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04-12-2008 - Body condition scores in small animals

Body condition scores in small animals

Richard Hooker1

1 PDSA Head Office, Whitechapel Way, Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire TF2 9PQ

SIR, - The article by German and Morgan (2008) on the use of body condition scoring (BCS) techniques in general practice was of special interest to veterinary staff at the PDSA who, like many other colleagues, see many overweight pets. Many owners appear unaware of the proper healthy shape for their pet - what can be called 'body dysmorphism by proxy'.

To address this concern the PDSA recently introduced simplified BCS in its hospitals. While all animals are weighed for clinical reasons, this information alone does not record the true level of overweight patients. Since the beginning of the year, at the time of weighing the clinician is also prompted to enter on to the computer records a BCS. Already this has produced data on 150,000 pets. We hope that this will provide valuable information about the suggested 'obesity epidemic'.

In addition, the PDSA highlights the issue through health checks on dogs in the community via its PetCheck programme and has done over 6000 such checks this year alone. It also arranges pet health-focused activities such as national sponsored dog walks and annual national slimming competitions. The pet health messages in a recent campaign resulted in considerable national media coverage this year, which it is hoped highlighted the topic and increased owner awareness. The PDSA has produced supporting literature, such as the 'A Healthy Shape for a Healthy Dog' leaflet and BCS posters. These have clear and simple messages for owners and copies are available to practices, telephone freephone 0800 917 2509, website:

The PDSA is grateful to the many academics working in the field of pet obesity. This serious welfare problem needs a concerted effort by all to start turning the tide.


    GERMAN, A. J. & MORGAN, L. E. (2008) How often do veterinarians assess the bodyweight and body condition of dogs? Veterinary Record 163,503 -505[Abstract/Free Full Text]

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