The battle of the bulge isn't limited only to humans. Our furry companions also need help in maintaining a healthy diet and fitness level. As requested by one of our loving boxer families, we are dedicating the February newsletter to canine fitness.

Approximately 1/3 of the dogs and cats in the United States are markedly overweight and many owners have no idea that those soft curves and solid shoulders are actually layers of FAT.

There is no set age/weight guidelines one can use to determine if their dog is underweight or overweight. Structure, age, bone density, musculature all are factors in the overall appearance and weight of the dogs. However, there is an excellent scoring system that was created for the purpose.


In 1997, Nestle Purina developed a 9 point body condition score (BCS) system for dogs. Dogs with a body condition score of 1 are way too thin - generally truly starving due to illness or poverty. They look like walking skeletons because their poor nutrition has lead to muscle wasting in addition to loss of fat.

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On the opposite end of the spectrum is the body condition score of 9. This is a dog that looks like a giant, overstuffed sausage. He has huge fat deposits over the chest, spine and base of tail such that his back resembles a table top rather than a living animal. He also has obvious abdominal distension due to fat in the abdomen.

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 The ideal dog is 4 or 5, where a 4.5 is considered athletic trim. Dogs with a body condition score of 5 have ribs, vertebrae that you can easily feel. You can see a waist right behind the ribs when viewing from the top, and from the side you can see the abdomen tucks up.

Keeping your dog healthy and fit is pretty straightforward if you use the BCS chart.


*Reference: Laflamme DP.Development and validation of a Body Condition Score System for Dogs, Canine Practice July/August 1997,22:10-15




Why does my puppy look thin?


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A lean puppy is a healthy puppy


Puppies are constantly changing from one day to the next. There are several key elements that influence your puppy's growth and overall health.
Play - Play should be regulated as a puppy is developing. Have set play times in your daily schedule. Several hours of free run and play can burn more calories than your puppy can intake. 30 minutes play sessions throughout the day is plenty for a growing puppy. As they mature you can increase their play time 15 minutes at a time. Allowing puppies to play until exhaustion is the number one reason why puppies become underweight. This can cause issues with developing joints and bones.


  • Teething - Teething will affect how much your puppy eats and their overall mood. During this teething period they may reject food, especially if it's dry kibble. Serve soft foods or kibble soaked in water an hour before feeding.

  • Activity Level - The higher the activity level of your puppy, the more calories they will need to intake AND/OR less free run time until they are able to gain the proper amount of weight.

  • Feeding Schedule - Know how much your puppy is eating in a day. 8 oz, ... 36 oz? As your puppy grows, so will their appetite. Activity level, size and age will determine how much food you'll need to increase or decrease.

  • Growth - During periods of growth, you might need to supplement a 3rd meal or a high calorie meal to accommodate the sudden growth.

  • Parasites - Routinely check for intestinal parasites that might be robbing your puppy of it's nutrients.


How much should my dog weigh?


ADULT MALE: Height 23-25 inches, Weight 65-85 Pounds
ADULT FEMALE: Height 21.5-23.5 inches, Weight 55 - 75 Pounds

The above height/weight standards for the breed are for an ADULT (3+ years) boxer. If a young dog weighs more than this and is within the standard height, they might be overweight. Revisit the body condition score system and determine appropriate actions.

Rule of thumb: A lean puppy is a healthy puppy. Well defined muscles covered by a tight shiny coat. No fat rolls or vertebrae should be showing. It's common for hip bones and the last 2 ribs to show on a young dog.

Follow the body condition score system with your growing puppy.

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