How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat? [Complete Guide to Canine diet]

How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat?

Have you been stressing about your dog‘s diet lately? Are you conscious about how much you should feed your dogy? Well, worry no more. We got your back!

Dogs are so much different than us humans. Their ways to communicate with their humans are voiceless and less expressive. Thus, it is upon the pet parent to take good care of their health and needs.

So, you may often find your paw buddy making puppy faces while approaching you near the dinner table? They come near you expecting treats. But you should then ask yourself, are they starving? You just fed them before you sat down to eat.

Several factors affect your decisions. This post shall acquaint you with the required amounts of calories you should feed your canine friend. You will also learn how to calculate the correct amount of calories for your dog breed and use the calorie calculator. So, let’s paw that information out!

Calories in Dog Food

Once you have the deets of your doggie, such as their weight and the appropriate calorie intake numbers, you now need to look for the amounts of calories in the food that you serve them.

Look for the labels on the pack of the dog food that you usually serve. The percentages of protein, fat, and other nutrients, along with the calories, should comply with your dog‘s nutritional requirements.

The label must read something like below:

Calorie Content: 3557 kcal ME/kg; 353 kcal ME/cup

That only means that a kilogram of that particular dog food consists of 3,557 kcal. One standard measurable cup would contain 353 calories. Similarly, even canned foods would have such labels.

Thus, if your canine’s daily calorie requirement says 350 kcal per day, one cup of this particular dog food should maintain its daily calorie intake levels.

Recommended Calorie Intake for Dogs Sorted by Their Weight

• 10 lbs: 200 to 275 calories

• 20 lbs: 325 to 400 calories

• 50 lbs: 700 to 900 calories

• 70 lbs: 900 to 1050 calories

• 90 lbs: 1100 to 1350 calories

Calculating Calorie Intake for Your Dog

For calculating the calorie needs of your dog, it is vital to get their exact weight. Make sure to consult your vet on how to determine your dog‘s accurate weight. An outdated or a rough count of the same won’t give you the correct results.

Consider the weight of your dog only in healthy conditions. Once you get the accurate figures, you can calculate your dog‘s RER (resting energy requirement).

The RER refers to your dog‘s energy that they burn every day without any additional activity. The RER equation considers the baseline metabolism and activities like walking to and from food and water, potty routines, and other regular habits. Avoid adding the additional activities for now.

The equation that gives you the results is:

RER in kcal/day = (target or ideal weight in kg ^ 0.75) x 70 OR 30 x (body weight in kg) + 70

Simply put, divide your dog‘s weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert it to kilograms. For example, a 10-pound dog will be equal to 4.5 kg, or a 50-pound dog would be equal to 22.7 kg.

The dog Calorie Calculator

Dogs cannot relay their emotions and need to you with words. But it’s essential to learn their basic requirements. As such, the Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) plays a significant role in helping you to understand your dog and its energy requirements.

The dog MER takes into consideration the weight and the exercise habits of your dog. You can now easily calculate the calorie intake of your dog using a handy calorie calculator.

All you need to do is include the details of your pups, and the calculator will do the rest of the math. In a way, this calculator also makes you well aware of your dog‘s nutritional health.

With the help of the calorie calculator, you can determine the daily food requirements for your dog for every day. That helps to keep your pet healthy and fit.

However, the calorie calculator does not work as a substitute for a veterinarian. These handy calorie calculators are just to give you a generic base idea of the nutrition requirements. You should know that the figures would differ according to the size and type of dog you have.

For instance, a Labrador puppy would have lesser requirements of some nutrients while an adult one would have some more. A vet would give you a better and more precise idea of every dog‘s nutritional requirements, including calorie intake.

Factors That Affect the Calorie Calculation

While calculating the calorie intake values for your dog, several factors may influence the resultant figures. They are as follows:

Spayed or Neutered Adult Dog 

Hormone levels seem to deteriorate significantly when a dog is spayed or neutered. It affects metabolism as well. A dog that builds muscles faces problems in such situations as muscles are the driving factors in metabolism.

A fixed dog has calorie needs that you calculate using the following equation:

RER x 1.6

Intact Adult Dog 

The dogs, other than those who’re spayed or neutered, retain their hormones and muscle-building capabilities. Thus, they have higher metabolism levels and need more calories in their food.

You can use this equation to calculate such dogs’ calorie intake:

RER x 1.6

Sedentary or Obesity Prone

Those dogs with a poor lifestyle or those exposed to obesity genetically or due to low activity need relatively fewer calories.

Here, you can calculate the calorie intake using either of these equations:

RER x 1.2, RER x 1.3, RER x 1.4

The choice of the equation depends on your dog‘s level of sedentariness.

Weight Loss

You can use the RER figures to meet the calorie needs of an overweight canine. Make sure to consult your vet in such situations.

Weight Gain:

Most people don’t have a clear idea of a healthy doggy. Getting used to seeing overweight dogs, the picture of a healthy doggy is hazy. But don’t worry!

The good thing is, you have your vet to consult. Make sure if your doggie is healthy or underweight and accordingly, get a weight gain plan for your doggie.

To determine the calorie intake figures for weight gain, follow this equation:

RER x 1.2 up to RER x 1.8

The calculation takes into account your canine’s activity levels and their underweight conditions.

Active or Working Dogs

If your doggy is sporty and likes to indulge themselves in flyball or weight pull, or if they are service dogs with the police or cadaver canines, they need more calories. That helps them stay fit and healthy for their routine activities.

To determine their calorie levels, you can use this equation:

RER x 2 up to RER x 5

The resultant digits depend on the canine’s activity levels and may vary accordingly.

Puppies 0-4 months

The age of your pup also influences their daily calorie intake levels. The puppies in the age group of 0-4 months can grow quickly and require quality nutrition and calories to work it out.

You can use this equation to calculate their calorie intake:

RER x 3

Puppies 4-12 months

Puppies falling within this age group grow pretty rapidly while others continue to grow for 18-24 months.

You can use this equation to calculate their calorie intake:

RER x 2

However, you should know that giant breed pups have different nutrition requirements. Thus, it is crucial to consult your vet about this.

How Many Calories Does a Dog Need Per Day?

Now that you know that there are calculators that perform the job of calculating your dog‘s calorie intake, you must be wondering how does it do that.

Well, here’s the formula to calculate the number of calories in kilocalories (kcal) your canine needs every day:

Calorie (kcal) needs = 1.6 [70 x (weight in pounds ÷ 2.2) 0.75]

Let’s give you a clear picture of the calorie calculation factors.

As you read earlier, the dog‘s size and type or breed matter significantly to determine their everyday calorie intake. A 10-pound dog with an average activity level needs about 350 kcal to maintain its weight.

However, the figures may reduce if it’s an overweight dog but increase for an active dog. Additionally, sick dogs with cancer or kidney diseases will probably need more calories in their diet.

At the same time, feeding a puppy is more complex than feeding an adult dog due to its rapid growth rates.

What Affects My Dog‘s Daily Calorie Intake?

While many pet parents are unaware of this fact, it continues to gather importance. The food that your canine consumes affects their daily calorie needs. Their meals aren’t the only food that counts for their calorie levels.

Treats, table scraps, the food your dog steals from other pets of the house all can potentially add to your doggie’s weight. It is vital to feed your doggy at moderate levels and take extra care not to steal other pets’ foods.

If you have more than one doggy at home, make sure to have different food bowls for each and track each day’s eating amounts. Also, ensure to deduct the calories in their treats from their daily calorie intake.

However, try to feed them with food, about 90%, that has their required calories rather than treats.

Why Should I Calculate My Dog‘s Calorie Needs?

Every dog food package has the recommended serving amount labeled on them. Those amounts are based on adult weight, while some also mention the same for puppies or seniors.

However, it is essential to note that these recommendations do not consider your dog‘s health status. They do not mention if the dosage is for a fixed dog, healthy dog, or active canine. The recommendations are for dogs overall.

Thus, calculating the daily calorie intake, particularly for your doggy, should help you with how much you serve them every day.

How Many Times a Day Should My Dog Eat?

While the number of times you feed your doggy is not that important here, it contributes to the total calories you cover throughout a single day.

The equations that you came across to calculate the daily calorie intake consider 24-hours into account. You can split this into two or three feedings accordingly. While doing so, you must not forget that your dog‘s treats have calories as well.

Besides, some dogs are used to eating too fast or getting hungry sooner, while some get hungry later. Some dogs are full with just a bowlful of food once during the day. Ensure to consult your vet to work out the diet plan and the schedule best to feed your doggie.

Even the Quality of Food Matters!

While you are so focused on meeting the daily calorie requirements of your dog’s diet, do not miss out on the quality of their food. Your doggy needs adequate levels of protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, etc.

Even if you feed them accurately with calories in mind, your doggy won’t benefit from the effects of the calories and other nutrients with an unbalanced diet. Ensure to consult your vet if you are not sure about the quality of the food you are serving your canine.

It is vital first to ensure that homemade raw diets suit your canine if you want to feed them with it over commercial diets. Also, make sure to check their weight regularly to know about where you’re heading with their diet.

An Easier Alternative to Calculating Calories

Not everyone prefers to do the math, whether or not it is concerned with diet plans. Fortunately, most of the dog food brands out there list out the recommended servings as per guidelines. You can also refer to their dedicated websites.

It all comes to the point that once you gather your dog‘s ideal weight, you can refer to a handy chart on the canine food. Look for your canine’s weight and age and refer to the servings on the back of the pack. The servings are mostly mentioned as measuring cups.

As for dogs with high-calorie requirements or overweight dogs, you may have to go through additional research and vet consultation.

Summing Up

Dogs are therapy to your daily lifestyle. As such, you must also take care of their health. Doggies tend to regard their master as the leader of their pack. So, they follow you in your activities whether or not it is within their capacity.

In due course, they may compromise with their diet and exercise requirements. It is your responsibility to provide them with the correct amounts of a healthy diet to keep them healthy and fit.

So, what is your doggie’s health condition now? Please go check out before calculating their daily calorie intake!