Dr. Tim’s Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★★

Dr. Tim’s Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Dr. Tim’s product line includes two grain free dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Dr. Tim’s RPM Grain Free Formula
  • Dr. Tim’s Kinesis Grain Free Formula

Dr. Tim’s Kinesis Grain Free Formula was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Dr. Tim's Kinesis Grain Free Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, dried white potatoes, dried field peas, dried beet pulp (sugar removed), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), ocean herring meal, tapioca, dried whole eggs, whole ground flax seed, menhaden fish oil, chicken liver, salmon meal, porcine plasma, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, potassium chloride, salt, lecithin, calcium carbonate, l-lysine, canola oil, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dl-methionine, organic dried kelp, psyllium seed husks, Yucca schidigera extract, choline chloride, dried chicory root, algae fat product (source of DHA), ascorbic acid, glucosamine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (stabilized ascorbic acid), taurine, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, beta carotene, ferrous sulfate, ascorbic acid (source of vitamin C), manganese sulfate, inositol, niacin supplement, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, zinc oxide, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), copper sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), copper proteinate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), calcium pantothenate, potassium iodide (source of iodine), manganous oxide, selenium, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, l-carnitine, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis32%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%20%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%40%30%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The second ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The third ingredient is 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 actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth 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.

The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is herring meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The seventh ingredient includes tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The eighth ingredient is whole dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The ninth ingredient is 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.

The tenth ingredient is menhaden oil. Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. Their oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids, two high quality fats boasting the highest bio-availability to both dogs and humans.

What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as is typical with deeper water species.

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 note the inclusion of pork plasma. Plasma is what remains of blood after the blood cells themselves have been removed. Plasma can be considered a nutritious addition.

Next, we find canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

In addition, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, this food also 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.

Dr. Tim’s Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Dr. Tim’s Grain Free looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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 36%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 36% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effects of the dried peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Dr. Tim’s Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of chicken, pork and salmon meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

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Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Notes and Updates

08/06/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • myOWNcompass

    My dog would attempt to eat the entire bag in a sitting if I let him. I know because a few times I have caught him trying to do so when I have stupidly left the bag out after filling the bowl and run off to the bathroom or answer the phone. Grazing is not an option for us.

    There are options for dogs who gulp down their food too quickly; I would suggest that owners who have this type of dog look into them. But I’m glad that you and your dog have found something that works for both of you.

  • myOWNcompass

    I don’t understand how this can be a 5 star editors choice food with beet pulp in it. I’m trying to get away from beet pulp.

  • theBCnut

    My dog that can’t have chicken can’t have it in any form, including egg. I do know people whose dog has a chicken allergy, but is fine with certain parts, like liver or eggs, and early on my dog could handle chicken liver and eggs without me seeing any reaction. But I think as I cleaned up his diet and he had less things he was reacting to in it, I became more attuned to the slightest reaction and noticed he wasn’t doing as well on those things as I had thought.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    There is a new tool made by someone on the forums called the Dog Food Wizard: http://www.dogfoodwizard.com

    It is still in 1.0, so you still have to look at the ingredients carefully, but it makes finding food for allergic dogs much easier.

  • saya2

    I was hoping to try this for Bella she seems to have issue with chicken.. I switched to different foods and she was always itchy. only thing in common the food had chicken meal in some part of the ingredient list.

    I plan to try 5lb pork and salmon with my shiba she has no allergies. She eats good raw diet and does wonderful on that, but I like to keep some kibble on hand in case of emergency. She has stomach of steel and no allergies like Bella does.

    Currently have Bella on a fish based kibble and she is fine. I might try her on a small trial with this to see how she does.

    It does have egg and chicken fat, but who knows she might be fine with it if not I’ll keep it for Saya.

    TheBCnut have you tried that formula did it work out OK?

  • Melanie

    I know, I think I’m lucky. My labs have eaten like this since they were puppies. I think because they know the food is always there they don’t feel the need to eat it all at once. Works for us. My labs have always been at a very healthy weight. I do have to watch the fat a protein percentage on the food though. He will gain weight if the fat is 18% or more and most of the higher in fat foods I have fed are also high in protein. 34-38%. I try to keep him around 15% fat and 29% protein.

  • cas

    Few months late to the convo but I just wanted to say that I am surprised your Lab will graze his food. Most labs will eat all the food you give them quickly at once, which is why they recommend twice a day. The twice a day feeding is suppose to help keep their stomach from eventually turning (like in Marley and Me) says my vet. Also, doing things to slow eating down helps that.

  • LabLover

    I feed Dr Tims grain free and grain inclusive to my three labs. I had the same problem with my pup eating to fast and having some gas. I spent money on a few different slow feed bowls that worked ok, but honestly, the best thing that worked was a rock in his bowl. (Per Dr Tims suggestion) LOL Now that he is an adult, he has outgrown the fast eating and eats slower, plus he always lays on the floor to eat. LOL

  • Betsy Greer

    Congrats on the new pup!

    Lots of people will also layer kibble with pumpkin or a food like The Honest Kitchen in a Kong. That’ll allow his meal down quite a bit also.

  • djkshreveport

    Thanks Melanie and Betsy. Had not checked back because we just got a rescue dog. Yes, feeding only grain free. I’m going to try all your suggestions and have found some feed pacing devices. Thanks again!

  • Melanie

    My above reply was meant for you. Somehow it ended up in the wrong place.

  • Melanie

    I’m not an expert on this, just giving an opinion and I know so many people will disagree with me. Wilson is my 2nd lab. He is 85 lbs of lean muscle. My last lab was the same. I do not feed him twice a day like everyone recommends. He get’s a full day’s serving and is allowed to graze all day. Your dog may be eating his food too fast and swallowing a lot of air in the process. That will create a lot of gas. That is a fact I do know because I’m an RN and that’s something we tell our human patients. Hope that helps.

  • Betsy Greer

    Maybe look into a pacer ball that you put in his dish to slow down the eating, or feed him on a cookie sheet. Have you ever tried digestive enzymes along with the probiotics? I found one that worked great for my dog. It’s called BioCore, and it’s from Swanson’s. Price is good too: http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-ultra-biocore-optimum-complete-ultimate-full-spectrum-enzymes-90-veg-caps

    Are you feeding the grain free formula of Dr. Tim’s? And, both the Nutrisca and Instinct you’re feeding are grain free versions also I’m assuming.

  • djkshreveport

    This is my dog food of choice right now. IMHO, we’re supposed to be supporting companies like this. I have been rotating Nutrisca Dogswell, Nature’s Variety Instinct and this one. I too have had experience with Dr. Tim responding to questions directly. My question to this forum is — my dog has a lot of gas. Nobody’s bothered by it, but that’s why I keep rotating foods. I’ve tried adding yoghurt and probiotics to his food. Those seem to limit it sometimes. Not sure if the gas is uncomfortable for the dog so that’s the only reason for my concern. His gas seems to be diminished on Dr. Tim’s food and it is mostly right after he eats. He is a 90lb lab (ideal weight) and he eats his food INCREDIBLY fast. We feed twice a day.

  • http://batman-news.com Sarah Y
  • theBCnut

    You are probably right, but I’m hoping that if they do some chicken free formulas, they will think to go chicken egg free too. I won’t be holding my breath, but I an hopeful.

  • LabLover

    I would tend tp think they will have egg because his formulas all do so far, but who knows for sure.

  • theBCnut

    Ahh, but will they be egg free? That’s what I want to know.

  • Betsy Greer

    I already know I won’t. : ( I talked to Dr. Tim a while back and neither is fish free.

  • theBCnut

    I can’t wait to see if I’ll be able to use them for my dog with food issues!!

  • LabLover

    Pork and salmon versions are to be released pretty soon according to Dr Tim.

  • Pattyvaughn

    So far researchers have several theories on why tear staining occurs, but no proof on anything. What they do know is that topical antibiotics give temporary relief so one of their ideas is that there is a bacterial infection in the tear ducts of these dogs. Dogs with food intolerances are sometimes seen to be more prone to tear staining, but some don’t get tear staining at all. Some dogs seem to get tear staining with certain ingredients without symptoms of intolerance, other dogs eating the exact same food don’t.
    I think that to get a real answer, you will have to try it for yourself.

  • Shawna

    I’m not sure about beet pulp but my Pomeranian gets tear stains (and debris) if she gets any type of poultry. ANY type — chicken, turkey, quail, pheasant and ostrich are all known to cause tear stains in my Gizmo.

  • hana

    This food has beat pulp in it. I have heard beat pulp can cause tear stains to be more dominate. Thoughts on this?

  • Shawna

    Newer studies have demonstrated that high protein diets actually help canines lose weight. If they help lose weight they should certainly help keep the weight off if appropriate amounts are fed of course. Here’s some of the research —

    “High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diets Enhance Weight Loss in Dogs” http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/8/2087S.full

    “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet” http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/6/1685S.full
    I don’t think there is any one best food (especially for every dog). Most of the regulars here on DFA rotate through a variety of proteins as well as brands. And a lot of us add canned or raw/cooked toppers. Variety is good.

  • Debbie DiFrancesco

    my brother feeds his german shep Nutro and I started my pit on it, I know its 4 star but is it really bad?? I’m clicking on all 5 star foods, I don’t want one that is to high in protein to where he gains weight.. People rave about all of these how do u know which is best.. tried earthborn salmon he liked that. I’d like to stick with grain free.. as he is on venison Nutro grain free. I checked out Victor and Orjin.. not ready for raw..

  • kirk

    stay away from all Nutro Products checkout all the complaints on the consumer affairs website… mine is one of the 1800 complaints.. poisoning our puppys and dogs

  • InkedMarie

    As HDM said, go with Dr. Tim’s. It’s a great food, he’s extremely helpful if you need help or have questions.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Rosemary –

    If the foods you mentioned I would go with Dr. Tim’s. Dr. Tim’s has two all life stages formulas – one grain-free and one grain-inclusive. An all life stages food would be appropriate for both your puppy and adult. Dr. Tim’s is a wonderful company – they have great customer service and have never had a recall. Not to mention the food is fairly reasonably priced in comparison to other 5 star foods. I personally wouldn’t use any Blue Buffalo or Nutro products, but it would also be a good idea to find a few other high quality foods to rotate with whatever food you decide to feed – it will give your dogs some variety and provide you with some alternatives in the event that another food you’re feeding gets recalled.

  • Rosemary Miranda

    Hi I have a 2 month old pitbull and a 2 year old golden retriever. I am looking for a new food for the both of them. My Golden has been on Iams healthy naturals which has now been recalled and has been making her sick. I have been looking at Blue Buffalo wilderness, Dr. Tim’s and Nutro. Anyone have any suggestions on a good food that they can both eat? I know my pit would be eating a puppy food but later on I would prefer them to eat the same food. Thank you.

  • Tigerlily

    Thinking of trying Grain Free Kinesis with my standard poodle bitch whom I will be breeding soon. Does anyone know if this food would also be appropriate for the puppies? What about the grain inclusive variety?

  • Pattyvaughn

    I totally agree with Storm’s Mom. They are all good foods and rotating foods is so much healthier for your dog. No food is perfect, so sticking to just one really doesn’t make sense. And rotating supports a wider variety of probiotics in the gut, which in turn provides a huge boost to the immune system.

    BTW, Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast is probably too big a kibble for your pup, but the others should be fine, and I do feed the GPF to my grown JRT, just not to a little pup.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Why not rotate among all 3 of them? They are all great foods!! Pick whichever one you want to start with, and go from there!

  • Tae

    Hi, I have a 3 months old Pomeranian, and trying to decide between Dr.Tims or Acana, Earthborn. Which one do you guys recommend?

  • InkedMarie

    I called there once, left a message and he called me back himself! We’re on a couple forums together and fb friends. Did you know he donates food to a shelter local to him? Alot of food

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I wish I had known about Dr. Tim’s when I used to feed kibble and tried it. It looks like a wonderful food – I really like the looks of the Momentum formula. I’ve contacted Dr. Tim on two or three occasions with questions about the food, just out of curiosity, and my emails were always responded to by Dr. Tim himself in a very timely manner. Probably the best customer service I’ve encountered.

  • Betsy Greer

    Dr. Tim’s Grain Free Kinesis is one of my absolute favorite foods. It’s a great quality food, and the price is a huge bonus! Hands down, it’s one of my most highly recommended kibbles.

    While both of my dogs eat it eagerly and have excellent stool quality while eating GF Kinesis, it’s just not working for my yeasty one year old Golden, Sam. This was the only food that I’ve continued to feed him that contains white potato ~ all the others I use for him are grain and white potato free. At first, I thought we had somehow skirted around it, but after a few weeks, his ears aren’t staying clean and he’s doing lots of ear flapping. I’m sad to have to eliminate it from Sam’s rotation, but am happy that I still have another dog who will happily eat her share.

    So many food are eliminating the white potato in favor of lentils or chickpeas, both of which seem to create an enormous abundance of gas for Sam; and I hope that’s not the direction this food takes (if it’s ever reformulated) ~ I’d rather see millet, quinoa or amaranth or some form of gluten free pseudo grain added.

  • jesse cadwell

    Thanks for the review. Had my dog on Dr. Tim’s regular kinesis but developed a lot of itching, seeing when I told Dr. Tim (my cat and dogs vet, he is great if you ever meet him) he recommended trying some other brands but since it has been out for a bit now i think will give it a try. After checking pet flow and chewy I am happy getting it at his office or the local pet store mareszdots for 45 bucks for a 44lb bag plus they have a frequent buyer card after you purchase 12 get the next one free

  • monkey

    petflow and chewy have good prices

  • Delgada Dawn

    Looking good! Let’s hunt for a good price! :D

  • monkey

    Have been feeding the Grain Free for about a month now. So far so good! Clear eyes, nice shiny coat, no itching, good energy but still calm, good stool. Haven’t been using Darwin’s as much as usual too (unfortunately)
    So far i have no problem with keeping this in the rotation.

  • monkey

    Thanks. I have a bag of Aqualuk in the pantry but haven’t opened it yet. 

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Aqualuk: 1.3% ca. (3.29 g./1,000 kcal.)
    Salcha: 1.13% ca. (2.84 g./1,000 kcal.)

  • monkey

    What are the numbers for salcha and aqualuk?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I would go with Annamaet Salcha – it has appropriate calcium levels for a large breed puppy. The Aqualuk formula does as well, so that could be good to rotate in on occasion for some variety.

  • Melissa Lease

    I cant decide between Dr. Tim’s grain free and Annamaet Salcha for my 8wk old female german shepherd.  She is of working lines and i will be doing protection training with her.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • InkedMarie

    Very glad to see you review Dr. Tim’s grain free! Glad it’s five stars as well. Looking forward to trying this one next!