Fuel Up Your German Pointer and Go

How to feed your high-energy dog.

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Variations on a Theme
Not so many years ago, commercial dog foods differed only in form or flavor.  Today, however, you have all kinds of choices. Some of the different foods currently available include:

 Natural-preservative or preservative-free foods: Dog foods were once kept fresh by the addition of artificial chemicals, such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Because some consumers were concerned about the safety of these compounds, manufacturers replaced them with natural preservatives, such as vitamin E (sometimes listed as mixed tocopherols) and vitamin C. Interestingly, most so-called natural preservatives are actually artificially synthesized. Preservative-free dog foods are also available. These products must be stored in a cool, dry environment and used promptly to prevent spoilage.

 Organic foods: If you're concerned about pesticide and chemical contamination of food products, you may want to feed your German Pointer an organic dog food. Be aware, however, that the definition of organic may be subject to some interpretation, at least for pet foods. The term usually indicates that the foods ingredients were grown without the use of artificial chemicals or pesticides, but it may be difficult--if not impossible--to determine if the food meets the more stringent requirements that govern the labeling of human food as organic.

 Vegetarian foods: Dogs can get along quite nicely on vegetarian dog food, as long as the food has been properly formulated to provide complete nutrition. These products allow vegetarian owners to maintain their dietary principles when feeding their dogs. Vegetarian foods are also useful for dogs with meat allergies.

 Therapeutic foods: Veterinarians sometimes prescribe therapeutic foods for certain health problems and situations, such as heart disease, kidney disease, food allergies, and recovery from major illnesses or surgery. These products are always used in conjunction with appropriate medical care. Therapeutic foods are available only from your veterinarian.

 Raw foods: These diets (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods or Bones and Raw Foods [BARF] diet) have gained popularity in recent years. Raw-food diet proponents believe that they closely duplicate the diets of wolves and other wild canidae, and are thus healthier for domestic dogs than commercially prepared or cooked foods. This hasn't been demonstrated scientifically--and isn't supported by statistics that show that domestic dogs live, on average, much longer than their wild counterparts.

Raw meat, especially chicken, can harbor Salmonella and E. coli bacteria--hazards to both humans and dogs. (Salmonella infection often causes few symptoms in dogs, but infected dogs can become carriers and shed Salmonella in their saliva and feces for weeks.) Bones--if they're not finely ground--can damage your German Pointers teeth and gastrointestinal tract. Consult with your veterinarian if you are considering feeding this type of diet to your dog.

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