Daily calculation of the caloric needs of the dog

Calculate the caloric needs of the dog and create a balanced diet

In this article we talked about the method I use to calculate my dog’s diet starting from the daily caloric needs of the dog. We talked about it in a fairly generalized way, but to come up with a complete spreadsheet, we need to keep in mind the factors that can influence the differences in dog-to-dog needs. Then:

  1. Age of the dog
  2. Temperament of the dog
  3. Ambient temperature
  4. Breed factor
  5. Physical state factor
  6. Movement activities

On the web you can find many formulas to do a calculation, but most of them are based on a commercial diet.


The proportions of increasing energy requirements in relation to size is a topic widely discussed without a mathematical certainty that supports it. But anyway it can give quite valid guidelines.

Example of general formulas

Some of the most used formulas to calculate the dog’s caloric needs:

  • Linear [(30 * body weight) +70] * 1.4
  • Surface [97 * (body weight ^ 0.67)] * 1.4
  • Metabolic weight [70 * (body mass ^ 0.75)] * 1.4

My favorite method

I feed my dogs with natural homemade foods, as my predecessors have done for more than 10,000 years. So the calculation I use is based only on this assumption. I use a calculation that starts from the guidelines drawn up by the WSAVA Global Small Animal Veterinary Community (optimized for the average of an adult dog in good health conditions) and I use the adaptation coefficients drawn up by Blanchard, plus the adaptation on the weight status. Here are the values ​​that are globally used as a multiplicative factor after deducting the caloric needs of the dog

The various formulas compared

Let’s make the comparison of the results of the various formulas with the one I use to be able to give a yardstick:

In summary, you will find in the table below the calculations made using the formulas developed by various authors and the one I prefer. I do not want to bore you with the mathematical calculations applied, this comparison is only an overview to have a term of comparison. My calculation of the caloric needs of the dog, thanks to the WSAVA guidelines, is possible in the range from 6 to 132 Pounds (3 to 60kg). In my opinion it makes little sense to do a comparison by entering data of small breed and a weight of 100Pounds or giant breed and a weight of 10 pounds as adults.

Calorie needs of the dog tables

The result

It is immediately clear that my calculations are very close to Manner’s results (‘91) for small breeds, while closer to those of the German Nutrition Society (1989) for medium to large and giant breeds. The medium / large and giant breeds are perhaps not represented in Manner’s calculations because he preferred small dogs and the German nutrition society preferred German Shepherds and Mastiffs … I do not know. What I think is that a dog weighing 140 pounds upwards is a giant size and has a different metabolism from the smaller sizes, as do medium / large dogs … We cannot use a single formula ( without distinction) for both Chihuahua and Neapolitan mastiff, without correcting the calculation with the coefficients I mentioned before.

Create your balanced diet easily

In the calculation sheet that you will find here there is the possibility to create your dog’s daily meal. There is also the reference between the meal you have made and the comparison of the minimum amounts of Vitamins and Minerals established by the NRC National Research Council of National Academies www.national-academies.org, so as to help you put the right ingredients in the bowl for the preparation of a balanced meal that does not require additions. If necessary, I recommend some supplements you can buy at the bottom of the page. But, except for cod liver oil which can be convenient in some cases, the rest can be arranged first, having in the pantry, or on the balcony, nettle, dandelion, sunflower oil, etc. without the need to buy any specific supplements.

I have omitted in the calculation that I propose the distribution of Macronutrients, which will be made by you, once you have made up your daily meal, “throwing an eye” on the amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Consider that the percentages quantity of Macronutrients must be entered according to the dog as we discussed in other articles, and only you can know what is best for him (it can vary depends on the activity on the breed on the phisical status). As for the micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals) the calculation of the necessary quantity is automatically populated.

Caloric needs of the dog. Tips

A minimum of basic knowledge of what the various foods contain from an organoleptic point of view is a must. It is important to know that offal have high doses of Vitamins in general, that sunflower oil has high Vitamin E content, Cod Liver is reach on Vitamin A, Calcium is highly contained in eggshell, etc. etc. In the articles you find here on the blog I report various examples and tables of foods that can give you an idea on “what to find and where”.

CONGRATULATIONS!! All Microelements are sufficient

Not having at your fingertips the organoleptic tables of the various foods, at the beginning it will perhaps not be immediate to guess the right quantities, but the calculation takes this into account, giving you in the notes the suggestions where there is an imbalance between what is suggested and what has been achieved. There will be messages on what kind of food to choose or what to increase. It will also give you “alert” messages if you overdo it with hypervitaminosis or with the use of certain foods that in general it is good to use sparingly, even if extremely useful and healthy (Veal liver, Blue Fish).

The fastest method is to choose proteins, fats and vegetables in higher quantities, until you get the message “Congratulations all the Microelements are enough”, at which point you will be able to reduce the various quantities by trial and error in order to re-enter with a good approximation with the caloric content as recommended for your dog.

Distribution of the meal

It is advisable to consider two sources of protein to cover the whole range of vitamins and minerals needed without exceeding the proportions of food. The calculation is based on the daily requirement, so the optimum would be to divide the whole into two meals, perhaps preferring the mono-protein intake for each meal, but nothing prevents you from taking all the quantity and simply dividing it into two portions, if your dog is used to eating multi-protein foods.

Caloric needs of the dog. The database sources

he organoleptic values ​​with which the calculations are developed and the database was populated were taken from the INRAN National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition and from the USDA United States Department of Agriculture, while the minimum daily values ​​of vitamins and minerals necessary for your dog are those sanctioned by the National Research Council of the National Academies Dog’s Nutritional Needs.

The sheet as the “defaults” values ​​I used for the daily meal of a German Shepherd (breed) 30Kg (66 pounds) intact in the age of 2 years with a low type of activity. But you may enter the values ​​of your case.

In the corner four-legged recipes you can find ready-made recipes instead, but only for certain types of weight and race … I will continue to update them continuously …

Click on the link balanced-diet-calculation to access the calculation, or browse through the drop-down menu on the homepage

Every dog ​​is a universe of its own

Have you used my automatic spreadsheet and prepared a “balanced diet” meal for your 33 pounds dog and do you want, “doubling” the ingredients, to recommend it to your friend? Well you can’t. A dog of 66 pounds will have a greater caloric need, but what is more important, will have a greater need for quantities of Vitamins and Minerals, which however (as we have already seen in the dedicated articles) will not be proportional to the weight, so it is not possible double the previous values ​​and get the result. You will need to enter the new weight and adjust the proportions of ingredients.

Leave a comment if you like this article or you’ve some doubt

You may check prepared recipes as guideline:

Find out more than 40 prepared recpes for several dogs breeds



Ciao! Sono Alessio Palleschi La mia passione per la cinofilia, che mi segue da quasi 40 anni, mi ha portato negli ultimi tempi a voler aiutare sempre più persone a creare un rapporto migliore con i propri cani, a gestire e far crescere il proprio cane nel migliore dei modi in completa autonomia. Esplora gli articoli, le guide e gli approfondimenti che ho pubblicato su questo Blogdog!

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