Dog Food Calculator


The Dog Food Calculator below can help you estimate the proper serving size for your pet. It’s based upon a study published by a respected veterinary institute.1

To use the calculator, you’ll need to know your dog’s ideal weight. This is what you believe your pet should weigh.

You’ll also need to know the number of calories in the specific dog food you’re feeding him.

Dog Food Calculator
Step 1
Your dog’s ideal weight


Step 2
Your dog’s activity level

Step 3
Your dog food’s calories per serving

kcal / cup  
kcal / kg

The calculator’s formula2 uses a dog’s metabolic weight to suggest an approximate serving size.

Dog Food Calculator

The Dog Food Calculator was designed for adult dogs only — not for puppies. And it should never be used for pregnant or lactating females.

Small to medium breeds may be considered adults after about six months of age.

However, large and giant breeds shouldn’t be fed as adults until they reach around one to two years — depending upon the breed.3

Senior Dogs

Older dogs have significantly lower energy needs than younger ones. So, it’s easy for them to put on extra weight.

In general, small to medium dogs are considered seniors at about seven years of age.  However, larger breeds reach senior status much sooner — some as early as five.4

Converting From Calories
to Serving Size

Once you’ve entered your dog’s ideal weight and activity level, you’ll know the number of calories per day.

However, to convert calories into something you can use, you’ll need to enter the number of calories in your dog’s food.

The number of calories in a given amount of dog food is known as its metabolizable energy (ME, for short). It’s usually reported somewhere on a dog food package like this…

  • Calories per cup (kcal/cup)
  • Calories per kilogram (kcal/kilogram)

By the way, the calculator assumes you’re feeding your dog just once a day.

If you prefer to feed your dog twice a day, be sure to divide your result in half so that both meals add up to the full daily calories suggested.

The Bottom Line

Since every dog is unique, it’s impossible to predict the serving size that’s perfect for each pet.

So, start with the package’s feeding instructions — or the amount suggested by our calculator.

And be sure to weigh your dog every few weeks.

Then, simply adjust that suggested serving size up or down to reach and maintain your pet’s ideal weight.

Sure, it’s a little work. But in the end, it’s the only real life method you can scientifically rely on.

Final Word

This tool is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.


  1. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 14
  2. ME (kcal/day) = 110 (body weight in kilograms)0.75 to maintain a typical adult dog
  3. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 4
  4. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 16
  • disqus_XBSLKiLqK1

    Really the only way to know if you are feeding the right amount is your dog’s weight. Try doing an image search for “healthy dog weight”. You’ll see images demonstrating what healthy, underweight, and overweight dogs look like. You can also ask your vet how to check if your dog’s weight is healthy. If your dog is overweight, cut back a little or try a raw, home prepared, or canned food. I work at an independent pet supply store and we see a lot of overweight dogs that slim down on a diet lower in carbohydrates than dry food. If your dog is underweight, increase her food and try adding a high calorie food like a freeze-dried meat topper. Any high-end, independent pet supply store in your area will have them. Puppies have high protein needs, and your dog can easily convert any excess protein into energy.


    My senior GSD who has arthritis and other medical issues that make walking difficult lost about 15# and I only did two things:
    1) Substitute an equal amount of his regular food (not weight control) with pumpkin puree – so instead of him getting 2c of food 2x a day, he gets 1 2/3c food and 1/3c pumpkin 2x a day. Not only did it help him get (and keep) his weight down, it also prevents bowel issues which can happen when they aren’t able to walk around as much anymore – and he loves it!
    2) Change over to “micro” or “mini” size treats (training treats work well, too) – that way, I can still give him little rewards (or, at times, little bribes), but they’re only about 10kcal each. Although it was an adjustment for us people – it seemed strange to only give him this one little treat instead of one “regular” size treat – our pup didn’t mind the change at all!
    Check with your vet to see if either/both suggestions might work for your pup, too. Hope it works out. 🙂

  • jennifer

    I have just recently adopted a 7 month old (just under 50 lbs) boxer/Great Dane puppy. She loves to eat but I don’t want to over feed or under feed her. It seems all the info online shows different amounts for her size and age. Right now I feed her about 3 times a day with an occasional treat. I give her about 1.5 cups of food at each feeding but sometimes she cries like she wants more. She has to have a special bowl that keeps her from eating too fast as her tummy gets upset when she gobbles it down! Any helpful advice is welcome 🙂

  • Babslynne
  • Babslynne

    It could be the dog chow itself that is making her fat because its full of corn and wheat and carbs. They give corn to pigs to fatten them up for slaughter. If you look at the rating for dog chow on this forum you will notice that its 52% carbs and 26% fat. Would you consider switching her to a better quality affordable dog food such as Pure Balance from Walmart, or 4Health at Tractor Supply, Nutrisource, or Victor? When you feed a better quality dog food then you don’t have to feed them as much which will also save you money. If you also add the green beans and carrots your dog will be so much healthier, full and satisfied.

  • Leda Lyons

    I have a yellow lab and she weighs 118 pounds and needs to loose weight .I was feeding her 2 cups of Dog Chow Complete for breakfast and supper. My vet said she should get a cup in the morning and a cup for supper. Along with carrots and green beans. Is this enough food for a lab?

  • Sandy’s Mom

    My dog is an older Shitzu, she is not over weight but to me has always been a little lazy she can go outside anytime and I take her and walk her for hours but sometime she will not go potty so we end up in the vets office because of anal gland problems. Please give me an idea of what kind of high fiber dog food to feed her so she would go regularly. I’ve done the pumpkin, oatmeal, applesauce, you name it I’ve tried it. I make her dog food because she is so picky but ready to switch to a can dog food with lots of fiber and how much do I feed her. I want her last years to be comfortable and she is playful at times and times she doesn’t want to be messed with.

  • Crazy4cats

    I second Sandy’s suggestion of having a blood panel done, specifically checking thyroid levels.
    Also, is it possible that someone else in the household is feeding some treats that you are not aware of?
    If you are just feeding one measurement type cup per day, I wouldn’t think your dog could get that overweight.
    I hope you figure it out. It sounds like he isn’t feeling very well. Good luck!

  • sandy

    Has he had thyroid labs done?

  • InkedMarie

    Hi Michelle!
    If you’d like a weight loss food, look at Wellness Core reduced fat or Annamaet Lean. You may need to feed the amount of food for what he should weigh.

    Good luck!

  • michelle

    I have a husky who is 20 # overweight and we only feed him 1 cup of Iams healthy wt twice a day. He does not seem to be losing weight at all. He is even having trouble and getting sore just going for walks now. As he is getting older, we really need to get some wt off. Any suggestions?

  • Meghan

    Thanks for your reply!

  • theBCnut

    The suggested amount is just that, a suggestion. All dogs are different with different metabolisms, so the suggested amount will be too much for some and too little for others. You have to evaluate your individual dog and decide if it is receiving too much, too little, or the right amount. For dogs that are overweight, the owner definitely needs to consider every source of calories, but for a trim healthy active dog, that might not be necessary. You are the best judge.

  • Meghan

    Thank you for this calculator! I have a 11 month lab mix. She is small for a lab, only about 37 pounds. I feed her 2.25 cups, which is exactly what’s recommended on the calculator. However, we are still working on training, so she gets training treats throughout the day. I wondering if I should be feeding her just 2 cups due to the calories she gets in her treats.

  • Samantha

    I honestly didn’t even think of it in that way. Wow. Thanks!

  • theBCnut

    If he is slowly gaining weight, I would leave it where it is. Gaining slowly gives his body time to make muscle instead of just storing the extra calories as fat.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Thanks Samantha! I’m glad the link helped. My fosters are often about a 3 when I get them. I usually take the adults since they have less chance, but I always find them a family that loves them. 😉

    Just an FYI, cut back gradually on his portion or your boy will think you’re trying to starve him! LOL!

  • Samantha

    That link was perfect, thank you so much! I’d say he was a 3 when I took him in and right now he’s about a 4. Once he gets to a 5 I think I’ll decrease his intake to 3 1/2 cups. It’s truly wonderful what you’re doing, fostering kill shelter dogs, not too many individuals are willing to take on that kind of responsibility. You’re awesome. 🙂

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi Samantha,

    I don’t know what your dogs current weight or the kcals/cup of food you’re feeding are, but if you can feel, not see his ribs, that’s generally a good guide that he is the correct weight, so you wouldn’t increase the food. I foster kill shelter dogs that usually come in way underweight and I have to feed them more than recommended for awhile until they slowly get to the correct healthy weight they should be at. When they get there, I usually decrease their portion to what they should be eating for their weight. I also take into consideration their activity level as well.

    You can plug in your dogs ideal weight along with the kcals/cup that would be listed on your food bag to get an idea of how much you should be feeding. I’m also including a link that shows the body condition score:

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  • Samantha Ruiz

    I have a one year old Pit/Labrador that I rescued a few months ago. He was extremely thin, I’m not sure how much he was fed but since I’ve had him I’ve been feeding him 6 cups/day and he’s been filling out quite well. I’m not sure if I should up his food intake, he is quite active and is constantly jumping around the house like an oversized rabbit. Should I increase the amount of food that he’s currently eating?

  • Susan

    Yes, we had read that also in the many hours we spent researching. We had been feeding Fromms GOld LBP for several months – which has a lower calcium but higher protein than Precise… He is not over-exercised – a 1 mile walk every day and occasionally an off leash romp on a nearby ranch. I was feeding 9 cups of Fromms, and he was filling out but still could see ribs, always on the thin side as advised by regular vet…. he had neck pain after playing at the ranch one day last month. Therefore all the hysteria over the food – ER vet feared Wobblers but neurologist sees no symptoms (nor do we). No recurrence of pain or other symptoms. We cannot find a vet anywhere that can advise on the proper protein, calcium and Phos. It is horribly frustrating. Now we can see ribs and spine…. feeding 6 cups Precise as recommended, scared to feed more!

  • Pitlove

    Hi Susan-

    Precise is a great food however, your vet is wrong about the protein. Its been known for some time now in the field of canine nutrition that protein has no affect on the growth of large and giant breeds. Watching calorie intake and keeping them lean on top of feeding a food with restricted calcium is how you can help reduce the risk of DOD’s like the ones you mentioned.

    Make sure you are using the Purina Body Condition Score to determine that he is at an ideal body condition. As long as you can not see ribs or spine and can feel the ribs with a thin layer of fat covering them, he is fine. The increased calories with feeding 9 cups a day is the problem, not getting too much protein. You also shouldn’t be over-excersizing him so you need to factor that in as well when deciding how much to feed.

    Here is a great overview of large breed puppy nutrition written by a veterinary nutritionist:

    Here is a link to the Purina Body Condition Score:

    Hope this helps!

  • Susan

    I have an 9 month old Great Dane. Vet has recommended a 23-24% protein as evidently Danes can be adversely affected by too much protein (Wobblers or bone disorders). So I am feeding Precise Holistic Complete Large Giant Breed puppy food. Bag recommends 6 cups for his weight. But he is thin and vet says to feed more….. If I feed him 9 cups per day, is he getting too much protein? or is dog food calculated that way? I am soooo confused.

  • Rose

    I have a 4 year old 50 lb. Husky mix, high energy. I feed her 1 cup of Earthborn Coastal in the a.m. in her treat ball and 1 can of Merrick Grainfree at night. She hardly touches the kibble in the daytime . At night she scoffs down the Merrick and then eats her kibble. On the days that she goes to my mom’s, she acts hungry. Am I not feeding her enough?

  • Babslynne

    I’m sorry my response was a little rough, I deleted it. I was just thinking about that poor dog being stuck in one of those little crate kennels most of the day and needing to go potty but getting shocked by that bark collar every time he tried to tell them he had to go potty! Dogs need to bark!

  • Crazy4dogs

    Jennifer Stanfill,

    I’m not sure how old this lab is or how long you’ve had him, but your disqus history shows you’ve had problems between him and an older chi for about a year. Please consider rehoming him. There are many Lab rescue groups that could help you with this, whether they are in your area or not. I foster adult dogs from rural areas. This is not a happy life for you or the dogs. Please consider this alternative.

  • Babslynne

    That is just cruel torture! Your family doesn’t deserve a dog if you have to treat it like that! That is the lazy way to try to teach a dog anything. It takes time, love and patience to train a dog properly. Please find the dog a new home.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Maybe you should contact a foster based lab rescue in your area. 🙁

  • Jennifer Stanfill

    I feel so bad for our lab, dad put no bark collar on him , locked up in kennel most of the day , the neighbors have like 6 dogs that bark all night . Wish could find him home in country

  • Crazy4cats

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that it would be nice if the company would state how many ounces are in a cup of food? Like BC was stating in an earlier post. Ounces is a liquid measurement not volume. A cup of kibble probably weighs closer to 4 ounces than 8. But, yes, it would be nice if they gave a little more information to help make more informed choices.

  • lynne negri

    well hills sciene is not a good dog food check on something better and go from there my 85 lb Catahoula lab mix only eats 2 1/2 cups a day and he gets it divied in half twice a day and will refuse any more than that.. sorry it is a she and easts Taste of the Wild or whole earths farms all really good food. Whole eath farms is made by Merrick buy not nearly as pricey.

  • lynne negri

    they want you to buy more food because tey are selling it. When she gets over the ut get her off that food it Is awful all full of corn and fillers

  • lynne negri

    thank you, I know what you mean but where do some aswers in here come u saying 4 oz is a cu that is a half of cup. If due to the size of the kibble it would be nice if the companies put 4 oz equals a cup. They all want you to overfeed the dogs. My 85 Catahoula eats the same amount as the 40 lb beagle. I always off her more but he does not want it but the beagle would never turn down food.

  • theBCnut

    A cup is an 8 oz. liquid measure. Since kibble is dry and has so much air in and around it, a cup of kibble weighs closer to 4 oz. Ever kibble weighs differently though due to density, fat content, etc.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi lynne,

    I’m not sure if you’re feeding Wellness Core, but if you are it’s roughly between 388-421 kcal/cup, so you would be feeding more. I don’t feed Whole Earth Farms, so I’m not sure what the kibble size comparison is. That’s the interesting thing about many of the lesser priced foods, they often are less kcals/cup, so, in reality, sometimes you are spending the same amount of money.

    The best thing you can do is get a graduated measuring cup. Then you know exactly how much you are feeding them. Good luck!

  • lynne negri

    I don’t feed the high kcal/cups I tend stay around 345 kcals/cup. I thought a 8 oz cup is an 8 oz cup. My vet told me how much to feed them but this food just seems to disappear I thought the size of might be the problem. Maybe they are actually getting way more than a cup. If the kibble in my Wellness food lasts longer. I may have to start weighing the food. I want them to have enough but these are grin and filler free so I would not be a food that you have to feed them three times as much with all crap it it.

  • Crazy4cats

    It is amazing how much difference there can be between brands and even formulas within the same brand. Regretfully, I never knew or even thought about that before I came to this website.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi lynne negri,

    Yes, a couple of the foods I use do vary even within the brand, due to kibble size. You might also compare the kcal/cup as almost every dog food is different, often even within the same brand. The Whole Earth does vary, but only by a few calories. I rotate foods and some of the formulas vary from 348 kcals/cup to 509 kcals/cup. That’s quite a difference in how much I feed and it needs to be factored in as well.

  • Crazy4cats

    Yes, I think that sounds correct. I’ve noticed a few pet food websites that I have visited will actually list how many cups of food in the bag in addition to the weight of the bag.

  • lynne negri

    I changed dog food about a year ago to whole earth farms which is made by Merrick I use the meat pork recipe no chicken and they love it but I measure it out and it is a 25lb bag. My problem is that it seems to go much faster than the other brand I use. It it possible that different brands even when measured by the cup are using more per cup due to the size of the kibble. I use about 6 cups a day I have a few dogs and the bag lasts 14 days and am asking does that sound correct.

  • Kandra

    I gave her 1/3 cup for the last few days and then measure what was left in her bowl the next morning I have to leave her food down all the time or she will have a sensure if she does not nibble here and there. Anyway she does is actually eating about a 1/4 cup and sometimes still has a tiny bit of kibble in her bowl the next morning. I do give her 1/8 of a teaspoon of cream of wheat each morning and evening to get her allergy med down her. This is the only way she will take it. I did weigh her this morning and she has lost .2 of a pound so we are going in the right direction. Thank you for your help it has been wonderful

  • E J

    That’s rather irrelevant–no it’s not perfectly exact, but the kcal per cup figure given on a bag of kibble is specific to that food, and as close as you’re going to get when it comes to finding a gauge to measure it out. As we both noted after all, .3 is just under a third cup, not rocket science.

  • theBCnut

    Recheck your figures and make sure you don’t mean 0.3 cups, which makes a lot more sense. You can round that up to 1/3 cup and use a measuring cup to measure it. If it turns out that that is just a little bit too much then measure out your 1/3 cup and remove a few more pieces of kibble.

  • theBCnut

    Actually, with dog food, a cup isn’t a weight measure, since kibble has a LOT of air space in a cup. Each different kibble has a different weight per cup.

  • E J

    I believe you meant 0.3 cups, that’s about what an average calorie food at 5 pounds and overweight would be. So a cup is 8 oz, thus 8 x 0.3 = 2.4 ounces. A quarter cup is 2 ounces, and a third cup is 2.67 ounces, so you could either measure with a heaping quarter cup, or just under a third cup per day (not per meal).

  • Kandra

    I have a special needs dog that is almost 6 yrs old, she is very inactive as she does not go outside and run around she does play some in the house but not much, her back legs areally not real great (her hip joints are not fully developed) she is 6 1/2 lbs and should be 4 1/2 to 5 lbs. It says I should feed .03 cups per day for weight loss, but I do not understand how to measure that out hoping someone can help me. Thank you in advance

  • Jason Wulff

    i think where you have gone wrong is that the package is giving you kcal per oz as in weighted ounce and not liquid ounce. Weighted ounce as in 12 oz per pound and liquid oz as in 8 ounce per cup. The calculator here is by measure not weight.

  • theBCnut

    She definitely sounds like she is active enough for working dog status as far as calories go.

  • DinaKouveliotes

    Thank you! Yes, I heard that too. Thank you.

  • theBCnut

    Metabolism also affects how much food a dog needs and some GSDs have very fast metabolisms.

  • Scorned

    If she is losing weight, then adjust her amount of (increase by 1/4 cup) food. Watch her weight for gain. If she is still losing increase again by 1/4 cup. Always keep your vet in consult with what you are doing. Continued weight loss after increasing food several times could be a sign of a different medical problem.

    Highly active would be a “working dog” police dog, military working dog, search and rescue, highly active and working most of the day.

  • MyLabradorErro

    Is Orijen a good dog food ??

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