Assessing body condition scores assigned to images of dogs by veterinary nurses working in urban, rural and suburban settings in New Zealand

Laura C Harvey, SJ Fontaine
Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Background: Canine obesity is a growing problem, both in New Zealand and overseas. Veterinary nurses play a vital role as part of the veterinary healthcare team in ensuring clients are provided with timely, accurate, and consistent advice, and this includes advice relating to a pet's nutritional status and body condition. Aim: To investigate if there were any differences in body condition scores assigned to images of canines by veterinary nurses working in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Methods: Veterinary nurses (restricted to those with a minimum of 2 years formal training) in New Zealand were recruited online and asked to complete a short, online survey providing a body condition score for 10 dogs of varying morphology, via a photograph. Results: There were 77 useable responses and results showed no significant difference to the score assigned by veterinary nurses in different geographical settings. Conclusion: These results provide assurances to the consistency of body condition score being assigned by veterinary nurses in New Zealand, showing that geographical setting is not a confounding factor in a veterinary nurse's interpretation of body condition. While this result is optimistic, further research is needed to determine if this consistency is present across other members of the healthcare team.

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