Posted 13th Dec 2017 by Peter Byrne
Just like ourselves, it’s common for pets to put on a few extra pounds during festive season! This is due in large to the abundance of tempting Christmas treats on offer, combined with shorter days and plummeting temperatures, which mean we’re far less inclined to take our dogs out for some much-needed exercise. However, reducing their activity levels can lead to unhealthy weight gain if your pet’s diet is not tailored accordingly, as Eukanuba’s Veterinary Training Manager Kellie Ceccarelli, explains
With an alarming 45 per cent of UK pets now considered to be overweight, it’s important not to let the Yuletide celebrations get the best of you, or your dog. Carrying excess weight can lead to various health complications for your dog, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoarthritis and even high blood pressure. Instead, this Christmas, make your dog’s health a top priority – starting with their optimal body condition.
While there are guidelines on what the “ideal” weight for an adult dog should be, it’s far from being a precise art, so it can be difficult to tell exactly what a healthy weight for your dog looks like. Just like people, variations of the perfect weight can occur across seemingly identical breeds and genders. And, what about all those lovely cross-breeds?
Body Condition Scoring
Enter body condition scoring. Used by vets and nurses across the globe this simple technique helps to assess optimal body condition. This straightforward measure is more effective in monitoring your pet’s ideal body condition than weighing them on scales. This is because it is based on both a visual and tactile assessment of their body.
Body condition scores are set on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1-9 depending on the chosen system. Here we will use the simpler 1-5 system. The lowest number equates to thin or emaciated pets and the highest to those which are obese. As the amount of body fat increases, we get an increase in the score. An ideal body condition score is 3. (see below for more details)
To keep on top of your pet’s health and ensure they stay in tip top shape over Christmas, follow this simple guide to body condition scoring:
Body Condition Score: 1
Emaciated: Your dog has protruding ribs, a visible lower back and pelvic bones. There is an absence of muscle mass, no visible covering of fat and obvious abdominal tuck.
Body Condition Score: 2
Thin: You can easily feel your pet’s ribs, as there is a minimum covering of fat. Their waist can be easily seen from above and there is a visible abdominal tuck.
Body Condition Score: 3
Ideal: Ribs can be felt but are not protruding. Your dog’s waist can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above and the abdomen appears tucked up when viewed from the side.
Body Condition Score: 4
Overweight: The ribs are only palpable by pushing through a thin layer of excess fat and your pet’s waist can still be observed from above, but not as prominently. Their abdominal tuck may be less evident.
Body Condition Score: 5
Obese: You are unable to feel your dog’s ribs due to a heavy covering of fat. Their waist is barely discernible, and their abdomen may be sagging, with excess fat deposits on lower back and base of tail.
Following this scale, if your dog’s body condition score is a 4 or 5, they will reap health benefits from losing weight. Thankfully, there are a few easy changes you can make to help your beloved pet get back to an ideal shape.
Firstly, choose a diet which is tailored to help control weight such as Eukanuba Weight Control. This is especially useful during times when limited exercise is expected. Try to brace the chilly weather to ensure your pet still gets plenty of regular exercise.
While it can be hard to resist big brown eyes, avoid feeding your pet with too many naughty treats and festive human foods. Instead, opt for healthy lower calorie dog treats where possible, such as Eukanuba Healthy Biscuits.
Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)