Canine muscle condition can be assessed and monitored using a scoring system similar to the Body Condition Scoring system that we discussed in our previous blog

Performing a Muscle Condition Score on your dog is simple and straight forward and should be performed at the same time as a Body Condition Score. It’s worth remembering that an overweight dog can have significant muscle loss, whilst a lean dog with a low body condition score may have excellent muscle condition.

Loss of muscle mass is common in older animals, but muscle loss can occur at any age due to an animal being injured or suffering from an underlying disease, so it’s important to be aware of any changes. Muscle loss will not only have an impact on a dog’s strength but also reduce immune function and wound healing.

Regular exercise and correct nutrition are vitally important in maintaining good muscle mass, especially in older dogs.  Feeding a diet containing adequate levels of good quality protein like the recipes found in the Gwen’s Choice range can be very beneficial.

 Unfortunately, many “senior” dog diets contain lower levels of protein which can lead to a loss of muscle as well as poor coat and skin.  On the contrary veterinary surgeons sometimes advise feeding lower levels of protein to dogs who have kidney disease but it’s a fine balance in these cases as feeding too much protein will compromise kidney function, whilst not feeding enough protein reduces muscle mass, so always seek veterinary advice.

How to assess muscle condition score:

Muscle loss in a shorthaired dog is more noticeable, but in a dog with a thicker or longer coat muscle loss can go unnoticed.  Carrying out a regular physical examination will help you notice any changes.

  • Head – With your fingers flat examine the top of your dog’s skull, feeling the temporal muscles above your dogs’ eyes on either side of the head.
  • Scapula – nextfeel over the shoulders and down towards the elbow.
  • Spine – Gently feel either side of the spine from neck to tail.  Muscle loss is often first noticed in these muscles.
  • Pelvis and hips – from the spine feel the pelvis, over the hips and down both thighs.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association advise veterinary professionals to use the following scoring system to grade muscle condition as normal, mild loss, moderate loss, or severe loss:

If you are concerned about any muscle loss in your dog, then contact your veterinary surgeon for advice.

If you would like to know more about Gwen’s Choice dog food, then please visit our website

If you have any queries, you can contact Gwen, she is a Registered Veterinary Nurse with over 25yrs of experience in veterinary practice and will help you to make a real difference to your dog’s health.

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