Lucky Dog Cuisine came to be as an act of love for my own dogs. I believe in eating wholesome, natural, unprocessed food. My dogs are part of my family so I feed them the same quality foods I eat myself. I love to cook … and to eat! So as a labor of love, I chose to cook for my dogs.
In 1995 I had a two year old Standard Poodle named Storm, diagnosed with Addison’s disease. At the time, in addition to conventional veterinarian therapies, I was looking for any additional help I could give her. I researched what was in dog food and had an eye opening experience. I refuse to feed my dogs anything that I would not eat myself!
About ten years ago my daughter, one of my other passions in life, came home from college for Thanksgiving dinner. Like most moms I love to send food back with her while she is away from home. I made her up a large container full of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. That was great except for the fact that she grabbed the wrong container out of the refrigerator and jumped on her train back to school with about ten pounds of dog food. I was disappointed because I had to make another batch of food for the dogs and also because I had wanted Meghan to have the turkey for her and her friends. She, on the other hand was delighted. When she opened the container and saw what she had done she immediately invited all her friends over and they ate all the dog food. They put it in tacos, mixed it into spaghetti sauce and even ate it straight out of the container. Oh well, at least I knew they were getting their vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids.
The idea of making Lucky Dog available to the general public was long in coming. My butcher, Jeff Scott at Scott’s Meats in Old Bluffton, South Carolina, was adamant that other people around here really needed this product. He was so impressed with it that he is even offering Lucky Dog for sale at his store. The name, by the way, came naturally. Every time someone asked me about what I feed my dogs, I told them what was in it and the response was always, “Wow! What Lucky Dogs!”
At that point I started to experiment with home cooked recipes. Storm became my personal study. Within months of feeding my home cooked recipes to her I noticed a number of changes in her as she seemed to regain her pre-diagnosis energy and vitality.
My beautiful black Standard had turned very grey after the onset of her disease. I sent her to the groomer one day and she returned with her coat a dark beautiful black again. All of the grey had grown out and she looked great. I actually cried I was so excited at her return to health. Stormy lasted 10 more great years before she passed away. A wonderful full life for an Addisonian dog.
It is with great pride that Bugsy and I have teamed up to bring you the finest all natural gourmet dog food you can buy.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Janice Elenbaas
A little bit about me.
Despite the fact that I spend most of my time researching dog food, dogs and health in general I have no interest in being a “dog food expert”. Rather I would like to become a “common sense expert”. I think it is hugely important that “pet parents” are encouraged to think outside the box.
I have had a long and successful career in health care for both people and animals. I was the first woman in Canada to be certified to adjust animals. I helped found the very first Ontario veterinary chiropractic association and was instrumental in bringing a more holistic approach to animal health in Canada by helping to introduce animal chiropractic.
I founded one of the first holistic equine sports clinics in North America and have long been an animal advocate.
Having done all of that my first love has always been my dogs. Feeding them gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure and I consider it a huge privilege to feed your dog as well.
Here are six questions from a recent interview that appeared in “Body Temple LA” that may help describe what goes into Lucky Dog Cuisine and who we are.
1) Hi Janice! Why did you create Lucky Dog Cuisine?
I believe that dogs should have the same great quality food that any other family member enjoys. I sure wouldn’t feed my kids highly processed, chemical laden meals…why would I do that to my furry babies? By the way, I made all my own baby food as well!
I grew up with my mother cooking for our dogs. As a child, I would come home from school to find her cutting up beef heart and mixing it with ground beef, farmer’s cheese, rice and veggies. She sure didn’t have any clinical nutrition training but did have a lot of good common sense. She said that she bought a can of dog food once, opened it and almost choked on the smell. Mom couldn’t feed that to her precious Mitzie!
So cooking for the dogs is in my blood! It’s natural for me! All our dogs lived long and healthy lives…hot spots and allergies were unknown for them!
Lucky Dog Cuisine was born out of a love of eating good food and sharing it with family and friends.
2) What are the ingredients?
We use only high quality human grade ingredients that I would eat myself. My daughter actually took a container of food for the dogs back to university by mistake. She was in a hurry and was supposed to pick up the left over turkey and dressing! But she knew what was in the dog’s food, so she and her roommates used it in stuffed peppers and in spaghetti sauce! She said they ate better than they had in weeks!
Our recipes use grass fed, humanely raised beef, all natural turkey, and fresh local fish fillets for our protein sources. The meats are cooked and drained then extra virgin olive oil is added. We mix this with cottage cheese, yogurt and ricotta cheese, depending on the recipe. We do use whole grains like brown rice, barley and whole wheat pasta for added fiber, prebiotics, B vitamins and minerals like zinc and magnesium. Our veggies are gently steamed and pureed. We love to make sure there is good variety so we use a base of carrots, beans and peas and then mix it up with zucchini, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. For added goodness, there are freshly grated apples and blueberries. Don’t forget our herbs for added anti oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits! Dogs love the smell and the taste of basil, oregano, rosemary, dill and garlic. And yes, garlic in small amounts, is very good for dogs!
Each recipe is different and there are 6 to choose from.
3) How do you come up with your recipes?
I’ve always been interested in the effects of diet on health. My chiropractic training included 4 years of clinical nutrition. Our mantra is that health and healing come from within. Blockages to healing can come about physically, emotionally and chemically. Processed foods, dyes, additives and preservatives become chemical blockages that interfere with the body’s ability to heal.
So my educational training provided me a great background to evaluate the foods we eat. After researching what went into most commercial dog foods, I knew I was on the right track with Lucky Dog Cuisine! I had started with the basics of the food I had fed my dogs for years…mom was right!
My love of animals pushed me into looking at how I could help them with my chiropractic philosophy and experience. I went on to study animal chiropractic as a specialty. It was a 2-year postgraduate program. We studied canine and equine anatomy and physiology. I became the first woman in Canada to adjust horses and dogs and eventually created the first Canadian Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Through that experience, I was fortunate to have had many wonderful, progressive holistic vets critique my recipes! Many of them had me cook for their dogs too!
My holistic attitude, training and experience have given me a unique approach to canine health and wellness. I have done lots of research and certainly have a different perspective. I have seen the effects of feeding a whole food based diet over a lifetime of personal experience.
Finally, when I moved to South Carolina, I became good friends with Dr. Trefsgar at the Dept. of Agriculture who is also our local AAFCO rep. We had our recipes evaluated at their lab and by independent labs and we were good to go!
I know this is as very round about way to answer the question, but it might help to shed some light on the fact that developing these recipes has been a way of life and a lifetime in the making!
4) Why is it so good for dogs?
Just like us, dogs need a variety of whole, unprocessed foods for health. We wouldn’t eat one kind of highly processed dry food 3 meals a day every day and expect to be healthy but we do that to our dogs. Dry kibble has had the life cooked out of it! The proteins are damaged; vitamins and minerals are lost and need to be re-introduced in synthetic form. There may be a list of ingredients on the label, but how many of these are actually absorbed is questionable. Then there is the list of chemicals, preservatives and dyes!
Fresh foods provide the basis for a healthy diet. Our meals contain simple, uncomplicated ingredients that are easily absorbed and readily bioavailable. The body can actually use them! Nature created balanced foods. The goodness of a piece of broccoli can’t be isolated…the whole is much more than a sum of its parts. Nutrients work in synergy, each helping the other; on their own, they are not as effective.
Not all proteins are the same. Our protein sources include high quality muscle meats. Many dog foods contain ligaments, feathers and other questionable, low quality ingredients. These are harder to digest and undigested proteins turn to ammonia in the large bowel creating Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Our food is also designed to encourage an alkaline pH in the body. This is important since our cells function best in this environment. Too much acidity, for example, when a diet is too rich in protein, damages DNA and cell walls, interfering with growth and detoxification.
We provide antioxidants in their natural state. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide phyonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties to help detoxify and protect against free radical damage.
Our foods are gently cooked in small batches to maintain the integrity of the amino acids in our proteins as well as the vitamin and mineral content. Even the water we use to cook with is filtered. Chlorine and fluorine have been shown to contribute to arthritis and other degenerative conditions. Several European countries have banned the use of fluorine in water.
Speaking of water, moist foods are so much healthier for our dogs! Dry kibble is only around 10% water at best. This concentrates the urine and creates stress on the liver, kidneys and bladder. This is why we are seeing so many more dogs with kidney and bladder stones and urinary tract infections. We need water to dilute toxins and to help take the load off the filtering organs. Moist foods are approximately 70% water. The water itself contains many valuable nutrients.
Anything that makes the body have to work harder creates more free radicals, damaging our cells and weakening our immune systems. Our dogs’ bodies and ours are already working hard to deal with toxins in our environment. We don’t want to increase the stress by feeding foods that are not natural. Common sense tells us that whole foods are best for us and for our dogs!
5) How does it differ from other commercial brand dog foods?
Gee, I wouldn’t even consider our food to be a ‘commercial brand dog food’! We cook in small batches in our own kitchens just like you would prepare a meal for your family. Yes, our pots and bowls are bigger and we do use more of them than you would, but the principle is the same.
We do take pride in the ingredients that we use. My husband cringes every time we come up with a new formula, because he knows I’ll be on the phone asking our suppliers all kinds of questions and even wanting to go visit them.
I research every ingredient for freshness and purity. It took me several months of research, for example to find the fish we use. I learned that most fish is imported and frozen. The chemicals used to preserve them in transit and processing disturbed me. Now, I sure can’t buy fish for any of us if it has been previously frozen or from places like China that has very questionable processing and harvesting practices.
I take our food very personally!
Every single ingredient used in our meals is something that I would eat myself! It might be a little bland for my taste, but the dogs love it!
We also take great pride in answering all questions either by phone (my personal preference!) or by email. I want people to know that there are real people here to help. I also know that choosing a dog food is a very important decision. The more our clients know about us, the more approachable we are, hopefully, the more they will trust us. That means a lot to me!
I hope that we always go above and beyond what is expected. For example, we have had clients whose credit cards have expired and we have sent their food anyway. I want to make sure their dogs don’t run out! Our clients always get back to us and thank us for trusting in them too! My intention is that they feel like they are part of something, not just ‘customers’.
Each new client receives a personal, handwritten note from me. I sure hope they can read my writing! We occasionally send out small gifts or cookies. Little surprises like that are fun and let folks know that we really appreciate their business and their support for our product. Last Christmas, we gave out ‘Lucky Dog Cuisine’ aprons. Each year, we send out something different. When was the last time you got a present from your dog food company?!
Lucky Dog Cuisine is more than a dog food company to me. It is a way for us to make a difference and to connect with like-minded people. I enjoy the relationships we have developed! It brings tears to my eyes each time a client tells me how much their dog enjoys mealtime!
6) Where can we get Lucky Dog Cuisine?
Because it is so important to me that we can develop that relationship with our clients, Lucky Dog Cuisine is only available on line. This way we can answer questions and make sure that the food arrives in good condition. We can control how it reaches our clients’ homes. I know it hasn’t been sitting in a store freezer for longer than it should. It always gets delivered freshly frozen and customized to meet our clients’ needs.
Each order that is shipped on a Monday has been made the week before. So we truly keep our food as freshly made as possible.
Please feel free to call our toll free number at 1-800-530-5305 and visit us on the web www.luckydogcuisine.org