Prelimininary investigations into the use of the five-point body conditioning scale (Size-O-Meter) and its use in pet owner education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Rabbits are popular domestic pets and, effective educational resources can help owners understand their complex husbandry and health requirements. A five-point body condition scoring scheme is validated for some domestic species and is widely used by veterinarians. It can also assist pet owners in assessing and recognising variations in their pet’s body condition that may indicate or predispose to disease or require nutritional adjustments. This study evaluated rabbit owners’ ability to use a rabbit species-specific body condition scoring scheme on their pets.A cross-sectional, prospective, questionnaire-based study was carried out in one small animal veterinary practice in Edinburgh, Scotland. A single questionnaire was given to all rabbit owners (existing and new) at appointment check-in over a four-month period. They were asked to body condition score their own animals in a controlled environment using a five-point body condition scoring scheme designed for rabbits (Size-O-Meter). Their participation was optional. A single veterinarian then scored the same rabbits using the same system. Data was collected from 64 owners and 69 rabbits.
The majority of owners (64%) scored their pets as the veterinarian did, even though 74% of owners had never seen the scheme previously. Three-quarters (75%) of owners assigned a score between 2.5 and 3.5, which is considered the ideal body condition range. The Bland-Altman Plot showed little bias between the owner and veterinarian scores indicating the owner and veterinarian scores were likely to be within one condition grade of each other. This preliminary study suggests that the use of the rabbit Size-O-Meters may be beneficial in aiding rabbit owners to assess the current body condition of their rabbit. Results suggest that despite efforts, current pet owner exposure to rabbit specific body condition scoring schemes is poor. Increasing the exposure of rabbit owners to the body condition scoring scheme in veterinary practice could play a role in aiding the achievement of appropriate body condition in pet rabbits, and identification of fluctuations in body condition that may indicate disease or require intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of exotic pet medicine
Early online date31 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Rabbit
  • Obesity
  • Body condition score
  • Husbandry
  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Prelimininary investigations into the use of the five-point body conditioning scale (Size-O-Meter) and its use in pet owner education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this