Body Condition Score & BMI Calculator for Dogs

20 April 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

Concerned your dog may be underweight or overweight? It’s a normal thing for a loving dog parent to be worried about – especially since being overweight or underweight can lead to serious health issues in dogs. So if you suspect 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 want to work as a team, 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. It stands for Body Mass Index and is a measure of body fat, 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’s not as simple. You’ll need to consider factors such as the breed, age and sex of your dog as well. Luckily, you don’t have to do all that yourself. You can just use our BMI calculator for dogs and find out which weight category your dog falls under.

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 method of determining if your dog is overweight or underweight is even simpler than the BMI calculator, and doesn’t require details like birth date, breed, height or weight.

Determine your dog’s Body Condition Score dog rating 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 (5) represents the ideal, healthy dog weight. In this best case scenario, you can feel your dogs ribs, spine, and pelvic bone but there is still a bit of fat cover. Scores below 5 are in the underweight range, while 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, more and more dogs are overweight or obese these days. In fact, there’s a growing pet obesity problem in the United States2. And unfortunately, in many cases, it’s actually pet parents who mean well and want to spoil their furry friends. So if you feel like your dog might have packed on a few more pounds, you’re not alone.

Of course, as is pretty much always the case, each dog is different. There are many factors that can influence a dog’s weight, including:

  • breed predisposition
  • lifestyle of pet parents
  • age
  • neutering
  • nutrition
  • activity levels

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. Finally, check out our ultimate guide to dog obesity, fitness and activity monitoring.

How to maintain a healthy dog weight

Dogs with extra weight will have an increased load on virtually all organs of the body. When the organs are overloaded, it can lead to disease – sometimes even death. Keeping your pet active, and within the limits of the weight scale, is not just for fun, it’s actually life-saving.

That’s why we would recommend putting the following advice into practice, and help your dog maintain a healthy weight.

Help your dog reach their ideal weight first.

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

Is your dog already at a healthy weight? Nice. Here’s how to maintain that.

  • Weigh your dog regularly and pay attention to your dog’s physical shape.
  • Adjust your dog’s food portions 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 four-legged friends3.

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, get a Tractive GPS tracker to always know where your dog is.

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


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