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Let's Check Your Dog's Body Condition Score!

Think of a Body Condition Score (BCS) for dogs as a personalised fitness tracker for your furry friend. It's an intuitive, easy-to-use system that can tell you whether your pooch is at their ideal weight, a little on the chunky side, or even tipping the scale towards obesity - all without a weighing scale or a weight chart.

The BCS uses scales of either 1-9 or 1-5 to rate your pup's physique, with the same principle applying to both. For simplicity, we'll use the 5-point scale in this guide.

So, what can the BCS reveal?

It's a body-check tool that helps you assess if your canine companion is the right weight for their height, build, and structure. It's like a mirror that reflects whether your dog is storing extra fat, flexing some serious muscle, or just petite with a tendency to gain weight. A simple number on a weighing scale can be deceptive, but the BCS gives you a clear picture of whether your dog's weight is due to extra fat, muscle mass, heavy bones, or loose skin.

How accurate is the BCS?

The truthfulness of the BCS rests on your honesty with yourself. Your hands, fingers, and eyes are the best judges of how much fat your dog carries. Every breed has a certain 'look' and 'feel' - a deep rib cage curving upwards towards the hind legs, the feel of individual ribs beneath a layer of fat. Feeling each rib distinctly signals an ideal body type while struggling to do so suggests your dog might be overweight or obese.

How do you use the BCS?

Begin with your dog relaxed and standing in front of you. Look at them from a bird's eye view and then from a side profile, noting the shape and contours of their body. Next, gently palpate your dog's body for a 'feel' test. Feel for the ribs, the end of the rib cage, and the hip bones. Remember, a relaxed dog and a gentle touch are key to getting an accurate BCS.

What do the scores mean?

BCS score of 1 or 2?

If your dog's ribs, vertebrae, and hip bones are visible with little mass covering, then your dog might be severely underweight. Instead of overfeeding your dog, consult with a vet or your canine nutritionist at The Healthy Hound to identify any potential underlying conditions.

BCS score of 3… Congrats!

If your dog has a visible abdominal tuck and a lean shape, and you can feel the ribs with a thin layer of fat, you've nailed it! Your dog has an ideal body shape. Keep up the excellent work!

BCS score of 4, 5 or 5++?

If your dog's ribs are hard to feel due to excess fat or no visible abdominal tuck, it's time to act. Increasing their exercise routine can strain their joints, so focus on nutrition instead. If your dog is categorised as obese or severely obese, a detailed plan to reduce weight is crucial.

In conclusion, give the BCS a go. It's an easy, effective way to keep tabs on your dog's weight. Remember, an ideal score is 3 (on a 1-5 Scale). Anything less or more needs attention, and possibly a change in diet. Don't ignore those extra pounds - they could lead to serious health issues. Your dog's health is too important to take lightly!

Struggling to figure out your dog's body condition? Don't sweat it. I'm here to lend a paw! Just snap a couple of pics from two angles - a side view and a top view of your doggy. Then send them to me at and I promise to give you a straight-up, no-nonsense opinion. Plus, I'll arm you with the know-how to do it yourself next time.


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