Thinking about changing your pet’s diet but not sure which way to go?

Here’s a look into raw and cooked options

It seems there are more and more pet food recalls, just recently traces of Pentobarbital the euthanasia drug was found in a brand of canned food resulting in 4 dogs becoming instantly ill, killing one of them. It’s only natural you’d want to ensure that your pet is eating the right and safe things. But what methods do you choose? I checked out a few stores in Toronto and chatted with the owners. It seems the main motivation across the board was to bring a healthy, safe and convenient option to the pet food market. Eager to educate and guide you through the process of changing diets these women are happy to share their knowledge and expertise with you. After all they have changed careers and devote their days to bringing better pet nutrition and education to the forefront.


Commercial Cooked Foods

Tom & Sawyer


Located in Leslieville Tom & Sawyer is not only a pet food production facility it’s also a cafe where you and your dog can hang out while you enjoy a hot or cold beverage. With an open kitchen you can see exactly what the chefs are creating, (yes, real honest to goodness chefs). Co founder Kristen Matthews is very focused on quality and transparency, explaining how they adhere to the same regulations that apply to human food prep and consumption. While I was there on a Sunday afternoon the store was buzzing, so much so Mathews had to restock the products continuing our conversation from the walk in freezer as she went back and forth.



Why cooked food?

After trying kibble and raw, Sawyer, Matthew’s dog got very ill on some raw food. Based on it’s appearance in the package Matthew suspects it may have been refrozen allowing the contaminates leading to salmonella to set in during the time it had thawed. Although Sawyer had been eating that brand of raw for a while that one incident was enough to send Matthews looking for an alternative.  A former forensic accountant she set out on her quest to dig up everything she could related to canine nutrition. Out of love and necessity Tom & Sawyer was born.

Is it really human grade?

Tom and Sawyer’s food suppliers supply restaurants in the GTA. They purchase the exact same product the restaurants do, not the  “table scraps” which basically translates to the throw away by products of meat production. “If our label says chicken breast that’s what your pet is eating”. Matthews adds that the meat is antibiotic and hormone free and are ethically raised. All of their produce comes from Ontario farms.

What is the cost?

Their website has a great feeding guide calculation tool, (this is a guide and may be adjusted according to heath and other factors.) My dog is a working 40 lb border collie cross, if I were to feed her a 100% Tom & Sawyer diet she needs 1146 calories per day for a total of 13 packages (454 grams per) a week. That works out to $93- $128 a week.

They also have a “loyal companion” discount which can be further discounted if you purchase in volume.

What about puppies and cats?

Tom and Sawyer also prepare cat meals and provide a puppy supplement that can be added to the regular dog menus.

Continued education

Tom and Sawyer hosted their first seminar on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017  focusing on dog body language lead by WildFlower dog training.

They are moving toward a monthly seminar goal covering topics such as dog yoga, oral health, nutrition and cooking classes to name a few. Connect with them to receive updates.

Check out the upcoming free seminar related to pet dental health  slated for Saturday, February 25, 2017.

Tom and Sawyer

1247 Queen St. E

Toronto, Ontario

(647) 247-3212



Barkside Bistro



Based on the diets of animals in the wild and the fact that uncooked and non processed foods retain more nutritional values the Raw diet has become a popular choice for those looking for a healthy feeding option. Owner operator Karen Schiavone had been feeding raw since the late 90’s. There was a point along the way that she switched to kibble due to economics. During that time she lost two dogs under the age of 10 to cancer.  “I can’t say for sure that the kibble diet caused the cancer but I believe it did nothing to prevent it.” explains Schiavone.  After being laid off from the advertising game and losing her pets, opening the store seemed like a natural option going forward.



Can I use regular meat from the grocery store?

The main ingredient in the raw diet that makes the difference is bone. Schiavone is very clear on the proper quality, “You don’t want to add bone meal from wherever, many of these are prepared with a product that is so ground down it may contain traces of metal”. Barkside only carries high quality products that are scrutinized and hand picked. “We stand behind our products and offer 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on everything we offer! If for some reason your pet does not approve of your selection, just bring us back the unused portion and we will replace it with an alternative of equal value”.

Barkside also carries a selection of supplements. Whatever your pet’s issues are you can be sure Schiavone’s extensive knowledge will help you find the right fit.

What about salmonella?

“Before dogs were domesticated, all they ate were raw foods. Dog’s stomachs have a very high level of acid, which does not allow bacteria to flourish. Therefore, any salmonella that maybe in the raw patties or nuggets will be counteracted by the acid. Various brands of kibble have been tested and have been shown to contain salmonella, so your dog has probably already been ingesting the bacteria anyways. It is very important to remember that while dogs are not susceptible to salmonella, you are still handling raw chicken meat, and precautions should be taken to protect yourself and your family.”

What is the cost?

Depending on the type of protein and quality, (human grade, organic, free range) prices vary from $1.70 – $8.00 lb.

Check the feeding calculator for examples. Ask about special pricing on subscription orders.

Additional products

Barkside Bistro carries supplements, treats and cat food.

Continued education

Barkside Bistro is a huge supporter of education offering the space for many workshops and seminars from training, feeding and how to keep your dogs safe to name a few.

Check out the upcoming Intro to Tellington TTouch (Ttouch) Saturday March 25, 2017.

Barkside Bistro 

1125 Gerrard St. E

Toronto, Ontario



Whole Health

Wholesome Canine

Christine Ford and Helen Moore got together, pooled their respective talents and like minded networks and created the labor of love that is Wholesome Canine.

Wholesome Canine offers real food for dogs , lifestyle coaching and nutritional counselling.

There are several feeding options to choose from, cooked, raw and dried raw (no need to hydrate) as well as treats, proprietary supplements, gear , educational toys and resource books.

Wholesome Canine sources as much as they can from local and Canadian made products.




Why Wholesome Canine?

Ford, owner and operator of Oh My Dog dog walking wanted to find better ways to feed her and her client’s dogs, so she obtained a certificate in Advanced Canine Nutrition from the Companion Animals Sciences Institute (CASI).

“When I adopted my first dog, Joey, a West Highland Terrier, the notion of feeding him convenience food for a lifetime, just didn’t sit right. Especially with the knowledge that this particular breed is prone to a host of skin issues and health problems. Soon after, I set down the long road to becoming a Canine Dietary Consultant.

Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than witnessing dogs improve and thrive on a diet I’ve created just for them.”

Determining food sensitivity

Wholesome Canine will carry the Nutriscan food sensitivity and intolerance kits to help pin point what  foods are affecting your pet. This kit is a simple swab test that you can purchase in store for $50 which can be used as a $50 credit towards supplements and food once the results are in. The cost to Nutriscan to do the test is $230 US.


Moore initially trained in human nutrition but her love of dogs took her in a different direction. She trained with world renowned trainer Turid Rugaas and will be providing training classes. She’d like to start a neighborhood loose leash walking group to help those with reactive dogs get out and enjoy themselves in normal circumstances, not have to wait for dawn or late evening hours to avoid other dogs.  In the short time we chatted about training I had several “Ah ha!” moments. I’ll definitely be watching her class schedule and jump on as many as I can.

Physical treatments

The shop also has a treatment room tucked off in the back, they’ll be bringing in specialists such as Jamie Price of Toronto Animal Bowen  and massage by Heather Johnston of Flow Canine

Continued Education

Connect with them on Facebook for details on upcoming seminars/workshops.

There will be a free Canine Life muffin tasting March 4, 12:00 pm until they’re all gobbled up.


Wholesome Canine

2096 Dundas St. W @ Roncesvalles

Toronto, Ontario

(416) 855-6463

Not residing in the west end? Inquire about their free delivery on orders over $50.


DIY  Home Cooked Food

Canine Life


Want to make your dog’s food at home easily, economically and have absolute control of the ingredients you add? Canine Life is the product you’re looking for. I’ve been feeding my dog Booboo Canine Life since 2012. She is super healthy and everyone comments on how shiny her coat is.

Available in ready made frozen muffins or a pre-mix for a do it yourself prep, Canine Life is a great option.

Canine Life muffins can be made sans protein as a compliment to a raw diet and you can use the pre-mix powder in place of tooth paste to clean your dog’s teeth. They love the taste!



What is the cost?

Your biggest investment is your time.

If you choose the DIY route you can feed your dog for under $3 a day. (based on 3 muffins a day for an active 40 lb. dog)

A 12 k bag (MSRP $100 +) of pre-mix will yield you 300 muffins.

If you were to make a 2 week batch that’s:

$14 in pre-mix,

3 lbs. of meat on sale at $4 per pound ($12).

A generous $10 allowance for veg, oil and eggs.

You’re looking at roughly $2.57 a day. ( the ready made frozen muffins are $23 – $27 for 20)

Prep time is about a half hour followed by half hour in the oven. Find a Sunday afternoon, put on the tunes, make yourself a Mimosa and get cooking.


Available at Wholesome Canine . Free delivery on orders over $50, contact them for details.

Check the Canine Life  website for more details:



Pet Fooled , a feature film exposing the inner workings of the commercial pet food industry. Also available on Netflix.

Canine Nutrigenomics  The new science of feeding your dog for optimum health by Dr. Jean Dodds

How to read pet food labels

Can dogs be vegetarian?



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