Body Condition Score - how to determine if your dog is in healthy shape

Having a happy and healthy dog requires some attention and responsibility from you as a pet parent. First of all it is important that you follow the feeding recommendations and give the right amount food depending on your dog's weight and activity level. If you are uncertain how much dog food to give you your dog, have a look at our feeding recommendation for adult dogs and puppies that are based on guidelines set by FEDIAF

Furthermore, it is important to keep an eye on your dog's weight and body condition on a regular basis. However, determine whether your dog is overweight, underweight or in an ideal condition, can be a bit tricky.

Body Condition Score

WSAVA, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has developed the Body Condition Score which can help dog owners check the size and shape of their furry friends to get a better understanding of the dog's condition. The scale is graded from 1 to 9, where 1 is severely underweight and 9 severe obesity. To rate your dog on the scale:

  • You start by looking at the dog's body shape both from above and from the side. Regardless of breed, you should be able to see a waist on your dog from both sides. This can of course be harder with fluffy breeds with long or thick fur.

  • Then feel the dog's body from front to back with one hand on each side. When you feel with your fingers over the dog's ribs, you should be able to feel them with a light pressure, without having to "dig in" your fingers.

  • If you then feel further back, you should clearly feel that the waist narrows where the chest ends, and then widens again over the hips. You should feel the hips, but they should not be excessively sharp.

Have a look in the charts below and in case you are having any additional questions or concerns about the health condition of your dog, we recommend booking an appointment at your local veterinary clinic.

What Body Condition Score is your dog? 🐶

Where did you find your dog on the scale?

Body Condition Score 1-3

Your dog is below ideal weight. If your dog scores in any of these categories, despite you giving it enough nutrition and care, we recommend that you book an appointment with your veterinary clinic to investigate possible reasons for your dog's weight loss.

Body Condition Score 4-5

Perfect, your dog is in ideal body condition! This means that you are giving your dog the right conditions in nutrition and diet to remain a happy, healthy dog through his or her life.

Body Condition Score 6-9

Your dog is overweight. If your dog scores in any of these categories, it is recommended that he or she loose weight in order to lower the risk of health issues. If your dog scores in the upper categories (BCS 8-9), a veterinary visit is recommended to get professional help with your dog's weight loss, or investigate reasons causing the obesity.

If you want to learn more about obesity and health in dogs or need advice and tips on feeding and exercise for your doggo, feel free to read more in our detailed article on Obesity in dogs.

Karin Veterinary Nurse


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