Dog Food Calculator

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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

pounds  
kilograms

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
Guidelines

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.

Footnotes

  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
  • 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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