How Many Calories Should A 12 Pound Dog Eat


How many calories should a 12 pound dog eat? If you own a 12 pound dog, then you’ve likely asked yourself this question at least once. While there are differences in a dog’s metabolism, size and age. Many dog owners aren’t sure how many calories their dogs need each day. This can be even more challenging when a pet owner has to weigh those calories compared to the weight of their pet. So how many calories should a 12 pound dog eat?

How Many Calories Should A 12 Pound Dog Eat

how many calories to feed a dog per day

Have you ever considered the recommended daily calorie intake for your dog? Although dog food packages provide some suggestions, you can quickly determine the appropriate quantity of calories required. Naturally, the best person to ask for guidance on canine diet is your veterinarian.

What Are Calories?

Energy is measured in calories. The phrase is used to indicate both the energy content of food and an animal’s energy needs. 1000 calories make up one kilocalorie, or kcal. However, when examining food labels or talking about nutritional requirements, the word “Calorie” is typically used to refer to one kcal.

The word “kcal” is most frequently found on pet food labels. Yet you can use the terms calories and kcals interchangeably. Kcal content is useful to know when purchasing dog treats and food. Any safe human food that you may offer your dog should also be taken into account because the calories they contain will be added to their daily consumption.

Calorie Needs of Dogs

Dogs require a particular quantity of calories to maintain their energy levels and body mass, just like people and all other creatures do. A dog’s weight in kilograms, or kg, must be used to calculate the dog’s resting energy requirement (RER) and maintenance energy demand (MER).

Divide the weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms. A 22-pound dog, for instance, weighs 10 kg. Dogs weigh about 27 kg or 60 pounds. A 100 lb dog weighs roughly 45 kg.

The basic energy required to maintain vital body processes like metabolism, circulation, respiration, and digestion is known as the resting energy requirement, or RER. Add 70 to the body weight in kilos raised to the 3/4 power to compute RER.

  • 70 * (BWkg)0.75 = RER (kcal/day)

RER does not include additional energy needed for activity, growth, and overall health maintenance. It must be multiplied by certain factors to estimate the dog’s maintenance energy requirement or MER. A dog’s MER is the estimated number of calories needed in a day. To calculate this, multiply RER by “X,” the number that represents the dog’s additional energy needs.

  • X * RER = MER (kcal/day)

To estimate “X” and calculate a dog’s individual daily caloric needs, consider the dog’s activity level, life stage, and any health conditions or environmental circumstances that may affect energy needs.

The general caloric needs of dogs are listed here by weight. Once you have determined your dog’s life stage and activity level, use your dog’s weight in pounds to find the appropriate caloric intake.

Life Stage

Caloric needs vary by life stage, so puppies have different needs than adult dogs. In addition, pregnant or nursing dogs need more calories than the average adult dog.

Activity Level

Active dogs burn more calories than sedentary dogs, so they need more calories each day. Certain dog breeds may typically tend to be more or less active. Your dog’s breed can help as a guideline but should not be the only factor. Assess your individual dog’s average daily activity.

Body Condition

The health of your dog’s body should be taken into consideration. Based on an optimal bodily state, general guidelines for calorie intake are created. You should give your dog the number of calories recommended for their ideal weight if they are overweight or underweight.

The appropriate body weight and calorie requirements for your dog should be determined in consultation with your vet. Weight loss or growth in your dog should be done gradually and under a veterinarian’s guidance. Your dog’s overall health must also be evaluated by your veterinarian in order to rule out any underlying illnesses that might be affecting your dog’s weight.

How to Calculate How Many Calories Your Dog Should Eat by Size

According to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, you can use this formula to calculate a dog’s caloric needs.

  • Dogs calorie needs per day = (Dog’s weight in kilograms x 30) + 70

Every pound of weight is equivalent to 0.45 kilograms. So for example, a 60-pound (27.2-kilogram) dog would need this calculation:

  • (27.2 x 30) + 70 = 886 calories needed per day.

If you don’t want to do the calculations, this handy chart gives you an estimate on the number of calories your dog needs based on weight.

pet calorie chart

However, Kostiuk explains that “each pet is unique; it is important to work with a trusted veterinarian to determine how much to feed your dog.”

 how do calories play in to how much to feed a dog?

A hungry dog eating food out of a bowl.
How do you calculate how many calories your dog needs? Photography ©Chalabala | Thinkstock.

Here is the lowdown: In order to maintain their weight, most dogs generally need between 25 and 30 calories per pound of body weight. Thus, I must ensure that Kona, my terrier mix, consumes 625 to 750 calories daily. Her age (3 years old), activity level (medium), and the fact that she has been spayed must also be taken into account.

For you math nerds eager to determine your dog’s daily caloric requirements, you must convert your dog’s body weight in pounds to kilograms by dividing it by 2.2. The resting energy requirement (RER) for your dog must then be determined using the following equation: 75 (kilograms of body weight) 70. In order to calculate the calories, you must first determine the often used multipliers that take into account the age, weight, degree of activity, and whether or not your dog has been spayed or neutered.

Uh, OK. Hold on to hope. Thankfully, you can use calorie-counting calculators on websites and apps to help you calculate your dog’s daily calorie intake (see below). Or examine the label on the food container for your dog. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has mandated that pet food producers provide feeding recommendations that include calories starting in 2013. Remember that these are only recommendations.

For instance, there is a feeding chart on the label of the dry food I feed Kona. It suggests I give Kona 2 cups of food every day, or 715 calories, based on her weight.

What Factors Impact How Much to Feed a Dog?

Several factors can impact not only how much food to feed your dog, but also what type of food he needs.

  • Weight: Maintaining an ideal body condition is important for your dog’s overall health. “If your dog is not his ideal body condition, you may need to make adjustments in what and how much you are feeding him,” says Dr. Callie Harris, DVM. Consider a weight management formula to help your dog achieve and maintain his ideal body condition. We also recommend working with your veterinarian to rule out any health concerns.
  • Activity Levels: The feeding recommendations on dog food packages are based on average adult dogs with normal activity levels. If your dog gets a lot of daily exercise by going on daily runs or hikes with you, he may need more calories to meet his energy needs. “Dogs who are less active and overweight may need a more managed daily caloric intake,” according to Dr. Harris.
  • Age: As your dog grows, his nutritional needs change. If your dog is still a puppy, he needs a puppy food for growth and development. Seniors may benefit from senior formulas that help keep older dogs active and their minds sharp. Work with your veterinarian to determine the type of food your dog needs based on his life stage and life style.

Once you find a complete and balanced food that meets your dog’s individual needs, you can determine how much food to feed him. The dog feeding chart on the back of his dog food package can help guide you.

What are Dog Feeding Charts?

On dog food packaging, feeding charts for dogs must appear. Yet, the design of the chart can differ from brand to brand.

Pay special attention when switching brands to make sure you’re giving your dog the right dosage for his age and weight.

“Dog feeding charts often offer suggestions for daily intake,” says Dr. Harris. The amount suggested in the chart must be divided across the meals if you feed your dog more than once per day.

This is an example dog feeding chart that resembles the ones on the packages of all dry dog foods:

Adult Dog Size (lbs)Dry Food Feeding Amount (Cups)
3 to 121/3 to 1
13 to 201 to 1/3
21 to 351-1/3 to 2
26 to 502 to 2-2/3
51 to 752-2/3 to 3-1/3
76 to 1003-1/3 to 4-1/4
100+4-1/4 plus 1/4 cup for each 10 lbs of body weight over 100 lbs

Note: Depending on the product’s calorie content and formula, dog feeding amounts vary. Check the feeding guide on the back of the bag of dog food. Regarding unique nutritional requirements, speak with your veterinarian since individual requirements can differ.

How Often Should I Feed My Dog?

For a variety of reasons, most dogs should have set mealtimes. You can help him maintain good gut health and a healthy weight by being regular with mealtimes, what you give him, and how much. Also, regular mealtimes might help avoid domestic mishaps.

The majority of dogs should be fed twice daily—once in the morning and once in the evening.

How many treats should I feed my dog?

Even while not all dogs are motivated by food during training, it’s difficult to find one that doesn’t screech with delight at the sound of the treat bag. Pet treats are a highly efficient means of conveying approval to your dog because dogs have a well-deserved reputation for being obsessive eaters. Treats can significantly contribute to strengthening the human-canine bond when seen in that light. In addition to being satisfying to the dog, making that furry creature happy also gives the person a serotonin rush.

As a general rule, you should limit treats to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric consumption. Overindulging may cause stomach problems (including unsanitary faeces) in the near term and weight gain in the long run. Being aware of your dog’s daily limit is a good idea because obesity in dogs can result in major health issues and is likely the biggest threat to your dog’s wellbeing.

How do you know how many treats is enough for your dog?

It is a good idea to establish your dog’s daily allowance. Particularly if you’re about to train your pet or you feel like you and your family are abusing the rewards. You should check the chart on the pet food packaging to find the 10% cap on your dog’s daily treat quota. Based on their weight, it will specify how many cups of food they should consume each day and the number of calories in a cup. (Remember to account for your dog’s age and activity level. Adult dogs who are less active will require fewer calories than those who are very active.)

  • There are 429 kcal (or to use the vernacular, calories) per cup of food.
  • The daily allotment for a 60-pound (adult) dog is 2 1/3 cups, which comes to 1,001 calories a day.
  • That means their maximum allotment of treats should come to no more than 100 calories a day.

Smaller dogs have capacity for fewer treats.

  • Using the same diet, a 15-pound dog would get 1 cup of food, or 429 calories a day.
  • That smaller dog may have about 43 calories’ worth of treats before reaching their 10% limit.

As we can see, the smaller the dog, the more mindful you should be of how many treats they’re getting.

How do your dog’s treats affect feeding time?

You might be considering whether it’s acceptable to add that 10% to your regular lunch. In most cases, it implies you should take away a few kibbles from the food bowl to prevent them from consuming too many calories. Do your best to keep the cap at 10%. Don’t mistake treats for a meal replacement because not all calories are created equally, even if they do contain extras that are excellent for dogs. If not, your dog might not get the vitamins and minerals they require to stay healthy.

Which treat is right for your dog?

There are several solutions available for caring for our dogs. While occasionally spoiling your dog with a special treat (like that elegant dog cookie you spotted at the pet supply store), choosing and monitoring your pet’s rewards carefully is ideal for their health (and their tummies). We’ll concentrate on a few:

Human foods

Many pet owners enjoy giving their excited animal companion a cheese cube, a slice of ham, or a taste of their food. Given that you are aware of your dog’s calorie requirements, it stands to reason that excessive amounts of food from the dinner plate and the snack bowl may contribute to weight gain in dogs. Although their appetites might suggest otherwise, dogs don’t have much room for extra calories. It won’t take long for the calories to add up if you share your meal or snack. Stick to nutritious, low-calorie snacks and unprocessed meals to reduce pudge (for both you and your dog) (which are often loaded with bad fats and sugar). Some dogs genuinely like cooked, plain green beans and carrot sticks. Fresh berries, lean turkey breast, non-fat yogurt, and air-popped popcorn are further choices (but hold the butter and salt).

Jerky treats

These juicy morsels may tempt people to consume them. If you’re training your dog in a distracting area, keeping a few pieces of jerky on hand can help you break through the clutter of inputs and focus your dog. Its potent meaty smell fires up a dog’s extraordinarily sensitive olfactory capabilities. These work well for long excursions like treks as well. Keep these prizes, however, to a maximum of a few every day for a large breed, a few for a medium-sized dog, and one for a little dog. Too many jerky snacks, which have 20 calories each, may exceed your dog’s calorie allowance. Hence, if you’re providing a lot of them, keep in mind to serve a lesser piece of food at supper to balance the calories.


They provide an affordable means of providing for your dog’s needs. But, you should always read the label carefully because soy and wheat are frequently used as main components in retail brands, which might be upsetting to your dog’s digestive tract if he has a food sensitivity. A high-quality brand will feature beef or meat meal as the first ingredient, followed by a selection of fruits and vegetables to produce a satisfying, nutritious treat. While having fewer calories than a serving of jerky, make sure to read the label to avoid overindulging.

Daily calorie requirements of active dogs

Dalmatian runs across yard. Active dogs like Dalmatians generally burn a lot of fat and require a nutritious diet with enough calories to sustain their body weight.
Active dogs like Dalmatians generally burn a lot of fat and require a nutritious diet with enough calories to sustain their body weight.

Dogs that are physically active typically burn a lot of fat and need a diet rich in nutrients and sufficient in calories to maintain their weight. With you, your Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, or Labrador may love playing fetch.

In order to encourage safer playtime, if you are a pet parent to a blind dog, make sure they have a dog halo or bumper collar. You must physically interact and stimulate your pet in a safe manner.

Your dog may put on weight if you don’t provide them with food that has the proper amounts of protein and fat to suit their calorie needs. Consider your dog’s daily calorie intake because more than 60% of canines in North America are obese.

Smaller active breeds

Smaller active breeds weigh around 10 pounds. Their ideal daily calorie intake is 400 calories.

Medium-sized breeds (30 to 50 pounds)

Medium-sized breeds that weigh about 30 pounds will require close to 920 calories per day. On the other hand, heavier medium-sized breeds with bodyweight close to 50 pounds require 1350 calories regularly.

Large breed dogs

Large breed dogs can be expected to weigh around 70 pounds. Keeping their activity in mind, large breed dogs require 1740 calories in a day to ensure they are of healthy weight.

Giant breed dogs

Giant breed dogs are estimated to weigh around 90 pounds. Recognizing that they are larger, active breeds, these dogs require close to 2100 calories daily.

Daily Calorie Requirements for Dogs

Body weight in poundsPupppy up to 4 mos.Puppy over 4 mos.Neutered adultIntact adultObese proneWeight loss

7 Tips to Ensure Your Dog Is Getting the Right Amount of Calories From Their Food

To help make sure your pooch is getting the amount of calories from their food, here are some recommendations from Kostiuk and other veterinary resources to consider:

  1. Determine your pet’s goal healthy weight by consulting a reputable veterinarian about their optimal body composition.
  2. When you may need to make adjustments to your dog’s dietary needs, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior, exercise routines, and general health.
  3. See how their body changes throughout time. Consult your veterinarian if there are any unsettling changes.
  4. Use the full and balanced dog food feeding chart as a general reference and make adjustments based on your pet’s needs.
  5. Make sure that meals that are high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates make up the majority of your dog’s calories rather than rewards. Giving them too many snacks or too many extra oils or fats increases their daily caloric intake, and eating too many treats can cause obesity.
  6. Choose a diet with fewer than 20% of the calories from starchy carbohydrates. For greater energy density, dogs require a greater emphasis on lean protein and healthy fats. Energy-wise, fat is twice as potent as protein and carbohydrates.
  7. Feed your dog according to their specific requirements. A 5-pound Chihuahua needs significantly fewer calories per day than a 120-pound Great Dane, yet a puppy needs more calories than an older dog does. You shouldn’t overfeed a dog for their lifestyle if they don’t spend a lot of time exercising because they will gain weight. On the other hand, if your dog is your jogging partner every day, be sure to feed them enough to maintain their energy level for an active lifestyle.

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