How To Use a Dog Food Calculator

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Like humans, dogs require a certain number of calories on a daily basis in order to support their healthy metabolism. Your dog’s body burns calories all day long just to support important biological processes like respiration, digestion, and growth – if your dog doesn’t get the calories he needs, he could experience serious nutritional deficiencies and stunted growth. To help you figure out how many calories your dog should be getting on a daily basis, consider using a dog food calculator.

Calculating Your Dog’s Calorie Needs

As you may already know, all living things require calories as a unit of energy to support life. In the same way that the human body has a minimum daily calorie requirement (called the basal metabolic rate, or MBR), your dog also has a minimum number of calories he needs to support his metabolism. This minimum number of calories for dogs is called the “Resting Energy Requirement” or RER. This number varies from one dog to another based on the age, sex, weight, and activity level. To give you an idea what your dog’s RER might look like, consider the following formula:

RER = 70 x (dog’s body weight in kg)^0.75

For example, if your dog weighs 22 pounds you would first convert that number to kilograms and get a body weight of 10kg. Next, you would multiply that number to the ¾ power and then multiply the total by 70. The RER of a 22-pound dog is about 400 calories per day. Remember, however, that this number is a minimum – it only accounts for the calories needed to support basic physiologic functions. To determine how many total calories your dog actually needs you must multiply his RER by an activity factor which varies depending on your dog’s age and activity level.

Related: What Does “Human Grade” Mean When it Comes to Dog Food?

How to Use a Dog Food Calculator

If you want to calculate your dog’s total daily energy requirements, the easiest thing to do is to use an online dog food calculator. To use this kind of calculator, all you have to do is input your dog’s weight and it will calculate his Resting Energy Requirement. Some dog food calculators will also give you the option to calculate your dog’s total energy needs by multiplying his RER by a certain factor based on his age and activity level. Here is a breakdown of the factors affecting your dog’s RER and the number most dog food calculators use to determine total daily calorie needs:

Altered (neutered or spayed) adult dog = RER x 1.6

Intact adult dog = RER x 1.8

Active, working dog = RER x 2.0 – 5.0

Inactive/obese dog = RER x 1.2 – 1.4

Puppy 0-4 months = RER x 3.0

Puppy 4-12 months = RER x 2.0

Related: How Many Times A Day Should I Feed My Dog?

Some dog food calculators do more than just provide your dog’s total daily calorie needs. For example, the Dog Food Advisor dog food calculator allows you to input your dog’s ideal body weight and activity level in order to determine how much your dog should eat per day to achieve that ideal weight. Remember, different dog foods have different calorie content so you will still need to do some calculations of your own to determine exactly how much food your dog needs to meet his daily calorie needs. You will find the calorie content on the dog food label, typically included in the guaranteed analysis.

All dogs require a careful balance of nutrients in order to sustain healthy biological function. What many dog owners do not realize, however, is that their dog’s calorie needs might differ greatly from those of another dog. If you really want to make sure that your dog is getting the calories he needs, consider using a dog food calculator to find out.