How to Figure Out How Many Calories a Day a Dog Needs

If the dog is large, his caloric needs will be higher than those of a smaller animal.
If the dog is large, his caloric needs will be higher than those of a smaller animal. (Image: dog image by Ramona smiers from

When you have a pet, his nutrition and health become incredibly important. Many dogs are overweight due to improper feeding and lack of knowledge on the subject. Although most pet food labels have guidelines for how many calories your dog needs, they are only guidelines. Your dog's exact caloric needs are easy to calculate. With a little knowledge, your dog can become much healthier, lose extra weight, and gain back some of her lost energy.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Weight scale

Counting Calories

Use the scale to weigh your dog. If your dog won't stand still long enough to get a weight, you can try weighing yourself, then weighing yourself holding the dog. Subtract your weight from the combined weight to get the dog's weight. If your dog is too big for this, try calling your vet to see if they'll weigh him for free or if they have her most recent numbers.

Convert your dog's weight to kilograms if taken in pounds. To do this, divide your dog's weight by 2.2 (2.2 lbs. equals 1 kilogram). For example, a dog weighs 52 lbs. Divide 52 by 2.2 and the answer is 23.63.

Calculate the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). If your dog is under 2 kg, use the formula RMR = 70 x (weight in kg x 0.75) to find the RMR. If the dog is over 2 kg, use the formula RMR = 70 + (weight in kg x 30) to find the RMR. Using our example dog, the formula would look like this: RMR = 70 + (23.63 x 30) RMR = 70 + 708.9 RMR = 778.9 calories You may round up or down depending on the last decimal point.

Check your dog's food labels to see how much food equals how many calories. For wet food, most cans are 500 to 600 calories per pound while straight dry food is often 1500 calories per pound. The label should have everything measured out in cups, but check the company's website if you cannot locate the right feeding amount on the food label.

Feed your dog accordingly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many dogs are self-regulators, so free feeding may work. If this does not work for your dog, schedule times to feed so he gets the right caloric intake.

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