In order to help ensure that your dog maintains a healthy weight, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) has developed a reference guide to body condition scoring. You should assess your dog’s body condition on a monthly basis and then adjust feeding amounts if necessary.

Underweight

5-15% body fat / 10-20% below ideal body weight

Characteristics

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones are very easily seen (in short haired pets)
  • Obvious loss of muscle bulk and abdominal tuck
  • Very little/no fat can be felt under the skin

Advice

Your pet is likely to be underweight. Your pet may have a naturally lean physique but we recommend you speak to your local vet to rule out any underlying medical reasons such as an overactive thyroid gland. If your pet is healthy but otherwise underweight, your vet is likely to advise some dietary and lifestyle changes.

Ideal Weight

16-20% body fat

Characteristics

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones easily felt
  • Visible waist with an abdominal tuck
  • A small amount of fat can be felt

Advice

Your pet is in ideal body condition. This is great news, as research has shown that pets at their ideal body condition can live up to two years longer. To keep your dog in perfect shape, monitor its weight and body condition on a regular basis (eg. reduced exercise, recent surgery, extra treats, or even factors such as stress) can result in weight change.

Overweight

25-35% body fat / 10-15% above ideal body weight

Characteristics

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones are hard to feel
  • Waist bearly visible with a broad back
  • Layer of fat on belly and at base of tail

Advice

Your pet is potentially overweight. Being overweight is unhealthy for pets as it can lead to a shortened lifespan, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Speak to your local vet for advice and a thorough health check-up. The vet will look for any underlying health issues, a change of diet and lifestyle is likely to be suggested. Many vet practices run free weight management consultations, ask about these services when you ring to book an appointment. 

If your pet is above this weight it is classed as obese and this can have serious medical implications. The vet will look for any underlying medical reasons as to why your pet may be too heavy. If there are no underlying health issues, a weight loss programme will probably be individually developed for your pet and should include diet and lifestyle changes.

Please note

There are some cases where the natural shape of a dog may mean this simple system doesn’t translate as easily. For example, Whippets and Greyhounds tend to have lean physiques while a Staffie will have a broader shape. A Bichon Frisé will have a nice fluffy coat for you to contend with. If you need help using the tool, print a hard copy version and take it to your local vet or pet care professional for advice.

For more information on checking your dog’s weight and tips on how to prevent weight gain go to https://www.pfma.org.uk 

Feeding advice

feeding guide is printed on the reverse of each bag of Vitalin, which provides instructions as to how much food to offer your dog. Feeding amounts should be based on the ideal adult body weight for your dog and spread across two meals for adult dogs and 3-4 meals for puppies. However, please be advised that this information is given as a guide only and exact feeding amounts should be varied according to your dog’s age, sex, breed, condition and activity levels. Additional help and information can be found in the feeding advice section of the website.