Is Your Dog Eating Healthy: How to Track its Calories?

If you are a pet parent, it is necessary to know your dog’s activity levels and body condition to accurately know better about your dog. The question often asked is, “How many calories does a dog need?”  It’s also possible to have two dogs who are littermates, but their weights vary considerably. This difference is because one can have a higher percentage of muscle than its sibling.

Here are some factors that help you understand better in detail.


Typically, a dog weighing 50 pounds requires about 500 calories per day, and a dog that weighs 100 pounds needs approximately 1,000 calories.

Adjust these amounts according to your pet’s activity level and body condition (i.e., is your pet at an ideal weight for its breed/size). Consuming too few calories can result in your dog becoming underweight.

Stick to the number of calories suggested on the food label, as having too much could cause your dog to become overweight.

It’s best not to free-feed (keeping the food always available) as this often leads dogs to over-consume their daily calorie allotment due to irregular mealtimes and boredom. It is suggested to feed meals twice a day.

If your dog seems hungry all the time, cut back on its food intake by 25 to 50%. If your pet is getting too thin or losing weight, gradually increase its daily rations by 25% increments until you find the number that allows your pet to maintain the ideal weight—neither becoming underweight nor overweight.

Number of Treats

You should also consider how many treats are included within the total caloric count of your dog’s daily ration. Do not feed them more than 15% of their daily calorie allotment as treats.

Body Condition and Activity Levels

Along with daily calorie intake, you should also factor in your dog’s general weight and body condition. Some dogs will have more body fat than others of the same breed/size, even if they’re on the same diet.

The difference in body fat means that the dog may require fewer calories, not much fuel to maintain a healthy weight.

For example, two Alaskan malamutes sharing an equal amount of kibble will not require the same number of daily calories if one is a ball of energy and the other prefers lounging on its owner’s lap.

If your dog seems very active, it will need more calories to fuel its activities. A dog’s calorie needs are also increased if it lives in a cold climate since these animals have a more significant number of body fat cells that serve as insulation against the elements.

You may note that although breeds like St. Bernards make great family pets, they are not often used for work purposes anymore due to their weight and breathing issues.

This suggests that because these dogs no longer perform strenuous jobs, they don’t require as many calories as those still working hard (e.g., sled dogs).

Final Thoughts

Suppose you’re unable to answer the question “How many calories does a dog need?” accurately. In that case, feeding guidelines on the pet food label can be used as a starting point for determining if your pet is eating too much or too little.