Dr. Tim’s Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

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

The Dr. Tim’s product line includes one grain free dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

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 (sugarr 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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
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 lists 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 lists 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 includes 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

We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.

The seventh item is 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, another 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.

The next ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

Next we find salmon meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

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 canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its source material.

Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.3

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.

Next, 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.

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 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 Kinesis Grain Free dog food 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 36%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

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 dog food is a meat-based dry product using a significant amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

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

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

01/30/2013 Original review
01/30/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Dr. Tim’s Customer Service via email dated 1/30/2012
  3. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)
  • 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!