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The Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

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Missy had gained quite a few pounds despite her food portions being cut down to follow the Fit Pet Project regime. Missy, who once loved her walks, refused to go for any, and soon she was not able to stand on her own. Her crying when she tried to walk was heart shattering for her owners Jody and James Reimer. They rushed her to the vet clinic where staff prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs for her arthritis and tested her thyroid. Five days later, Missy was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The good news is between the thyroid and anti-inflammatory medicine, Missy is a brand new dog. She is doing zoomies — tearing through the house — running around and once again loving her walks. When they go for a walk now, Missy walks Jody and James.

Got a fat cat? A double-chinned dog? An obese bunny? A flabby fish?

Chances are you do, because, just like in the human population, there is a growing epidemic of overweight and obese pets.

Which is why we're launching The Fit Pet Project, a once-a-month series of articles in which we'll look at the issues surrounding portly pets.

We're going to be offering helpful tips and tricks to get your pet on the path to fitness, and I'll be sharing the trials and tribulations of my beloved wiener dog Zoe's own weight-loss journey.

Most of all, we want to hear from you. We've created a special email address -- fitpet@freepress.mb.ca -- and we'd like you to send photos of your pudgy pets, along with their names, ages and, if you're comfortable sharing, their current weight and target weight.

We're hoping you'll also share your concerns, advice, and the successes and challenges your pet has faced in their battle to shed unwanted pounds. Your stories can help motivate and inform other owners.

What's in it for you? For starters, we believe you'll end up with a much healthier pet, an animal that will be able to avoid the multitude of serious health risks that go along with being overweight or obese.

Prizes? Oh, yes, there will be prizes! The nice folks at Pet Valu, the sponsors of this project, are kicking in a pile of gift cards, which we'll be doling out by randomly drawing the names of owners taking part. And everyone who submits their pet's photo and information will get a copy of my critter-themed book, Bite-Sized Doug.

If you're a pet owner, we'd like you to join our pack. It's the best way to give your best friend a new leash on life.

-- Doug Speirs

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