The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 35 million dogs are considered overweight, while 6.7 million are obese. Keeping a pet at their ideal weight is an important part of health maintenance. Texas A&M University developed a Body Condition Score Chart that rates dogs on a one to five scale, making it easy to tell if a dog needs to shed a few pounds, gain a few, or is at their ideal weight.
Numbers one and two are in the “too thin” category, with one standing for “emaciated”. This means that the bones are prominent, muscle mass is low, and the condition of the dog is severe. Many times dogs that are emancipated have been neglected and abused.
Number two equals “thin” on the score rankings. Ribs and other bones are prominent, but the dog is not as severe as the “emaciated” ranking. For some dogs with certain health conditions like hip dysplasia, being on the thin side is a benefit as long as the dog is well-fed.
In the “ideal weight” category is number three, which is “optimal”. Bones are easy to feel, the abdominal tuck is easy to see, and there is a natural layer of fat. The waist has a natural hourglass shape.
The “Too Heavy” category makes up numbers four and five, four being “fat” and five being “obese”. In the fat ranking, the bones are covered with a thick fat layer, and the natural tuck of the abdomen is not visible. Instead of an hourglass shape, the back is broad.
In number five, the final ranking, is where a dog’s bones are difficult, or even impossible to feel. The dog is shaped like a football and may even have hanging weight in the stomach region. This is a dangerous condition for a dog to be in. Like people, extra weight has a damaging affect on organ and joint function.
Although determining which category a dog fits into might be difficult to get exactly, evaluating the weight range of the breed, or asking a veterinarian can help determine if your pet is at their optimal weight. If the dog is overweight, they can lose weight with direction from a veterinarian.
To view the Body Condition Score Chart, and see the scoring for cats as well, visit the Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences page at Texas A&M University.
This article was written by My Pet Saving’s contributor Melissa. She has a master’s degree in creative writing, owns several pets and runs her own online pet magazine. To learn more about this author check out the contributor profile page.