How to check your Dogs Body Condition Score

How to check your Dogs Body Condition Score

Always ensuring your dog is at an optimal body weight is an essential part of maintaining a dogs good health. The following body condition score is based on a 1-5 point score scale.

This chart below is a useful technique to assess the condition of your dog. It is however, only intended to be used as a guide, it you have any concerns about your dogs health you should always consult your vet for further advice.  

1. Emaciated
Easily visible ribs, lower back and pelvic bones. No visible covering of fat, obvious waist and abdominal tuck. Absence of any muscle mass.

2. Thin
Easily felt ribs, minimum covering of fat, waist easily noted when viewed from above and visible abdominal tuck.

3. Ideal
Ribs felt but without excess fat covering, waist noted behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from the side.

4. Overweight
Ribs felt but with an excess covering of fat. Waist still observed from above but not as prominent. Abdominal tuck may be absent.

5. Obese
Ribs not easily felt under a large covering of fat. Waist and abdominal tuck not discernible. Fat deposits on lower back and base of tail. May observe signs of obvious abdominal distention.

Dieting

For an overweight dog you may need to reduce the feed intake by up to 10%. We recommend you contact your vet to discuss the ‘body condition score’ in more detail, monitor your dog’s weight on a regular basis and avoid feeding treats. Ultimate Senior contains L-carnitine which may help with weight control in older, less active dogs.

Top tips for looking after your dog

We would recommend getting your dog into a regular routine when it comes to feeding and excercise times. Dogs thrive on a routine lifestyle. Feeding at the same time each day can also prevent toileting accidents in the house.

When feeding your dog use steel or porcelain bowls for water and feed. Plastic bowls can harbour bacteria.

Training Tips:

  • The kibbles from Ultimate Complete dog foods make great rewards for training - tasty, but wholesome treats. Ultimate Training Treats are also suitable to use from 8 weeks onwards.
  • It can be easier if one member of the family takes on the role of key trainer, introducing new family members as your dogs training develops.
  • Make sure all family members use the same commands and only add a new command once your dog is familiar with the previous command.
  • Although it is easier said than done, training every day will help you and your dog bond, and remember training can be carried out as part of play and in many different locations. If training becomes integrated with your daily routine it will teach your dog to listen to you in all situations, not just at ‘training time’.
  • Always end your training session on a positive note, and remember to have fun!
  • We would always recommend taking your dog to puppy and training classes, as not only will you be able to receive help and support as you train your dog, but it will increase their socialisation skills.

Fussy eaters:

  • Try and get your dog into a routine when feeding, some dogs can become fussy eaters if they have access to food all day.
  • You could try to moistening the food, heat up in the microwave for up to 1 minute and allow to cool. You could also try adding some warm water to the food to help make a gravy.
  • If you have any concerns regarding your dogs eating habits, always talk to your vet as a loss of appetite could be a sign of illness.
  • Try disguising pills by wrapping in a favourite food, small pieces of meat or cheese can work well. These delicious treats have a small dent in the top ideal for hiding some pills.

Greedy dogs:

  • Try positioning the dog bowl a little way off the ground. This will help prevent a greedy dog from gobbling food.
  • If your greedy dog develops food aggression we advise talking to a local dog training school as they should be able to help you.

Leaving your dog:

  • Start by only leaving your dog for short periods of time, and gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house.
  • If you dog cries when left alone for a period of time try turning on the radio as you leave. Some dogs find this comforting.
  • Some dogs may prefer having a crate/safe place that they go to whilst you are out of the house.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car!

Older dogs:

  • To help prevent weight gain try feeding smaller portions 2 to 3 times a day. This helps to increase an older dog's metabolism and burn calories.
  • Older dogs need mental stimulation just as much as a younger dogs, so you can still introduce new games, toys and maintain their training.
  • Swimming and walking can help reduce joint stiffness in an older dog, however be careful not to over-exercise and if you have any concerns talk to your vet.
  • Older dogs may need to have comfort breaks more often than a younger dog.
  • Older dogs can benefit from using joint supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These supplements can be found in Ultimate Senior dog food.

Tips for weight loss:

  • Cut back on the amount of food you are feeding by 10% in the first instance, but you may need to cut back further. Look at the body condition score guide on our website.
  • Increase the amount of exercise your dog takes if possible. This can include throwing a ball for him whilst on your normal walk.
  • If you currently feed any treats, use part of your dogs daily food allowance for this.
  • If your dog still appears hungry when he has been fed, you could try soaking the food in a little water before you feed it. This swells the food and leaves your dog feeling more satisfied.
  • If your dog is a fast eater, try to slow him down, that way he will register that he is full sooner. You can do this by making him work to get his food.
    i. There are special bowls with a raised centre so that your dog has to eat around this.
    ii. Or you can raise the dogs bowl a little way off the ground.
    iii. Or you can make your dog hunt for his food, sprinkle part of the food around the kitchen or garden, or use a feeding ball such as a Kong.
  • The main thing is to feed the right amount of food for the energy he is using. If you feed less than this he will lose weight, if you feed more he will gain weight.
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