This thread is interesting because I am in the industry and a lot of the sentiments on this thread are a microcosm of what's being said elsewhere. I consider the asylum a group of friends and I'd hate to see anyone lead astray with bogus information. Without giving up my customer's secrets, here's what most need to know: Dog food is like automotive tires: There are far more brands than there are manufacturing facilities. For instance, there is one company; ONE
company, that produces 3500 different SKUs of dog and cat food cans. That's a whole bunch of the same product with different labels. Many of the brands that are part of this thread are made by a copacker and simply marketed by the brand. As some of you have noted, there are private label brands that are regional and only available locally
The pet industry is a $50B industry annually, and as the last recession cycle showed, relatively safe during economic downturns. Big business gets this and some large food companies (Del Monte, Cargill, Nestle) are stepping up their efforts in the premium pet food category. Premium pet food is as much about marketing as it is about science. Technically speaking, the name 'premium' doesn't legally exist. All petfoods, whether it's the cheap Ol' Roy at Walmart or some new fufu brand at the boutique store must have AAFCO approved ingredients. Trust me, it's harder to get a new pet food ingredient introduced than it is for human food ingredients. AAFCO approves everything, right down to the language that's written on the bag or can.
I won't bash or recommend any particular brand because individual animals will respond differently and their caloric and nutritional needs will vary. For years I fed my dogs one of the premium brands already mentioned on this thread (and also a customer) and my dogs gained too much weight for my vet's satisfaction. Now they are on a frozen, raw diet (not my customer and extremely $$ to boot) and they are doing much better.
If anyone else is in the industry and will be a Global Pet in Orlando next month, PM me and we'll grab a beer.