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Is My Pet Overweight?

Many people do not recognize what their pet’s ideal weight should look like. Obesity often is a sensitive subject, but your veterinarian wants the healthiest, happiest life possible for your pet and is well-equipped to help them shed those extra pounds.


  • 1/9 Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones, and all bony prominences are visible from a distance; no discernible body fat; obvious loss of muscle mass
  • 2/9 Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones are easily visible; no palpable fat; minimal loss of muscle mass
  • 3/9 Ribs are easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat; tops of the lumbar vertebrae are visible; pelvic bones are becoming prominent; obvious waist and abdominal tuck



  • 4/9 Ribs are easily palpable, with minimal fat; waist is easily noted when viewed from above; abdominal tuck is present
  • 5/9 Ribs are palpable without excess fat; waist is observed behind the ribs when viewed from above; abdominal tuck can be seen from the side


  • 6/9 Ribs are palpable with slight excess fat; waist is discernible, but not prominent; abdominal tuck is present
  • 7/9 Ribs are difficult to palpate due to heavy fat cover; fat deposits are noticeable over the lumbar area and tail base; waist is absent or barely visible; abdominal tuck may be present
  • 8/9 Ribs are not palpable under heavy fat cover, or palpable only with significant pressure; heavy fat deposits are seen over the lumbar area and tail base; waist is absent; no abdominal tuck; obvious abdominal distension may be present
  • 9 /9 Massive fat deposits are noticeable over the thorax, spine, and tail base; waist and abdominal tuck are absent; fat deposits are seen on neck and limbs; obvious abdominal distension is noted


Obtaining your pet’s accurate body-condition score is the most helpful tool to determine their ideal weight. While it’s nice to know a specific breed should weigh a certain amount or be fed according to the guidelines on a bag of food, each pet is an individual and requires a personalized diet and nutrition plan.

Animal Hospital of Cambridge has a team of professionals able to help you navigate your pet’s nutritional requirements.

Sources and image credits:

  1. AAHA – Is My Pet Overweight
  2. AAHA – Body and Muscle Condition Score
  3. WSAVA – Body Condition Score (Dog)
  4. WSAVA – Body Condition Score (Cat)

Pet Education

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