Be sure you’re feeding your dog the right amount

How to get the perfect dog body condition score. When all is said and done, there is only one way to be sure you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food. Actually there are two. Observe your dog closely and weigh your dog regularly. No two dogs are the same, and my own dogs are a prime example of the fact.

My wife and I have two dogs. A 7-year old entire male German Shepherd Dog who weighs an impressive but lithe 48kgs. And a 3 1/2-year old neutered, sylph-like female German Shepherd Dog who weighs 35kgs. Each is the perfect weight for their frame without an excess gram anywhere. Each has a textbook abdominal tuck and discernible waistline. And each has ribs which are clearly defined beneath a thin layer of flesh. The perfect dog body condition score.

And yet despite their considerable weight difference, both dogs eat exactly the same amount of food each day. Each dog eats 900g spread over two meals. And each dog gets the same amount of treats and other homemade goodies throughout the day. As befits their roles as chief and assistant chief homemade dog food tasters. And just to be certain I’m getting it right, I have my own vet scales and weigh my dogs at least once a month.

Remarkably, neither dog ever varies more than a gram or two from what I consider to be their perfect weight. The perfect dog body condition score. It’s just that my male is, shall we say, sedate and chilled and my female is active and high-drive in the extreme. In other words, she burns calories like they’re going out of fashion.

Weigh your dog

In an ideal world, you should weigh your dog at least once a month. If you have a small dog you might be able to pop he or she on your bathroom scales. Or hold your dog while you stand on the scales and then weigh yourself separately and deduct the difference. With such large dogs neither of those is an option for me. But fortuntely my dogs enjoy being weighed and happily jump on and off their scales as required. Especially if there’s a treat in it for them!

Observe your dog

I am very hands-on with my dogs. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs beneath a thin layer of flesh without actually being able to see them. Your dog should also have a discernible waistline when viewed from above, and a definite abdominal tuck when viewed from the side. The image below should help.

Importantly, if you’re as hands-on with your dog as I am mine, you’ll know for sure that your dog has the perfect dog body condition score!

Underweight

Ribs, spine and hip bones clearly visible from a distance. No body fat. Poor muscle definition.

Ideal

Ribs, spine and hip bones able to be felt beneath a thin layer of fat. Visible waist with abdominal tuck.

Overweight

Ribs, spine and hip bones indiscernible. Barely visible waist, no abdominal tuck. Layer of fat at base of tail.

Obese

Ribs, spine and hip bones covered in a thick layer of fat. No waist, no abdominal tuck, distended tummy.

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