Pet Age recently spoke with Breann Shook, co-owner of Grandma Lucy’s, to find out more about the pet food business that she created with her husband, Eric.
Q You started Grandma Lucy’s while still in college in 1999. Why?
A When Eric and I started Grandma Lucy’s back 1999, it was because we wanted to fill a void in the pet food market. At the time, pet food and treats were being made with inferior, feed grade ingredients. Lucy, our 11-year-old English cocker spaniel, was not just a dog but a true part of the family, and she deserved the same quality food as any other member of our family. At the time, she would not eat any pet food on the market—and we tried everything. After much success with the recipes we created for her, Grandma Lucy’s was born. We wanted to be able to share our healthy foods and treats with other pet parents who loved their pets like we loved Lucy.
Q What inspired the formula for Macanna, the new food line from Grandma Lucy’s?
A As with all our new recipes, we listen to the demands of our loyal customers. It is these special cases that inspire us to research how we can help troubled pets live a happier and healthier life. We hear of so many different food sensitivities with dogs around the world and we want to make sure that we have a food option for as many of them as possible. After reviewing the many Nutriscan results of our customers, we chose some of the healthiest, most nutrient-rich superfood ingredients and proteins such as hemp hearts, coconut, kale and turmeric. The results have far exceeded our goals of creating a food for both highly-sensitive dogs and dogs of health-minded pet parents.
Q What is Nutriscan, and why do you consider it to be an important test for dogs and cats?
A Nutriscan is the only clinically predictable diagnostic test for dogs, cats and horses to identify the commonly seen food intolerances and sensitivities in saliva. The Nutriscan test is patent protected in the United States and internationally with scientific backing. Food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. This test measures antibodies to certain foods in dog saliva, testing for 24 of the most commonly eaten foods. High antibody levels indicate that the dog has a food sensitivity or intolerance to that food. Our dog Lucy’s story would read just like many of the hundreds of dogs Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, has helped over her 50-year career. Her drive to help pet parents identify their pets’ food sensitivities is what led to her invention of the Nutriscan diagnostic test. Both of us sharing the same passion of bringing safe and healthy foods to pets across the world is what connected us. The next step seemed quite natural, and The Nutriscan Project by Grandma Lucy’s was formed. Using Grandma Lucy’s network of pet product retailers across the world, Nutriscan and Grandma Lucy’s are proud to be working together to expand the reach of the Nutriscan salivary diagnostic test and to make it available through exclusive pet food dealers. Together, our mission is to match pets with their perfect diet to help eliminate ailments such as itching, scratching or upset stomachs caused by food intolerances or sensitivities.
Q What’s your relationship like with your ingredient suppliers?
A Grandma Lucy’s wouldn’t be what it is today without our dedicated ingredient farmers and suppliers. Many of the ones we work with have been a part of the Grandma Lucy’s family since we started in 1999. Whenever we are looking to find a new supplier, we look for the best possible ingredients, and not least expensive, to ensure safety and quality. We started Grandma Lucy’s due to the inferior ingredients that were and are used in processed pet foods. Grandma Lucy’s requires all of our suppliers to sign a Vendor Promise stating the following: Ingredients are human-grade, the ingredient’s country of origin, that it is free of chemicals and preservatives, and that each batch is tested for salmonella, lead, e-coli, mercury, arsenic, coliform and melamine in accordance with human food standards.
Q What is the value of your dog and cat food containing human-grade ingredients?
A The foundation of outstanding food rests in the ingredients. By using human-grade ingredients instead of the feed grade products used in many pet foods today, Grandma Lucy’s helps set a precedent for pet parents that by-products, fillers and added chemicals are not OK. In working with our veterinarian partners and taking our personal diets into account, we know that providing the most natural diet is the most holistic approach you can take toward achieving better health.