Pet care

Pet Nutrition – Calorie Counting

**Brace yourselves readers, this is going to be a long subject so we’re going to deal with it over a few posts.**

If I were to ask the average person how many calories they should be eating per day they would probably know the answer (because everyone has been on a diet at some point). But if I were to ask those same people if they know how many calories their dog or cat should be receiving daily – I bet most wouldn’t know. This is because we all use the indications written on the food package and those comfortable measuring cups we get free with a bag of chow, without doubting the information. I mean, if the company that made the food put an index for amounts on the bag that should be correct, right?

Wrong! absolutely wrong. The indications on the bag of food are so general they can be 100% wrong and that measuring cup most times doesn’t show the real of weight you’re giving your pet, and at some point (together with other factors) this may result in an overweight/underweight animal. So what can you do to make sure your pet is receiving all the nutrition he/she needs?

Well, all you really need is a calculator, a weight and the following equations. BE ADVISED – this is only for maintenance of an adult pet with an ideal weight you would like to maintain, for example if you change a food brand and would like to know how much to give him/her. This is not for puppies or obese dogs because these need special diets.


This is the equation I use, there are others of course:

130 x body weight(kg)0.75 x k1 x k2 x k3

What are these K(s)? they are established multiplication factors depending on certain aspects of your dog’s life, detailed in the following table:

nutrition table

So lets take Sammy as an example – he is an indoor, mixed breed, nervous and active dog. How many calories should he get?

130 x 80.75 (1 x 1 x 1.1) = 680.23

I rounded it down to 680 because he also gets snacks during the day. Then, depending on the calories mentioned on your petfood package you can calculate how many grams your pet should receive. You should then weigh the amount in a measuring cup and mark the height so you won’t have to weigh the amount of food each time.

Sammy showing off his physique (photo by Dana Albert)


The equation is done in 2 steps:

Resting Energy Requirements (RER) = 70 x body weight (kg)0.75
Daily Energy Requirement (DER) = RER x K

And again – the Ks:
Castrated/spayed adult – 1.2
Whole adult – 1.4
Active adult – 1.6
Tendency for obesity – 1.0
Light work – 2
Moderate work – 3
(Very) intense work – 4-8

So lets do another example for a castrated cat weighing 4 kgs:

RER = 70 x 40.75  = 198
DER = 198 x 1.2 = 238.6 calories

As before I’ve rounded out the numbers a bit.

Hey Xena

So you see? this was all very easy! but please remember that you are the only one who knows your pet and if you feel they need more/less food than what they’re getting that is absolutely your choice and of course always consult your vet or a nutritionist just to be sure.

Also, don’t forget to take into account daily snacks. Sammy for example receives 70-80 calories worth of snacks a day but seeing as he is very active and very cold this winter I still give him the 680 calories of dog food and his weight is stable.

As always I hope you found this helpful and we will continue this subject next Sunday.

See you next time!

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