Caring for your Senior PON
The most common problem in senior PONS is probably obesity. PONS love to eat and those pounds accumulate every year of their lives. Feel your PON'S chest. Can you feel the ribs? Is he trim and active or lumbering around under under a heavy load of fat? Some PONS have sluggish thyroid glands, but the majority do not and have owners who aren't doing them a favor by overfeeding them.
There are basic two ways to control obesity in your PON. Give him only the amount of food his body needs or feed him a diet, which is bulky, and less caloric. The second option usually works best with our beloved PONS.
Bulky, less caloric diets all have things in common. They are low in fat and are high in carbohydrate and fiber. Canines burn more calories digesting carbohydrates than fats so fewer calories are left at the end of the day. The extra fiber or in the diet gives PONS a feeling of fullness without the calories.
Here are some things owners can do:
1) Have blood work and a physical examination done on your PON to rule out medical causes for his obesity. Some middle-aged PONS have medical conditions like hypothyroidism, adrenal problems or heart conditions that can mimic simple obesity.
2) Choose a diet low in calories but high in fiber. This may mean switching from convenience food (kibble) to either home cooked or raw diets.
3) Feed your PON several small meals instead of one large meal throughout the day. Small meals burn more calories in digestion than do infrequent large meals.
4) Alternate small meals of your PON's favorite dog food with meals of less caloric items such as cooked pumpkin, carrots, green beans and peas, etc. As with the commercially prepared weight loss diets, your pet will defecate more frequently and in greater volume. Do not worry about this.
5) Give your PON more exercise by taking walks, joining a dog club, fencing your yard, or babysitting a younger pet.
6) If necessary, you can keep feeding the diet your PON is now on if you can bring yourself to feed only two-thirds of the amount you are presently feeding. Weigh your PON weekly. This should result in about a one percent weight loss per week.
A healthy PON is a PON weighing no more than the average for the breed standard. Aim for a one percent weight loss each week. If weight loss is too rapid, good muscle will be lost with the fat. This process may be emotionally hard on owners, but essential to the health and well being of their Senior PONS.