FAQ


Where are your foods produced and manufactured?

We proudly make our recipes every weekday in our owned an operated Canadian pet meals kitchen located at 1247 Queen Street East in Toronto, Ontario. Please come visit us to see our chefs making your pet’s meals!

We suggest you ask that of other pet food brands, the answer may surprise you about whether they own the facility that makes their food or outsource to third parties. Be wary of terms used like ‘manufacturing partners’ and ‘we source our ingredients’ but they don’t actually state they have their own facility and employ the people responsible for making your pet’s food.

It is very expensive to design, build , maintain and operate a pet food facility and this is why almost every pet food company outsources the making of pet food to 3rd party companies to save on these high capital and operating costs and to maximize their profits to pay for their non-transparent marketing ads.

Tom&Sawyer cares more about ensuring we employ your pet’s culinary team and own the kitchens where your pet’s meals are made.

What quality assurance does Tom&Sawyer have for ingredients and processes of finished products?

Our promise to you is that we source our food ingredients and vitamin & mineral supplements from the human food industry, which has a higher overall standard than in the pet food ingredient industry. Our ingredients come from federally and provincially inspected human consumption food producers and our food and pharma-grade supplement distributors, all of which are fully traceable with stricter recall requirements than pet feed-grade ingredient suppliers.

The Tom&Sawyer employed culinary team prepares small batches of our recipes on a daily basis in our beautiful independently owned commercial kitchen and follows a full HACCP program consistent with the public health regulations for human food establishments to safeguard against common allergy and cross-contamination hazards. All Tom&Sawyer meals have finished batch traceability information on the backside of the package.

Do you employ a full time qualified nutritionist? Who formulates your foods and what are their credentials?

Tom&Sawyer created our recipes in a collaborative process of experts to tackle the innovative process of making nutrition for cats and dogs using healthy unprocessed ingredients, no preservatives and highly bioavailable foods fit for human consumption. We believe this roundtable approach is the only way to develop well-formulated fresh cooked pet food recipes that are not the conventional canned and kibble animal feed diets on which veterinary nutritionists typically receive their traditional training and conduct their research.

This method also removes any individual bias that could occur with only one person formulating your pet’s diet, as we believe you deserve to have a skilled team in specialty food and animal science industries working together to innovate and provide the best real cooked food diet for your pet.

The team of experts involved in the formulation and testing of Tom&Sawyer fresh cooked dog and cat meals have graduate and post-graduate degrees in companion animal nutrition and food nutrition (for human food to bridge this gap caused by feed ingredients), licensed practising veterinarians, trained chefs from accredited culinary schools, accredited food testing laboratories and accredited experts within our human food chain ingredient suppliers.

Does Tom&Sawyer food meet WSAVA guidelines?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) provides a series of recommended questions for pet owners in deciding on a food for them. These questions were developed to consider traditional AAFCO published information for feed grade based diets and this quality level and processes. Please review all the transparent information available in our FAQ and Science sections.

We also suggest you and your veterinarian read the recent study by a team of PhD animal nutritionists released in a peer-reviewed journal regarding their results questioning the appropriateness of applying AAFCO guidelines (that the WSAVA guidelines were built around) to cooked pet food diets using human-grade food ingredients. The positive differences are numerous when feeding your pet a human-grade fresh cooked diet beyond this study of the digestibility of amino acids, nutrients and caloric energy.

After reading all areas of our FAQ and Science sections, if you have any additional questions related to WSAVA guidelines or our foods please contact us at consult@tomandsawyer.com

Are your diets tested using AAFCO feeding trials or by formulation to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles?

All our recipes meet or exceed Recommended Allowance per NRC standards, the research body responsible for publishing cat and dog nutrient profiles and upon which AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials, an oversight body created for animal farming) created their Atwater formulas for various dog and cat nutrient profiles for lower quality and less bioavailable pet foods using feed ingredients.

Not relying solely on AAFCO standards, used for the feed industry, has always been our formulation team’s consensus and is consistent with the recent November 2019 feeding trial and study performed on the metabolizable energy levels and nutrient digestibility of human-grade fresh cooked pet food diets, which states: 

the predictive equations for ME recommended by NRC (2006), Atwater factors (AAFCO), or modifed Atwater factors underestimate the energy content for most foods tested so that their use for pet foods made with human-grade ingredients is questionable.1

We have also conducted humane in-home feeding trials in consultation with a licensed veterinarian and have laboratory tested our recipes on multiple occasions by accredited labs for nutrient results, heavy metals, bacterial pathogens and a 14 day vacuum sealed refrigerated shelf life study. As with any fresh food that is not highly processed and refined to standardized results, there is seasonal and regional variability to nutrient levels for our fresh human-grade food ingredients. Real food is still nutritionally superior and the results of our pet meals are consistently above defined nutrient levels and well below any nutrients with identified safe upper limits. The average results are published under the Science section of our website.

1Patrícia M. Oba, Pamela L. Utterback, Carl M. Parsons, and Kelly S. Swanson,True nutrient and amino acid digestibility of dog foods made with human-grade ingredients using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay’, Translational Animal Science, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 442–451 https://academic.oup.com/tas/article/4/1/442/5660976

Do you provide a complete nutrient analysis for your pet meals?

The full nutrient analysis for all our pet meals is located here:

Dog Meals: https://www.tomandsawyer.com/the-science/dog-nutrition/

Cat Meals: https://www.tomandsawyer.com/the-science/cat-nutrition/

If you need more information please reach out to us at consult@tomandsawyer.com

What is the caloric value of your foods?

Please refer to the dog meals and cat meals sections for each specific meal to view the caloric value per 100G.

It is also available for each recipe under the Science section for cat nutrition and dog nutrition.

What is the percentages of the major sources of ingredients of your dog meals and what should I choose for my dog?

We have developed a handy chart to answer many of the common questions on what meals are best for various nutrition needs and also which recipes have grains, are grain-free and the % breakdown of the major categories of ingredients.

You can see that even though our labels have many human grade vitamins and minerals listed, our total supplement blend and Omega 3 and 6 oils only make up a total of 2% of our recipes. We are a food ingredient first pet food company!

The recipes that have grains and ingredients like potatoes have been specially selected to be highly digestible, high quality and assists diet needs for many dogs who need a diet that is not heavy in meat proteins. We make sure we have diets that work for almost every situation! See the blog article on the fresh cooked dog food study here!

Dog Meals ingredient pie chart

What kind of product research has been conducted? Are the results published in peer-reviewed journals?

We have been in detailed discussions with a PhD animal nutritionist at a USA research University about criteria for conducting a Tom&Sawyer dog meals study that is not yet finalized.  Until recently, there has not been known published studies in peer-reviewed journals on human grade fresh cooked pet food diets.

In exciting news, a research team of PhDs in Animal Nutrition at the University of Illinois recently published a study in a USA peer-reviewed journal in December 2019 on the high digestibility of a commercially-made fresh cooked diet for dogs using human-grade ingredients. They concluded these results would also likely translate to similar fresh cooked diets using human edible ingredients.

This study concludes that there is a higher digestibility of amino acids and nutrients as well as higher metabolizable energy of fresh cooked diets using human-grade ingredients. They suggest that these results makes using conventional pet food formulation equations questionable (such as AAFCO nutrient guidelines, which have been developed for lower quality feed grade ingredients) for human-grade fresh cooked diets.

Please click HERE to read an overview and comments by Tom&Sawyer Co-Founder and President Kristin Matthews of this study and for the direct link to download a complete copy of the published study in the peer-reviewed Journal Translational Animal Science

Some of my packages arrived partially thawed, is it safe to refreeze them?

For home delivery orders, your orders arrive in special thermal delivery packaging that keeps everything cold during transit. If needed, we also add in ice packs. Ice packs are simply water we have sealed in our vacuum chamber food bags so it is safe to open and dispose of down the sink or provide as fresh water for your pet’s bowl (and it is a more environmentally friendly option!)

It is perfectly food safe to refreeze our cooked meals should some arrive thawed but they need to be at least refrigerator temperature to do so (4C or under). Our thermal boxes and packing materials are designed to keep our meals very cold and outside of the food safety danger zone for up to 3 days in transit (we ship across North America!!)

As soon as your food arrives at your home, put all food directly in your freezer, and only keep to 4 days in your fridge at all times. You could use any thawed packages first (keeping in fridge at most for 4 days).

Helpful note: Our pet meals kitchen team team quick freezes your pet’s meals in thin packages on shallow sheets in our large commercial freezing equipment immediately after packaging. This ensures a fast temperature drop and keeps frozen water molecules smaller to inhibit excess water on thawing. When you refreeze our meals, this will help ensure less free water to freeze however during the second defrost it is typical to see more free water as home freezers cannot drop temperatures at the rate of our commercial freezers and therefore frozen water molecules are larger.

If your food ever shows up warm or completely thawed, please contact us immediately upon delivery at orders@tomandsawyer.com or call us at 647 247 3212 ext 1

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.

Science:

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 our shelf life study identified when unopened in ideal refrigerator conditions but we recommend only keeping maximum of 4-5 days worth of meals in the fridge.

 Package is opened in fridge:

  • Place left over portion into a food storage container with an air tight lid
  • Normal food rules apply: recipes last 4 to 5 days.

Good rule to follow: keep only enough in the fridge for a few days and the rest keep frozen and take 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

  • Our product will store safely for 18 months in the freezer from “packaged on” date (located on back of package), not that your cat or dog will let you keep it in there for that long!
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.
My dog has never eaten Tom&Sawyer meals before, where do I start?

We have created this fantastic pet meal guide loaded with information on storing, transitioning, feeding amounts and much much more! We have paper copies (email us for a copy if you don’t have one) or read the electronic version here

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 organic, 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 non-GMO organic 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.

Furthermore, we provide a variety of recipes, some are grain-free and some include healthy grains.

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, check out our full line up!

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? Can I get auto-reorders?

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

For your first order, select one of our variety boxes to sample different meals and receive a free package of treats! Picky eater or allergies? Build your own meal plan by selecting a la carte.

Once you know what you dog or cat enjoys eating, let us help you create your pet’s perfect meal plan and then we will set up an automatic reorder! Contact us at orders@tomandsawyer.com

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 meet and exceed the recommended allowance 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 food grade or pharma grade, so the bioavailability is much greater and is made to stricter standards then feed grade supplements.

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 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 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!!

Adult Pet

This is a fully grown dog living in a household and receives daily exercise of walks and outdoor activity. Young adult dogs expend more energy than order adult dogs and certain breeds metabolize calories at differing rates. Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.

Senior

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 to a lower daily amount. Adjust caloric intake as required based on observation.

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

Lean

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.

Average

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.

Overweight

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 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 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 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.