How To Check If Your Dog or Cat Is The Ideal Body Weight

Charlotte Turpie RVN C-SQP explains how to check if your dog or cat is the ideal bodyweight, including illustrations on what an ideal BCS would look like.

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Charlotte Turpie RVN C-SQP explains how to check if your dog or cat is the ideal bodyweight.

In the UK, 39% of cats and 59% of dogs are overweight to some degree so it is important as pet owners that you can identify what is an ideal Body Weight or Body
Condition Score (BCS) for your pet.

During our Nurse Clinics we will usually assess your pet’s BCS and let you know how we think they are doing, you may not even notice us doing it as we tend to do this while we are checking them over.

Keeping a record of your pet’s Body Condition Score on their file along with an up to date weight means we can easily see what their ideal Body Weight would be if they do ever lose or gain weight for any reason.

The technique of Body Condition Scoring has removed the need for Breed Standards, which give unrealistic ideas of what each breed should weigh as it is not able to take into account the individual’s build and height, especially now we have more mixed breeds where a lot depends on what characteristics they take from each parent.

Body Condition Scoring uses a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 been very underweight, 9 been very overweight and 4 or 5 been ideal.

Learning to Body Condition Score your pet at home will help you keep them at their ideal Body Weight and change their feeding as required.

Body Condition Scoring Your Pet At Home

When your pet is relaxed, you want to start by looking at their profile which will help you start to pick what score you are going to give them.

  • Can you see an obvious waist?
  • Does there abdomen tuck up just in front of their back legs?
  • Can you see their ribs? – for an ideal Body Condition Score you shouldn’t be able to see them.

Next you want to start to stroke your pet from their head down towards their tail, including stroking across their chest, you should be able to feel the ribs without excess fat covering and just feel the top of their spine without feeling like they are prominent.

If you are unsure about your pet’s Body Condition Score or you want advice about your pet’s weight then please book a free of charge Nurse appointment so we can help guide you through the process and discuss any concerns you may have.

What an ideal Body Condition Score would look and feel like (4/9 or 5/9)

  • Ribs easily felt without excess fat
  • Waist easily noted when viewed from above
  • Abdominal tuck seen from the side

What an underweight Body Condition Score would look and feel like (1-3/9)

  • Ribs, lumbar spine and pelvic bones easily visible from a distance or minimal fat coverage felt
  • Little or no body fat
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Obvious waist and abdominal tuck

What an overweight Body Condition Score would look and feel like (6-9/9)

  • Ribs felt with difficulty or with significant pressure, with heavy fat cover
  • Fat deposits over chest, spine and base of tail
  • No waist or abdominal tuck
  • Obvious abdominal distension may be present

Images courtesy of Royal Canin

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