Guest Blog: How Many Calories Does Your Dog Breed Need?


Are you an overprotective dog parent? No! You’re actually doing a great job if you’re interested in how much your barker should eat. It matters a lot how much you put in front of your dog to eat because different breeds have different calorie intake needs.

As a dog owner, you have a serious responsibility to your dog. Your dog will hopefully be your companion for many years to come. You will live your daily life with him, and he will follow you as a faithful companion. He won’t question you, he will blindly follow and love you. And the responsibility is yours to create a good life for him.

Dogs and their energy

Energy requirements are the amount of energy a dog needs to maintain its vital functions and performance. This is covered by daily feeding. The dog needs energy not only for muscle strength but also for metabolism itself (e.g., to regulate body temperature and ensure vital bodily processes such as breathing or heart function). Thus, a sleeping dog also uses energy.

We need to find the right and the optimal amount: too much energy intake can easily lead to an overweight dog. Too little energy, on the other hand, can cause weight loss and deficiency (especially during the growth phase).

A dog will only be able to maintain its ideal weight if the amount of food is appropriate for its actual use. In fact, in the case of dogs, the starting point is not the ideal body weight but the ideal physique. This is because if the dog’s activity level increases, it increases muscle mass and at the same time loses fat. However, muscles are heavier than fat, so the scales would clumsily show an increase in weight.

The calorie requirement may vary extremely from dog to dog, but which factors depend on it?

On the one hand, the intensity of movement is particularly important: very active, hiking dogs, sporty dogs, or working dogs use more energy. On the other hand, however, there may be many other aspects of why a dog needs more food: young, temperamental dogs often require more food than older, calmer dogs.

Developing dogs need more energy than adult dogs. But short-haired breeds (e.g., Dalmatians) also need to use more energy to maintain their body temperature than long-haired breeds with thick fur layers (e.g., Newfoundlanders). In addition, castration and certain diseases can affect energy needs. The energy requirement, the number of calories a dog needs to take in per day, can be very different and depends on many factors. But, of course, weight and size play an important role. 

So, a dog’s energy needs vary depending on the breed, age, sex, size, nutrient utilization, and power intensity. The feeding table on the back of the food boxes should therefore only be considered as a recommended reference value. Therefore, it is not uncommon to deviate from this, either upwards or downwards. The goal is to find the right amount of food for our own dog. The recommended guide values ​​can be read from the feeding table.

In all cases, feeding recommendations should be based on ideal body weight and not actual body weight. If necessary, change the amount of food in small steps and observe the change in weight over a period of 1-2 weeks.

Characteristics of a satisfied dog

How do we know if our dog is getting everything in the right proportions?

  • An excellent indicator of this is the quality of your dog’s hair. A silky, soft, shiny fur always indicates good health.
  • A satiated and satisfied dog is in a good mood. His activity is appropriate.
  • There is a less attractive but all the more useful sign of satisfactory digestion. And this is nothing more but the quality of the stool. Stool arriving in small, shaped doses shows that the dog can make good use of the food he has eaten, while diarrhea, or lumpy stool, suggests that the food cannot be digested properly.

Calculate and be at ease

Based on whether your dog is active or not, you can calculate for yourself the daily intake of calories for your best friend. Most dogs need around 25 to 30 calories/pound/day to maintain their weight.

However, the measure of recommended food per meal is often inaccurate because we overestimate how much food a dog should get and how hungry the dog is. But such a measurement is not the best indicator of the calories needed because dogs will eat everything that is put in front of them.

In addition, dogs have an instinct to watch us eat, which we perceive as their hunger, and give them a portion of our meal even though it’s a misperception, which leads to overeating.

Timber Mountain

If you are still not sure how much your dog should eat, make sure to check out the feeding guidelines on the back of the dog food you provide for the four-legged friend. There are handy charts on the food package. Determine the right weight of your dog with your vet and just find the weight and age on the chart. Overweight and high-calorie need dogs will need an adjustment to the charts.

Active dog daily calorie intake

  • Small sizes breeds ~10lb = 400 calories/day
  • Medium sized breeds ~30-50lb = 900-1300 calories/day
  • Large sized breeds ~70lb = 1700 calories/day

Inactive dog daily calorie intake

  • Small sizes breeds ~10lb = 300 calories/day
  • Medium sized breeds ~30-50lb = 670-990 calories/day
  • Large sized breeds ~70lb = 1300 calories/day

About the Author: 

Jackie Brown is a dog trainer, author and former editor of numerous pet magazines, including Dog World, Natural Dog, Puppies 101, Kittens 101 and the Popular Cats Series. She has been covering the pet world for more than 12 years. She works in conjunction with the Southern Cross Vet team to ensure her advice is reliable and actionable.

Interest in Jackie’s other articles? Check out her profile in Catster & Dogster

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