Body Condition Score & BMI Calculator for Dogs

22 February 2021

Is your dog underweight, overweight, or at the ideal weight? Find out now using the BMI calculator and Body Condition Score for dogs from Tractive.

brown dog in forest

Are you concerned that your dog may be underweight or overweight? It’s normal for a loving dog parent to be worried about their beloved canine friend from time to time. Being over- or underweight can lead to serious health issues in your furry buddy. So if you suspect that your dog might have a weight issue, or if you just want to confirm that your dog’s weight is normal, this article is for you! Find out if your dog’s weight is healthy using the Body Condition Score dog rating and dog BMI calculator below. While you’re here, get some tips on how to help your dog lose weight or, if you’re feeling especially motivated, learn how you and your furry friend can lose weight together.

Dog BMI Calculator

One way to determine if your dog’s weight is healthy, is to calculate your dog’s BMI. BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it is a measure of body fat which is calculated based on weight and height1. It is most commonly used to determine if a person’s body weight is considered healthy but can also be applied to our furry friends. Knowing your dog’s BMI will tell you if your dog (at their current weight) is considered underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.

The following simple formula is used to calculate a person’s BMI:

Weight / Height2

However, when calculating a dog’s BMI, it is not so simple. Factors such as the breed, age and sex of your dog must also be taken into consideration in the calculation. Luckily, we created a BMI calculator especially for dogs which you can find at the links below. Enter your dog’s information to discover their BMI and which weight category your dog falls into.

Tractive’s BMI Calculator for Dogs

Dog and cat sleeping on white blanket - Tractive dog and cat BMI calculator logo

Body Condition Score Dog Rating Chart

Another common way to measure a dog’s weight condition is by using the Body Condition Score chart for dogs. This way of determining if your dog is overweight or underweight is even simpler than the BMI calculator; since your don’t need to know the dog’s details such as birthdate, breed, height or weight.

Determine the Body Condition Score dog rating of your furry friend anytime by doing the following:

  1. With your dog standing on all four legs, view your dog’s body from above and the side; noticing the amount of visible fat and/or bones on each side.
  2. Gently run your hands along the top and sides of your dog’s chest and rib cage. Do you feel mostly fat, or can the ribs be felt easily?

Compare your results with the chart below to identify your dog’s Body Condition Score:

Body Condition Score Dog Rating Chart - Infographic

The middle value of 5 represents the perfect, healthy dog weight. In this best case scenario, you can feel your dogs ribs, spine, and pelvic bone but there is also slight fat cover. Scores below 5 are in the underweight range whereas scores above 5 are considered overweight.

If your dog’s body condition matches those on the extreme ends of the scale (1 or 9) your dog may be considered malnourished or obese; in either case it is recommended to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Is my dog fat? 6 factors that impact a dog’s weight

Sadly, it is common now for many of our canine friends to become overweight or obese – in fact there is a growing pet obesity problem in the United States2. So you are not alone if you have just discovered that your dog is carrying a little extra fat! There are many factors that can influence a dog’s weight, including:

  • Breed predisposition
  • Lifestyle of pet parents
  • Age
  • Neutering
  • Nutrition
  • Activity level

Read more about why your dog is overweight and discover what you can do to help them lose weight now. Or find out how often you should walk your dog or check out the ultimate guide to dog obesity, fitness and activity monitoring.

How to maintain a healthy dog weight

Dogs carrying extra pounds or kilos of weight will have an increased load on virtually all organs of the body. When the organs are overloaded, disease and sometimes death are the consequences. Keeping your pet active, and within the limits of the weight scale, is not just for fun, it’s actually lifesaving.

Therefore we recommend to put the following advice into practice, if you want to help your dog maintain a healthy weight.

Help your dog get to an ideal weight first.

Before you can help your dog maintain their healthy weight, you must help them to achieve it. This might mean putting under- or overweight dogs on a special diet, feeding schedule, or activity regime. It might also involve monitoring your dog’s activity with an activity monitor for dogs.

Your dog is already at a healthy weight? Do this to maintain it:

  • Weigh your dog regularly and pay attention to your dog’s physical shape.
  • Adjust your dog’s feed amount based on their age and activity level as needed.
  • Ensure your dog gets the recommended amount of activity per day.
  • Feed your dog high quality, nutritious dog food and avoid giving too many treats.
  • Ensure your dog eats at regular mealtimes.
  • Adopt a healthy and active lifestyle yourself – studies have found a correlation between the BMI of dog parents and their furry children3.

Since obesity as well as undernourishment affect a dog’s quality of life and can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, it is recommended to always keep an eye on your dog’s BMI or Body Condition Score. Help your dog maintain a healthy weight by following the steps above. And for extra peace of mind, always know where your dog is with the help of a Tractive GPS tracker!

For more information on how to use the Body Condition Score for dogs, check out the video below:

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