Comparing calories – how many does your dog need each day?

Written by Zoe Russell, BSc (Hons)  

Nutrition Officer, Skinner’s

What are calories?

In nutrition, energy is expressed as either kilocalories (kcal) or kilojoules (kJ). Commonly kcals are used to express the energy of human and pet diets and can be worked out by nutritionists through a series of calculations. Energy is very important for dogs and cats as they require it for the support of their metabolism during maintenance, growth, physical activity, reproduction, and lactation. When energy is lacking, a dog’s performance or reproductive output may be affected.

How many calories does your dog need each day?

When talking about how much energy a dog requires, there are a number of things to consider. Firstly there is the energy they require for being a dog (maintenance), which includes eating, controlling their body temperature, moderate activity and for sudden bouts of energy. Then there’s extra energy that may be required for processes such as performance and breeding, which comes on-top of their day-to-day energy demands. As every dog is different, every dog’s energy requirement can differ from the next and can be influenced by factors including breed, age, activity levels, temperament and environmental temperature. For example, some evidence suggests breeds like Newfoundlands and Huskies have lower energy requirements than breeds such as Great Danes, which have energy requirements above average.

The European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF) provides examples of daily energy requirements for dogs at different activity levels.

Activity levelKcal ME/kg0.75
Low activity (< 1 h/day) (e.g. walking on the lead)95
Moderate activity (1 – 3 h/day) (low impact activity)110
Moderate activity (1 – 3 h/day) (high impact activity)125
High activity (3 – 6 h/day) (working dogs, e.g. sheep dogs)150 – 175
High activity under extreme conditions (racing sled dogs 168 km/d in extreme cold)860 – 1240

Source; (Männer K 1990, Burger IH 1994, Wichert B et al. 1999, Connor MM et al. 2000, Kealy RD et al. 2002, Patil AR and Bisby TM 2002, NRC 2006b, NRC 2006h), accessed at; https://www.fediaf.org/images/FEDIAF_Nutritional_Guidelines_2020_20200917.pdf.

Why should we monitor them?

Food intake and energy burned need to be in balance: excess calorie intake leads to increase in body fat, whereas too little energy leads to weight loss and reduced performance. To keep track, regularly weigh your dog and assess their body condition score using this helpful guide called the ‘Dog Size-O-Meter’. This allows you to notice any unwanted changes and make adjustments where appropriate. Furthermore, if you are unsure of how much your dog should be eating per day, then we have a helpful, free feeding guide on our website.

Our Get out & go! range

Our Get Out & Go! diets differ in calorie-density to suit a range of activity levels and life-stages. In general, wet foods have a higher moisture content than dry foods but our feeding guides take this into consideration. So whether you feed wet, dry, or a combination, your dog can still get the energy he or she needs.

Get Out & Go! Wet DietCalculated metabolisable energy
Flying Start Puppy145 kcal/100g
Everyday Energy120 kcal/100g
Extra Energy136 kcal/100g
Get Out & Go! Dry DietCalculated metabolisable energy
Puppy378 kcal/100g
Low Energy347 kcal/100g
Everyday Energy362 kcal/100g
Extra Energy381 kcal/100g

Contact us

If you need any more information about our diets, then please contact our nutrition team at nutritionsupport@skinners.co.uk or call us on 01379 384247.

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