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Just as for us, being overweight can be a problem for our pets. In pets obesity is defined as being more than 30% above their ideal bodyweight and according to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2018 approximately 59% of cats and 55% of dogs were overweight or obese. This is important because for our pets, being overweight has not only been found to reduce life-expectancy, but also to have a potentially negative impact on quality of life.

Like us, it can also prove difficult for pets to lose weight, and it has been found that half of those pets enrolled on ‘Weight Watcher Clinics’ failed to make their target weight, and of those that do, half regain the weight and become overweight again. So prevention really is better than cure and we can use an easy tool, which doesn’t require any special equipment, called body condition score, which is a bit like BMI for us, to help us to check our furry friends’ weight regularly.

 

STEP 1: Ribs
Run your hands over your pet’s ribs – you should be able to feel them easily with a very small covering of fat

STEP 2: Waistline
To check your pet’s waist place a hand on each side of their chest and run your hands back towards their tail until you reach their hip bones. You should feel their waist tuck in – a bit like an hour glass.

STEP 3: Check their tummy
Place your hands under their rib cage and run them back towards their hips – again the tummy should tuck in.

 

If you’d like to watch a video demonstrating how to body condition score your pet, please check below.

 

The score runs 1 to 9 with 4 and 5 being the ideal.

A score of 4 occurs when:

Your pet’s ribs can be felt with a very small covering of fat present
There is an obvious waist behind your pet’s ribs
Your pet’s tummy is tucked slightly upwards and for cats there is no fat pad present under the tummy

A score of 5 occurs when:

Your pet’s ribs can be felt with a small covering of fat present
There is a waist behind your pet’s ribs
Your pet’s tummy is tucked slightly upwards and for cats there is only a small fat pad present under the tummy

Charts showing the full range of body condition scores for dogs and cats can be found at here and here.