Keeping our pets at a healthy weight is very important when it comes to keeping them healthy. Being overweight can increase their risk for joint issues, heart disease, and can drastically shorten their lifespans. But how can you tell if your pet is at the optimum weight?
A pet’s body condition score, or BCS, is a great tool when it comes to judging their weight. On a healthy dog, you should be able to run your hand along their sides and feel their individual ribs but not necessarily see them. When doing this, you should be able to feel a small layer of fat over their ribs. When standing behind them, you should be able to see a visible tuck to their waist, and on their stomachs. For overweight dogs, they do not have a tuck to their waists, and you would be unable to feel their ribs through their thick fat layer. Based on the Body Condition Score chart, the optimal number for a healthy dog is a 4 or 5 out of 9.
When it comes to cats, a healthy body condition should look similar to that of a dog’s. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them, and you should see a tucked in waist. On an overweight cat, their ribs would not be felt, there would be no tuck, and they would have heavy fat deposits along their body. The optimal score for a healthy cat would be a 5 out of 9.
On the other hand, knowing if your pet is losing weight and may be malnourished is also very important. On an underweight animal, their ribs, spine, and hip bones would be very prominent and you would be unable to feel any fat on their ribs. If you have noticed your pet has been losing a dramatic amount of weight, be sure have them seen by a veterinarian right away.
This link for the Purina Body Condition Score charts for cats and dogs is a great tool to have in your own home to make sure your pet is as healthy as they should be. This way they have a greater chance at living a long, full, and happy life.