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Body condition – Be the best!

Feeding & Nutrition

Coat Maintenance

Exercise

General

Dr Jacqueline Boyd

BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCHE, CHES, FHEA, MRSB

In-house Nutritional Consultant

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Body condition

Body condition is a term widely used when talking about pet health and diet, but do you really know what is meant by the term and how best to monitor body condition? Quite simply, body condition refers to the overall size and shape of an animal, considering how fit, conditioned and muscled an animal is (or indeed, isn’t!)

When monitoring body condition, the process of “body condition scoring” is often described. This is where standard images are used to compare and “score” an animal against. Typically, this is used as a way of identifying if an animal is underweight, overweight or “just right”. A range of body condition scoring charts and tools are available, some are more complex than others, but all are intended to help owners monitor their pets to maintain a healthy weight and shape!

Get hands on

In monitoring body condition, often the best way is to get your hands on your pet and feel! Many body condition scoring charts will detail aspects like “can you easily feel the ribs without pressing hard?” By getting your hands on your animal, you can also take the opportunity for a general overall health check, making sure there are not any lumps or bumps that are new or otherwise shouldn’t be there! You can also feel for the development of muscles – if muscle development is not equal on both sides, a visit to the vets might be in order!

Be critical about condition

Unfortunately, we know that a large percentage of dogs in the UK are carrying more bodyweight than is ideal for their health and welfare. This can be linked to a range of painful and debilitating conditions, not to mention potentially reducing your dog’s lifespan!

It is much easier to manage weight before it becomes a problem. Monitoring, measuring and managing weight and body condition is a great mantra.

At Skinner’s we suggest regularly body condition scoring your dog and weighing them (ideally weekly, at least monthly) so that you can monitor gradual weight gains or losses. It pays to be critical about body condition too – consistent monitoring and balancing food intake and exercise is the easiest way to help your dog have a long, happy and healthy life.

Choose a body condition scoring system that you can stick to and is clear – even print it out and stick it on the fridge door! The “Dog Size-O-Meter” from the PFMA website is a clear and easy to use version that you can find here.

Skinner’s friendly and experienced nutrition team would be delighted to help you make great nutrition choices for your dog and help you in managing and monitoring weight and overall body condition. If you would like additional help, support or advice, we would be delighted to hear from you! Alternatively use our FREE Feeding Guide.

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