Local Business Spotlight - Back to the Bone

Back to the Bone was born out of Daniel and Donna Tutton’s personal experience with their own beloved pet. In 2007, their seven year old black labrador, Max, fell ill. “He wasn’t eating right, he wasn’t keeping food down, the poor guy started dropping weight over the course of a few weeks,” Daniel explains. After spending thousands of dollars at the vet and trying all different types of food, Donna happened to bump into a woman who, upon hearing about Max, asked what they were feeding him. “We thought we were feeding a really good, high-quality kibble,” says Daniel. “But she said to Donna, you’ve got to get your dog on real food, on raw food.” So Donna did just that - and after a few days of a new, raw food diet, Max was almost back to his old self. “He’s eating, he’s keeping it down, he’s putting weight back on, getting a sheen back to his coat. We couldn’t believe it.”

A few years later - and with both their dogs now on a raw food diet - Daniel and Donna were trying to decide what to do with the rest of their lives. “We had become very interested in nutrition for dogs, because we saw what happened with Max. It opened our eyes to proper pet nutrition, and to what was going into traditional, heat-extruded kibble.” It was Donna who suggested that they open a retail store in order to help educate pet parents, and offer them easy to use, well put-together pet foods. So in 2010, Back to the Bone opened its doors. “It was because we’re pet lovers, and one of our dogs got really sick and we saw what raw food did for him.” They wanted to create a store that would help fellow pet owners in a similar way. “If you can have a really good relationship with your local pet store retailer, and build a level of trust - it gives you a sense of confidence that you’re doing the right thing and it gives you more time to enjoy a good healthy pet.”

For the Tuttons, it was very important that the majority of what they offered was local, Canadian products. They pride themselves on not bringing any merchandise into the store that they would not be comfortable feeding to their own dogs - any products that they sell have to pass what Daniel refers to as ‘the taste test’. They want to know what the ingredients are, where they come from, are they fit for human consumption, and do they offer proper nutrition. “We want to know that the mixture that’s been put together has been laboratory-tested to meet the nutritional values that are meant for long-term feeding for a dog or cat.” Daniel believes strongly in making sure that dogs and cats enjoy a variety of food. “There’s a much better mixture of vitamins and minerals that are going to come from a multi-protein diet,” Daniel explains. “Being able to offer a variety of proteins, flavours and scents into our cats’ and dogs’ bowls is hugely important.”

Equally important to Daniel is the relationship that they have with their partner companies. “We need to have a good, honest working relationship with the owners that are responsible for making the food that we’re offering to our customers,” he says. Most of what Back to the Bone offers is prepared raw foods, but Daniel and Donna also realized that sometimes people aren’t able to feed raw, for a variety of reasons. That’s when they started doing their research on healthy offerings, such as dehydrated foods, that are easy to use and almost as good, “We came across Smack and we looked at the ingredients and saw that they’re solid as a rock,” Daniel says. “They’re Canadian, I’ve got their phone numbers, they’ve got a full nutritional analysis. We did some taste-testing with some dogs in our store and people came back saying this is fantastic, this is amazing. So we brought Smack in and we haven’t looked back.” Smack has become one of Back to the Bone’s fastest-growing dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. “The dogs love it,” says Daniel. “It’s easy to use, and for the quality of the food and the ease of use, the price point is really good. As a business owner, it’s easy to sell.” Smack’s values also align with those of Back to the Bone. “We’ve had a great relationship with Smack since we started selling. We have full confidence that the quality of the product they’re bringing out to us, that we’re offering to our customers, is amazing.”

Now with two locations in Burlington and Oakville, ON, Daniel and Donna love what they do at Back to the Bone. “We get a kick out of it,” says Daniel. “It’s almost twelve years later and every time we come in and we help someone convert their dogs or cats onto raw foods and they come back and they tell us the amazing experience they had, it just never gets old. It’s wonderful.”

Read more at https://www.backtothebone.ca/ 

“We did some taste-testing with some dogs in our store and people came back saying this is fantastic, this is amazing. So we brought Smack in and we haven’t looked back.”

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