Weight Dog - Body Condition Scoring (BCS) in Dogs

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) for dogs and cats

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a quick and easy way to check the weight of your dog or cat. It is a simple and quick check that can be done twice each month. Our picture guide below explains how to check your pet. It describes what you should be looking for and feeling, and what the results mean. It is useful to keep a record of each date and the corresponding BCS to monitoring your pets body condition over time. This will help to ensure that they maintain a healthy weight.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

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Weight guide for your dog

1-3: Under ideal

  • 1 - Ribs, lumbar vertebra (lower back), pelvic bones and all bony prominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious loss of muscle mass
  • 2 - Ribs, lumbar vertebra, pelvic bones and all bony prominences easily visible. No palpable fat. Some evidence of other bony prominences. Minimal loss of muscle mass
  • 3 - Ribs easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae visible. Pelvic bones becoming prominent. Obvious waist (viewed from above, narrowing in front of the pelvis). Abdominal tuck (viewed from the side, the belly runs upwards from the front legs towards the back legs)

4-5: Ideal

  • 4 - Ribs easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. Waist easily noted, viewed from above. Abdominal tuck evident
  • 5 - Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from above

6-9: Over ideal

  • 6 - Ribs palpable with slight excess fat covering. Waist is discernible viewed from above but is not prominent. Abdominal tuck apparent
  • 7 - Ribs palpable with difficulty; heavy fat cover. Noticeable fat deposits over lumbar area and base of tail. Waist absent or barely visible. Abdominal tuck may be present
  • 8 - Ribs not palpable under very heavy fat cover, or palpable only with significant pressure. Heavy fat deposits over lumbar area and base of tail. Waist absent. No abdominal tuck. Obvious abdominal distention may be present
  • 9 - Massive fat deposits over thorax, spine and base of tail. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on neck and limbs. Obvious abdominal distention

Weight guide for your cat

1-4: Under ideal

  • 1 - Ribs very easily seen on short-haired cats. No fat pads present. Severe abdominal tuck. Lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones easily seen and felt
  • 2 - Ribs easily seen on short-haired cats. Lumbar vertebrae obvious. Pronounced abdominal tuck. No fat pads present
  • 3 - Ribs easily felt with minimal fat covering. Lumbar vertebrae obvious. Obvious waist behind ribs. Minimal abdominal fat pads
  • 4 - Ribs felt with minimal fat covering. Noticeable waist behind ribs. Slight abdominal tuck. Minimal abdominal fat pads

5: Ideal

  • 5 - Well-proportioned. Ribs felt with slight fat covering. Waist seen behind ribs, but not pronounced. Abdominal fat pad minimal

6-9: Over ideal

  • 6 - Ribs felt with slight excess fat covering. Waist and abdominal fat pad present but not obvious. Abdominal tuck absent. (A BCS of 6/9 may be acceptable in some cats, especially older cats.)
  • 7 - Ribs not easily felt through moderate fat covering. Waist not easily seen. Slight rounding of abdomen may be present. Moderate abdominal fat pad
  • 8 - Ribs not felt due to excess fat covering. Waist absent. Obvious rounding of abdomen with prominent abdominal fat pad. Fat deposits present over lower back area
  • 9 - Ribs not felt under heavy fat cover. Heavy fat deposits over lumbar area, face and limbs. Distention of abdomen with no waist. Extensive abdominal fat deposits

Further reading:

Obesity in dogs

Obesity in cats

Get advice from an experienced vet

  • If you notice that your pet is overweight or underweight
  • If your pet is losing or gaining weight

Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our FirstVet vets. Every dog is different, so they will be able to discuss specifically how best to manage your dog’s weight, exercise and nutrition.

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