What is pet obesity?
Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat. Extra body weight and excess fat tend to go hand in hand, so most overweight pets will have excess body fat.
Why is pet obesity bad?
Compared to non-obese animals, obese pets have a higher incidence of osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, a compromised immune response and complications following anesthesia or surgery. Obese pets also have a lower life-expectancy compared to non-obese pets, and lower quality of life.
Body Condition Scoring (BCS)
At Pala, we care about your pet’s wellbeing and quality of life as much as you do. We believe that Body Condition Scoring is an effective tool to achieve and maintain an optimal physical fitness level in pets.
The BCS is a technique used by veterinarians to check if your pet’s muscle mass and fat cover is ideal. You can do this easily at home without any specialist equipment. Our Body condition scoring uses a 5-point scale. The ideal score is 3. Dogs that score more than 3 may be overweight or obese while a score 1 or 2 may mean your dog is underweight. The scoring is done by visual assessment and by touching / feeling the ribs, tummy and waist.
How to measure BCS for dogs?
Start in a quiet, familiar setting where the dog is calm and relaxed. There are 3 main areas to focus – the ribs, tummy and waist.
Ribs – run your fingers across the dog’s ribs. For a score of 3/5 (ideal), the ribs must be easily felt under a thin layer of fat. They should not be very easily visible though.
Tummy – starting from the chest and running back up towards the hip, the belly must tuck up nicely towards the hips. A saggy or pendulous belly may indicate the dog is overweight (BCS score of 4/5 or 5/5 depending on the severity).
Waist – looking at the dog from above, a tucked waist must be visible. Ideally the rib cage should be a little bit broader than the waist.
Here are the criteria for assessing your dog's BCS.
BCS Score 1
Very Thin - More than 20% below ideal body weight
• Ribs, spine and hip bones are very easily seen (in short haired pets).
BCS Score 2
Thin - Between 10-20% below ideal body weight
• Ribs, spine and hip bones easily seen.
BCS Score 3
Ideal - Ideal body weight
• Ribs, spine and hip bones easily felt
• Visible waist with an abdominal tuck
• A small layer of fat can be felt
BCS Score 4
Overweight - 10-15% above ideal body weight
• Ribs, spine and hip bones are hard to feel
• Waist bearly visible with a broad back
• Layer of fat on belly and at base of tail
BCS Score 5
Obese - More than 15% above ideal body weight
• Ribs, spine and hip bones extremely difficult to feel under a thick layer of fat
• No waist can be seen and belly may droop significantly
• Heavy fat pads on lower back and at the base of the tail
As we know now, a BCS score of 3 is ideal for the pets’ wellbeing and quality of life. If your pet scores higher or lower than a 3, you can help them move towards the ideal fitness level through a combination of diet and exercise. But any change should be gradual and combined with routinely weighing your pet.
We take into account your pet’s life stage and physical condition when recommending the daily portion to feed, but this is just the starting point. Like people, every pet is different and their metabolism varies, which means the most effective way to guide them towards a BCS 3 is to weigh and measure them regularly. Don’t worry, we will remind you to weigh and check the BCS at regular intervals and adjust the feeding recommendations accordingly.