You’ve all seen the dog food commercials — fresh chicken breast, carrots pulled straight from the garden, images of cows grazing in a pasture — and a happy, hungry dog gobbling down its meal, with a big ol’ bag of kibble in the background.
So how do the ingredients go from “appealing to the human eye” to “little brown pellets in a bowl”?
The answer: a whole lot of processing behind big factory doors, using ingredients like “chicken meal” and “beef by-products”, and lots of marketing dollars that convince doting pet parents that little brown pellets are the fastest, easiest way to feed your pet.
Photo by Chris Benson
If you asked any human doctor if it was okay to feed your kid fast food every day, they’d give you a serious side-eye. We all know that kids, adults — people in general — need fresh fruits and veggies, good-quality meats and grains, vitamins and minerals, and home cooked meals to keep us healthy.
So why are our pets any different?
That’s what we wanted to know when we started feeding our baby Yorkie-Poo, Sawyer, and that’s why Tom&Sawyer was born. Overly processed kibble just didn’t sit right with us — or with Sawyer’s tummy. We knew that we could do better by feeding Sawyer and other Canadian pets fresh food that looks and tastes just like the food we’d feed ourselves.
What is Fresh Pet Food?
Because fresh pet food is a bit of a novel concept, we get a lot of questions. Is your food raw? Where do I store it? How do I feed it?
So let’s break it down: Fresh cooked dog and cat food is made with fresh, whole-food ingredients that have been cooked. In Tom&Sawyer’s case, we cook each ingredient individually to its optimal temperature in order to ensure maximum benefits.
Fresh pet food is typically made with high-quality proteins such as chicken, beef, or fish, as well as a variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Unlike raw food, which is not cooked and may pose a risk of bacterial contamination, fresh cooked pet food is cooked to eliminate any harmful bacteria and to make it easier for our fur babies to digest.
Once cooked, fresh pet food is generally flash frozen (our food doesn’t contain preservatives) so that it’s easier to store and serve.
When choosing a fresh cooked pet food, it is important to make sure that it is nutritionally complete and balanced for your dog's age, weight, and activity level. Tom&Sawyer works with world-class animal nutritionists to ensure that every single recipe goes above and beyond the nutritional standards needed to keep your pet healthy.
Now onto the really good stuff!
13 Ways We’re Keepin’ It Real with Fresh Pet Food + Plus a 5-Star Bonus!
More than eight years ago we began our mission to create fresh pet food made with real ingredients for our fur baby and yours. We’re proud to say that today, we’re still “keepin’ it real”. Here’s how we do it:
We’re real pet parents. We’re not marketing bros or zillionaire investors looking for their next “pet” project (pardon the pun!). This company was born out of the love for our pet and our desire to add years of health and happiness to his life — and to your pet’s life too. We’ve now built a team around us that shares our mission and works hard to bring what we know are the healthiest meals in Canada, straight to your door.
We’ve got a team of real experts in animal nutrition. As pet people and foodies, we come by this work honestly, but we also ground all our work in science. We work with top animal nutritionists, food scientists and pet food formulation experts, including Dr. Kelly Swanson, PhD, Rob McCurdy and Serge Boutet.
You can even talk to Hannah Godfrey, our in-house animal nutritionist (who holds an MSC in animal nutrition, and is a PhD candidate). Really — just click here and book your free consult with Hannah and chat about all things pet nutrition.
We have no hidden ingredients in our meals. Don’t believe us? Just visit our real kitchen in downtown Toronto. You will see our trained chefs in action (yep, they’ve got Red Seals and have worked in some of the best people restaurants in the city!), cooking your pets’ meals and packing them up.
Why is this important? Because this study showed that other pet food companies have a whole bunch of “undeclared” ingredients in their products, and for consumers spending their hard-earned cash on pet food that could actually make their dog or cat sick, that’s downright scary.
We’re committed to using real, natural, and high-quality ingredients in our cat and dog food. Our food is what it is, and you can identify everything — from kale to oats to chicken breast to fish, goji berries, blackberries and beyond. Yup, you can see and smell each ingredient. We’ve even had some pet parents ask if they can eat the recipes themselves (spoiler alert - you can, but your pet may not be impressed if you steal their meal!). Kibble just doesn't have that transparency — or that appeal.
All that to say: our food is human-edible, not to be confused with human-grade. What’s the difference, you ask? Human-grade ingredients may come from a factory that produces human-edible foods, but the difference is that “human-grade” can refer to the leftovers that humans would not consume. The ingredients are human-grade because of where they come from, but once they leave the factory, they do not need to be handled to the standards of human consumption. All of our food ingredients come from federally and provincially inspected human-food facilities and are fit for you to eat!
Our meals are complete and balanced to support real health. You need a variety of ingredients to be healthy (hello, Canada’s Food Guide!), and so does your pet. Fresh and healthy ingredients always top the list, and our team of REAL experts have hand picked every ingredient in our meals to ensure that each recipe is complete and balanced with the right mix of proteins, produce, carbs or grains (just like your plate). Each meal also contains our supplement blend so your dog or cat will get ALL the species-appropriate nutrients they need to thrive.
Our meals are cooked to keep you and your fur baby safe. There’s a pet food spectrum when it comes to cook time, and we fall right in the middle. Unless you’re eating sashimi, you probably don’t want to be serving raw meat to your pup and risking bacteria contamination. And, we can probably agree that kibble extruded at extreme temperatures just doesn’t seem like the healthiest choice for our pets.
At Tom&Sawyer, we cook all our ingredients individually to their optimal temperatures, which ensures that your pet is getting the maximum nutritional benefits. Then, we mix the ingredients together by hand, in small batches, to create the balanced recipes your fur babies love.
Our food isn’t scoop and serve. Our animal nutritionists have spent countless hours formulating and designing our meals, and each recipe contains different levels of fat, calories and other nutrients. That’s why we take you through our meal plan questionnaire to understand your pet’s age, weight, breed and activity level, so that we can help you understand exactly how much you need to feed your pet.
We can tell you how much your pet needs down to the calorie and gram, if you like — in fact, we even encourage pet parents to weigh each serving so that you know you’re feeding your fur baby the right amount. Every new customer receives a detailed feeding guide with their meals that you can put on your fridge. And if you still have questions, simply email our customer service team and we’ll calculate your pet’s needs faster than they can clean their bowl.
We incorporate novel proteins and superfoods into our meals to go one step further for your fur baby. We don’t make food that’s one-size-fits all. We know your fur babies have specific needs, so we have designed meals with that in mind. Whether your pup has IBD, is prone to pancreatitis, needs a low-fat or low-carb diet, requires allergy-friendly novel proteins, or can’t tolerate gluten or grains, there’s a meal for them. What’s more, we enhance our meals with superfoods and ancient grains — hello goji berries and amaranth! — so you know your pet is getting nothing but the best.
We use sustainable, Canadian-first ingredients sourced from restaurant suppliers. We choose to work with the best restaurant suppliers to source antibiotic- and hormone-free, non-GMO ingredients where possible. When working with our restaurant suppliers (we only source human edible foods), we seek out transparency, easy access to information and top quality products.
We always first strive for Canadian made, processed and distributed goods. Ingredients that can’t be sourced in Canada, such as kangaroo meat, does not come from Canadian suppliers, but we always adhere to cruelty-free standards. All kangaroos are wild, there is no farming in existence so they live humane, free lives in a natural habitat. The entire harvest operation is government regulated to adhere to strict principles of sustainability.
Real food belongs in the freezer or fridge. And that’s where you’ll find Tom&Sawyer. Nope, you can’t keep our meals in your pantry for months on end, because that’s NOT where meats or fresh ingredients belong. Our meals are preservative-free, gently cooked and flash frozen, and it will spoil if you keep it out on the counter for too long — just like YOUR food.
We WANT regulation in the pet food industry! We were so disheartened (and, ahem, disgusted) by the lack of regulations in the pet food industry, we founded the Fresh Cooked Pet Food Alliance (FCPFA) to set the industry standard for accountability, transparency and integrity. Our meals exceed the nutrient recommendations and requirements proposed by both AAFCO and the NRC, and want other pet foods to meet and exceed industry standards too.
We want all pets across Canada to have access to healthy food. Not only do we ship nation-wide, but we’re also in retail stores across the country. So, whether you’re looking to build a meal plan for your fur baby, or just stock up on a meal or two, you’ve got plenty of options to suit your needs.
- BONUS REASON: Best of all, pets have REAL transformations on our food. We’ve seen dogs go from picky to licking their bowl clean; suffering from pancreatitis to getting it under control; and unable to eat anything due to food allergies to finding the perfect novel protein that they’ll actually eat. Pet parents have told us that their fur babies stopped shedding, lost weight, and even added years to their lives just because of our high-quality food. Take a look at our 5-star reviews to see what other pet parents have to say.
At the end of the day, we are passionate about our products, our processes, and your pet’s overall happiness and well-being. We have seen REAL improvements to our fur customers’ health, and we have seen the happy dances dogs and cats do every day when it’s Tom&Sawyer meal-time.
So, if you’ve ever experienced a hangry dog beggin’ for their food or the laziest cat run to their bowl because it’s dinner time, you know you must be doing something right.
And you can’t get any more real than that.