A friend of ours recently introduced us to a new type of dog food called Lucky Dog Cuisine. What struck us about this being so different is that all of their meals are made in real kitchens, not processing plants. They use pots and pans and bowls just like you would to cook your own dinner – except of course their bowls are likely a lot larger. Lucky Dog Cuisine is cooked fresh in small batches, then frozen preservative free for delivery right to your door.
Now there are quite a few companies that state that their food is all natural, all-american, human grade cooked meals. But Lucky Dog Cuisine takes it a bit further in that there are no ingredients in their food that you cannot pronounce or have to look up in a chemistry text. They believe that if you cannot pronounce something, you probably should not be eating it. They do not use any preservatives.
We did a taste test to see how our dog Kobi would like it. Kobi is a really picky eater and definitely doesn’t eat if he doesn’t like it. He actually turns down about 70% of all doggie treats offered to him, which can be embarrassing.
We were given a bag of Bugsy’s Best Beef and Barley and Tail-Waggin’ Turkey N’ Rice to test out. On several different days I ran the test, which consisted of using 3 identical bowls, 3 different foods with one being the Lucky Dog Cuisine and the others were brands he already eats at home. I would also change the order of the bowls. Kobi would give each bowl a sniff and to my surprise he always ate the Lucky Dog Cuisine first. I was also able to actually see that it is real food, i.e. real cheese, blueberries, barley, ground meat.
Here are the ingredients of the Lucky Dog Cuisine food we tested:
Bugsy’s Best Beef and Barley
Grass fed ground beef, barley, cottage cheese, beef heart, peas, carrots, beans, tomatoes, apples, blueberries, flaxseed meal, extra virgin olive oil and basil.
Tail-Waggin’ Turkey N’ Rice
Organic ground turkey, yogurt, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, pumpkin, apples, blueberries, flaxseed meal and extra virgin olive oil.
When testing dog food there’s the “does it go in” test (which it clearly passed) and “how it goes out” test – we’re very happy that the “going out” test passed with top marks. He even appeared to poop less. Then I saw on the Lucky Dog Cuisine website that “less poop” is one of the benefits. Honestly I have no idea why, but in my dog’s case it was true.
Results: Lucky Dog Cuisine passed Kobi’s test and was Dogsized approved.
Lucky Dog Food was created by Dr. Janice Elenbaas, who has had four years of nutritional training and twenty years of experience as a Doctor of Chiropractic for both humans and animals. We had the opportunity to also ask Dr. Janice Elenbaas a few questions:
It sounds like you’ve always been cooking dog food for your dogs.
When did you decide to create your cooking into a business? How long ago was that?
I retired from the chiropractic business in 2002. My husband and I moved to South Carolina (from Canada) to finally get a chance to live in a warm climate! I was buying freshly ground beef from my local butcher. He teased me one day and said he knew that it was just Jeff and I at home, what were we doing with all this ground beef?! I told him that I cooked for my dogs. He thought it was a great idea and that if I could package it, he would sell it in his store. There were so many dogs here in the south with skin issues; he knew there would be a market for our product.
My next step was to find out what I needed to get it to market. After lots of research, I had my recipes (there were 2 at the time) tested by the South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. My AAFCO rep there helped me get started and we were good to go.
That was all back in 2009. It started with one pot in my kitchen, selling at the butcher shop, farmer’s markets and neighbors. We also had a friend who owned a restaurant with a wonder outdoor patio. She sold our food to her customers who wanted to bring their dogs out to dinner. From that exposure, people wanted to have these dog meals shipped to their homes when they got back from vacationing here in Hilton Head. Our national business began. Our very first shipment was to a family in Washington, DC. By the way, they are still customers!
Now from one pot in our kitchen, we have a 2,500 square foot commercial kitchen and employ 5 people to help us cook and package. What started, as a hobby is now a national, online, 24/7 operation! We are very excited about our amazing growth!
Why bother starting a company when your dogs had you and your great cooking all to themselves?
I had also cooked for my veterinarian’s dog back in Toronto. I knew what was in most commercial dog foods and couldn’t feed my dogs a highly processed kibble. My vet couldn’t believe how healthy and happy my dogs were and wanted the same diet for hers too. But it certainly was not a business at the time.
My philosophy has always been to eat wholesome, unprocessed foods. After all the research I did into commercial foods and seeing that one in 2 dogs was being diagnosed with cancer, I had lots of incentive to share my recipes and philosophy with other like- minded dog lovers. The massive recalls of 2007 with resulting dog deaths brought attention to the issue of the quality of dog food. The stories broke my heart.
The wonderful emails I received from people saying how happy they were to have found our website, made me know we were on the right track. People have told me that being on our food has extended their dogs’ lives. I get teary every time I receive one of those emails. I really enjoy contact with our clients and hope that they feel listened to and part of something. I consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity to feed a client’s dog. I feel we are making an important contribution to the health and happiness of both dogs and their human companions. What we do is a labor of love.
Is the food tested by any official agency? e.g. USDA
Yes, we have our food tested by the South Carolina Dept of Agriculture, as well as, by independent labs. I test for heavy metals, as well as, nutritional value. I do not use a supplier unless I can receive a certificate of quality. For example, all of our fruits and vegetables are non-gmo and we have a notarized statement from the company to that effect. Our fish is tested to be chemical free and we use organic ingredients wherever possible.