Identifying the ideal weight for a dog is not as simple as the internet makes it out to be. If you look up ‘what is the healthy weight for a dog?’ online, you will come across a plethora of websites offering you ideal weight ranges for dogs. But most of those figures don’t take into account a dog’s age, sex, health conditions, which play a significant part in determining a dog’s weight. Also, almost all the dog weight tables you find on the internet give a wide range as the ideal weight for any dog. And that can be pretty confusing for a dog owner. For instance, on the website of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, you will find that a Labrador’s weight should lie within 65 to 80 pounds. That’s a pretty large bracket with a difference of 23 %. Such vague figures will not suffice if you are looking for an accurate figure.
With that said, you cannot get an accurate universal weight number for a dog. Since dogs come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and breeds with varying healthy levels, nobody can identify the perfect weight for dogs. If you want to find out if your fluffy friend is healthy and their weight is ideal, you need to take into account all the attributes of their physical being. That is, look at their fitness level, age, sex, breed, bone health, etc. and then evaluate their health.
Body-weight is not just a numerical measure to determine how fat or thin a dog is. It’s an umbrella term that includes a lot of things. From bone strength to muscle mass, a dog’s body weight encompasses everything. Therefore, to measure a dog’s health, vets use a comprehensive weighing system that involves a lot more than just a scale. And that system is known as a body scoring system.
Just like humans use the system of Body Mass Index, vets use the body scoring system for animals and pets to measure their health level. Body scoring system is a visual, hands-on assessment of body fat and lean mass in a dog that determines if a dog is healthy or not.
A healthy body condition score (BCS) means that a dog is neither overweight nor skinny. BCS adds a lot of context and value to the weight of a canine. If you look at the weight of your dog, then you might worry if your pet is overweight or underweight. But if you look at your dog’s weight along with its BCS, you will get a much clearer idea of your pet’s health. With that said, a dog’s BCS can also indicate if the dog is obese or emaciated.
A dog’s BCS is measured based on four bodily factors.
For a dog to have a healthy body condition score, its ribs must be easy-to-feel, but they must not be overtly visible. It must have a defined waist that’s not wrapped in excess skin flab. A defined waist or ‘abdominal tuck’ should be easily visible from the top and sides, respectively.
An overweight dog will have saggy skin and a loose stomach. You cannot easily feel the ribs on an obese dog, and its back is flat and broad, which indicates a lack of skeletal definition. On an underweight dog, you can easily see the bones. Its ribs, spine, and waist are visible from all angles, and if you hold such a dog, you can feel its bones protruding through the skin.
Most vets use a nine-point system to assign a body condition score to a dog. An ideal BCS in the nine score system is four or five, as that indicates a moderate body fat percentage.
Pet owners can assess whether their dog is obese or not at home, even if they don’t have a scoring chart with them. You can either ask your vet to provide you with a BCS chart so that you can accurately determine your dog’s BCS, or evaluate your pet’s weight without using numbers.
Checking a dog’s body score at home is a quick way to assess your dog’s physical health, but it doesn’t give you the free pass to skip the vet’s appointment. If you want to ensure that your dog is in its best shape, then you must visit your vet regularly and come up with a healthy diet and exercise plan if your canine turns out to be underweight or obese.
by Bobby J Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™ .
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