By Head Nurse Leah
People visiting the surgery often ask this question, worried that their pet is over or underweight for their breed, especially if they have seen the “breed standard” weight posters that most vet practices used to display.
However, times have changes and these should be used as a rough guide only. Animals, like humans, are individuals and like us, what is a normal weight for one, is not suitable for another. Combined with the fact we are seeing more and more varieties of cross breeds and it makes pinpointing an exact weight very difficult.
Here at Paxton Vets we prefer to use a method known as Body Condition Scoring. This method is a much easier way of determining if a patient is at the correct weight. Our policy is to score all animals which are seen by the vet or the nurse at each visit, which is recorded on our computer system, along with their actual weight, to allow us to easily look for changes between visits, which is really useful in helping us make clinical diagnoses.
The Body Condition Score is a visual assessment of the shape of the animal and placing the animal in a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very underweight and 5 being obese (some vets may use a 1-9 scale).
The ideal score is a 3.
To score a 3 the animal should have ribs that cannot be seen but easily felt with no fat cover, a tucked up stomach when looking at the animal from the side and a well proportioned waist when looking down over the animal.
Take a look at the chart above – what score would you give your pet?
If you are unsure which score your pet may have, or are concerned that they fall either side of the ideal 3 then you can make a FREE APPOINTMENT with one of our nurses who will score your pet for you and discuss long term weight management options.
This could include simple suggestions such as looking at changing to meal times rather than ad-lib food, using an automatic feeder, or changing the food that is given. Our nurses will help you with this step by step and organise for a further FREE weight check up a few weeks to months later to ensure that any changes we’ve suggested are helping.