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Average daily calorie and energy requirement for Dog

Confused about your Dogs calorie intake here is what you need to know

This post covers the average daily calorie and energy requirement for dogs.

Dogs need the energy to sustain.

Where does this energy come from?

Firstly, from nature and the food they eat.

Wait!!!! let me ask you, have you ever counted calories to manage your Dog’s weight?

Or do you know what is the average daily calorie and energy requirement of your Dog?

Seriously, if your answer is No, let’s make your job easy.

Shall we begin? Just as people have different nutritional requirements, Dogs too need nutrition.

Every Dog’s necessity varies from other Dogs i.e your Dog’s energy requirement depends on the normal activities of their daily life.

For instance, if you have a lazy Dog he needs less energy compared to active Dogs. THAT’S TRUE!!!

KEEP IN MIND: Growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise all increase your average daily energy requirement for Dogs.

Now let me explain, what are the common factors that decide the energy requirement of a Dog?

Dog’s size, breed, age, body condition, insulation characteristics of skin and hair coat, temperament, wellness status including activity level all matters in determining the energy need of your Dog.

To perform all this function your Dog gets energy from the food they consume.

More explanation of what is energy?

Energy stored in food is called calories.

Food is not simply a nutrient, it is the macronutrients in the food we eat. Next, it’s converted into chemical energy while metabolized in the body.

So, the food has to pass through so many processes in the body to be converted into energy.

Every cell in the body requires a constant supply of energy[1] to generate and maintain the biological order that keeps them alive.

And now comes the best part, from where does the energy come from?

The energy required for your Dog comes from three major dietary components

  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrate

You probably know Protein and fats are the primary energy sources.

By the same token, Dog gets some of their energy from carbohydrates, added sugars, starches, and dietary fibers.

Well!!! Protein and carbohydrates provide equal amounts of energy requirement for Dog in the form of calories. In like same manner fats supply 2-1/4 times of the calories.

Counter to the popular story that hyperactivity is caused by excess energy in pet food, excess energy is stored as fat or excreted in the urine.

From the start, we are discussing calorie lets make it more clear.

What is the calorie in the food?

A calorie is a unit of energy. In nutritional terms, calories refer to the energy Dog gets from their food and drink and the energy they use in physical activity.

The calorie intake of your Dog depends on several factors.

  • Breed
  • Physical activity
  • Weight
  • Gestation
  • Age

I hope your queries are clear regarding calories. As you continue reading let’s clear your all doubts about energy.

What is energy in Dog food?

As a matter of fact, a dog requires food energy to maintain their integrity furthermore to grow and produce secretions and so on.

There are three ways in which energy in relation to dogs food is conveyed

  • Gross energy
  • Digestible energy
  • Metabolizable energy

Gross Energy (GE)

Gross Energy is the total energy emitted by oxidation.

When a feed sample is ignited in a pure oxygen atmosphere OR more simply heat energy produced by burning food is known as gross energy.

To be noticed the gross energy of a feed is not all ingested or consumed. Some feed energy passes through the stomach and is lost in undegraded materials in feces.

Digestible Energy (DE)

Digestible Energy(DE) determined by feeding actions, it is the distinction between the GE in food, and the GE lost in excretions. This is the amount of energy that is ingested and absorbed by the pet.

Digestible energy is calculated as:

 [amount of GE ingested – the GE in the feces] 


                           [GE in feed ingested]

Burping and excreting urine wastes digestible energy.

19% of GE is lost in these two ways, while the remaining 81% of DE is referred to as metabolizable fuel.

Metabolizable Energy (ME)

ME is the most meaningful measure of food energy that is firstly utilized by the tissues for body maintenance purposes and then remaining energy used for synthesizing new polymers[2]to go towards body gain or product production.

Metabolizable Energy (ME) = The GE in the food – GE lost in the feces and the urine

Using an equation, this can be calculated and expressed as ME = X kcals (kilocalories or calories) per cup in the package.

Why does Dog need energy?

Just look at your Dog, whatever activity he/she doing right now requires energy.

Dogs need the energy to perform indispensable functions like digestion, respiration, heart functions, brain functions, body temperature, and physical fitness.

Therefore, despite your Dog is too lazy he needs the energy to perform the above function.

Eventually, the energy given in the form of protein, fat or carbohydrate is used in the production of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the Tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle.

Approximated energy demands for Dog

Approximated energy demands are based on the weight of each pet plus the average energy requirements for different tasks.

Energy role in Dog’s

Energy is the lead actor. The demand for energy means the quantity of energy dogs need for their important functions and physical fitness.

However, energy is performing the super starring role but energy outgo and the requirement for intake are dependent on the following.

Circumstances such as age, race, height, liveliness, climate, nature, covering skin and hair coat properties, body condition or disease eventually determine the amount of energy a particular dog will need.

Now, let me explain some Doggy calorie terms.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the calories required to keep your Dog body functioning at rest.

Breathing, blood circulation, body heat control, cell development, functions of mind and nerve, and muscle withdrawal these capacities proceed despite the fact that the body might be very still.

Activity Level – normal physical activity, exercise, mental stimulation

Dietary Thermogenesis – also known as the specific dynamic effect of food or meal-induced thermogenesis, refers to the heat produced during digestion and assimilation of food.

Adaptive Thermogenesis – energy needed to maintain body temperature in cold environments.

In a thermoneutral environment[3], BMR accounts for about 60% of the total daily energy intake of the pet, while normal activity is 30% and the rest 10% energy use accounts for dietary thermogenesis. Adaptive thermogenesis energy expenditure varies with temperature, humidity, and thickness of the coat.

Resting Energy Requirement (RER)

Resting energy requirement (RER) is a function of metabolic body size. RER is the regular energy necessary to perform essential functions of the body such as digestion, circulation, breathing, heart function, brain function, etc.

How to calculate Resting Energy Requirement?

Dog calories per day calculator based on RER.

Divide a dog’s body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms (kg)

RER = 70 (body weight in kg)^0.75
Resting Energy Requirement = 70(Bodyweight (kg))¾
RER (kcal/day) = 70 * (BWkg)*0.75

Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER)

MER is the supplementary energy Dog needs to perform additional activities. (For instance behavior, physiological or life-stage state, environmental conditions).

MER is relying on many appropriate factors like differences in age, type, and race, activity, character, environmental temperature, the skin covering.

(i.e., hair length and subcutaneous fat) and social environment, among which “age and activity” seemed to be the most important contributors to individual energy needs.

How to calculate maintenance energy requirements?

Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) = appropriate factor x RER

Common stages of life and appropriate factors used to predict routine Dog energy needs.

Stages of lifeEnergy needed
Typical neutered adult=1.6 x RER
Typical intact adult =1.8 x RER
Lazy/overweight likely =1.2-1.4 x RER
Weight loss =1.0 x RER for perfect weight
Weight gain =1.2-1.8 x RER for perfect weight
Active, service dogs =2.0-5.0 x RER
Puppy 0-4 months =3.0 x RER
Puppy 4 months to adult = 2.0 x RER

Energy requirements for Dogs in different life-stage

Through the span of life, your pet’s dietary needs change, from birth to immaturity to adulthood and afterward to mature age.

During each phase of life, your Dog’s nourishing need continues evolving. It is likewise evident that your canine’s way of life will have an effect on his needs.

The energy need for growing puppies

Feeding a puppy is based on a combination of his adult body weight, size, age, and estimate.

If your puppy is at a growing age, you should start feeding puppy food approximately after 4 weeks.

At the growth stage, he requires twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog of the same breed.

Extra protein is necessary during the growth stage.

During this phase, an energy-rich diet including protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus is important.

Your newborn puppy’s energy requirement is calculated as 25kcal/100gBW.

Growing puppies should be fed around 2MER before hitting 40-50% of the predicted adult weight.

Later, this should be reduced to 1.6MER until 80 percent of their expected adult weight is achieved.

Next, reduce to 1.2*MER until fully grown.

Note: Food can best be given to puppies in several, well-spaced meals.

Your puppy should be fed four times a day for the first four months. Three times a day until they reach the age of 6 months, then twice a day, just like adult dogs.

The rate of growth and time to achieve each transition can vary with the needs of the breed and the specific requirements.

Puppies mature at different times, depending on their size. Here’s a general time frame for usually considering adult puppies.

Small dog breeds 6-12 months
Medium dog breeds6-12 months
Large dog breeds10-16 months
Giant dog breedsup to 24 months

Energy need for adult/teen Dog

The beginning of the adult phase is mainly dependent on variations in the breed.

Small breeds grew faster and reach their full maturity within six months to 1 year. Comparatively larger and giant breeds may take 1 year to 18 months to fully grew up.

The best adult diet for your dog will depend on your Dog’s breed and activity level. The recommended feeding schedule for your adult Dog is twice a day.

If you have a very active dog, he may eat as much as 20-40% more calories than the average “maintenance” dog, although it may be the same size.

In case you have an idle Dog he requires 10% fewer calories than the average typical service Dog.

Your adult Dog should be fed 1.6*MER until 80% of their expected adult weight is reached.

Energy need for senior Dog

A small clue to know when a Dog becomes a senior Dog.

Small dog breeds (dogs weighing less than 7 Kilograms)—7 years
Medium dog breeds (dogs weighing 9.5 to 23 Kilograms)—7 years
Large dog breeds (dogs weighing 10 to 18 Kilograms)—6 years
Giant dog breeds (dogs weighing 41 Kilograms or more)—5 years

A senior pet is one considered to be in the last third of his life.

Compared to adult Dogs or puppies these Dogs need a diet lower in calories.

Older dogs need a lower-calorie, protein and fat diet, a higher fiber diet, as most are not as healthy as they were an adult or in growing age. High calories may lead to obesity and kidney failure.

How many calories a day does a senior dog need?

Senior dogs require 20% less calorie overall due to reduced physical activity and slow metabolism.

As they’re completely grown now the requirements of calorie are very low subsequently your senior Dog ought to be fed 1.2*MER.

Energy need for pregnant and lactating Dogs

Gestating Dogs

Typically a common diet can be followed in the first 6 weeks depending on the size of the litter and the breed.

At this time, the queen must be fed mini-meals more often.

After the first 6 weeks, each week until delivery, you increase your Dog food consumption by 25 percent. 

Lactating Dogs

Typically lasts 6 – 8 weeks, and energy demand will vary depending on litter size and breed.

Peak lactation occurs around week 4 post-partum.

Generally, new mothers suckle their puppies for at least 6 weeks.

At that point, mother Dog needs more calories to rise up.

Nursing Dogs, protein requirement rises eight times than normal Dog in order to provide sufficient quantities of milk.

For example, Giant breeds (like Great Danes) have relatively smaller digestive tracts.

Therefore, they may not be able to eat enough to support themselves during lactation.

As a responsible Dog owner, you need to start feeding puppies supplemental food at an early age.

It is calculated that the energy requirement for milk production is 24 kcal / BWkg queen per puppy for 1-4 puppy litters; and 12 kcal / BWkg queen per puppy for additional puppies, i.e. 5 or more.

In the first place, immediately after the puppies are weaned the queen will return to her regular adult maintenance dog food. At that time, she must be fed based on her ideal adult weight, size, and activity.

Impacts of energy deficiencies

The consequence of energy deficiency results in poor growth in Dogs. The other main problems are tiredness, fatigue, weakened immune function and poor performance(reproductive or sporty).

Accordingly, complete lack of healthy nourishment prompts loss of fat tissue just as the loss of slender weight and internal organ decay.

Excess intake of energy

generally, Obesity occurs as the intake of energy (food) exceeds energy needs. As a result, excess energy is stored as fat and accumulated fat in adult dogs causes obesity, kidney failure in senior dogs, decreases longevity in adult dogs and results in skeletal abnormalities in growing puppies.

Therefore, it’s necessary to be aware of how many calories does your dog need to lose weight?

Average daily energy requirement [ calorie per day] in Dog food

Types of DogCalories Per Day
(Kilocalories per day*)
INACTIVE DOGS29657498912721540
ADULT ACTIVE DOGS404922125317492100
PREGNANT DOGS5181274194025703170
YOUNG ADULT ACTIVE DOGS436993145118762264
SENIOR ACTIVE DOG327745109314071700

Energy needs in calories for nursing Dog

(Calories per Day for a 33lb and 50 lb Nursing Dog)
of Puppies

1 Calorie=1 kilocalorie=1,000 calories.

The word calorie used on food nutrition labels is simply a “food calorie” often referred to as a “big calorie.” It is equal to 1,000 calories(or 1 kilocalorie) as calories are theoretically calculated(the amount of energy required to heat 1 gram of water 1 ° C). Energy needs are expressed in terms of kilocalories in the food requirements of dogs.

So what’s the takeaway?

As stated above, Dogs run the gamut in caloric demands. Accommodating your Dog’s daily nutritional requirements with the right calorie is necessary.

At all the different stages of life, your Dog needs the energy to survive. This energy has to be given in the appropriate amount in all phases.

Certainly, growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise all increase these normal energy requirements.

Similarly, Dogs with relative conditions have different caloric needs than their intact pals.

Like, severe illness or injury can increase the energy needs of a dog. To clarify, if your canine is weakened, talk about with your veterinarian or pooch nutritionist for the adjusted dietary needs of your pooch.

From the above research data, you can comprehend the average daily calorie and energy requirement for your Dog. Petting my Dog has already explained exactly how many calories your beloved Dog should be eating on a daily basis.

Reference and further reading

Written by Your Dog Advisor

It's me Divya, hope you got some new information today. I am the executive editor for Petting My Dog. I and my team provide the most accurate and in-depth tips and advice on dog care, dog food, and training from industry experts, dog trainers, veterinarians, groomers, and animal scientists. We help dog owners effortlessly choose the best dog supplies on the market. We buy, test, review, and rank dog products to help you avoid the bad products and purchase only what's best for you and your dog. Come join us in this movement to keep your pet Dog actively happy. Read more about our editorial process here. Veterinary Review by: Dr. Alexandra Hukill, DVM. Stay updated and subscribe to our newsletter.

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