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.
More than 20% below ideal body weight
Your pet is very 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.
Between 10-20% below ideal body weight
Your pet is thin and potentially underweight. Your pet may have a naturally lean physique but we recommend you speak to your local vet for a health check up. If your pet is healthy but otherwise underweight, your vet may advise some dietary and lifestyle changes.
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.
10-15% above ideal body weight
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.
More than 15% above ideal body weight
Your pet is likely to be obese and this can have serious medical implications. Being overweight is unhealthy for pets as it can lead to a shortened life-span, 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 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.
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 & shape and tips on how to prevent weight gain go to www.pfma.org.uk
Derived from BCSC validated by: Keely, et al. Effects of diet restriction on life span and age related changes in dogs. JAVMA 2002. Laflamme DP. Development and validation of a body condition score system for dogs. Canine Practice. July/August 1997, 22:10-15 Mawby D. Bartges JW, Moyers, T et al. Comparison of body fat estimates by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and deuterium oxide dilution in client owned dogs.