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Dog Food Calculator

Created by Filip Derma
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Apr 23, 2024

The dog food calculator is an essential assistant for every dog owner. It helps you with everyday dog nutrition, providing your dog's daily calorie demand as well as the number of servings you should give your pet to cover its nutritional needs. It doesn't matter whether you have a lazy dog or a working dog; this dog food calculator allows you to choose the best dog food for any day. No more wondering how many calories a dog needs!

picture of a good boy

🔎 Do you want to know how old your dog is in human years? Visit our dog age calculator!

Dog nutrition - calorie requirements

Dogs need energy to function properly, just like any other organism. Therefore, their daily calorie intake needs to be sufficient to maintain a dog in good overall health, proper weight, and right physical and mental condition. Energy in the form of calories is essential to support both basic body functions and physical activity.

Resting energy requirement (RER) is the amount of energy needed by an animal's body to perform the most basic functions (keeping it alive) while resting (you can learn how to calculate these with our RMR calculator). These functions include:

  • Metabolism;
  • Digestion;
  • Heart beating;
  • Respiration;
  • Neural functions; and
  • Brain activity.

RER does not account for calories burned to support physical activity.

Physical activity is anything that a dog does throughout the day, and that requires additional energy (calories) to be burned except for these used to support resting (basic) functions. These are all the activities, exercises, and tricks a dog does during the day. Each wag of its tail, fetched ball, and chased cat consumes energy! The total daily energy needs are also known as MER - Maintenance Energy Requirements.

🙋 It's time to remind you that chocolates 🍫 can be poisonous to dogs and your pet shouldn't try even a tiny bit of it! Find out more in our dog chocolate toxicity calculator.

Lazy dog - dog's activity type

This dog food calorie calculator gives you only estimations - the real dog's daily calorie needs rely on various factors which may change with time and circumstances. If you have any doubts about your dog's nutrition, calorie intake, and best dog food, talk to a vet because the quality of food the dog eats impacts his life expectancy. You can discover how long your buddy will be with you with our dog life expectancy calculator!

The daily energy requirements may differ from dog to dog - factors such as breed (even if the dogs are the same size), age, living environment (inside or outside), body condition, being neutered/intact, and overall size all influence a dog's nutritional needs. Dog metabolism varies a lot in general, and it is mathematically impossible to determine precisely how many kilocalories a dog needs. However, even an estimate can be helpful - for example, if we want to change our dog's BMI.

🙋 If you want to learn more about the body mass index of a dog, visit our dog BMI calculator.

The dog food calculator considers a few different types of canine lifestyle activity and their maturity. The maintenance energy requirements are separated into the following categories:

  1. Puppy - 0 to 4 months;
  2. Puppy - 4 months to adult dog;
  3. Dog - inactive or/and obese prone;
  4. Neutered or spayed dog with normal activity;
  5. Intact dog with normal activity;
  6. Overweight dog which needs to lose weight;
  7. Underweight dog which needs to gain some mass;
  8. Working dog - light work;
  9. Working dog - moderate work;
  10. Working dog - heavy work; and
  11. Senior dog.

For this classification, an inactive dog is one that rarely runs around a backyard; a moderately active dog has up to 30 minutes of continuous exercise every day; an active dog walks 2 times a day for about 45 minutes each time, and a highly active dog gets several hours of exercise per day.

Military dog doing its job!
Army Staff Sgt. Buddy, an explosive detection and attack dog, stands tall to sniff a suspicious scent as Army Sgt. Tyler Barriere, military working dog handler, looks on during a search demonstration at Camp Echo, Iraq, Jan. 7, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rodney Foliente (

Dog food calculator

This dog calorie calculator uses the below formulas to estimate the daily resting calories (RER) and daily overall calories (MER) needed by your dog:

  • for resting calorie needs:
RER [cal/day]=70(weight [kg])0.75\footnotesize \text{RER}\ [\text{cal}/\text{day}] = 70 \cdot (\text{weight}\ [\text{kg}])^{0.75}
  • for total daily energy needs:
MER [cal/day]=RERfactor\footnotesize \text{MER}\ [\text{cal}/\text{day}] = \text{RER}\cdot\text{factor}

Where factor is a multiplying number dependent on the dog's type and its activity. The equation for each dog type (listed in the previous paragraph) look like this:

Dog type


Puppy (0-4 years)


Puppy (4 years - adult)


Adult - inactive/obese


Adult (neutered/spayed) - average activity


Adult (intact) - average activity


Adult - weight loss


Adult - weight gain


Working dog - light work


Working dog - moderate work


Working dog - heavy work


Senior dog


How many calories does a dog need? - example of calculations

If you have any doubts about how this dog nutrition calculator works, follow this example. We will make an estimation for Boscoe — a 4-year-old dog, who weighs 25 kg, is moderately active, not neutered or spayed, and, in general, is a very excitable and loving scamp. His owner gives Boscoe dry food, with around 280 calories per cup. We will go through step by step to answer the question of how many calories does a dog need and how many cups of dog food per day is required:

  1. First, choose the dog's type from the list - for Boscoe, this will be an adult, intact dog with average activity.
  2. Next, enter the dog's weight - he weighs 25 kg.
  3. Now, you can see the results - Boscoe's MER value is 1409 calories/day.
  4. Then, if you want to find the RER value as well as how many cups of food you need to give your dog, click the advanced mode button. RER expense is respectively 783 calories/day. Enter the calories per 1 dose.
  5. And check the result - Boscoe's owner should give him 5 cups of dry food daily.
Filip Derma
Dog's characteristics
Dog (intact) - average activity
Body weight
Results - Dog's calorie requirements
Total daily calories
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