apparently all natural, with no nasties, locally sourced ingredients, and Australian owned and operated.
Note it doesn’t say “Australian Made”, which is different.
Browsing their website for the 4Legs meatball range I noticed these only meet the AAFCO nutrient profile for Adult Dog Maintenance, which means they don’t meet the basic requirements for a puppy, pregnant, or senior dog. Keep that in mind.
Pet grade (vs Human Grade) meat
Meat in Australian pet food is either pet grade or human grade. There’s a big difference in standards between the two, and also a big difference in price.
Any pet food using human grade meats will tell you so. After all, they’ll be paying much more to produce it. Many top dog foods use human grade these days.
Any pet food using pet grade meats won’t mention it at all, which is the case with 4Legs. This is one of the reasons 4Legs dog food is more affordable than other raw/cooked dog foods, or why most people view those other foods as expensive.
Human grade comes with assurances with safety as well as quality.
Using pet grade meats keeps costs down, and low cost appeals to most consumers.
There’s another reason 4Legs is cheaper than other brands, and this is to do with the amount of meat used compared to cheaper non-meat ingredients. I’ll cover that below.
4Legs dog food rolls
Rolls always seem a better alternative to dry foods, and they always feel more meaty. I see different categories of dog roll, and I’ll give some examples so you can compare.
The ingredients of 4Legs Natural + Wellness Boost Chicken with Salmon, Vegies, Fruit and Brown Rice are as follows:
Meat (Chicken, Salmon), Flour, Vegetables and Fruit (Carrot, Coconut, Apple, Broccoli, Parsley), Brown Rice, Vitamins & Minerals, Natural Gelling Agents, Sunflower Oil, Pro’Age™
I found it weird they’ve misspelled veggies as “vegies” on both the website and product, but wonder if that’s intentional to circumvent any legal labelling requirements. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s just poor spelling. What do you think?
I see dogs as carnivores, or at least primarily meat-eaters. This is why I categorise the quality of a dog food roll based on the amount of meat to non-meat ingredients (as well as pet grade vs human grade meats).
A good roll will have mostly meat. A cheaper roll will make you think it has more meat than in does.
Which do you think 4Legs is based on the ingredients above?
We see Meat (Chicken, Salmon) as the first ingredient, so it’s easy to assume there’s a lot of meat and fish in the roll.
However, the next three ingredients can be included in the same amount. These are flour, vegetables and fruit, and brown rice.
As they’ve listed flour second, you can assume there’s a little more meat and flour than vegetables and brown rice, but that still emphasises you’re likely feeding your dog a lot of flour with these rolls.
Do you consider flour appropriate for your meat-eating dog? Do you consider flour a premium and nutritious ingredient?
We’re starting to see why 4Legs dog food is more “affordable” than other rolls.
To offer a comparison, the Balanced Life rolls have one meat + one non-meat as main ingredients, Prime100 rolls have one meat + two non-meat main ingredients. Prime Pantry rolls are a spinoff of Prime100 and have one meat to up to five non-meat main ingredients, but meet AAFCO requirements for all life stage of dog.
As for the 4Legs rolls, we’ve actually covered most of the ingredients. The more minor inclusions are vitamins and minerals as a premix to meet minimum requirements. Gelling agents is an ambiguous ingredient (what actually is it?), used to make the product look thicker and more appealing. Gelling agents can also be problematic, and aren’t considered nutritious.
There’s a small amount of sunflower oil which may have some minor benefit to your dog’s health, as well as something called Pro’Age with a trademark – I don’t know what that might be, do you? I couldn’t find that information.
The ingredients in 4Legs meatballs will mostly be the same as the rolls, likely from the same source, supplier, and of the same quality.
The ingredients of 4Legs Natural + Wellness Boost Chicken with Vegies, Fruit and Rice Meatballs are as follows:
Meat (Chicken), Flour, Coating (Bran, Coconut, Carrot, Parsley, Garlic), Apple, Rice, Natural Gelling Agents, Vitamins & Minerals, Sunflower Oil, Pro’Age™
You can expect the coating to be mostly bran as the cheapest of that set of ingredients. Coconut, carrot, parsley, and garlic are nice to see, but may not be much of an inclusion.
This leaves the two main ingredients as meat and flour. If these are in the same amount you could consider the ingredients “Flour, Meat,…” but this doesn’t look as appealing to you as a consumer.
You can assume the apple and rice are also more than a few percent, and possibly the gelling agents to make the food look more appealing without adding nutrition.
Should you feed 4Legs to your dog?
If you’ve read this far you’ll likely have the impression 4Legs isn’t the best of dog foods?
I don’t think I’ve actually said it’s bad, I’ve just covered all the points they haven’t told you. This should give you a clearer picture about the grade of meat, and amount of meat used in these products?
It should also give you an idea why some dog foods are “cheap” and others which seem similar are more “expensive”.
Nevertheless, the benefits of 4Legs dog foods is they’re likely better than some of the dry kibbles you’ll find next to them on the supermarket shelves. Did you know many kibbles (or biscuits if you will) are more grain-based than meat based, and not usually healthy grains either?
You may find adding some 4Legs to your dog’s diet absolutely fine, and perhaps beneficial, but personally I wouldn’t rely on these products as my dog’s main daily diet.
Where to buy?
4Legs dog foods are mostly found in Coles, Woolworths, and IGA.
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4Legs dog foods may seem great based on affordability, and they may suit your needs and budget, but it's worth understanding how 4Legs differs from more expensive dog foods which are similar (such as other dog food rolls). The 4Legs products may seem to contain a decent amount of meat based on meat being the first ingredient, but this isn't quite the case when you realise what other ingredients are significant.