How long can I keep Tom&Sawyer pet meals in the refrigerator or freezer?

Packaging Method:

We have talked to people globally to ensure that we are using that most effective packaging for our food.  Given that we are committed to making products free of preservatives, we package our meals in special vacuum-pack bags that are sealed in a chamber vacuum machine that removes the oxygen present to inhibit the growth of bacteria that need air to multiply.  We then flash freeze our meals and store/sell them frozen as this process allows for a natural method of extending the freezer / refrigerator shelf life of our Tom&Sawyer meals. It also eliminates freezer burn for long term storage.  This packaging method preserves our food, it allows you to see the high quality ingredients used in our meals, and it creates a very flat package to make storage much more efficient.


We test our products to determine safe shelf life from a human perspective to ensure safety for the entire family. We suggest following these guidelines even though your cat or dog could potentially consume the product beyond our recommended maximum shelf life as their elevated stomach acidity levels allow them to eat food with higher bacteria levels than humans.

Package is unopened in the refrigerator:

  • 9 days is the maximum length the product can stay in the fridge in a sealed state from the date printed on the back of the package
  • If purchased frozen or put in freezer immediately upon purchase, it is safe for 9 days from the date it was thawed (unopened)

 Package is opened in fridge:

  • Place left over portion into a food storage container with an air tight lid
  • Normal food rules apply: fish recipes last 3 days and other recipes last 4 to 5 days.
  • Please remember that you don’t add the unopened and opened days above together (you can’t keep it in the fridge for 14 days, it is not okay to add the 9 days unopened + 5 days together).

Good rule to follow: keep only enough in the fridge for a few days and the rest can be frozen and then taken out to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before it is needed.

Confused? Call us! Your pet’s health and safety is our #1 job!

Unopened in freezer

  • The answer is a pretty long time. We suggest that our product will store safely for a minimum of 18 months in the freezer, not that your cat or dog will let you keep it in there for that long.  Given our vacuum sealing methods, air does not degrade our food when in the freezer, where typically frozen food not vacuum sealed will show degradation through ice crystallization called “freezer burn”.

Labelling Requirements

  • There is no regulation around labeling in pet food, period.  In Canada there is a list of suggestions that are “voluntary”, but there is no need to comply.  This applies to every aspect of the package label.  As we follow human food regulations in making our pet meals, including our ingredients, cooking, handling and packaging methods, we also comply with human food labelling requirements.  We are the only ones in Canada to follow these strict rules.
  • Labelling requirements for food are governed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  For our pet meals, the CFIA does NOT require a “best before date” or “packaging date” because the food product is in a frozen state at the time that it is being packaged and the product is deemed to have a a durable life date of greater than 90 days.
  • At Tom&Sawyer we go beyond these labelling requirements in that we still log our production date on every meal package as a Lot Number, which helps us track a package back to our detailed HACCP and ingredient traceability logs for every meal production day.  For example, every meal package has a white square label on the back of the package that lists a 4 digit “product sku” number and then the last three digits is the day the product was produced according to the Julian Calendar (which is used in most food production).  If the last three digits on your package is 202, that means the meal was produced on July 21 (which can be searched online using any Julian Calendar look-up tool for the current year).
  • Given that Tom&Sawyer makes small batch, hand made meals, we never have inventory in our possession older than 2 months, so when you purchase your meals you know that you are getting products made in the past 2 months (max).
  • We do not specifically put a “best before” date on our meals because the biggest problem a consumer will face is their own handling of product storage (not keeping properly frozen etc) which would fundamentally change the theoretical best before date.


I heard tomatoes are bad for dogs?

Juicy red ripe tomatoes are actually insanely healthy for dogs, they are packed with lycopene and other cancer fighting properties and provide defense against many degenerative diseases.

It is the stems of a tomato plant and to a lesser degree, the unripe tomato fruit, that is dangerous for dogs to eat. Keep your pooch out of your tomato garden and instead give them their fill of tomatoes with a nice bowl of Italian Beef Pasta-you will be promoting amazing health for your four legged friend!

What is NRC and AAFCO and what does it mean on pet food labels?

NRC stands for National Research Council, which is a scientific group formed outside of the pet food industry. In the 1950’s, they developed a science based Nutrient Profile for Cats and Dogs which is considered the gold standard in understanding their unique nutritional requirements based on highly bioavailable food (what has become oddly known as “human grade food” in contrast to lower quality ingredients found in most pet foods). The NRC update these requirements periodically using new scientific research and the most recent update was in 2006.

AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which is a voluntary organization comprised largely of regulatory officials and pet food manufacturer representatives, and as identified in the name, is American. AAFCO does not regulate pet food, this is the FDA’s job in the United States. AAFCO has no regularity authority themselves, they exist to help provide a framework for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards, definitions and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, labeling, distribution and sale of animal feeds for production and sale in the United States. They have created their own nutritional guideline for the minimum and maximum levels of nutrients in pet food and have referenced the NRC data from the 1980’s (they have yet to update their information to reflect the 2006 NRC data), however, they adjusted the NRC levels of nutrients to consider that the pet food industry largely uses ingredients of a lower quality and bioavailablity.

Tom&Sawyer is formulated to meet the recommended allowances from NRC for two reasons:

  • Our food is highly bioavailable because it is real fresh food, so no modifications for lower quality ingredients is needed; and
  • NRC is the science-based gold standard so we believe anything less would not be good enough to be providing to your beloved pet.
How should my pet transition to Tom&Sawyer Pet Meals?

Most cats and dogs transition very easily and can go from their old diet to eating Tom&Sawyer meals exclusively without needing to do a gradual switch. Some cats and dogs, with more sensitive stomachs, experience slight discomfort (loose stool, throws up once) which may seem alarming at first but is normal, you should not be worried.

Your pet is moving from a diet made of lower quality ingredients to real, healthy fresh foods with a higher bioavailability to which their systems need to adjust. Simply scale back the percentage of Tom&Sawyer meals to old food, and take it a bit slower. You know your furry friend the best so watch them daily and ensure everything is going okay.

If in doubt, give us a call, we are available to help.

A suggested gradual switch schedule is as follows (for dogs, mix our food through with kibble to distribute it, as we have seen dogs leave the kibble after eating our pet meals if it is put beside kibble. For cats, see note below).

Day 1 to 3

Mix in 25% Tom&Sawyer meals with your pet’s old food

Day 4 to 6

Mix 50/50 of Tom&Sawyer meals and their old food

Day 7 to 9

They should eat 75% Tom&Sawyer meals

Day 10

They are eating 100% Tom&Sawyer meals

Once your cat or dog is fully transitioned onto Tom&Sawyer meals they can switch between all of our recipes without needing to transition, they are now fully “detoxed” from processed pet foods and are able to digest a whole fresh food diet.

Special Note for Puppies: Use the above transition guide and include the Puppy Booster at the same percentage (i.e. 1/8 teaspoon for Days 1-3, 1/4 teaspoon for Days 4-6, and so on). This allows their digestive system to adjust to the Puppy Booster. Modify as necessary based on observation.

Note for cats: our feline friends can be a little more finicky than dogs when it comes to transitioning foods. This is a primal trait as cats were often lone hunters, unlike dogs who hunted for food in packs and had a leader who’s job it was to test the packs food for safety. Cats developed a need to be cautious of changes in food for survival and even after domestication, it can still be a strong trait if a cat was not exposed to a variety of food from a young age.

If you have a cat who is not adventurous with trying new foods, place a small spoonful of Tom&Sawyer meals on the side of the plate or bowl with their normal portion of food and let them explore the new smell and taste at their own pace. We all know that cats will do what they want to do, when they want to do it (and we love them for it). Just be patient and your kitty will be purring for more in no time!

What is ash?

The contents of your fireplace is not being added to your pet’s diet so don’t worry, ash is not a dirty word, not here at least!

The word “ash” on the guaranteed analysis label is another term for dietary minerals (such as calcium, iron, potassium, etc). Minerals are inorganic nutrients in a diet and when foods are analyzed for energy all nutrients other than minerals are removed and the remaining material is dietary minerals which are referred to as “ash”. It is part of the essential nutrient intake that your cats and and dogs need so don’t worry, let them eat up!

Some cats and dogs do encounter health issues that require their veterinarian to closely monitor intake of certain minerals and adjust the mineral content and the level of ash in their diet.

Why do you use non-GMO Canola Oil in your fresh pet meal recipes?

Canola oil has been the subject of much misinformation over the years. Canola oil comes from a specifically bred variety of rapeseed, which is part of the mustard family along with kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.

Tom&Sawyer uses expeller-pressed canola oil, which is naturally produced by mechanically squeezing (pressing) the oil from the canola seed using an expeller-press process.  Conversely, in North America nearly all canola processing plants use a chemical process, which involves hexane solvent extraction to remove oil from the canola seed (this GMO process is the focus of the canola oil controversy).

Non-GMO, expeller-pressed canola oil is one of the healthiest edible oils in the world. It contains high levels of the important Omega-6 lineolic acid (LA) and Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) essential fatty acids for cats and dogs which is our main purpose for including it in our recipes.  Non-GMO canola oil costs quite a bit more than traditional canola oil but we believe your pets deserve it.

Fun FactDid you know that Canola Oil was developed in Canada and actually stands for Canada Oil (“CAN-oil”). That’s another bonus point for using this pretty cool non-GMO oil.

What is the cost difference between my pet’s current diet and Tom&Sawyer’s Fresh Prepared Pet Meals?

Nothing beats the health benefits of eating well. This is well known for humans and there should be no difference for cats and dogs, they deserve real food too.

We like to answer this question by asking you to think about the price difference between fast food and a healthy cooked meal. Fresh foods cost more because they have been grown properly, are nutritionally superior and have not been processed and modified to achieve a long shelf life.

Humans avoid regularly eating fast food and a diet of only non-perishable foods because it is not good for us. We know that eating well and drinking enough water every day is the key to a longer and healthier life. We feel better, look better and live longer lives if we take care of our bodies.

If you think about it, all of this is exactly the same for dogs and cats.

Tom&Sawyer believes that investing in your pet’s health on the front end with a healthy diet is not only providing a better experience for them at meal time, but their health will be better overall by eating fresh and unprocessed foods. Your veterinarian visits will be less frequent and therefore less costly. It’s also something to be proud of during yearly check-ups when they can show off how healthy and how good-looking they are.

Isn’t grain-free pet food considered premium as grains are unhealthy for my dog?

This is a common misconception caused by manufacturers attempting to market new products. The simple truth is that most commercial pet foods that have grain included as an ingredient use grain by-products (as opposed to whole grains). These by-products cannot be digested by a dog’s system and end up going through them.

Tom&Sawyer uses only human grade whole grains in our food that are of the highest quality. We fully cook our grains which makes them highly digestible and they provide important nutrients.

Why do your meals contain carbohydrates, I thought dogs don’t need them?

Carbohydrates provide a very good source of energy and contribute to the overall health of your dog. Although carbohydrates are not essential to dogs, receiving fiber is important, which is a form of carbohydrate, and is present in fruits and vegetables.

Our pet meals do not contain the unhealthy and over-processed carbs that have a bad rap in most pet foods. Our major carb sources are whole pasta, rice and oatmeal.

If you have a dog with a grain or gluten sensitivity, we also offer grain free and gluten free diets for dogs such as Farmer’s Market, B’apples, and Sous Vide Salmon.

Do you make pet meals for puppies and kittens?

Yes we do because Tom&Sawyer loves puppies and kittens!

Currently, all of our cat meals are formulated for both kittens and for adult cat weight maintenance.

Our dog meals are formulated for adult maintenance but we have formulated a special “Sawyer’s Puppy Booster” that provides additional minerals for puppies that you add to our dog meals to make them suitable to feed to puppies after weaning.

Kittens and Puppies need more calories during growth and our Feeding Guide assists you in knowing how much to feed your pet.  Your veterinarian will be able to assist you in determining when your cat or dog has reached full weight.

How do I order Tom&Sawyer Fresh Prepared Pet Meals?

Ordering Tom&Sawyer pet meals for your cat or dog is easy!

Click on the Get Started icon located through the main page and we will guide you through the process!

What does balanced mean? Why do you add a vitamin & mineral supplement blend?

It is nearly impossible for cats and dogs to get all of the nutrients they require from food alone so any pet food must have added supplements if it is to be intended for long term feeding and especially if the pet is only fed one recipe. Tom&Sawyer created a proprietary vitamin & supplement blend to balance each pet meal to the standards of the National Research Council (NRC).

Just like Tom&Sawyer differs from commercial pet food by using real fresh human grade food ingredients, our supplement is also made in human grade nutraceutical facilities, so the bioavailability is much greater and is made to stricter standards then pet nutraceuticals.

Isn’t kibble good for a pet’s teeth to keep them clean?

This is a misconception.

Crunchy cat or dog food will not clean their teeth any more than humans relying on hard food to clean our teeth. Tom&Sawyer asks responsible pet parents to use the same common sense we do for ourselves to think about the health of our cats and dogs.

We know there are kibble brands out there that state they are to clean a dog’s teeth. Dogs do not typically chew food like humans do so thinking that a cat or dog eating kibble is a substitute for good dental care doesn’t make sense.

The best way to clean your dog’s teeth regularly is by using a Veterinary Oral Health Council approved toothpaste like PetSmile and have their teeth looked at by their Vet during their annual checkup.

My dog is sick, which pet meal should I serve during this time?

Sometimes our pups get sick. We all have at one time said to our dog “What did you just eat, and WHY did you just eat that?”

During these times our pooches are feeling a tad green, veterinarians often suggest feeding your dog a bland and limited ingredient diet to allow the digestive system time to rest and to ensure they still receive calories and basic nutrients. Poached chicken & rice is often the suggested diet for temporarily sick dogs (but not dogs with a specific disease or condition).

Tom&Sawyer is there for you and your dog during times they are not feeling well and we offer 454g frozen packages of plain gently cooked chicken breast and white rice in a ratio commonly suggested by veterinarians. Call us, or come visit us at our retail location, we are here to help you get through those not-so-great days.

How are your recipes made and what are your ingredients used?

The ingredients that go into each Pet Meal recipe are human grade and restaurant quality, sourced from the same suppliers that restaurants use for their menus. We use the identical products.  We carefully choose foods for their nutrient levels, their caloric values and their palatability to cats or dogs.

There are certain vitamin and mineral levels that just can’t be achieved through whole food ingredients alone, so for these we developed our proprietary Tom&Sawyer supplement blend which is manufactured in a human grade nutraceutical plant.  This supplement is added to achieve the optimal nutritional profile of our Pet Meals.

How do I determine what "Life Stage" my dog is at?

Growth Phase

This is a special time for feeding your four legged foodie and should be carefully monitored.  Puppies grow within the first year of their life, and for some larger breeds of dogs, do not complete growing for over one year.  To understand how long your puppy will continue to grow before reaching full grown weight, please consult with your veterinarian. To understand how much to feed your puppy, please contact us at info@tomandsawyer.com or call us at 647 247 3212 and we’d be happy to chat with you, we love talking about nutrition and especially love talking about puppies!!


A dog who has just reached fully grown size. The period of time to feed according to “Young” differs amongst breeds and determining “Young” age depends not only on actual age but also upon the breed’s typical lifespan. If you are unsure of whether your four-legged foodie should continue to be fed according to “Young” after it has reached full grown size, please consult with your veterinarian. Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.

Adult Pet

This is a fully grown dog living in a household and receives daily exercise of walks and outdoor activity. Adult Pet dogs do not expend considerable levels of energy related to that of the Adult Working Dog (see related description). Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.

Adult Working

A fully grown dog who spends a large portion of their waking hours exercising at moderate to high intensity levels. Examples of Adult Working include dogs involved in racing, hunting, herding or law enforcement activities. Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.


Lifespan differs amongst breeds and determining “Senior” age depends not only on actual age but also upon the breed’s typical lifespan. If you are unsure of whether your four-legged foodie has reached their “Golden Years”, please consult with your veterinarian to determine if their daily caloric requirements should be modified. Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.

How do I determine if my cat is lean, average, or overweight?


Cats who are on the lean side will have their ribs, spine and pelvic bones visible, with minimal fat covering, and an obvious waist. They may have a pronounced abdominal tuck, and their tummy fat will be minimal.


Your cat has an “average” or “ideal” body type if it is well proportioned, with ribs, spine and pelvic bones that are not visible, but easily felt under the surface. A cat with this body type will also have minimal tummy fat, an obvious abdominal tuck, and even muscle mass throughout the body.


Signs that your cat is overweight include ribs, spine and pelvic bones that are not easily felt due to being covered by moderate or excessive fat. Their waist will be diminished, or not visible from excess fat. They may also have visible fat deposits on their spine, chest and base of tail, in addition to an excessive fat pad, or rounding of the abdomen.

If you are unsure of your four-legged foodie’s body type, please consult with your veterinarian.

Is Your Food Raw?

No. We gently cook all our proteins to ensure food safety for everyone in the household.

We understand there are people who want to feed their pets what is termed an “ancestral” diet. Our belief is that because we have brought cats and dogs into our homes, they are not eating out in the wild and capturing their prey. There are different concerns about raw meat safety and risk of bacteria in the home for both pet and humans that is cause for concern. We care about the safety of everyone in your home.

We employ gentle cooking methods, such as steam and sous vide cooking, for all of the raw food ingredients (including most fruits and vegetables) to retain as much of the nutritional levels (and flavour!) as possible while adhering to food safety practices used for humans (we have developed HACCP procedures for our production).

What is Tom&Sawyer's Loyal Companion Program?

As a member of our Loyal Companion Program, you will receive additional discounts based on the frequency of how often you order and on the volume of pet meals you purchase.

Extra-Loyal Companion

(Volume Ordering)

We provide volume discounts on the Loyal Companion pricing for Dog and Cat Meals as follows:

  • 5% off each bag @ 28-59 bags/month
  • 10% off each bag @ 60-89 bags/month
  • 15% off each bag @ 90-139 bags/month
  • 20% off each bag @ 140+ bags/month

* call us at (647) 247-3212 or emailorders@tomandsawyer.com to activate your volume discount.

What is the Digestive Aid Blend In Your Pet Meals?

We have all heard the positive information about probiotics and keeping our stomachs healthy. Foods like yogurt naturally contain lactobacillus and are touted for being good for your health. Keeping the stomachs of our cats and dogs healthy is also important too. Like children, they can be exposed to many more harmful bacteria because of their nature to investigate the world using their mouths, often ingesting things that can upset their stomach.

Our Digestive Aid Blend is an all natural blend of prebiotics, organic acids and essential oil which was specially blended for pets for the following digestive aid benefits:

  • maintaining healthy digestive environment
  • maximizing food digestibility and efficiency
  • promoting beneficial bacteria development
  • reducing pathogens presence in the digestive tract

The Digestive Aid Blend blend includes the following extracts: dried yeast, chicory root, lactobacillus, elderberry and thyme.

Tom&Sawyer’s animal nutrition consultant has many years of experience working with this digestive aid blend which assists with the best in intestinal health for cats and dogs.