Healthy Pet Challenge 2013

Body Condition Score

Pet Obesity: A National Epidemic

Pet obesity has become a national epidemic in North America and is one of the most common disorders affecting companion pets. Over 50% of dogs and cats are either overweight or obese. Approximately 24-40% of pets are classified as overweight while obesity is defined as an increase of over 20% above the optimum body weight.  Why is pet obesity on the rise? The key reasons are that more often, pets are leading a more confined and sedentary lifestyle with little or no significant exercise, availability of highly-palatable, energy-dense pet foods and treats, and a strong human-animal bond that leads to overfeeding and snacking.

Why should you be concerned as to whether your pet is overweight or obese? If your dog or cat is overweight or obese, they face an increased risk of serious illnesses such as:

  • Cancer
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Arthritis/Joint Pain
  • Hypertension
  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease

Further, allowing your dog to be overweight can decrease your pet’s lifespan. Obesity has been proven to reduce the lifespan of dogs by almost two years.

Obesity should be dealt with as a medical problem and taken care of immediately when recognized, as the condition is easier to control in its early stage. The first step in identifying whether your pet has a weight issue is to check their Body Condition Score. Above is a photo that will help you determine what your pet’s score is. The Body Condition Score is a system for determining your pet’s weight. Since dogs and cats can vary so much in size, even within a breed, utilizing the Body Condition Scoring system focuses more on shape than weight. Simply weighing your pet doesn’t necessarily let you know if your pet is underweight or overweight. This is why Global Pet Foods recommends using the Body Condition Score System in conjunction with weighing your pet. Once your pet reaches their ideal weight utilizing the Body Condition Score System, monthly monitoring of their weight helps to ensure that your pet’s ideal body condition is being maintained.

The Body Condition system ranges from underweight to ideal to overweight, and is based on a visual and hands-on examination of your pet. The first step in deciding whether your dog is overweight is to know what his ideal body weight looks like.  Compare your dog’s figure to the attached chart to find out whether your dog is overweight, underweight or at the ideal weight.

What’s Your Pet’s Score?

1. Very Thin:
Ribs, spine and bony protrusions are easily seen from a distance.
You won’t feel fat or muscle when you touch the ribs.
The pet looks bony, emaciated and starved.

2. Underweight:
Ribs, spine and bony protrusions are easily felt with little fat or muscle.
The pet has a small tucked stomach, as well as a waist (hourglass shape) when viewed from above.
The pet looks thin, skinny or lean.
It’s recommended that you increase the pet’s calories or balance their nutrition to help them reach an ideal weight.

3. Ideal Weight:
Ribs, spine and other bones are easily felt, but not easily seen.
You can feel some body fat and muscle over the ribs.
These pets have an obvious well-proportioned waist when viewed from above. The abdomen is raised and not sagging.
The pet looks healthy and somewhat muscular.

4. Overweight:
You have difficulty feeling or counting the ribs, spine and other bones underneath the fat. You’ll feel fat on the hips, chest, and base of tail.
These pets have a pear-shaped waist when viewed from above.
The abdomen sags when looking at the pet from the side.
The pet looks overweight, heavy or husky.

5. Obese:
You cannot feel the ribs, spines, or other bones due to the large amounts of fat tissue.  These pets have no waist but have a broad back when viewed from above.
The abdomen significantly sags when looking at the pet from the side.
The pet looks tired, finds it difficult to walk, run or do any other type of exercise due to their heavy weight.

NOTE: If your pet’s score is very thin or obese, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a certified veterinarian to address the health issues immediately.

 It is also recommended that you weigh your pet. Once you start a program to help your pet reach their ideal weight through exercise and managing their food intake, both the Body Condition Score and ongoing weight tracking can be used in conjunction to track the healthy changes in your pet.  Need more help? Visit your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store and speak to the Healthy Pet Care Specialists.

As Canada’s Healthy Choice for Pets, Global Pet Foods stores across Canada are committed to helping you and your pet follow a healthy lifestyle. If you know that your pet is not at his or her ideal weight, join our Healthy Pet Challenge!   Visit for details.  You could win 1 of 5 prizes of FREE Natural Balance pet food for a year or 1 of 50 Global Pet Foods gift cards valued at $150, or other cool prizes!

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