Dog Food Serving Calculator

By Manuel Villanueva, 2002, Updated 10/1/20

See dog food label

Waltham Dog Food Calculator

See dog food label


Find the calories per serving listed on the dog food. It might say kcal/cup for dry food or kcal/container if it's an individual serving. This information may also be on the manufacturer's site. Call them if you can't find it. You can even use this calculator on homemade food if you know the calories per serving. Enter the pet's weight and choose an activity level. If the pet appears over or underweight, enter a weight based on breed and sex (and age if possible). If the breed is unknown choose the closest match. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has illustrations of underfed, healthy, and overfed dogs.

kcal/cup value found on dog food packaging
Kcal/cup found on dog food bag
This page is meant to provide you with the knowledge to determine your pet's daily caloric needs. Each calculator uses slightly different formulas. The top uses formulas referenced by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The bottom uses formulas referenced by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. In the long run, adjust your dog's feeding to maintain an optimum weight.

Definitions & Formulas

maintenance energy requirement (MER)
The amount of energy used by a moderately active adult dog in a thermoneutral environment, that is, at the optimal ambient temperature. It represents the energy expended in obtaining and using food in an amount sufficient to maintain body weight, but not to support growth, pregnancy or lactation. It is important to remember that the calculated MER only represents an estimate of energy need.
UC Davis MER
MER = 132 × (Weight in Kilograms)0.75
MER varies 0.8–4 times depending on activity level.
Waltham MER
MER = 110 × (Weight in Kilograms)0.75
MER varies 0.8–2.3 times depending on activity level.


How many cups/day of Instinct Raw Boost should I give my cocker spaniel with a typical activity level? He weighs 28 pounds and appears normal.

  1. First convert his weight into kilograms.
    • 28 lbs = 12.71 kg
  2. Calculate the his daily calorie requirement based on activity level. The Waltham maintenance energy requirement (MER) for a typical activity level is 110 ×(weight in kg)0.75
    • 110 × (12.7)0.75 = 740.55
  3. Divide MER by kcal/cup. The kcal/cup of Instinct Raw Boost is 508.
    • 740.55 ÷ 508 = 1.45 cups per day

I feed my cocker spaniel a raw diet consisting of skinless chicken thighs with the fat removed. She weighs 24 pounds, normal appearance and high activity level. How many thighs per day should I give her?

  1. First convert her weight into kilograms.
    • 24 lbs = 10.89 kg
  2. Calculate the her daily calorie requirement based on activity level. The Waltham maintenance energy requirement (MER) for a high activity level is 175 × (weight in kg)0.75
    • 175 × (10.89)0.75 = 1049.08
  3. Divide MER by calories/serving. There are 130 calories in per skinless chicken thigh.
    • 1049.08 ÷ 130 = 8.06 thighs per day


  • Burger, I. H. (1995). Updated feeding recommendations for the canine diet: Waltham viewpoint. Waltham Focus, 5 (3), 32.
  • Burger, I. H., & Johnson, J. V. (1991). Dogs large and small: The allometry of energy requirements within a single species. The Journal of Nutrition, 121 (Suppl. 11), 18-21.
  • Siegal, M. (Ed.). (1995). UC Davis book of dogs: The complete medical reference guide for dogs and puppies. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. (1999). Canine life stages/lifestyles. Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition [On-line]. Available: http:// articles/clife.pdf