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Metabolic Energy Requirements For Dogs
(Dog Daily Calorie Calculator)

Use Waltham's Daily Calorie Calculator?

Dog Daily Calorie Calculator
Enter Weight
Activity Level MER kcal/day
moderately active 1x    
less active 0.8x    
pregnant (1st 5 weeks) 1x    
pregnant (last 4 weeks) 1.1-1.6x -
lactating 2-4x -
puppy (0-50% adult weight) 2-4x -
puppy (50-80% adult weight) 1.6x    
puppy (80-100% adult weight) 1.2x    
extreme weather 1.25-2x -
working dog (light duty) 1.1x    
working dog (moderate duty) 1.4x    
working dog (heavy duty) 2-4x -

Go to Dog Food Calculator?

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.


MER = 132 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75

Using this formula provides an estimate of how many calories per day a dog needs.


What is the daily energy requirements of a 10 lb dog?

    1. Convert pounds to kilograms ( 1 lbs = 0.454 kg)

      10 lbs x 0.454 = 4.54 kg

    2. Determine the metabolic body weight (kg0.75)
    3. 4.540.75 = 3.11

    4. Multiply metabolic body weight by 132
    5. 3.11 x 132 = 410.5 or 411 kcal

Therefore, a 10 pound dog requires 411 kcal per day.

Note: The exact formula for obtaining the MER remains controversial but the above formula was used by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in their 1995 book. Another popular formula for calculating the MER by Burger (1995) is used by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

Waltham Daily Energy Requirements For Pets & Working Dogs

Waltham Formula
Enter Weight
Activity Level (Adult) MER kcal/day
typical 110 x (weight)0.75    
active 125 x (weight)0.75    
highly active 175 x (weight)0.75    
senior, neutered, inactive 90 x (weight)0.75    
working dog (light duty) 130-150 x (weight)0.75 -
working dog (moderate duty) 150-175 x (weight)0.75 -
working dog (heavy duty) 175-250 x (weight)0.75 -

Go to Dog Food Calculator?

Waltham Formula

MER = 110 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75

Notice the difference in the results between the first calculator and the Waltham calculator. You will find the Waltham calculator comes closer to most dog food maker's recommendations. The first calculator appears to overfeed when compared to dog food maker's recommendations. Use whichever calculator best suites you. In the long run, adjust your dog's feeding to maintain an optimum weight. If your dog is a pure breed, information on height and weight standards should exist. For example, the height and weight standards for the American and English cocker spaniel:

American Cocker English Cocker

Height 14-15" [about 36-38 cm]

Weight 24-28 lbs [about 11-13 kg]

Height 15-17" [about 38-43 cm]

Weight 26-34 lbs [about 12-16 kg]

Purina has illustrations of underfed, healthy, and overfeed dogs on their web page.


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:

Published 2002