Aside from love, one of the best ways to ensure the health and happiness of a dog is to feed him the right amount of quality food. Daily calorie requirement isn’t the same for all dogs and it depends on size, activity, age, and many other factors.

Since there are too many variables, determining how much to feed your dog can be difficult — but it’s not impossible. The best thing to do is to always consult your vet. But all dog food labels also have feeding guidelines that can serve you as the rough estimate of meal sizes. It’s important to consider the individual needs of your dog and tweak the amount of food you are giving him.

How to feed puppies? 

Image credits: Daniel Stockman.

Puppies are usually weaned from the mother’s milk by six weeks of age. At this time a puppy needs to have 4 smaller meals during the day.

Puppies are very active and require a more calorie dense food that will help them grow and stay healthy. On average, a puppy should eat 990 calories equally divided into 4 small meals during the day. The Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is:

RER = 30 x body weight + 70

This may seem like quite a lot but remember: good quality puppy foods contain around 450 kcal/cup, so you will only feed 2 cups per day. Begging should not persuade you! Still, all dog’s are different and you might need to adjust the quantity of food you are giving to your pup. Here’s a chart with a few general examples:

Dog’s WeightEnergy Needed Daily
MaintenanceActive Dogs
10 Pounds296 Calories404 Calories
30 Pounds674 Calories922 Calories
50 Pounds989 Calories1,353 Calories


Feeding too much can lead to weight gain, bone abnormalities, and other health problems. If your puppy seems chubby, gradually decrease the amount of food you are feeding. But on the other hand, if your puppy’s ribs are showing you might need to increase calorie intake. The best thing you can do is to monitor your puppy’s growth progress regularly, and consult a vet if you have any questions.

How to feed adult dogs? 

Typically, once a dog reaches one 1 year he is considered adult and at this stage, he needs to be transitioned to adult maintenance food. Since the growth stage, is over a dog requires fewer calories in order to stay healthy.

However, not all adult dogs are the same and have different lifestyles. On average, inactive dogs need 2/3 of Calories more than less active ones in order to stay healthy.

Breed Of Your DogWeight of your Dog 

Suggested Daily Calorie Intake

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Small Breed10 lb296
Medium Sized Breed30 lb674
50 lb989
Large Breed70 lb1,272
Giant Breed90 lb1,540


Generally, normally active adult dogs need 30 calories per pound of body weight. Still, you should monitor your dog’s appearance and add or reduce the amount of food he is eating. During adulthood, it is important to keep a dog on his ideal body weight in order to prevent obesity and variety of other health problems. To learn exactly how much calories your dog needs use Dog Food Adviser’s calculator.

When it comes to adult dogs, the breed is also an important factor you need to consider. Smaller breeds like Chihuahua will obviously need less food that has higher calorie count, large and giant dogs need more food that has fewer calories.

Breed Of Your DogWeight of your DogCalories it needs everyday
Small Breed10 lb404
Medium Sized Breed30 lb922
50 lb1,353
Large Breed70 lb1,740
Giant Breed90 lb2,100

How to feed older dogs


As a dog ages, his dietary needs change because his energy requirements aren’t the same. The metabolism of seniors slows down and once active dog becomes unmotivated to play. However, some seniors don’t show signs of slowing down so you should adjust your dog’s food accordingly. Since they tend to have lower energy levels most seniors are prone to weight gain and obesity.

Generally, senior dogs can continue to eat adult dog food as long as you feed around 20 calories per a pound of body weight. In cases when a dog is already obese you should transition him to senior formula that has fewer calories. Older dogs that suffer from health conditions like diabetes, digestive problems, or allergies should be fed with a prescription food. If this is too much for your budget talk with your vet since various commercial foods can serve as substitutes.

How much to feed a pregnant dog? 

Pregnancy and nursing are important states in a dog’s life and come with different nutritional requirements. This means that your dog needs more calories that will support its and the health of the puppies.

For pregnant and nursing moms malnutrition can lead to serious health problems and jeopardize the lives of both puppies and mama. You should increase the quantity of food you are feeding and adjust the amount recommended on the packaging. You should also encourage free-feeding, which means that your dog will be able to find food in the bowl at all times of the day. This will help the mom to ingest all the required ingredients and transfer them to her pups.

How much to feed to spayed and neutered dog? 

Once a dog is spayed/neutered his body goes through a hormonal change and some of them become more sedentary. This means that they are more prone to weight gain, which needs to be avoided in order to keep the dog healthy. You should decrease the amount of food your dog is eating by 30% and continuously monitor his body condition score. On the other hand, if your dog continues acting as before there is no need for a change.

Still, weigh your dog at least once a month, and if he is maintaining his weight, continue feeding him the way you do. If he starts to put weight on, feed him fewer calories or consult with your vet.


The amount of food a dog needs depends on several factors, including, breed, age, activity level, and type of food. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single formula or calorie calculator that can tell you for sure how much to feed your dog.

The best thing you can do it to follow the feeding guidelines and consider the individual needs of your dog. To keep your dog in ideal body condition, weigh him once a month and make dietary adjustments if needed. If you have any worries or concerns you should contact your vet and let him examine your dog.

Additional References

Linder D E. 2017. Diets for Each Life Stages. Clinicians Brief

Beitz D C et al.  Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs: A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners. National Research Council. National Academies Press

Nutrition for Cats and Dogs. Pet Health Council

AAHA. 2014. Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats