Canine Obesity—Body Condition Scores & Caloric Requirements

Canine obesity is a serious problem but, luckily, it’s 100% preventable (assuming there are no underlying medical conditions)! A good, high-quality diet and sufficient exercise are very important in a dog’s life. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can help prolong his life, prevent injuries, and improve his overall quality of life. The image below shows the canine Body Condition Score chart. Keep in mind that some breeds will naturally be leaner and may not 100% follow the chart below. Most sighthounds, for example, are very lean dogs. Bone structure can also play a role and may cause hip bones to be visible even when the dog is at a healthy weight.

Body Condition Score - Dog

When it comes to a dog’s daily caloric requirements, many dog food manufacturers’ recommended portion sizes can be too much for some dogs. A guide to the recommended caloric intake based on weight for the average indoor dog can be found here: (this is a general guide for healthy, lightly active ADULT dogs and will NOT apply to all dogs).

On the contrary, recommended caloric needs listed in the link above or suggested portion sizes listed on a bag of food may not be enough for some dogs. For example, if your dog is needing to gain weight, if they are highly active, or if they have a high metabolism. You could have 2 dogs that are both 50lbs that receive the same amount of exercise but require very different daily caloric needs.

Please do your own research and consult with a canine nutritionist for information pertaining to your particular dog and his/her individual nutrition needs.

*The boxer in the photo above has a medical condition that causes her spine to protrude which is why it looks like her back is roached, but her overall body condition is healthy and ideal. Depending on the breed, you want to see an abdominal tuck when looking from the side and an hourglass shape when looking down at the dog from above. You want to be able to easily feel the ribs but not see them (they may be visible when the dog is breathing heavily).