How Much Should You Feed Your Dog? Basic Steps to Estimate Energy Needs




How much should you feed your dog?

It depends on your dog’s age, breed, weight, activity level, and health status.  It also depends on the type and brand of food you are feeding.  Dog nutrition is complex, and that’s why you should always consult your veterinarian before starting any diet or exercise program with your pet.  Online feeding calculators and formulae for estimating your dog’s energy needs provide only a rough guide.  Only your veterinarian is qualified to make sound recommendations for your dog’s nutritional needs.


How much energy does your dog need each day?

There are many tools to help pet parents estimate how much energy their dog should get each day.  Whether you calculate by hand or use an online tool, there are two terms that you will need to understand.


Resting Energy Requirement (RER)

The resting energy requirement is the energy that your dog needs, at rest, to maintain current body weight.  The RER is calculated with the formula


70 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75

Where body weight in pounds/2.2 = body weight in kilograms (kg).


An easier way to estimate this is to convert your dogs weight in pounds  to kg (divide by 2.2). Multiply the weight in kilograms by 30 and then add 70.


Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER)

The maintenance energy requirement is the energy that your dog requires daily based on health status, neuter status, activity level, and other factors that influence metabolism.  Veterinary nutritionists have established several multipliers to the RER.  You may find a good list at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine .  Note that this list includes multipliers for weight gain and weight loss as well as maintenance.