Above, Dr. Tim with his sled dog team.
To say that Dr. Tim Hunt cares about animal nutrition is a little bit of an understatement. A seasoned sled dog racer and a veterinarian, Dr. Tim fed his kennel dogs a mix of raw meats and supplements that he made in a cement mixer in his garage. After realizing that no dog food company in the world created food as good as his, Dr. Tim founded Dr. Tim’s Pet Food Company in 2004. "I learned all my nutrition from racing dogs," Dr. Tim told us. "I’ve got a kennel of my own of about thirty dogs that have raced all over the world."
Dr. Tim thinks that developing his food around the needs of high-performance athletes has led to him having the best food in the industry. "I think the way it’s built is much better than most other foods out there and the ingredient profile is much higher-end. It’s built for the way the dogs are supposed to be fed, according to their metabolism." Dr. Tim has some real evidence behind his claims that his pet food is better than competitors. For the past three years, every winner of the Iditarod, Alaska’s most well known sled dog race, has fed their team Dr. Tim’s Pet Food. This past year, four out of the top five finishers used Dr. Tim’s.
Dr. Tim’s Pet Food isn’t limited to high-performance athletes, however. After fine-tuning his high performance formula, Dr. Tim expanded into foods for "couch potato" dogs and cats. Overall, he says, nutrition is an underrated part of animal health. "I was no different than any other vet. [In school], you don’t get taught nutrition. [Vets] can look at things like an MD would, with a medicine approach. Nutrition is a different kind of approach to keep things healthy and over the years I’ve seen that really make a difference in how an animal stays fit. I didn’t use to understand [nutrition]. Now I do."
In addition to being a sled dog racer and entrepreneur, Dr. Tim is also dedicated to animal welfare in underserved communities. For his work with the Iditarod, Dr. Tim Hunt travels through rural Alaskan villages. He saw that there’s almost no veterinary care in these areas, and packs of dogs wander through them freely. Dr. Tim and his team of vets aim to spay and neuter as many of the animals as possible to help keep a check on the population. "My idea is that hopefully by doing this, the kids see it and we can slowly change some ideas about how animals are cared for. It’s a sticky wicket. If you get a pet, you have some responsibility that goes along with it… but some areas aren’t afforded a good chance to really move forward."
It might seem impossible for Dr. Tim to balance everything in his life - a full-time pet hospital, Dr. Tim’s Pet Food, his sled dogs, and, most importantly, his marriage - but Dr. Tim told us it boils down to "being a good multi-tasker." Oh, and being able to "work without a lot of sleep." Though he’s found success in all parts of his life, including becoming one of the twenty finalists in the America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest, Dr. Tim asserts that he doesn’t do it for accolades. "It’s rewarding to see an animal come through and have a healthy existence. Seeing the interaction with the family is very rewarding. It’s fun when you can fix things. For me, it’s always a game. Illness is a game. You’re trying to beat the game." The desire to fix things fuels everything in Dr. Tim’s life, from his dog food to his pro bono work in Alaska. "You’re just trying to conquer something. I guess we’re all trying to climb a mountain, right?"
Update: Since this post has been published, Dr. Tim Hunt went on to win the 2014 America's Favorite Veterinarian contest. Congratulations, Dr. Tim!