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Body composition faults/ An alternative to a Vet, please!!!

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What is the consensus on the dog body composition chart? Is it regarded similarly as BMI is for people (an indicator but not the be all and end all)?

Why is it regarded as a cover all for all breeds even though different breeds have different body types??

 

I’ve been told my pup is a 6 instead of a 5, with 5 being perfect and 6 being slightly heavier. 

 

Now, as a pup, leaving aside that he grows by the hour (and prob would’ve looked a 5 had vet seen him at 10pm!), is it preferable to have a slight excess of antipodes tissue (if my phone put the wrong word there, my bad ;) ), than a deficit of nutrition? Kind of like how doctors say babies are better well covered so that should they fall in and not eat for a day or so they won’t be impacted upon as badly? 

 

Is there a way for dogs to get a full body scan? Even just for an owner to know if their dog is well muscled? 

 

Will certain breeds, if put on a caloric deficit, store fat to some extent regardless due to the needs of their breed and instead neglect to build muscle/use energy to develop organs, neural pathways etc? 

 

If a calorie cut results in a pup being too tired to do anything, is that a sign that maybe they might just need a bit of food?

 

Also, who is the go-to person for owners to discuss things like this with??

there is only so much time in a vet appointment. 

If I wanted clarification on medical advice I could ring a number of hotlines (like Cancer Council or Beyond Blue), is there a Vet Helpline available for owners? 

It is not that I don’t like my vet, not at all! But I don’t want to HAVE to do ALL the research myself either (of course I will lol but out of WANTING :p). And it would be good just to have a chat with someone who knows Vet science and will fill me in on everything, without my pup having to go for a conference ;p

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I’ve found most vets are quite happy with you calling to clarify medical advice or ask a question. They might not be able to answer straight away if there’s an emergency going on (fair enough in my books) but they’ve all been quite good at getting back to me :) and phone calls are free compared to a visit!

 

eg. Thyme is my first male dog...so yesterday I called to get a phone description of what is acceptable swelling and redness post-castration lol. It went in to a lot of detail but I appreciate the run down as I didn’t know if the morning swelling was normal or not. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Diva said:

Talk to the breeder of your pup. 

I will do that if I wind up with issues come the next visit. Thank you :) 

Hopefully I don’t, but I do like knowing that I could call my breeder and if nothing else, get pictures of the other dogs in the line to show my vet, or even change vets to the one my breeder uses. 

 

Really hope it doesn’t come to that, though!! 

1 hour ago, Thistle the Best Dog said:

I’ve found most vets are quite happy with you calling to clarify medical advice or ask a question. They might not be able to answer straight away if there’s an emergency going on (fair enough in my books) but they’ve all been quite good at getting back to me :) and phone calls are free compared to a visit!

 

eg. Thyme is my first male dog...so yesterday I called to get a phone description of what is acceptable swelling and redness post-castration lol. It went in to a lot of detail but I appreciate the run down as I didn’t know if the morning swelling was normal or not. 

 

 

That’s so good! About the level of service you received, not the swelling ;) hope your boy is doing ok! 

 

I’ve received some very in depth info over the phone from them, that was in relation to test results and end of life care, though. Admittedly, it’s obviously preferable to have prompt advice over the phone, and I certainly can’t fault them service wise in that regard. 

I don’t know though whether they’d be happy to discuss the ins and outs of the canine kreb cycle (is it even called that?) with me. 

I think - having read vet blogs - that many feel owners are in denial about the condition of their dogs. I’m sure I would’ve sounded offended when asking about body composition  (don’t body shame my pup!! :p ). I really wasn’t though. I just wanted to know what to do, why, how, just the details so I don’t stuff up and hurt my baby :( .

 

The body score is so stupidly subjective too, I’ve watched a few videos on it and even though one was nice and detailed, it’s still open to interpretation. What one person considers a light touch is different to someone else, or how my knuckles feel through my skin vs someone else’s through their skin...all different. 

I was told to go by feel and look to determine his food intake, and by my feel and look, he was very thin some days and very muscular some days and Roly Poly others. Which whilst alarming when talking about thin, is otherwise normal for pups, right? They change so often!! Especially large breeds who require fat to do the job they were bred for. And given that their food contains all their nutrients, why would anyone err on the side of less?? We all know how bad it is for our bodies to get too thin and how easily it can happen, so why would we allow our growing dogs to risk a nutrition deficit? Even just making them feel blah and lacking energy is cruel :( I know obesity is bad for joints, but so is starvation :( 

(sorry, ranting here).

 

Maybe if anyone can recommend a good journal to subscribe to? 

I’ve jokingly thought about taking vet science classes as an audit student, I wonder though if as a pet owner that may actually be a responsible idea. The more knowledge, the better. 

Do uni’s allow that, though? 

I don’t believe that medicine offers audit classes :p. 

 

 

 

 

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JRG   

Get in touch  with IVIS (International Veterinary Information Service)

www.ivis.org

they have a lot of information on their site, articles, research findings etc + they advertise a lot of short courses from time to time.

You have to be a member to access, but it is not expensive.

Edited by JRG

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karen15   

Going from your posts, you seem to be offended your vet suggested your pup is slightly heavy? My experience with the body score charts is it depends on build. Stockier dogs eg staffies are easy to monitor as they have a nice defined waist and little fur. My cocker on the other hand is tricky. If she gets to having a waist when viewed from above, she is too thin as her ribs are pronounced and spine can be felt. So with her, she's a bullet shape from above. Vet is very happy with her weight. Actually, vet is always happy with their weight.

 

My staffy was well muscled from exercise. The first time Dr Leigh saw him she said "OMG he ripples when he walks". He was beautiful. I see a lot of people think fat is muscle. It obviously isn't.

 

I've never had large dogs but from reading, know it's important to grow them properly. I think excess nutrition is as bad as not enough as you don't want them growing too fast.

 

What I look for is a straight line from ribs to hips when looking down on the dog. That varied as my westie was growing from a long line to a short line (indicating he was fatter) but there was always a waist. Then I daily check ribs. If they are easily felt with a light touch, then it's possible the dog is a little light. The more pressure you use to feel the ribs the fatter the dog is. As my dogs are close to the ground with skirts, I can't check their profiles. However, with my horse, what you look for is a tuck into the groin area. The more rectangular they are side on, the fatter they are. The same for large dogs.

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1 hour ago, JRG said:

Get in touch  with IVIS (International Veterinary Information Service)

www.ivis.org

they have a lot of information on their site, articles, research findings etc + they advertise a lot of short courses from time to time.

You have to be a member to access, but it is not expensive.

Oh, JRG! Thank you!!!!

Sounds absolutely brilliant.

Membership can officially be my Christmas present to myself :) 

thsnk you so much 

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48 minutes ago, karen15 said:

Going from your posts, you seem to be offended your vet suggested your pup is slightly heavy? My experience with the body score charts is it depends on build. Stockier dogs eg staffies are easy to monitor as they have a nice defined waist and little fur. My cocker on the other hand is tricky. If she gets to having a waist when viewed from above, she is too thin as her ribs are pronounced and spine can be felt. So with her, she's a bullet shape from above. Vet is very happy with her weight. Actually, vet is always happy with their weight.

 

My staffy was well muscled from exercise. The first time Dr Leigh saw him she said "OMG he ripples when he walks". He was beautiful. I see a lot of people think fat is muscle. It obviously isn't.

 

I've never had large dogs but from reading, know it's important to grow them properly. I think excess nutrition is as bad as not enough as you don't want them growing too fast.

 

What I look for is a straight line from ribs to hips when looking down on the dog. That varied as my westie was growing from a long line to a short line (indicating he was fatter) but there was always a waist. Then I daily check ribs. If they are easily felt with a light touch, then it's possible the dog is a little light. The more pressure you use to feel the ribs the fatter the dog is. As my dogs are close to the ground with skirts, I can't check their profiles. However, with my horse, what you look for is a tuck into the groin area. The more rectangular they are side on, the fatter they are. The same for large dogs.

Karen15 no, not really, only a verrrrrrry tiny bit (I wouldn’t be human if I weren’t, right? ;p). More indignant because yes, I could feel his ribs through light pressure (so I thought - my idea of light pressure turns out to be not light), and frightened that I could be so off base :( 

 

You’ve just set out far more informative of a guide than any I’ve found or been told of (thank you, by the way). 

Believe it or not, there are some clips online that state the score isn’t required to be apllied differently for different breeds - they’re all the same!! So, the greyhound and the Hungarian Komondor and the Rottie - zero difference.

 

That is actually really interesting what you said about ripples, I was watching one clip with a yellow lab, and I, just by looking on, took her for “not lean”, meanwhile the chocolate lab, who was “not lean”, he seemed to me to be much better in build. I think it is owing to coat colour, seriously, like clothing, certain colours are slimming!! 

Light reflects off of dark coats far more than it does paler coats- that can create a countoured look. Add that together with “what is a light touch again?” and it’s easy to have a discrepancy. 

 

My dearly departed angel dog, he was light and very slim, one of those almost-starving looks, but it was what was right for him. He was very well muscled, but I couldn’t see that from a glance, the vet always pointed it out after I anxiously asked whether he’d had any muscle wastage or not. 

 

The rate of growth was something I was worried about, as was the nutritional balancing, but I was able to get good info  on the food front. Only had to annoy one person for that haha :p but I knew a lot more in that area due to angel boy having required home cooked and health specific diets.

That’s another reason I don’t like the idea of reducing calories, because if the dog food is the only source of nutrition and those nutrients are indeed balanced correctly, I’d need to supplement every single thing that’s in the food...

 

It’s probably hard as the owner to be as objective as the vet because which one sees the dog constantly?? A month between visits makes a huge change for them but it’s virtually impossible to notice much difference in size when you’re the parent unless you look at photos. Or wonder why he can now reach something so easily ;p

 

Not to mention that vets, as you say, always seem almost obsessed with thinness, which is such a contrast to doctors, who are very anti-thin. That can change your own thinking as to what is healthier. 

 

thank you for your explanation, I do really appreciate your help :) 

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Maddy   

Easiest way to get an idea of correct weight (for most breeds) is to just feel the back of your own hand. You'll be able to clearly feel bone, under a thin layer of skin. That's what the dog's ribs should feel like. If you have to poke through half an inch of fat to find ribs, it might be time to ease off the food a bit.

As for body condition scores, the bits of the dog you're looking at really shouldn't vary too greatly between breeds, so the charts are generally a pretty good way of assessing body condition. Waist is a good place to start- it really doesn't matter how "stocky" a dog is, there is limited muscle around that loin area so there should be a waist. There is also very limited muscle over ribs, so again, these should be easy to find. On the other end of the scale, all dogs should have normal muscling over their eyes, and if this is absent (unless associated with advanced age), it's a good indication that inadequate nutrition has been an ongoing issue.

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10 hours ago, CharbearsMa said:

The more knowledge, the better. 

Not always ..just gives one more on which to think & worry .  ;) 

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asal   

if you can see or feel the last three ribs my vet said your dog is correct weight...

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjw68n8krffAhUJfn0KHVa2CmQQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=%2Furl%3Fsa%3Di%26source%3Dimages%26cd%3D%26ved%3D%26url%3Dhttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.dummies.com%2Fpets%2Fdogs%2Fhow-to-evaluate-your-dogs-weight%2F%26psig%3DAOvVaw2zDj1_L2CWGvjnf7upG5BE%26ust%3D1545695582879247&psig=AOvVaw2zDj1_L2CWGvjnf7upG5BE&ust=1545695582879247

 

one catch.

if you can see three ribs, the rspca can take it..

 

they dont worry about optimum weight.

 

have fun kids working how to keep your dog at what the vet said is best for your dogs longevity and yet out of the rspca's acquisition sights...

 

 

Edited by asal

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karen15   

Great visuals asal. On that chart I aim for ideal. But as I noted above, if the cocker looks like that from above, she's too thin. From above she looks like the heavy picture. Hard to reconcile when I'm used to keeping them at the ideal. I have to check her ribs and spine regularly to make sure weight is ok.

 

CharbearsMa the best thing is, once you get used to monitoring their waist, you just look every mealtime. If waist is less defined, all you need to do is give a slightly smaller meal until waist is back to where it should be. If a bit too light, just a small increase until ideal weight is reached. I've found the dogs don't notice the smaller portions as it's only a 5-10% drop from a normal meal. My staffy, when young and active had a weight between 19 (light for him) and 21 (max weight without being fat). When he was no longer able to exercise due to arthritis, he maintained a weight of 21-22kg, just from visual assessment and small tweaks to portions.

 

Maddy, my reference to stocky was where a dog has wide shoulders and well sprung ribs, waists are easy to see. When they're built like my cocker with slight shoulders and ribs and hips of similar width, waists are trickier to see and, as in the case of my cocker, may be misleading.

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Tassie   

Not to offend you, but it sounds like you're overthinking this. ( If you really want to complicate the issue, you could take into account how the major muscle groups feel (with the dog in a show stack with level topline, and perpendicular to the floor forelimbs (radius and ulna) and hindlimbs, hock down). ..    You could also look up a tissue tent test, which is the one onlinecanine fitness program I'm enrolled in at the moment has you do.)  

 

In fact, you could well be interested in that program.  It is run by Dr Chris Zink, who is one of the tope sports medicine go to people in the US, and comes out to AUstralia occasionally) and Gayle Watkins, a longtime Golden Retriever breeder, dog sport competitor and dog trainer in the US.   I'm not sure if it's open to join at any time or not, but you would be able to ask all your questions there.    Here's the link to their website.

 

Unless they happen to have a particular interest in the area, most vets, who are GPs after all, are not going to have an in-depth knowledge of canine fitness and conditioning - I don't expect mine to.  Those body condition charts are a general guide .. varies with breed structure.  My rule of thumb for my own dogs (agility competitors) are that I'm not quite so fussed if they have a little (only a little) extra condition as pups, but then once they're mature, I want them on the lean side, with good muscling, pretty symmetrical in muscle mass and strength.   As they age, I definitely want them on the lean (but still healthy) side, because of lessening the strain on their joints.

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Dogsfevr   

Common sense if it’s fat it’s fat if it’s thin it’s thin  ,over think it and it becomes hard work .

Pictures are a guideline just like food amount are a guideline but one has to use common sense. for each dog 

Barrell chested breeds look fat to some not to others who understand the breed aka Labs . Yes you can have dat and thin Labs .

An aging dog with muscle wastage looks out of balance but visually easy to see and. Feel .

My large breed pups I don’t keep lean never have ,I like them covered in a healthy fashion for growth each week but if they head either under or over I address it 

 

A dog too long in loin will look underweight and no amount of feeding will make it look fat .

 

As a groomer I can guarantee most people look at there dogs and. can not apply common sense as to whether it looks fat or thin .

We will say watch the weight and people look at you like you have insulted them as a dog owner .

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On 24/12/2018 at 2:28 PM, Tassie said:

Not to offend you, but it sounds like you're overthinking this. ( If you really want to complicate the issue, you could take into account how the major muscle groups feel (with the dog in a show stack with level topline, and perpendicular to the floor forelimbs (radius and ulna) and hindlimbs, hock down). ..    You could also look up a tissue tent test, which is the one onlinecanine fitness program I'm enrolled in at the moment has you do.)  

 

In fact, you could well be interested in that program.  It is run by Dr Chris Zink, who is one of the tope sports medicine go to people in the US, and comes out to AUstralia occasionally) and Gayle Watkins, a longtime Golden Retriever breeder, dog sport competitor and dog trainer in the US.   I'm not sure if it's open to join at any time or not, but you would be able to ask all your questions there.    Here's the link to their website.

 

Unless they happen to have a particular interest in the area, most vets, who are GPs after all, are not going to have an in-depth knowledge of canine fitness and conditioning - I don't expect mine to.  Those body condition charts are a general guide .. varies with breed structure.  My rule of thumb for my own dogs (agility competitors) are that I'm not quite so fussed if they have a little (only a little) extra condition as pups, but then once they're mature, I want them on the lean side, with good muscling, pretty symmetrical in muscle mass and strength.   As they age, I definitely want them on the lean (but still healthy) side, because of lessening the strain on their joints.

My GPs have always happened to have an exceptional level of first-hand knowledge of sports medicine...because the just happen to be involved in sports in their “real” lives. 

(Sorry, that just jumped out at me!)

 

Everyone, thank you SO much for your replies. I will be reading and re reading them in detail. Asal and Tassie, thank you for the links :) 

That’s sadly hilarious about the RSPCA. I hope vets are willing to write a stat dec saying that they asked for a serving or ribs :( 

Maddy, Karen 15, thank you for the descriptions. Xx

 

  

 

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4 minutes ago, Dogsfevr said:

Common sense if it’s fat it’s fat if it’s thin it’s thin  ,over think it and it becomes hard work .

Pictures are a guideline just like food amount are a guideline but one has to use common sense. for each dog 

Barrell chested breeds look fat to some not to others who understand the breed aka Labs . Yes you can have dat and thin Labs .

An aging dog with muscle wastage looks out of balance but visually easy to see and. Feel .

My large breed pups I don’t keep lean never have ,I like them covered in a healthy fashion for growth each week but if they head either under or over I address it 

 

A dog too long in loin will look underweight and no amount of feeding will make it look fat .

 

As a groomer I can guarantee most people look at there dogs and. can not apply common sense as to whether it looks fat or thin .

We will say watch the weight and people look at you like you have insulted them as a dog owner .

This!! The large breed pups not being kept lean!!! That’s what I was trying to say! 

I even read something about how a puppy can’t, in general, be considered over weight due to very fact that they ARE pups. 

 

I am 100% I had that look on my face, but it was mainly a OMG I HURT MY BABY feeling mixed with confusion that caused it. 

The “I don’t deserve anything other than a Tamagotchi” feeling came later.

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24 minutes ago, CharbearsMa said:

I do have a month to get bubs to cut weight, keep your fingers crossed that I can take good care of my lil one. 

Is he overweight? By how much ? Why do you have to lower his weight at all ?

Honestly , I really don't understand . 
You said you CAN poke & feel ribs . 

if he does need to lose a smidge ..it's only a matter of  a tiny percentage  of whole intake reduction each day ..with no  change in proportions , so I don't understand how you could damage him ? 

or ... increase his activity ..and leave food the same . ....he will be growing fast ..so if food is kept at the same quantity .. his growth will even it out . ( I am 'relaxed' )

 

26 minutes ago, CharbearsMa said:

Common sense if it’s fat it’s fat if it’s thin it’s thin  ,over think it and it becomes hard work .

.

 

I'm slack . Don't think I've ever weighed  dog food in my life ..oh maybe once when I worked in a kennel ..weighed how much fitted in a cup . Once.
When I handle pups ..I automatically assess condition ..and food gets a slight (usually increase) when needed. Adult dogs .. as they are working sheepdogs , they have muscle ..and sight alone is enough to see rib /hip outlines .

when do we see a photo of this beast ???? :)

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Dogsfevr   

I don’t weigh food either I feed what looks logical and base it on that dog ,.

My dogs are coated and I’m a big hands on touch and feel my dogs kind of owner .Also lifting in to a car or up is always a good tool .

Rarely ever even weigh my dogs ,the ones I do are once they hit adult weight so I have an idea for flying 

Bath days are great for revealing weight .

 

most people will say oh it’s fat as the coat has grown ,

 

 

The problem with most people is they don’t factor additional foods treats .

 

When we have clients with fat dogs we always offer help as we are seeing so many dogs with diabetes.

First answer is always not feed much ,interestingly people cant seem to grasp that add ons change a food chart with ratios.People with fruit trees do t factor the free range grazing off fruits etc 

Summer to winter feeds can vary  due to temps ,where the dog lives ,inside / outside working not working .

Some vets are clueless and had a client with a JR that was very long in loin whose vet said it was starving .It wasn’t ate well ,good coverage but you can’t fill up that body fault .

Sports chiro,massage  practioners are great in pets 

 

 

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Am I correct in thinking you have a Labrador? Here’s a delightful item on Lab anatomy: https://www.salabclub.com.au/lab-anatomy

More seriously, labradors seem to vary a lot in body type, so it may be useful to talk to people in your nearest Labrador Retriever Club - and to your breeder of course. You may also find it informative to go to some conformation shows and have a look at pups of around the same age. (In NSW, at least, there are lots of labradors entered.) The Dogsonline Event Diary is starting to display the 2019 events. https://www.dogzonline.com.au/event-diary/list.asp?state=SA&type=CH

 

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