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Understanding Your Pet's Body Condition Score


Topics | Health
Posted | December 31, 2018

Some families are not concerned when their cat or dog is overweight and others find it charming - some people find heavy cats to have character, for example. Your veterinarian, however will likely express concern and give guidance on weight loss for your pet and will evaluate them based on either a 5 point or 9 point scale - this is called a Body Condition Score (BCS).

While increased weight does not decrease their "loveableness", it can adversely affect their health and quality of life. Problems such as stress on joints, ligaments and bones can result leading to increase in joint disease, and therefore pain - in the back, hips, knees, elbows, etc. - and decrease in mobility. It can lead to difficulty breathing (especially in flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds), diabetes (in cats), heart disease, heat intolerance, hygiene problems (can't reach to clean), skin problems, increased surgical and anesthetic risk. Any of these can lead to a shorter life and a poorer quality of life.

To evaluate your pet's weight at home, look for the following:

Viewing from above, your pet has more of an hourglass shape with a taper at the waist, and not an egg shape

When lightly running your hands along the ribcage, you can feel the ribs, but not see them. If you have to push your fingers in to find the ribs, you are pushing through excess fat.

Viewing your pet from the side, you should see an abdominal tuck behind the last ribs.

Fat pads over the hips.

Conversely, you do not want your pet to be underweight. You do not want to see individual ribs, protruding hip bones or prominent spine.

For diagrams to evaluate your pet's Body Condition Score, go to aaha.org and search "Body Condition Score systems" (AAHA is American Animal Hospital Association).

For further discussion of the effects of excess weight on your pet, go to veterinarypartner.com and search "Obesity".

We want your pets to be as healthy as possible and a long, happy, active life with you.


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Understanding Your Pet's Body Condition Score


Topics | Health
Posted | December 31, 2018



Some families are not concerned when their cat or dog is overweight and others find it charming - some people find heavy cats to have character, for example. Your veterinarian, however will likely express concern and give guidance on weight loss for your pet and will evaluate them based on either a 5 point or 9 point scale - this is called a Body Condition Score (BCS).

While increased weight does not decrease their "loveableness", it can adversely affect their health and quality of life. Problems such as stress on joints, ligaments and bones can result leading to increase in joint disease, and therefore pain - in the back, hips, knees, elbows, etc. - and decrease in mobility. It can lead to difficulty breathing (especially in flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds), diabetes (in cats), heart disease, heat intolerance, hygiene problems (can't reach to clean), skin problems, increased surgical and anesthetic risk. Any of these can lead to a shorter life and a poorer quality of life.

To evaluate your pet's weight at home, look for the following:

Viewing from above, your pet has more of an hourglass shape with a taper at the waist, and not an egg shape

When lightly running your hands along the ribcage, you can feel the ribs, but not see them. If you have to push your fingers in to find the ribs, you are pushing through excess fat.

Viewing your pet from the side, you should see an abdominal tuck behind the last ribs.

Fat pads over the hips.

Conversely, you do not want your pet to be underweight. You do not want to see individual ribs, protruding hip bones or prominent spine.

For diagrams to evaluate your pet's Body Condition Score, go to aaha.org and search "Body Condition Score systems" (AAHA is American Animal Hospital Association).

For further discussion of the effects of excess weight on your pet, go to veterinarypartner.com and search "Obesity".

We want your pets to be as healthy as possible and a long, happy, active life with you.


Share this post