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Body condition scoring for dogs

This body score chart, or similar, can be found at your veterinarian's office.
Nestle Purina

Body condition scoring, or BCS, is a way for veterinarians and others to communicate the status of an animal’s weight. It’s a convenient scale to tell whether or not the body weight of a given animal is healthy or not. Can you find where your dog fits on this scale of 1-9? There are additional, similar scales for cats and horses.

If you’re not sure where your pooch falls, ask your vet next time around. Since the system is easy to follow and not too long, you could use it to help you gauge your pet’s weight at home without a scale as you live your lives together. Canine obesity is a real problem and just like humans, being overweight comes with its own set of problems. So avoid those costly conditions by using the body condition score scale and keep your pooch happy and healthy for years to come!

You should always follow the manufacturers directions on how much to feed your dog based on current body weight. If your dog needs to lose or gain weight, see your vet for a calorie sheet for exact specifics. There's also a nice trick to help keep your pooch full when cutting down on calories, add in green beans to compensate!

1. Severely underweight
1. Severely underweight http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/uploads/images/FCFD_BodyConditioning_Chart_1210_FINAL_Page_1.png

1. Severely underweight

No tummy fat. Lost muscle mass. Ribs visible from a distance. A score of 1 means your dog is extremely underweight with pronounced ribs and shoulders blades. Your pet needs to see a licensed vet ASAP to make a plan for safe weight gain to restore health and vitality.

2-3. Thin to slightly underweight
2-3. Thin to slightly underweight http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/uploads/images/FCFD_BodyConditioning_Chart_1210_FINAL_Page_1.png

2-3. Thin to slightly underweight

Ribs slightly visible. Minimal body fat. Small tucked stomach.Your pooch has very little fat and could use a few more calories to be at a healthier weight. Make a fist and run your finger over your knuckles. If your pet’s ribs feel like this, he or she has a score of 2-3 and a little more balanced nutrition may be in order.

4-5. Fit, ideal
4-5. Fit, ideal http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/uploads/images/FCFD_BodyConditioning_Chart_1210_FINAL_Page_1.png

4-5. Fit, ideal

Slender tucked stomach. Proportioned body shape. Slight body fat on tail and ribs. Your dog has a slight tummy tuck and some body fat over the ribs and tail. Place your palm face-down on a table with fingers spread and run your fingers over your knuckles. Ribs that feel like this indicate a body score of 4-5 which shows your pet is healthy and fit!

6-7. Slightly to markedly overweight
6-7. Slightly to markedly overweight http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/uploads/images/FCFD_BodyConditioning_Chart_1210_FINAL_Page_1.png

6-7. Slightly to markedly overweight

No visible stomach. Sausage body shape. Moderate body rolls. A sausage body shape shows that your canine companion has a little more body fat than they should. This ranges between slightly overweight to markedly overweight.

8-9. Obese
8-9. Obese http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/uploads/images/FCFD_BodyConditioning_Chart_1210_FINAL_Page_1.png

8-9. Obese

Neck wider than head. Protruding round stomach. Heavy body rolls. If your dog's neck is wider than its head and you have to press to feel ribs next to a protruding belly, he or she is extremely overweight and has a score of 8-9. It’s time for some tough love with diet and exercise to lose the harmful fat and get healthy again. See your vet to create a balanced plan.