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Calculate Meal Amounts & Daily Calorie Requirements

Estimated reading time: 6 min

Puppies have different requirements than adult dogs and estimating how much food and how many calories are needed daily is the first step to formulating a raw diet for a growing puppy.

Puppies require more calories for energy and development. The amount of calories a puppy needs depends on age, activity, and breed. An estimate on how much food a puppy should eat in a day and how many calories are needed to sustain optimal growth can be calculated with a few simple math formulas.

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Calculate Daily Intake Estimates

An estimate on how much raw food a puppy requires can be calculated by current weight multiplied by the recommended maintenance percentage to maintain ideal body condition.

Maintenance Percentages for Puppies

Maintenance percentages, based off of a puppy’s age, are average starting guidelines. Maintenance percentage calculations provide an estimate on how much food a puppy should consume in a day. These calculations are to be taken as guidelines and not “rules.”

Always adjust to the puppy’s individual requirements. Low-energy breeds may require a lower maintenance percentage whereas high-energy breeds may require a higher maintenance percentage.

Puppy’s Age Maintenance Percentage
2-4 Months 10%-8%
4-6 Months 8%-6%
6-8 Months 6%-4%
8-12 Months 4%-2%

*Maintenance percentages are for weaned puppies.

Once the appropriate maintenance percentage is selected, the puppy’s daily intake estimate can be calculated. Multiply the puppy’s current weight by the appropriate maintenance percentage for its age and activity level.

Example 1

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

23 Pounds

Current Weight

55 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Estimated Daily Intake in english units:

23 x 0.06 = 1.38lbs

Estimated daily intake in pounds.

1.38 x 16 = 22oz

Estimated daily intake converted to ounces.

Example 2

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

10.5 Kilograms

Current Weight

25 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Estimated Daily Intake in metric units:

(30*10.5)+70 = 385 RER

Resting Energy Requirements

Maintenance percentages are starting guidelines to calculate estimates on how much food a puppy will consume in a day. However, it is important to note that these are starting guidelines, these are not “rules,” and adjustments should be made for every individual puppy.

Calculate Daily Energy Requirements

A “calorie” is a unit to measure the energy in food, and is the starting point when formulating a balanced diet. Once the amount of daily calories is calculated, completing the diet with essential nutrients is the next step.

The first step to determine calorie requirements is to calculate the puppy’s resting energy requirements (RER). The RER of a puppy is the amount of calories needed for biological functions such as digestion, heart rate, and more. This caloric amount does not factor in activity or age.

The RER can be calculated by multiplying the puppy’s body weight in kilograms by 30 and then adding 70.

Example 1, Continued

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

23 Pounds

Current Weight

55 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

22oz Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

Calculate Resting Energy Requirements (RER) in english units:

23 / 2.2 = 10.5kg body weight

Convert body weight to kilograms.

(30*10.5)+70 = 385 RER

Resting Energy Requirements

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

10.5 Kilograms

Current Weight

25 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

630g Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

Calculate Resting Energy Requirements (RER) in metric units:

(30*10.5)+70 = 385 RER

Resting Energy Requirements

Once the RER is identified, daily energy requirements (DER) can be calculated when multiplying RER. The DER is the total calories needed to sustain biological functions and daily activity. Calculation amounts vary in relation to the puppy’s breed, size, and age. 

The weight class of a growing puppy is important when calculating DER. Extra small to medium size breeds have a significantly shorter growth period in comparison to large and giant breeds.

Breed Size Chart

Identify the breed size of the puppy to calculate accurate DER.

extrasmalldogbreed
Extra Small Breeds

1-10lbs & 1-4.5kg
Breed Examples:

  • Chihuahua
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranian
  • Yorkie
smalldogbreed
Small Breeds

11-25lbs &  5-11.5kg
Breed Examples:

  • Corgi
  • French Bulldog
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Pug
mediumdogbreed
Medium Breeds

26-40lbs & 12-18kg
Breed Examples:

  • Border Collie
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Standard Schnauzer
mediumlargedogbreed
Medium-Large Breeds

41-70lbs & 19-32kg
Breed Examples:

  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
largedogbreeds
Large Breeds

71-90lbs &  32-40kg
Breed Examples:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador
giantdogbreeds
Giant Breeds

Over 90lbs & 41kg
Breed Examples:

  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland

Small and medium breed size dogs complete growth around 12 months of age. Large breed puppies are still developing at 12 months old, and giant breeds are still growing past 18 months of age! Therefore, DER calculations vary slightly between small-medium breeds and large-giant breeds.

The following amounts can be used as a starting guideline to calculate calorie needs based on life stage and breed size.

Small & Medium Breeds

Energy needs to calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER)

Puppy’s Age

Energy Needs

2-4 Months

3-2.8

4-6 Months

2.8-2.6

6-8 Months

2.6-2.4

8-10 Months

2.4-2.2

10-12 Months

2.2-2

Large & Giant Breeds

Energy needs to calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER)

Puppy’s Age

Energy Needs

2-4 Months

3-2.8

4-6 Months

2.8-2.6

6-8 Months

2.6-2.4

8-10 Months

2.4-2.2

10-12 Months

2.2-2

12-14 Months

2-1.8

16-20 Months

1.8-1.6

Once the appropriate multiplier is identified, DER can be calculated by multiplying the puppy’s RER by energy needs by age.

Example 1, Continued

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

23 Pounds

Current Weight

55 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

22oz Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

385 RER

Calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER) in english units:

385 x 2.6 = 1001kcal

Daily Energy Requirements (DER) – round to 1000kcal for math ease.

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

10.5 Kilograms

Current Weight

25 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

630g Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

385 RER

Calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER) in metric units:

385 x 2.6 = 1001kcal

Daily Energy Requirements (DER) – round to 1000kcal for math ease.

Since metabolism varies among dog breeds, the RER needs to be multiplied higher to provide enough calories for high-energy breeds. In contrast, low-energy breeds have a lower calorie need and the RER needs to be multiplied by a lower amount.

Determine Feeding Frequency

Multiple meals should be fed throughout the day to young and growing puppies. As puppies grow and mature, the number of meals fed should decrease. Puppies require frequent meals throughout the day versus one large meal. The amount of meals a puppy needs is dependent on the age of the puppy.

Number of Meals to Feed Puppies

Divide Estimated Daily Intake into the number of feedings required for the puppy’s age.

Puppy’s Age Number of Meals
2-6 Months 3
6-12 Months 2

On average, puppies have a higher growth rate in the first six months of age and frequent meals are ideal for early development. Once the puppy has reached adult maturity, meals can be decreased to once a day, if suitable for the individual dog.

Example 1, Continued

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

23 Pounds

Current Weight

55 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

1000 kcal

Daily Calories

22oz Estimated Intake

Calculate individual meal amounts:

22 ÷ 2 = 11oz

Feed 11oz at each meal, twice a day.

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

10.5 Kilograms

Current Weight

25 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

1000 kcal

Daily Calories

630g Estimated Intake

Calculate individual meal amounts:

630 ÷ 2 = 315g

Feed 315g at each meal, twice a day.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Both calculation methods prove useful when beginning to formulate a raw diet for a puppy. The first step to creating a raw diet for a growing puppy is to calculate how much food the puppy will need to consume in a day.

Maintenance Percentage

Calculate daily intake amount with maintenance percentages to estimate how much food a puppy needs to consume in a day.

Calculate Calories

To get an accurate figure of how many calories a growing puppy needs to consume per day is to calculate daily energy requirements (DER). The DER is an accurate way to determine how many calories a puppy needs to consume in a day to maintain energy and growth.

Determine Feeding Frequency

Puppies should be fed multiple meals throughout the day. Younger puppies should have three meals a day while puppies over 6 months old can be fed twice a day.

Once an estimated daily intake is calculated, the amount of muscle meat, raw meaty bones, organs, and plant ingredients can be estimated using raw diet ratio guidelines to complete recommended allowances for essential nutrients.

The recommended allowances for amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can be determined once daily calories are calculated.