Many dog and cat owners may not be familiar with body condition scoring. But Amanda Evans, manager at Mud Bay Pet Supply, uses it regularly to evaluate her own dog’s health. We talked to Evans about the concept and about evaluating your own dog or cat’s weight.
MB: As humans, we often use the scale to evaluate our weight. Why use the body condition score at Mud Bay?
AE: The body condition score is about the shape of your dog or cat. Healthy weight is about having a proportionate body. A Basset hound that weighs 60 pounds is going to look different from a Labrador that weighs the same. The body condition score is a more effective way to talk about weight.
Humans, too, consider height, and also body mass index. We look at where we’re carrying weight and if that weight is muscle or fat.
MB: Let’s say I want to evaluate my dog or cat’s body condition score. How do I figure out if she scores a healthy three?
AE: It all comes down to appearance and feel. Look at the top of the animal and look for a clear “waist” definition. An animal should have some curve when looking at the back. It should not have just a straight line from chest to hips. You also want to see an abdominal “tuck” from the side. The stomach should form a diagonal line from chest to the back legs and hips. Feel for the ribs. Dogs and cats have varying amounts of hair, but you should be able to feel the ribs as clearly as you can feel the bones in the back of your hand. If the ribs are really obvious, the animal is scored under a three. If you can barely feel the ribs, or can’t feel them at all, the animal is over a three.
MB: What if I don’t feel comfortable assessing body condition on my own?
AE: Take your animal to someone in animal health care that you feel comfortable talking to, whether in a store or at an animal hospital. Don’t be ashamed if your dog or cat gets a bit over a three or is a bit under. It is easy enough to fix. At Mud Bay, we care about weight because a healthy weight can dramatically increase an animal’s lifespan and its quality of life.
COURTESY OF MUD BAY
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