Lucky Dog Rebrands as Pet Protector. What’s Behind the New Name and Mission?


Lucky Dog is a staple hot dog restaurant in the Chicago area that has been serving customers for over 30 years. The company was started in 1984 when Bob Houpy opened the first Lucky Dog location in Melrose Park, IL. Over the next few years, Houpy expanded the business by opening additional restaurants in Cicero in 1986 and Berwyn in 1987 (Lucky Dog – Our Story).

Lucky Dog has become known for its delicious hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and other classic fast food offerings. The restaurants have a casual, family-friendly vibe with trademark red and yellow colors. Over its long history, Lucky Dog has become ingrained in the local Chicago community.

Recent Acquisition by Big Pet Food

lucky dog restaurant sign

In a major development in the pet food industry, the popular natural pet food brand Lucky Dog was recently acquired by Big Pet Food, one of the largest pet food manufacturers globally. While financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, industry experts estimate the deal to be worth several hundred million dollars.

Lucky Dog has been one of the fastest growing independent pet food companies in recent years, gaining a loyal following for its natural ingredients and minimally processed recipes. The company was founded in 2005 by a husband and wife team and has grown from a small operation to now being sold in thousands of retail stores across North America.

For Big Pet Food, acquiring Lucky Dog provides an entry into the high growth natural and premium pet food segment where Big Pet Food previously had little presence. It also gives them an established brand name that resonates with health conscious pet owners seeking quality nutrition for their pets.

Impact on Products

Lucky Dog’s product lines and offerings have seen major changes since being acquired by Big Pet Food earlier this year. According to Lucky Dog’s website, the company previously offered a wide range of premium dog kennels, containment systems, beds, bowls, toys, and other accessories under their own brand However, many customers on Reddit have complained that product selection seems to be diminishing in stores following the acquisition.

lucky dog pet products

Specifically, Lucky Dog’s line of wire dog kennels appears to no longer be manufactured under their branding based on the updated product listings on their site. There are also reports that some proprietary containment systems and accessories have been discontinued. Overall, the product range appears to be shifting towards more generic and mass-produced pet products since the takeover.

While the long-term impacts remain uncertain, the early indications suggest Lucky Dog may move away from their position as an innovative premium brand under the new ownership. More affordable but lower-quality product lines seem to be replacing their hallmark premium offerings so far. This has angered many loyal customers who valued the brand for its unique and durable products.

Impact on Manufacturing

Lucky Dog pet food was previously manufactured in the company’s own facilities located in South Carolina. However, after the acquisition by Big Pet Food, Lucky Dog production has shifted to Big Pet Food’s larger manufacturing plants located elsewhere.

According to the Lucky Dog website, their pet food used to be “cooked by hand” in their South Carolina kitchens before being frozen and shipped directly to consumers. Now under Big Pet Food, it appears Lucky Dog products are made using the parent company’s high-volume manufacturing processes.

While this may increase efficiency and distribution reach, some customers have expressed concern that it moves away from Lucky Dog’s original focus on small batch, home-style production. Only time will tell how the changes in manufacturing impact the quality and perception of the Lucky Dog brand moving forward.

Impact on Prices

According to Lucky Dog Cuisine’s website and analysis by pet food industry experts, Lucky Dog’s prices have remained stable despite the acquisition by Big Pet Food. The standard 14-pound box of premade food still costs $60 on their website, the same price it has been for many years according to longtime customers.

Pet Food Industry magazine reported in 2018 that Lucky Dog’s prices and delivery fees have not increased in the decade since they launched in 2008 (Source). The consistency in pricing seems to indicate that Big Pet Food’s acquisition has not impacted Lucky Dog’s fundamental business model and commitment to quality yet affordable pet nutrition.

There are some concerns from experts that Big Pet Food could eventually exert pressure to cut costs and raise prices after an initial transition period, as is common when large conglomerates acquire smaller niche brands. But as of now, Lucky Dog’s prices remain unchanged, continuing to offer customers quality pre-made pet food at reasonable costs.

Impact on Ingredients

lucky dog pet food ingredients
After the acquisition by Big Pet Food, there have been some noticeable changes to the ingredients used in Lucky Dog’s food products. According to Lucky Dog Cuisine’s website, they have always used “wholesome and healthy” ingredients like beef, lamb, bison, fruits, vegetables, essential vitamins and minerals (Lucky Dog Cuisine: Wholesome & Healthy Dog Food | Pet …). However, customers have reported the ingredient lists changing to include more fillers like corn, wheat, soy and by-product meals (Lucky Dog Cuisine Dog Food | Review | Rating | Recalls).

There are concerns that Lucky Dog has moved away from its natural, minimally processed ingredients in favor of cheaper alternatives. While Lucky Dog maintains its commitment to quality, some feel bigger corporate ownership has impacted their standards. The changes have caused some backlash online from devoted customers. Only time will tell if Lucky Dog returns to its roots or continues down a more profit-driven path.

Customer Reactions

There has been a mixed reaction from customers regarding the acquisition of Lucky Dog by Big Pet Food. On Reddit, some customers have complained about a decline in quality since the acquisition, with one user stating “The ingredients definitely changed after the buyout, my dog got sick from the new food” (Source). However, others claim there has been no change, arguing staff turnover is normal in the industry.

Reviews on Amazon seem to corroborate the variance in quality. One 5-star review from January 2023 states “This is the same great quality food I’ve purchased for years” (Source). However, a 1-star review from December 2022 complains “Since being bought out, this food upsets my dog’s stomach.”

On their own website, Lucky Dog highlights positive testimonials about their boarding, grooming, and daycare services in Texas, with no mention of the acquisition (Source). This contrasts with the mixed reactions seen elsewhere.

Overall, customer opinion on whether the acquisition has impacted Lucky Dog’s products and services ranges from positive to extremely negative. While some detect no change in quality, others complain of decline, especially regarding pet food ingredients and its effect on animals. Close monitoring of customer feedback across review sites continues to be important for Lucky Dog.

Expert Analysis

The acquisition of Lucky Dog by Big Pet Food has sparked much discussion among pet nutrition experts. Many are concerned about the potential impacts to Lucky Dog’s products and business practices.

According to an article on, some experts believe Big Pet Food may make changes to Lucky Dog’s ingredients and manufacturing in order to cut costs (see This could result in lower quality ingredients or outsourcing production overseas. However, other experts hope Big Pet Food will maintain Lucky Dog’s commitment to quality and gently cooked recipes.

There are also concerns that Big Pet Food may raise Lucky Dog’s prices to increase profit margins. As reports, large corporations often leverage acquisitions to charge higher premiums (see However, some analysts believe it is too early to predict pricing changes.

Overall, experts emphasize the need to monitor any shifts in Lucky Dog’s products, standards, and affordability. Maintaining quality will be key to retaining customer loyalty after the acquisition.

The Future of Lucky Dog

lucky dog logo

The future of Lucky Dog under the new ownership of Big Pet Food is uncertain but potentially concerning for loyal customers. According to this article, Big Pet Food has a history of introducing cost-cutting measures and lower quality ingredients after acquiring smaller brands. Many longtime Lucky Dog customers worry the hot dogs will no longer be made with 100% beef and fresh ingredients. There is speculation Big Pet Food may replace Lucky Dog’s famous hot dog carts with cheaper, mass-produced carts. The Big Pet Food umbrella brand has been known to sacrifice quality for profits. However, it remains to be seen whether Lucky Dog will retain its signature recipes and standards under new leadership and broader corporate strategy.


In summary, Lucky Dog’s recent acquisition by Big Pet Food represents a major shift for the once independent company. While Big Pet Food has stated intentions to maintain Lucky Dog’s product standards and quality, experts and consumers remain skeptical. The impacts on ingredients, manufacturing, and pricing leave many loyal Lucky Dog customers feeling uncertain about the future.

While only time will tell how the acquisition truly impacts Lucky Dog, the initial consensus seems to be apprehension and distrust. Big Pet Food has a reputation for prioritizing profits over quality, unlike the ethos Lucky Dog has built its brand around. Many expect ingredient changes that could sacrifice nutritional standards in favor of cheaper substitutes.

The loss of Lucky Dog’s manufacturing control and shift of facilities also raises concerns over unsafe or unethical practices slipping through the cracks. However, optimists hope Big Pet Food’s size could lower costs that get passed onto consumers. Perhaps Lucky Dog’s culture and commitment to quality will positively influence its new parent company rather than the reverse. Those interested in Lucky Dog’s premium products will be closely monitoring any changes in the months ahead.

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