New body scoring system accounts for portly pets

New body scoring system accounts for portly pets

Oct 28, 2010
By staff

If you think the current body condition score (BCS) scale is too subjective or outdated, considering the increase in pets’ body fat percentage, there may be a more objective system on the horizon.

The body fat index (BFI) expands on the current BCS scale for a more precise correlation between body fat percentage and the risk for potential health issues, says Kara Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians. This system is included in a new therapeutic weight reduction program organized by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, where Burns works as a veterinary technician specialist.

The current BCS is either a five-point or nine-point scale, with five or nine representing obese body condition scores, Burns says. Historically, nutritionists, veterinarians, and technicians have said that a five or nine score represents greater than 35 percent body fat. But that may no longer be accurate.

“More pets are becoming obese and the percentage of body fat has increased,” Burns says. “The BFI emphasizes body fat percentage over the BCS to determine the severity of a pet's weight problem.”

For example, an ideal score under the BFI is considered 20 (16 percent to 25 percent body fat).

Overweight is 30 (26 percent to 35 percent body fat).

Obese is 40 (36 percent to 45 percent body fat); 50 (46 percent to 55 percent body fat); 60 (56 percent to 65 percent body fat) to 70 (65 percent body fat and higher).