Home Weight Assessment for Dogs

Written by Tanya Whipps RVN
January 19, 2023

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) has been developed as a nice easy way to ensure your dog has the right amount of lean muscle and fat for their body size. It is based on how easy it is to feel their ribs and spine, and how much tummy tuck you can see. It is an essential home weight assessment for dogs.

If you have never completed a body condition assessment before we recommend starting with a 3-point process. This is a more simple assessment and allows you and your cat to become more familiar with the process. Firstly become comfortable with the 3-point process. If you wish to know more, you can then move on the the 5-point process. Both can be completed at home.

Always check your pet is happy to be touched before starting the 5-point Body Condition Score. 

How to do it   

This weight assessment for your dog is easiest done with your pet standing up.   

  • Start with a nice cuddle to relax your pet and then run the flat of your hand over your pet’s rib cage. You should be able to feel each rib without having to press too hard.   
  • Next run your hands down your pet’s back from neck to tail. You should just be able to feel the bones of the spine and hips under the muscle.   
  • Finally, the waistline. Look and feel around your pet’s waist from the top and the side. Looking down from the top you should see a slight “hourglass” shape as the waist of your pet comes in behind the ribcage. From the side, your pet’s tummy should go up towards the back legs, and not down in a pot-bellied fashion.  

Use our pictures below to help you assess which category your pet comes into.  

BCS 1-2 Under Ideal Weight 

  • You can see your dog’s ribs from the other side of the room and when you run your hands over the ribs and down the spine all the bones are easily felt with no fat or muscle layer under the skin.   
  • Looking from above the “hourglass” shape is quite severe giving a small waist, and from the side the tummy goes up steeply.   

Under Ideal Weight

Advice 

We recommend contacting your Veterinary Healthcare team ASAP to discuss this further 

BCS 3 Ideal (Perfect) Weight 

  • You can feel your dog’s ribs with minimal fat covering and just feel the bones along the spine between the muscle.    
  • Looking from above there is a small hourglass waist behind the ribs and from the side a small tummy tuck. 
  • If your pet is a healthy weight, you should easily feel the ribs 

 Ideal Bodyweight 

Advice 

 Checking your pet’s BCS once a month will help you to maintain an ideal weight for your pet.  

BCS 4-5 Over Ideal Weight  

  • You may have difficulty feeling some or any of your dog’s ribs, and the bones of the spine may be covered by fat.    
  • Looking from above there is no waist behind the rib cage, and from the side the tummy goes straight along or down.   

Over Ideal Weight

Advice 

We recommend discussing this with one of our experienced veterinary team, who can offer tips and advice on weight management and nutrition 

Where to get weight assessment help for your dog

Assessing your dogs weight at home is a great step to keep them healthy. Our experienced veterinary team are able to offer tips and advice for effective weight management throughout your pet’s life. They can also assist with body condition scoring if you require help with this.

I want to know more

Your veterinary staff will use a 9-point body condition score weight assessment. It may be easiest to start with 3-point assessment at home. All assessments give the same outcome, it is the detail that changes.

You will find details on the different scoring processes by following the links below

3-point Body Condition score

9-point Body Condition Score

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If you would like any more information on this or any other pet health related queries, please contact our team of Registered Veterinary Nurses

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