Scripps Howard News Service
Hero Enhanced Dog Water comes in three formulas - Exercise Recovery, Healthy Aging and Hip & Joint.

At a time when humans are rethinking the wide use of water bottles for environmental reasons, now comes bottled water for dogs.

Actually, these bottles for canines are more along the lines of nutraceuticals, in which regular foods are fortified with vitamins and supplements. In this case — water.

Hero Enhanced Dog Water is "fortified with nutrients to help keep dogs of all ages healthy and active and flavored for tastes that dogs love," according to its producer, Wisconsin-based Century Foods. The retail price of Hero Dog Water is $2.29 per 32-ounce bottle, which provides two servings.

"Dogs love Hero water because it's tasty, and dog owners will love what it does to keep their dogs healthy and active," said Tim Greene, director of sales, branded and private-label products at Century Foods.

Launched in early 2008, Hero Enhanced Dog Water is available in three formulas: Exercise Recovery, Hip & Joint and Healthy Aging. The first one is designed for quick rehydration of active dogs — it includes potassium citrate and sorbate, sodium chloride, crude protein, niacin, thiamine and other ingredients. Hip & Joint, designed to help optimize joint function and mobility, includes the common arthritis supplements of glucosamine and chondroitin as well as other ingredients; and Healthy Aging includes vitamins A, D and E, zinc, selenium, niacin, thiamine and others.

The manufacturer uses a triple-filtered, reverse-osmosis purification process to remove impurities and additives such as chlorine and fluoride, according a statement at its Web site,

Representatives of the American Veterinary Medical Association would not discuss the product, explaining that it was so new that they were unaware of it. Neither would experts from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia.

Two Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staffers tried the product on their dogs to test the company's claim: "Independently conducted taste tests at kennels showed not only that dogs are attracted by the scent of the water but they also loved drinking it."

A staff member who owns two greyhounds poured the Hero Dog Water into the dogs' bowl after they returned hot and panting from a half-hour walk:

"Both took a couple sips, then started to wander off. I dumped the Hero water and offered them a dish of fresh tap water, and both dogs returned and took big long drinks from it. So, my guess is that after exercise on a warm morning, they'd rather have tap water than Hero water."

Another staffer, who typically leaves two bowls of water outside for her golden retriever, filled one with Hero Dog Water and the other with tap. Her dog sniffed at the Hero water but drank from the bowl of tap water.

Perhaps it's an acquired taste.