How Many Calories of Food Per Pound of Body Weight Does My Dog Need?

French bulldog staring at a bowl full of dog treats on the table

All the dog calories all the time. I’m a hungry boy. Nevertheless, it’s important for you to be mindful and consciously aware of the recommended nutrient and caloric guidelines for your dog’s specific size and breed.

Let’s dive deeper into the calories per pound of body weight your dog needs to either sustain, gain, or lose weight.

On average your dog needs between 25 and 30 calories per pound of body weight per day to maintain weight. If your dog needs to lose weight, subtract 5 calories from the bottom of the recommended range, which would look more like 20 calories per pound of body weight per day. Conversely, if your dog needs to gain weight, add 5 calories to the top of the weight maintenance recommendation. Weight gain should initiate at around 35 calories per pound of body weight depending on your dogs current activity level.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Why Should I Track My Dogs Caloric Intake?

You should track your dogs daily caloric intake for the same reason you would track yours. How else will you know if your dog is getting adequate amounts of the recommended daily nutrients?

Are they eating too much – Are they not eating enough – Are they eating the perfect amount?

There’s simply no way of knowing this unless you’re paying close attention and tracking each meal your dog consumes.

Overall health and well-being is greatly affected and contributed to, based on the quality and quantity of foods your dog eats each day.

Keeping your dog within their recommended weight range helps them to live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives. While also ensuring they grow at a normal and healthy rate.

I know this is what you want, so stop asking questions and start tracking dog calories.

I’ll make it a little easier for you (again) and link a calorie calculator right here. If you don’t feel like doing the math yourself, shoot on over to this resource and let the computer, compute for you.

Or just reference the graphic above for recommended calorie consumption based on your dogs weight (in pounds).

Why Can’t My Dog Just Eat When He’s Hungry and Stop When He’s Full?

Oh, you silly human. Your dog LOVES food. When’s the last time you were able to eat something delicious in front of them and not been given those infamous puppy dog eyes?

Speaking of puppy dog eyes, I wrote another article on this being one of the deciding factors for you to know that your dog is happy. Interested in understanding us better? I’ll link that article right here for you.

Anyway. I digress.

Eating is just what dogs do. If they smell it, they want it.

Dogs evolved as scavengers. This is based on a survival approach to eating whatever they could find as soon as they found it. Which is why “dog initiated portion control” is out of the question.

They are essentially the ‘Joey’s‘ of the dog world – we love food. (Friends reference – couldn’t resist.)

Your dog doesn’t understand nutrition and will power. That’s your job. And it’s a pretty easy job, at that.

Measure your dogs food beforehand, and then scoop the recommended amount in their bowl right before you feed them.


The 45 | 30 | 25 Split

A dog’s macro nutrients can easily be broken down into a 45/30/25 split.

Macro nutrients are the primary nutrients that make up the bulk of a person or dog’s calories in a day. Those nutrients include: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.

There’s a ridiculous amount of misinformation out there regarding dogs and protein. Heck, there’s massive amounts of misinformation out there about protein in general. Our society is obsessed with protein for some reason.

Anyway, dogs are omnivores, like humans, which means they need the predominance of their calories to come from carbs, followed by proteins, and then fats.

More specifically, broken down into percentages like this:

45% Carbohydrates

30% Protein

25% Fats

This is a far cry from what our cat counterparts will need so do NOT reference this for your kitties. I explained why this is dangerous in this post.

Ensuring that your dog gets exactly what they need on a daily basis may be a dish best served…homemade. If you’ve been teetering on the verge of cooking your dog’s food or having a food service start delivering to your door, you may want to check out this article first.

There’s no better time to get just as serious about your dog’s food intake as you should be about your own.

Let’s get healthy together!

The Basic Calorie Guidelines

Current Weight in PoundsCalories Needed Per Day
5 lbs185-235 calories
10 lbs305-390 calories
15 lbs415-530 calories
20 lbs515-650 calories
25 lbs600-780 calories
30 lbs700-900 calories
40 lbs860-1100 calories
50 lbs1020-1300 calories
65 lbs1240-1600 calories
80 lbs1450-1870 calories
*Average recommendations. Food allergies and medical conditions may change these averages for your dog.

If your dog falls into one of those awkward, unlisted weights, simply multiply their weight by 25 to get the daily calorie recommendation. If your pup is super active and they have a ravenous appetite, then you will need to multiply their weight by 30 and give that a try for a while.

These numbers are easily scaled based on your dog and their specific needs. Try a calorie range for at least 2 weeks before changing anything again.

Or just use this calculator.

It’s important to pay close attention to your dog’s behaviors and adjust accordingly. This is not a one size fits all situation.


Our nutrition is just as important as our human’s nutrition. If you guys feel better when you eat healthier, then imagine how good we would feel if you paid just as much attention to our food intake.

You are what you eat, people. We want to feel beautiful too.

Do your dogs a favor and start taking pride in their diet – it will mean the world to them.

And as always, continue to Live, Love, and Scratch our bellies often.

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

Related Questions

What Time of Day Should I Feed My Dog?

The time of day you feed your dog is completely up to you and your schedule.

The biggest question regarding food timing is:

Will you be able to keep this schedule on a consistent basis?

Dog’s don’t generally have a preference when it comes to feeding times, as long as the feedings happen daily and at or around the same time frame.

You may even notice, as your dog ages, that they prefer eating only once per day. This is completely normal and okay in terms of nutritional uptake.

Can I Feed My Dog 3 Times Per Day?

A 3 time per day feeding schedule is important for you dog if they’re still a puppy. The frequent meal times will help your puppy digest all of their food properly and over the course of evenly distributed time frames.

However, as your dog gets older, the frequency will not be as important.

As a matter of fact, most dogs will progressively “self wean” to eating only once or at most twice per day.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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