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Metabolic Weight Helps Predict a Dog’s Daily Food Needs

Mike Sagman


Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman


Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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Updated: September 27, 2023

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Adult dogs can vary in size from 2 pounds to 250 pounds1.  So, with such a huge range of sizes, how can you figure out how much food your dog needs?

OK… time to get a little technical.

First, it’s important to know your dog’s energy requirements are not linearly proportional to his body weight.

In other words… they’re not related to each other… in a straight line.

A dog weighing fifty pounds does not necessarily use five times more energy than one weighing just ten.

No… a dog’s energy requirements are not linearly related to his body weight.  They’re related to his metabolic weight… the virtual weight of his energy-using tissues… his muscles, his organs, and so on.

Of course… energy needs are also related to a dog’s activity level… how much he uses those tissues, too.  Is your dog active… or inactive?  Is he a puppy… an adult… or a senior?

An internationally respected veterinary research institute has developed a formula that uses a dog’s metabolic weight to scientifically determine his energy needs2.

Click here to use our Dog Food Calculator to reveal your dog’s daily energy requirements.

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The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

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1: Burger IH and Johnson JV (1991), Dogs Large and Small – The Allometry of Energy Requirements within a Single Species, Journal of Nutrition 121: S18-S21

2: Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 14

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