How much to feed my dog?



This blog is meant to give you a clear understanding of the caloric needs of your dog and the calculations to derive the information. If you wish to have a quick review of the calculations - jump ahead to the conclusion.



Manufacturers print recommended feeding instructions on their packs with a note in the bottom saying that this could vary from one dog to another.

Factors to keep in mind:

  • YOU are expected to do your own calculations before feeding your dog.

  • You are expected to take life stages into consideration.

  • You are also expected to take activity levels and body condition score into account.

  • Simply following recommended quantities can lead to underfeeding or overfeeding your dog - both with its own consequences on health and well being.

  • DO NOT go with cup wise feeding as cup’s differ in size greatly.



Based on this, how much you feed your dog would depend on if you are feeding your dog dry food like pedigree? In which case it is calorie dense food as it is dehydrated and the quantity to be fed will be much lower as it is devoid of moisture. Canned food is wet and has an appropriate amount of moisture in it and the quantity will be considerably more than dry food. And with Freshly cooked or Raw diets, the quantity is based on your dog's current body condition score, age and current body weight.



This is a frequently asked question and perhaps correctly so. There aren't any clear answers available anywhere that helps you determine how much to feed your dog depending on the type of food you are feeding. Let's look at all of them one by one and learn how to calculate the quantity of food and how to make adjustments.



Let’s get some calculations out of the way, so we know how many calories your dog may require on a daily basis, before we get to the different types of food.



To calculate a dog’s calorie requirements, you first need to find his resting

energy requirement. This is the energy the dog requires on a daily basis just to keep the system functioning - to breath, for the heart to pump, to use his eyes and so on.


The calculation for this is 30 x body weight in kilograms plus 70 equals Resting Energy Requirement (RER).


For Eg. Barfi is 12 kilos. So here is how his calculation looks:

30 x 12 = 360

360 + 70 = 430 calories. (RER)


Once you have the RER we need to take into account how active the dog is (see chart below) and multiply the RER by the appropriate factor. This will provide you with the caloric requirement of your dog on a daily basis. As with human’s, please keep in mind that each dog is different and small adjustments need to be made to fit each dog perfectly. These are “Ball park” figures and are not carved in stone.


Also these will change at different stages for the same dog.



The next thing to take into account is the type of food you are feeding.



How much to feed when feeding dry dog food?

Most dog food packs will come with feeding instructions on the packet. Typically this is how it will look:





The image on the Left - has a typical variance of 12-15% in the recommended feeding quantities. And it is expected that you will figure out the right quantity to be fed to your dog.

The image on the right - has a 24% variance between the min quantity recommended and the highest quantity recommended. Here you are expected to calculate and take into consideration the activity level of your dog and feed accordingly.


Let's continue with Barfi’s example:


He is 12 kg.

And his RER is 430 cal

His activity level is: Moderate = 430 x 1.5 = 645 cal per day.

His body condition is Ideal (No need to gain or lose weight)


So let us take the above charts and try to figure out what quantity is recommended for Barfi.

10kg maintenance is recommended as 137gm and 15kg is 185gm - so let's take the average = 161gm.

The Label says that each Kilo of this food is 2800 calories; hence if I were to feed 161gm per day, I will be feeding 450 calories per day. However, as we have seen, Barfi requires 645 calories per day.


Let's look at the label on the bottom. Their chart recommends that for a 12 kilo dog with more than 1 hour of active time, I should be feeding Barfi 185gm of the food per day. But this food is higher in calories. It is 3843 calories per kilo. So here is what the calculation will look like:

3843 / 1000 = 3.843 ( Calories per gram)



Recommended feed = 185gm = 185 x 3.843 = 711 calories.

So, if I followed this chart I will be Overfeeding him by 66 calories per day which will take him about a month to start gaining weight very gradually. In one year, he would have gained about 4-5 kilos of excess weight and would be in the obese category. For a small Indie dog, that's very bad news for his joints.


Factors to keep in mind:

  • YOU are expected to do your own calculations before feeding your dog.

  • You are expected to take life stages into consideration.

  • You are also expected to take activity levels and body condition score into account.

  • Simply following recommended quantities can lead to underfeeding or overfeeding your dog - both with its own consequences on health and well being.

  • DO NOT go with cup wise feeding as cup’s differ in size greatly.




How much tinned food to feed your dog?

The absolute first thing to check on your tinned or canned food is whether the manufacturer is saying that it is a complete and balanced meal or a complimentary meal. What this means is; a complete canned food will not require you to add anything to it, and can be fed as it is. Where as a complimentary food will recommend that you add either dry food or rice and vegetables to the food before feeding it. The costs of these foods differ greatly. And so the feeding instructions. So, you might end up either overfeeding or underfeeding your dog, if you do not take notice of the type of canned food you have purchased.






This can of Hills science clearly states that this is a complementary food. And that you are expected to add either their dry food to it, or add some rice and veggies, if you prefer.




This can of pedigree, clearly gives both alternatives. You can feed this on its own as a complete meal, or mix with dry food. Here the recommendation is most likely for cost purposes. If you look at the feeding instructions, the variance is 50%. ½ to full can per 10 lbs of body weight (5Kg roughly)



So let's look at Barfi’s example again.


Barfi at 12 kg will need anywhere between 1.25 cans to 2.5 cans per day. The food is 326 cals per can.


According to this, I would be feeding him either 407 cals (1.25 cans per day) or 815 cals ( 2.5 cans per day)


One is under feeding and one is overfeeding.