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How do I know if my pet is at a healthy weight?

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Pet obesity is so common in the U.S. that well-meaning pet parents sometimes mistakenly view perfectly healthy dogs and cats as underweight.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that different breeds have different shapes. For example, a healthy but stocky English Bulldog may look chubbier than a slender Greyhound, but in reality both are at their ideal weights.

Since obesity can lead to arthritis, heart and lung problems, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and other health issues, it’s important to know what’s a healthy weight for your pet.

One of the best ways to do this—a method used by many veterinarians and pet parents—is by determining your pet’s Body Condition Score (BCS).

Rather than focusing on a specific number on the scale, you determine your pet’s BCS by observing them and then gently running your hands over their ribs.

Then take note:

  • If your dog or cat is at a healthy weight, their ribs should not be prominent when viewed from a distance (ribs sticking out too much could mean a pet is underweight). However, you should be able to feel their ribs when you run your hands over them (if you can’t feel the ribs, it may be due to excess fat).
  • Also, you should be able to observe your pet’s natural waist when viewing them from above or from the side. This means their stomach should not stick out beyond their rib cage.

Use the following chart as a guide for adult dogs and cats, keeping in mind that the middle range is ideal. Too low of a score means your pet may be too thin, while a high score could mean they’re overweight.

 

Your Dog's Weight: Why It Matters

Your Cat's Weight: Why It Matters

 

 

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