How Many Calories Does Your Dog Breed Need?

Age, size, climate, pregnancy, etc., are significant factors to consider because they directly affect your dog’s health and the calories they need to intake.

It can be unclear how many calories your dog needs to stay healthy and nourished. To start, realize that even though doggy food packets you bring home have portion recommendations, it’s not as simple as that. The reason being is the calories recommended by the manufacturing company is just a general idea of the calories required by an average healthy dog of any breed. These recommendations are not reliable as they do not consider several factors that factors should take into account. For example, age, size, climate, pregnancy, etc. These factors are essential to consider because they directly affect your dog’s health and the calories they need to intake.

Pet owners need to learn about their dog’s nutritional needs so that they do not become obese or overweight. Pet owner’s knowledge can only bring the alarming increase in obesity in canines down if pet owners gain knowledge about the actual number of calories that their dogs require. Before we talk about the steps to determine your dog’s caloric intake, you need first to understand the factors that affect them.  

Factors Affecting Your Dog’s Calorie Requirement


This might come as a shock to you, but smaller breeds sometimes need more calories than their larger counterparts. As the metabolic rate is higher and faster in the smallest species, they need more food and energy. One of the biggest reasons for this is that smaller breeds are much more active than larger breeds. Thus, the dog’s size is one of the important factors in determining the calories needed by them.

Regardless of breed or size, you should always feed your dog a nutritious diet; wet food is a great way to give your dog much-needed hydration, while dry food is needed for optimal dental health. As it’s important to incorporate both in your dog’s diet, it’s sensible to try and find a dog food that is equally dry and wet or to feed them a mixture of both. 


Age is another significant factor for calorie determination. It is a known fact that puppies need twice the number of calories required by adult dogs of the same breed because of their high metabolic rate and activity. This case is the opposite of geriatric dogs. Pet Food Sherpa points out that another thing to be considered is that older dogs have a reduced ability to metabolize glucose from carbohydrates. So, if older dogs are given more calories, it can lead to obesity and diabetes.  

Pregnancy or Lactation

Female dogs which are pregnant will need more calories than a non-pregnant dog, and it is up to 4-8 times. The calories increase by keeping in mind the number of puppies in the womb. The increased calories are essential for the development of puppies and the production of milk afterward.


A calorie is heat; dogs living in colder climates require 2-3 times more food than dogs living in warmer climates. This is because dogs in colder climates need more calories to maintain a moderate body temperature as their source of energy is dietary fats. Dogs in a warmer climate are already producing enough heat. Therefore they do not require as many calories.

Injury or Illness

Any dog that is injured or fallen prey to any illness requires more nutrients. As most of the cells are busy repairing the damaged cell or the organ, extra calories will really help in a situation like this. A veterinarian should advise the exact number of calories to be given.

 Steps to Determine Your Dog’s Calorie Needs

 Your dog’s calorie needs can also be called the maintenance energy requirement. Veterinarians use standard steps to ensure your dog consumes the right amount of maintenance energy. Here are the following steps:

  1.  Measure your dog’s body weight and convert it into kilograms if it is in pounds. You can do this by dividing by 2.2.
  2.  Then measure the resting energy requirement (RER) of your dog. To do this, multiply your dog’s body weight, which is in kilograms (very important), by 70.
  3. Finally, calculate your dog’s maintenance energy requirement (MER). To determine the closest MER, multiply the RER with a predetermined factor. The amount you get will be the calories needed by your dog.

 Some basic predetermined factors for you to calculate your dog’s calorie needs as accurately as possible:

  •     Puppies 0-4 months old – 3.0 x RER
  •   Puppies older than 4 months – 2.0 x RER
  •   Weight loss – 1.0 x RER
  •   Weight gain – 1.2-1.8 x RER
  •   Neutered adults – 1.6 x RER
  •   Intact adults – 1.8 x RER
  •   Active, working dogs – 2.0- 5.0 x RER
  •   Inactive, obese dogs – 1.2-1.4 x RER

 Final thoughts

We know it seems like a lot of math today, but there is also a standard table put up by the World’s Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) for cats and dogs. So if you’d like, you can consult those charts while keeping in mind that those figures are just for average healthy dogs. Let us know if you still have any unanswered questions left, and we will try to help you out on that. We want you and your dog to be healthy and safe!

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