Metabolic Energy Requirements For Dogs (Dog Daily Calorie Calculator)

By Manuel Villanueva, 2002, Updated 10/2/20


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. If the breed is unknown choose the closest match. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has illustrations of underfed, healthy, and overfed dogs. In the long run, adjust your dog's feeding to maintain an optimum weight.

American Cocker Spaniel

Weight 20–30 lbs (9–13.6 kg)

English Cocker Spaniel

Weight 26–34 lbs (11.8–15.4 kg)

UC Davis MER Formula For Dogs

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.
132 × (Weight in Kilograms)0.75 = kilocalories/day

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

UC Davis MER by activity level for dogs
Activity Level MER
Moderate Activity
Less Active 0.8×
Pregnant (1st 5 Weeks)
Pregnant (Last 4 Weeks) 1.1–1.6×
Lactating 2–4×
Puppy (0–50% Adult Weight) 2–4×
Puppy (50–80% Adult Weight) 1.6×
Puppy (80–10% Adult Weight) 1.2×
Extreme Weather 1.25–2×
Working Dog (Light Duty) 1.1×
Working Dog (Moderate Duty) 1.4×
Working Dog (Heavy Duty 2–4×

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

Waltham Daily Energy Requirements For Pets & Working Dogs

Waltham DER Formula For Dogs

daily energy requirement (DER)
DER represents the average daily energy expenditure of any animal, dependent on lifestage and activity. DER differs from MER in that it includes activity necessary for work, gestation, lactation and growth, as well as energy needed to maintain normal body temperature.
110 × (Weight in Kilograms)0.75 = kilocalories/day
Waltham DER by activity level for dogs
Activity Level DER
Typical 110×(Weight)0.75
Active 125×(Weight)0.75
Highly Active 175×(Weight)0.75
Inactive 90×(Weight)0.75
Neutered 90×(Weight)0.75
Senior 90×(Weight)0.75
Working Dog (Light Duty) 130–150×(Weight)0.75
Working Dog (Moderate Duty) 150–175×(Weight)0.75
Working Dog (Moderate Duty) 175–250×(Weight)0.75

Notice the difference 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.


What is the daily energy requirements of a 10 lb dog? Use the UC Davis formula.

  1. Convert pounds to kilograms
    • 1 lbs = 0.454 kg
    • 10 lbs × 0.454 = 4.54 kg
  2. Determine the metabolic body weight
    • kg0.75
    • 4.540.75 = 3.11
  3. Multiply metabolic body weight by 132
    • 3.11 × 132 = 410.5 or 411 kcal

Therefore, a 10 pound dog requires 411 kcal 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
  • Hand, M. S., Thatcher, C. D., Rimillard, R. L., & Roudebush, P. (Eds.). (2000) Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. (4th ed.). Marceline, MO: Walsworth.
  • Kriss, R. (2017, November 06). Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Information. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from
  • Kriss, R. (2017, November 06). English Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Information. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from