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The most important thing to know about German Shorthaired Pointers is that they are a high-energy breed. You must provide them with the appropriate energy requirements for the job they are expected to do. Your German Pointer also needs an unlimited supply of fresh, clean water. The body can't store water, and its means for conserving it are limited. How much water does your German Pointer need? At least 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day, even in cold weather. Hot weather or vigorous exercise can double or even triple that requirement.
The Main Course Protein content may be derived from beef, chicken or other animal products--or solely from plant sources, if its a vegetarian food. Some ingredients, such as meat by-products, meat-and-bone meal, or animal fat, probably won't sound too appetizing to you, but they're nutritious and safe for your German Pointer. Finally, keep in mind that nutritionally balanced dog foods always contain some plant products. Dogs love meat, but they're actually omnivores--they can use the nutrients found in both plant and animal foods. Dry food is the least expensive commercially available dog food. Its bulky and takes longer to eat than other foods, so your German Pointer may feel fuller after a meal. The crunchiness of un moistened dry food promotes dental health by reducing plaque accumulation and massaging the gums. Canned food is more expensive than dry food, which makes it more costly if used as a sole diet for German Pointers. Its palatability and concentrated energy make it a good supplement to a dry-food ration for underweight dogs or those recovering from illness.
Is it okay to jazz up your German Pointers commercial dog food with a little people food? Yes, as long as your tasty additions don't exceed 10 percent of your buddy's daily caloric intake. 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.
Food for Growth
The nutritional needs of German Pointer puppies differ from those of adults, especially with regard to protein, energy and the calcium-phosphorus balance. Protein is especially important for puppies because its essential for muscle and bone growth.
Dry puppy foods usually contain at least 26 to 27 percent protein, while adult maintenance foods usually contain at least 20 to 21 percent. (Premium brands of both types of foods usually contain higher levels of protein--up to 30 percent or so for some puppy foods.) During growth we feed a 28- to 30-percent easily available protein diet. This is essential for growth and muscle development.
Puppies also differ from adult dogs in their requirement for calcium and phosphorus--minerals that are important for proper skeletal development and growth. Completely balanced puppy foods are formulated to provide the appropriate amounts, so supplementation isn't usually necessary (and may even be harmful). We feed Diamond, ProPac or NutriSource puppy food for the first year of life to our young dogs and recommend that you continue with either of these for the first couple weeks and slowly introduce your preferred puppy food by slowly mixing more with the puppy food on a day to day basis over a period of a a week to 10 days..
Puppies have small stomachs and high metabolic rates, so they need to eat several times a day in order to consume adequate amounts of nutrients. Puppies younger than 6 months old should be fed at least three times a day-if unable to do this feed enough food that the puppy will not run out before the next feeding but not too much that it becomes stale. Puppies 6 months old and up can be fed on an adult schedule of two meals a day.
Obesity--the most common canine nutrition-related health problem--can increase your German Pointers chances of developing diabetes, liver disease and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Obesity can also aggravate pre-existing joint problems, such as hip dysplasia. Excessive weight can overwork your German Pointers heart and hinder its breathing. Exercise is more difficult, which increases the likelihood of continued weight problems. Dogs often gain weight as they age because their metabolism slows down and they become less active. Obesity can result if the diet is not adjusted to compensate for these changes. Most foods for senior dogs have less fat and fewer calories than food formulated for younger dogs. Many contain added fiber, which adds bulk without increasing calories.
Not all senior dogs are overweight. Some, especially active dogs like German Pointers, maintain near-optimal body condition well into their senior years. Other dogs actually lose weight as they age. Weight loss in senior dogs may be caused by decreased food intake, which often accompanies chronic health problems--dental disorders, diabetes, cancer, heart or kidney disease, and many others. Some older dogs don't want to eat because their senses of smell and taste are less acute. Others eat seemingly adequate quantities of food, but lose weight because they can't digest food or absorb nutrients efficiently. Underweight senior dogs benefit from foods with added levels of high-quality fat to increase palatability and boost energy content.
The ability to metabolize protein decreases with age, so the protein requirement of senior dogs--even healthy ones--is up to 50 percent greater than that of younger adults. Inadequate protein intake can have significant health effects, such as muscle wasting, weakness and immune-system impairment. To prevent protein deficiencies, most senior foods have protein levels that are as high as those in puppy foods.
Use your eyes and hands to tell if your German Pointer is too fat. When viewed from above, your four-footed companion should have a waist--an indentation in the flank area. When you run your hands over your German Pointers body, its okay if you feel some padding, but you should be able to easily feel your dogs waist and ribs beneath it.
Weight problems are easier to prevent than they are to treat. Instead of feeding your German Pointer free-choice (allowing it to eat as much as it wants whenever it chooses), follow the food manufacturers recommendation, then adjust the amount depending on your dogs response. Limit between-meal treats; veggies are good low-calorie choices. Make sure your German Pointer gets plenty of exercise--preferably vigorous exercise, but even daily walking will help maintain a trim profile.
If your German Pointer is just a bit overweight, cutting back on its food, eliminating treats and increasing its daily exercise may be all it takes to slim it down. If its obese, however, you'll need to consult your veterinarian about a weight-loss plan, which should include a complete check-up, as well as dietary and exercise recommendations.