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Calculate Meal Amounts & Daily Calorie Requirements

Estimated reading time: 5 min

Puppies have different intake requirements than adult dogs. 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 daily 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 Energy Requirements

The first step in calculating the amount of food a puppy will eat daily is to calculate the puppy’s daily calorie requirements.

A “calorie” is a unit to measure the energy in food. The total daily calorie requirement is the starting point when formulating a balanced diet. Once the amount of daily calories is calculated, it is possible to complete the diet with essential nutrients.

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

A scientific calculator (or equivalent cell phone app) will be helpful to accomplish the following equation. Enter the dog’s bodyweight in kilograms, press the exponent key, then enter 0.75. Then multiply the result by 70.

Example 1

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

26 Pounds

Current Weight

80 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Resting Energy Requirements (RER) in english units:

23 ÷ 2.2 = 11.8kg body weight

Body Weight in LBS ÷ 2.2 = Body Weight in KG

70 x (11.8)^0.75 = 445.6 RER

70 x (Body Weight in kg) ^ 0.75 = Resting Energy Requirements

Example 2

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

11.8 Kilograms

Current Weight

36 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Resting Energy Requirements (RER) in metric units:

70 x (11.8)^0.75 = 445.6 RER

70 x (Body Weight) ^ 0.75 = Resting Energy Requirements

Once the RER is identified, daily energy requirements (DER) can be calculated by using the RER in multiplication. The DER is the total calories needed to sustain basic biological functions plus daily activity. Calculation amounts will 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 puppies will complete growth around 12 months of age. Large breed puppies are often still developing at 12 months old, and giant breeds may still be 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 the chosen multiplier.

Example 1, Continued

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

26 Pounds

Current Weight

80 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

445.6 RER

Calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER) in english units:

445.6 x 2.6 = 1158kcal

Daily Energy Requirements (DER) – round to 1100kcal for math ease.

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

11.8 Kilograms

Current Weight

36 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

445.6 RER

Calculate Daily Energy Requirements (DER) in metric units:

445.6 x 2.6 = 1158kcal

Daily Energy Requirements (DER) – round to 1100kcal for math ease.

Since metabolism varies among dog breeds and individuals, a higher multiplier may be needed to provide enough calories for high-energy breeds. In contrast, low-energy breeds often have lower calorie needs. In this case the RER needs to be multiplied by a lower number.

Calculate Daily Intake Estimates

An estimate on how much raw food a puppy requires can be calculated by multiplying 19 ounces by the puppy’s calorie requirement, divided by 1000 kcal.

Daily Food Volume for Puppies

On average, 19-20 ounces (538-567 grams) of raw food equates to 1000 calories. This average food amount assumes an average amount of raw fat. Raw diets higher in fat will be lower in volume, while low-fat diets will be higher in volume. Always adjust to the puppy’s individual needs in regards to fat content and food volume.

Once the DER is calculated, the puppy’s daily intake can be estimated. Divide the puppy’s calorie requirement by 1000. Then multiply the result by 19-20 ounces (538-567 grams). 

Example 1, Continued

Puppy profile in english units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

26 Pounds

Current Weight

80 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Estimated Daily Intake in english units:

1100 kcal ÷ 1000 kcal = 1.1

Daily Calorie Needs ÷ 1000kcal Baseline = Conversion Variable

1.1 x 19 oz = 21 oz

Conversion Variable x 19oz Weight Baseline = Daily Food Volume Estimate

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

11.8 Kilograms

Current Weight

36 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

Calculate Estimated Daily Intake in metric units:

1100 kcal ÷ 1000 kcal = 1.1

Daily Calorie Needs ÷ 1000 kcal Baseline = Conversion Variable

1.1 x 538 g = 592 g

Conversion Variable x 538 g Weight Baseline = Daily Food Volume Estimate

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 can decrease. Young 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 the 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 within the first six months of age. Frequent meals are ideal for this accelerated early development. Growth will slow down somewhat for most puppies over 6 months of age. Once the dog 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

26 Pounds

Current Weight

80 Pounds

Estimated Adult Weight

1100 kcal

Daily Calories

21oz Estimated Intake

Calculate individual meal amounts:

21 ÷ 2 = 10.5oz

Feed 10.5oz twice a day.

Example 2, Continued

Puppy profile in metric units:

6 Months Old

Large Breed

11.8 Kilograms

Current Weight

36 Kilograms

Estimated Adult Weight

1100 kcal

Daily Calories

592g Estimated Intake

Calculate individual meal amounts:

592 ÷ 2 = 296g

Feed 296g twice a day.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Calculating both food volume and calories 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 it’s daily calorie requirements.

Calculate Calories

The amount of calories a growing puppy needs to consume per day is the 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.

Calculate Daily Feeding Estimates

Calculate the average daily intake by converting calories to food volume with a few simple formulas.

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.