Is Your Pet ‘Big Boned?’

Weight is not always the best indicator of how healthy your pet actually is. As we all know, muscle weighs more than fat and therefore seemingly fit dogs can weigh more then a similar non athletic dog. A better way to see if your pet is at its ideal weight is through a body condition score (BCS).  The ideal BCS is 5 out of 9.  0 to 4 is thin, 5 is perfect, 6 to 9 is overweight. A BCS of 9/9 is obese while 1/9 is emaciated.

A BCS of 5/9 means you should be able to feel the ribs without digging, a waist, a dip under the lumbar muscles, and a rounded back (it should be hard to balance a plate on top of the back).

Research shows that maintaining a lean body condition in dogs increased their median lifespan by 15%. This was a 14-year study and is the first completed lifetime diet restricted study. It involved 48 Labrador retrievers (from 7 different litters). That 15% equates to an extra 1.8 years of life for the healthiest dogs, so it’s certainly something you should work on with your dog.

Next time you’re at your vet’s office, have them check your dog’s BCS and keep striving for that perfect 5/9!

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Positively Expert: Duffy Jones

Dr. Jones serves as the veterinary consultant for "It's Me or the Dog" episodes filmed in Atlanta. He received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, and later opened Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, GA in 2005.


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