Ideal Weight Assessment
The assessment of ideal weight is as much art (visual) as science. Body Mass Index (BMI) used in humans just doesn’t work for dogs. There are simply too many sizes and shapes to fit a system like that (think dachshund to Labrador Retriever!).
Although there are sophisticated body fat measurement devices available in veterinary medicine (DEXA scan) they are expensive and only available in the largest specialty centers.
An accurate ideal weight “Guesstimate” is vital to achieving the benefits of ideal weight!
3-Step Ideal Weight Assessment
These are the steps we perform in our Ideal Weight Assessments and Consultations at WFPC to start your pet towards their ideal weight. You can perform some of these at home but it is very likely that a complete assessment will require our CVT/DVM staff or the skills & staff of your veterinarian. This should be a great start to a healthier pet!
Deciding what food to feed will be the most important first question to ask. That will be based on your pets overall health, age,breed and medical conditions. Foods vary greatly calorically (from 240 to over 500 calories per cup) Many 60lb dogs only need around 900-1000 Calories
- If your pet is more than 20% over ideal they should be fed a prescription weight loss food to safely and effectively reach their ideal weight.
- If your pet is 5 to 20% over their ideal weight they can be dieted using their regular food provided there are no underlying health problems that require a special diet.
1) Establish Ideal weight for your pet. This can be challenging and many people (including our veterinary staff!) overestimate their pet’s ideal weight.
- This guesstimate is the basis for the calories to be fed per day so it is important that we guess as accurately as possible to ensure we feed the appropriate number of calories to accomplish our goal of ideal weight.
- A pet’s one year weight (if known) is often the best guideline.
2) Establish Body Condtion Score (BCS)
Body Condition Score (BCS) is the standard tool that we use in our exam rooms along with reliable bathroom and floor scales to monitor and document weight loss on a regular basis. Using the combination of BCS and body weight we can establish an ideal weight for all pets.
We use a 1 thru 9 scale with 4 to 5 being ideal weight
3) Make calculations
First calculate how much your pet is over their ideal weight.
Here’s how we calculate the % over ideal weight
Present weight (X) – Ideal weight (Y) = (Z) lbs over ideal weight
Z divided by Y = % over ideal weight
So a Golden Retriever who should weigh 60# but weighs 70# would be 70-60=10 and 10/60 or 14% overweight.
Make Calorie calculations This will need to be done based on the established ideal weight and from a resting energy rate RER chart.
- It is wise to make a list of the treats you feed how many and how many calories in each (treat calories should be restricted to 10% of total calories per day) Even fish oils contain a surprising number of calories (9 per capsule) we know they are good for pets but they must be included in daily calories.
- Food must be measured carefully at each meal Food should not be left down, it only encourages overeating. Leftover food should be taken away after 15 min (very unlikely there will be any left if accurate amt was fed)