January 08, 2020 Dogs Responsible Pet Ownership

Measuring Your Dog’s Body Condition Score

Alberto Giacometti's sculpture of a very skinny dog

Measuring Your Dog’s Body Condition Score

It’s a new year and that means many of us have returned to the treadmill, yoga mat or swimming pool to undo the excesses of the holiday season. It turns out our dogs may need the same treatment, since a recently published study of more than 50,000 dogs in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that overweight dogs had a reduced lifespan by about 2.5 years on average compared to dogs of the same age and breed with an ideal body condition score.

Veterinarians use a body condition scoring (BCS) system to help identify overweight or obese pets. There are two different numerical systems: a 5-point scale and a 9-point scale. In both systems, the high number (5 and 9 respectively) refers to obese pets and a score of 1 refers to dangerously underweight pets. This system works well for animal healthcare professionals but is hard for pet families to use. In October, I created a BCS for cats using “famous” cats for reference. This post does the same with “famous” dogs.

BCS 9/9 | Muttley of the 1970’s cartoon series Wacky Races. His neck is covered with fat and his feet appear to be too small for his large body.
BCS 7/9 | Brian Griffin of the television series The Family Guy. Note he has lost his waistline and is more “hot” dog shaped than “pet” dog shaped.
5/9 BCS | Although he’s a scoundrel, Tramp of Disney’s animated movie Lady and the Tramp maintains a perfect BCS. He has a waistline and all parts of his body are in proportion to each other.
BCS 3/9 | The dog in this 1932 Diego Rivera print, Boy and dog, shows a dog I would score as a BCS 3/9. The dog’s ribs are clearly visible, and the hip bones protrude.
BCS 1/9 | The dog depicted in this Alberto Giacometti sculpture is severely underweight making its skeleton visible under the skin.
Tags: BCS, body condition score, dog diet, dog exercise, dogs, healthy dogs, overweight dog,

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