Assessing Body Condition Score

A technique that vets and veterinary nurses use to determine whether or not a pet is a healthy weight is called Body Condition Scoring. 

There are 5 different body condition scores (BCS) ratings from One to Five.

  • 3 is the ideal score
  • 1 or 2 suggests that a pet is underweight
  • 4 or 5 suggests an unhealthy percentage of body fat.  

Assessing the Body Condition Score is very straight forward.  It doesn’t require any equipment and can be done at home.  

Follow the tips below.

  1. Have your pet standing on a level surface and start at the head and neck.  Feel around your pet’s neck to check if the skin is firm or mobile.  Ideally there should be a distinct difference between the head and the neck.

Have you had to loosen your dog’s collar recently?   That’s usually a sure sign that they are gaining weight.

  1. Moving down to the ribs.

How easily can you see them?  

How well can you feel them?

  • You should be able to feel the ribs easily, much like running your hand over pens in a pocket – this would be a score of 3
  • If you can see prominent ribs this would suggest a 1 or 2
  • If you have difficulty feeling the ribs then this is a 4 or 5
  1. Moving to the waistline.

What does your pet’s shape look like from above?  

Does it have an hourglass figure or a straight or barrel-like figure?  

  • Ideally pets should have an hourglass shaped abdomen – a score of 3
  • If it’s too defined it will be a 1 or 2
  • If it’s straight it will be a 4
  • If barrel-like it will be a 5
  1. Then look at your pet from the side.  

The abdomen should tuck under.  If it hangs low in line with the chest then the animal may be carrying excess weight.


How to Body Condition Score Your Dog 



To discuss weight and nutrition and to have a nurse carry out a full Body Condition Score call 01620 822262 to book a free weight clinic.