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How much do I feed my dog :: About a feed for a dog

Well, you've got a dog. Maybe he's a little too fat, or maybe your puppy is completely hyperactive, or maybe you're planning on going camping in the middle of winter and want to know how to feed your dog. Maybe she's a herding dog, maybe she's used to laying on the couch for seventeen hours every day. Or maybe you're feeding a sled dog team or a show dog or a hunting pair.


Unlike most of us, dogs are not terribly concerned with caloric intake, grams of fat, cholesterol, or nutrition. They will happily eat just about anything we give them, and most will thrive on a diet of commercial dog food of one sort or another.

Some dogs will eat until they can't move. Others will go off their food at the slightest change in their surroundings - How do you make sure that they are getting the proper nutrition that they need? Depending on the feeding method that you use, you can easily control the food intake and supplements that your dog eats.

However, many dogs are overweight. Feeding portions on many dog foods are sometimes vague, and most of us can't resist that soulful gaze when the bowl is empty. Depending on their activity level, where they live (inside or outside), and the climate, dogs, like people, require more or less calories to maintain an optimum weight.

The following tables show:

  • Daily Calorie Requirements for Dogs
  • Adjustments for General Climate
  • Adjustments for Outside Temperature
  • Calorie Requirements for Puppies
  • Minimum Daily Requirements of Vitamins and Minerals

Most dog food cans or bags will display the caloric value for the food, either per pound or per cup. (Dry dog food is normally measured by weight, not volume. ) Some very rough estimates are:

Canned, ration or "stew" type 500 calories/lb
Canned, all meat/animal tissue 600 calories/lb
Soft-Moist 1350 calories/lb
Dry 1500 calories/lb

Using these estimates, my 110lb and 100lb Akitas require ~2800 calories each for normal activity, which would be the equivalent of approximately 5 pounds of canned food, 2 lbs of moist food, or 1.8 lbs of dry food per dog . You can see why we don't feed canned food! Yikes! But what kind of food should you feed?

Remember that this is only a starting point -- so much depends on the food and on the dog. For example. premium dog foods will have a higher calorie content and higher digestibility, and your dog will have to eat less. To get the same value from Dog Chow as they get from Eukanuba, my dogs would have to eat nearly three times as much food. (And the higher-quality foods tend to leave a lot less for you to scoop back up in the yard afterwards!)

I've also compiled comparison of popular dog food brands with basic nutritional information and ingredients to get some more detailed information.

Calorie Requirements for Dogs

The following table shows the daily calorie requirements for dogs in a variety of situations - indoor dogs, outdoor dogs, working dogs, and very high activity dogs. Also, it includes the calories per lb of body weight . Use the "Base" column for your average dog (activity punctuated by couch-potato-ing)

Weight cal/    Base   Pets,  Pets,   Herd-  Work-

       lb             Inside Outside  ing    ing

2.2     64      141     130     *

4.4     53      233     211     *

5.0     50      250     225     *

5.5     49      269     242     *

6       48      288     258     *

6.5     47      305     273     *

7.0     46      322     287     *

7.5     45      337     300     *

8.0     44      352     312     432

9.0     43      387     342     477

10.0    42      420     370     520

11.0    41      451     396     561

12.0    40      480     420     600

13.5    39      526     459     661

15.0    38      570     495     720             795

16.5    37      610     528     775             858

18.0    36      648     558     828             918

20.0    35      700     600     900     990     1000

22.0    34      748     638     968     1065    1078

25.0    33      825     700     1075    1182    1200

28.5    32      912     770     1197    1317    1380

30.0    31      930

32.0    31      992     832     1312    1443    1472

36.0    30      1080    900     1440    1584    1620

40.0    29      1160    1000    1560    1716    1760

44.0    28      1232    1100    1672    1839    1892

50.0    27      1350    1250    1850    2035    2100

57.0    26      1482    *       2052    2257    2337

66.0    25      1650    *       2310    2541    2640

88.0    24      2112    *       2992    3291    3432

118.0   24      2832    *       3894    4283    4602

150.0   24      3600    *       4800    5280    5850


* dogs under 8 lbs should not be "outside" dogs, and dogs weighing

  more than 50 lbs should not be exclusively "inside" dogs.

Adjustments for General Climate

If your dog spends a majority of it's time outside, they will need more calories as the temperature gets lower. Usually, this can be accomplished by adding extra fats and oils to the food to give them a good source of high-energy calories (from fat), and increasing the amount of food to maintain balanced nutrition.
Month,          northern             central             southern

                % increrase          % increase          % increase

August            0                     0                  0

September         0                     0                  0

October           10                    5                  0

November          40                    15                 10

December          70                    30                 15

January           100                   60                 30

February          100                   60                 30

March             70                    30                 15

April             40                    15                 10

May               10                    5                  0

June              0                     0                  0

July              0                     0                  0

Adjustments for Outside Temperature
Again, as the temperature changes, your dog will need more or less food. This table is more useful for dogs that are not usually outside all the time, but will be spending time outside for a specific reason - ie, hunting, camping, whatever.
Air Temperature       Increase      Air Temperature       Increase

0                     70%            60                    0

10                    50%            70                    0

20                    35%            80                    10%

30                    20%            100                   20%

40                    10%            120                   30%

50                    0

Calorie Requirements for Puppies
Many small breeds reach their adult size before a year of age, while larger breeds may take two years or more. By tracking the puppies weight to it's age, you can tell how many calories your puppies need for any given day. This is not, obviously, an exact science, but it is a pretty good starting point.
      1lb   2   3   4    5    10   15   20   25   30   40   50   60   70

5wk   100   200 300 400  500  1000 1500

6      90   180 270 360  450   900 1350

7      80   160 240 320  400   800 1200

8      75   150 225 300  375   750 1125 1500

9      70   140 210 280  350   700 1050 1400

10          130 195 260  325   650  975 1300 1625

11              180 240  300   600  900 1200 1500

12                  224  280   560  840 1128 1400 1680

13                  208  260   520  780 1040 1300 1560

14                       240   480  720  960 1200 1440 1920

15                             450  675  900 1125 1350 1800

16                             420  630  840 1050 1260 1680 2100

17                                  585  780  975 1170 1560 1950

18                                       720  900 1080 1440 1800 2160

19                                            825  990 1320 1650 1980

20                                                 900 1280 1500 1800 2100

Related Articles:
Feeding Your Puppy
What should I NOT feed my dog
What should I feed dog
Raw and Homemade Diets
Choosing the Right Food for your Dog

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