How to Body Condition Score your Dog
The BCS or Body Condition Score is the most important tool in assessing whether your dog is a healthy weight and can be done anywhere, at anytime.
Body condition scoring involves a visual and manual assessment of your dog’s body. It is broken down into 3 steps:
1. an objective visual assessment of your dog’s body condition- looking at your dog’s shape
2. palpating your dog to feel the amount of fat cover
3. comparing these two assessments with a BCS chart.
Please view the WAGSTA Wellness Check – Body Condition Score Tool.
In the BCS slider tool you will notice that condition scores range from 1 (underweight) to 9 (obese). The ideal condition that we are aiming for is a 4 or 5 (healthy weight).
The healthy weight dog (BCS 4 or 5) when viewed from above:
- has an hourglass figure – where the body outline narrows at the waist
- has spine and ribs that are not visible (or barely visible)
When viewed from the side the healthy weight dog with a BCS of 4 or 5 has:
- a tucked tummy that does not sag.
- a taut, non-bulbous anterior chest.
- ribs and spine that are not visible (or barely visible)
Take a critical look at your dog and compare your dog’s body outline with the BCS tool.
In a healthy weight dog (BCS 4 or 5):
- the ribs are lightly felt as you run your hand across the coat. The ribs can be felt without pushing or prodding into the dog’s body.
- the spinous processes of the spine are lightly felt without the need to push or prod.
- the tissues below the neck and towards the front legs are taut and not padded by a cushion of fat.
- the ventral chest wall should be firm and not padded by a cushion of fat.
- the area above the tail base should be firm with the spinous processes of the spine just palpable and not covered by a pad of fat.
Palpate your dog and compare your assessments with the WAGSTA Wellness BCS tool to give your dog an overall score.