Body Condition Score for Dogs

What is Your Dog’s Body Condition Score, and how you can check it at home?

The Body Condition Score is an international scale, widely used to assess whether or not a dog is under weight, over weight, or at an ideal level. In this post, we talk you though the scale, from 1-9, and with the help of Veterinarian Carol Doyle, show you how you can assess your dog’s Body Condition Score at home.

The Body Condition Score is the first assessment to be carried out to determine if your dog is at a healthy size, and is used in conjunction with regular weight checks to monitor changes in your dog’s size.

Body Condition Score Explained

The Body Condition Score is a ranking scale form 1-9, with 1 being dangerously thin, and 9 being dangerously obese. The ideal score for your dog is 4-5. Dogs with a score of 1-2 or above 7 should attend their vet immediately, as they may be at risk of serious health complications. If you dog is registering in these brackets, please do not attempt to adjust your pet’s diet or weight without veterinary supervision.

At all times, if your dog is showing any signs of distress, or experiences sudden weight loss or gain, please consult with your veterinarian.

Body Condition Score for Dogs

Underweight Dog (1-3)

  • Ribs, backbone and hip bones can be easily felt and may be seen; with no overlying fat layer
  • Some mid muscle loss particularly noticeable around shoulders and thighs
  • Exaggerated waistline
  • Severe tummy tuck

Ideal – (4-5)

  • Ribs can easily palpable with minimal fat covering.
  • Waist easily noticed when viewed from above.
  • Abdominal tuck evident.

Above Ideal – (6)

  • Ribs palpable with slight excess of fat covering.
  • Waist is discernible when viewed from above but is not prominent.
  • Abdominal tuck apparel.

Overweight – (7-8)

  • Ribs palpable with difficulty, heavy fat cover.
  • Noticeable fat deposits over lumbar area and base of tail.
  • Waist absent or barely visible.
  • Abdominal tuck may be absent

Obese – (8-9)

  • Massive fat deposits over thorax, spine, and base of tail.
  • Waist and abdominal tuck absent.
  • Fat deposits on neck and limbs.
  • Obvious abdominal distension

How to Check Your Dog’s Body Condition Score at Home

Watch as veterinarian Carol Doyle shows you how to check your cat’s Body Condition Score at home.

Veterinarian Carol Doyle Explains

1. Before the Assessment

Before you begin, give your dog lots of love and affection to help them to relax. Once your dog is comfortable, you can start to assess your dog’s health and their body condition. Include lots of gentle strokes along the way, and your pet may not even notice that they’re having a check-up!

2. Profile Check

Look at your standing dog from a side-on angle, when level with them. This will help you to get a good view of their tummy, limbs, and posture.

3. Overhead check

Look down at your standing dog from overhead. This will give you a good view of their waist and lumbar area (back).

I’ve Checked my Dog’s BCS, What Should I do Next?

If your dog is registering as a 3 or 6, you will be able to correct his BCS with some adjustments to his diet and exercise. Petmania’s pet care advisors are available 7 days a week to help you with this. Visit your local store today.

If your dog is registering as a 4-5 he is currently as his ideal size. We now need to help you to keep him there. Monitoring his diet and ensuring regular exercise is the best way to do this. Read our blog post on how to prevent your dog from gaining excess weight here.

If your dog is in the 1-2 or over 7, please make an appointment to visit his veterinarian as soon as possible.

Veterinarian Carol Doyle Explains


Share this post

You've just added this product to the basket: