How to Visually Assess Cat
and Dog Body Condition

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 77R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

Importance of body condition assessment

Assessing body condition is an important step in the overall evaluation of a companion animal's nutritional well-being. Particularly in cases where the cat or dog appears to be obese or thin, it is important to evaluate total health of the dog or cat before a proper nutritional management program is selected. The following body condition charts help explain body condition terms.

Cat Body Condition Chart

Thin Cat
Thin Cat
  • Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones easily visible
  • Thin neck and narrow waist
  • Obvious abdominal tuck
  • No fat in flank folds, folds often absent
Underweight Cat
Underweight Cat
  • Backbone and ribs easily palpable
  • Minimal fat covering
  • Minimal waist when viewed from above
  • Slightly tucked abdomen
Ideal Cat
Ideal Cat
  • Ribs palpable, but not visible
  • Slight waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above
  • Abdomen tucked up, flank fold present
Overweight Cat
Overweight Cat
  • Slight increase in fat over ribs, but still easily palpable
  • Abdomen slightly rounded, flanks concave
  • Flank folds hang down with moderate amount of fat—jiggle noted when walking
Obese Cat
Obese Cat
  • Ribs and backbone not easily palpable under a heavy fat covering
  • Abdomen rounded; waist barely visible to absent
  • Prominent flank folds which sway from side to side when walking
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Dog Body Condition Chart

Thin Dog
Thin Dog
  • Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones easily visible
  • No palpable fat
  • Obvious waist and abdominal tuck
  • Prominent pelvic bones
Underweight Dog
Underweight Dog
  • Ribs easily palpable
  • Minimal fat covering
  • Waist is easily noted when viewed from above
  • Abdominal tuck evident
Ideal Dog
Ideal Dog
  • Ribs palpable, but not visible
  • Slight waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above
  • Abdomen tucked up, flank fold present
Overweight Dog
Overweight Dog
  • Slight increase in fat over ribs, but still easily palpable
  • Abdomen slightly rounded, flanks concave
  • Flank folds hang down with moderate amount of fat—jiggle noted when walking
Obese Dog
Obese Dog
  • Ribs and backbone not easily palpable under a heavy fat covering
  • Abdomen rounded; waist barely visible to absent
  • Prominent flank folds which sway from side to side when walking
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