Evaluation of the use of muscle condition score and ultrasonographic measurements for assessment of muscle mass in dogs

Am J Vet Res. 2019 Jun;80(6):595-600. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.80.6.595.


Objective: To evaluate repeatability and reproducibility of muscle condition score (MCS) in dogs with various degrees of muscle loss; to compare MCS, muscle ultrasonographic measurements, and quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR) measurements; and to identify cutoff values for ultrasonographic measurements of muscle that can be used to identify dogs with cachexia and sarcopenia.

Animals: 40 dogs of various age, body condition score (BCS), and MCS.

Procedures: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Body weight, BCS, QMR measurements, thoracic radiographic measurements, and muscle ultrasonographic measurements were assessed once in each dog. The MCS for each dog was assessed 3 separate times by 4 separate raters.

Results: For the MCS, overall κ for interrater agreement was 0.50 and overall κ for intrarater agreement ranged from 0.59 to 0.77. For both interrater and intrarater agreement, κ coefficients were higher for dogs with normal muscle mass and severe muscle loss and lower for dogs with mild and moderate muscle loss. The MCS was significantly correlated with age (r = -0.62), vertebral epaxial muscle score (VEMS; r = 0.71), forelimb epaxial muscle score (FLEMS; r = 0.58), and BCS (r = 0.73), and VEMS was significantly correlated (r = 0.84) with FLEMS. Cutoff values for identification of mild muscle loss determined by use of VEMS and FLEMS were 1.124 and 1.666, respectively.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: MCS had substantial repeatability and moderate reproducibility for assessment of muscle mass in dogs. Prospective studies of MCS, VEMS, and FLEMS for assessment of muscle mass in dogs are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dog Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Dog Diseases / pathology*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / veterinary
  • Male
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / veterinary*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography, Thoracic / veterinary
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography / veterinary