By Sally Voth
Fluffy and Fido's fat is no joke, and a Woodstock animal hospital is kicking off a weight loss contest on April Fools Day.
Seven Bends Animal Hospital, 1121 Hisey Ave., is holding its first-ever Biggest Loser Contest. It's open to all dogs and cats, not just the hospital's patients, licensed vet tech Meridith Holloman said.
"The only thing we require is they have vaccines current," she said.
The dog and cat who have lost the biggest percentage of body weight each week will get a prize and coupon for a free exam, and the two who have lost the most after four months will get a prize basket that will include gift cards, DVDs, a free bloodwork panel and a six-series laser treatment.
"The winners are based on percentage of body weight lost, so it will be fair for little dogs and big dogs," Holloman said.
Weigh-ins are every two weeks, and pets must be weighed in between Monday and April 7.
"We have diet food available, but we don't require the diet food," Holloman said. "We give them the measuring cup when they come in and calculate calories for what they should weigh."
Seven Bends will provide participants a list of recommended pet foods and exercise tips.
"We have this amazing -- they're only half-calorie -- treat, and the dogs love them," Holloman said.
She said many pets are being overfed, including getting table scraps and treats.
"[For] cats, the biggest thing is canned food," Holloman said. "A lot of our cats are eating unmeasured dry food. [With] canned food, we can seal it and it doesn't have to have all the carbs to hold it together. That's how the canned cuts out all the carbs."
For those who feed dry food to their cats, which are carnivores, she recommends they measure it in tablespoons.
Holloman said "well over half" of her practice's cats and dogs are overweight.
"We just want to raise awareness to the whole community and get more people excited and involved, and with a little guidance see results," she said. "Even just a few pounds can add years."
Strasburg resident Irene Dieffenbach has already signed up Bubbles, her Jack Russell terrier.
"Bubbles was getting heavy," she said in a Friday afternoon phone interview. "It's not good for them. It's like people, same thing. She's overweight and I'm overweight. I'm looking forward to it. It's a challenge."
Dieffenbach has already started the fat-busting regimen.
"I've cut back on her food and her treats, and I'm going to try to get out [to walk] maybe four or five times a week."
For more information, call Seven Bends at 540-459-8387, or find them on Facebook.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com