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Fat, fit, or flimsy? How to tell if your dog is the right weight



Body weight alone can't tell you if your dog is in good condition. Muscle and fat also matter.

Human doctors use the Body Mass Index (BMI) or body fat percentage to tell if we are healthy.


You can use a similar system with your dog, known as the Body Condition Score.

Learn how what the Body Condition Score is and how to easily use it in seconds to evaluate the fitness of your dog.


For dogs with a short coat, simply use the visual table on the last page of this guide to determine if your dog is in ideal body condition or is carrying too much or too little weight.


For dogs with athick coat, the visual evaluation isn’t useful, so you will have to place hands on your dog if they have a lot of coat. Even a skinny fluffy dog can look plump because of their coat.


To find your dog’s body condition score, you’ll want to run your hands down her ribs. You want to feel the puppy’s ribs with a thin layer of fat over them. Any more than a thin layer and your dog is starting to get too fat. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, then your dog is obese.


1-4: Too thin (less than ideal). You will feel your dog's ribs with no covering. As an analogy, it feels like you are running your fingers over the knuckles of your hand when making a fist.


5: Just right (ideal).A very thin layer of fat covering your dog's ribs. It feels similar to running your fingers over the back of your hand. You feel the bones, but there's a thin layer of skin and fat over them (but not too much!)


7-9: Too fat (over ideal). It feels like there's a sweater or thick fleece between your dog's ribs and your hands. If you can't feel her ribs at all, then she's not just fat, she's obese.

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