Energy and Nutritional Needs of the Dog

The dog, like the human organism, does not use all the energy contained in food; part of this is in fact lost through faeces, urine and metabolic processes of digestion, absorption and transformation of nutrients.

In veterinary medicine, the energy value of a food is therefore more correctly expressed in metabolizable energy (EM), derived from the subtraction of the energy lost from the raw energy of the food.
Although the objective impossibility of feeding your dog with numbers, formulas and data on the animal's nutritional needs is evident, they can tell us if we are feeding it correctly. Furthermore, they can be useful when we want to make comparisons on the different types of feed, evaluating whether a brand is for example more energetic than others.

Energy requirements

Nutritious Digestibility coefficient
in man Factor of
Atwater Coefficient
petfood Factor of
modified Carbohydrates 96% 4 kcal / g 85% 3.5 kcal / g Proteins 91% 4 kcal / g 80% 3.5 kcal / g Lipids 96% 9 kcal / g 90% 8.5 kcal / g


Daily energy needs of the dog depending on the physiological moment (kcal EM / d)


Post-weaning phase Adult needs x 2 40% of adult weight Adult needs x 1.6 80% of adult weight Adult needs x 1.2 Late pregnancy bitches Maintenance requirements x 1.25-1.5 Lactating bitches Maintenance needs x 3


Using the following formulas it is possible to make an approximate calculation of the daily energy needs of a dog (kcal EM / d) (daily metabolizable energy)

100 x (kg bodyweight) 0.88 (tends to overestimate)
132 x (kg pv) 0.75 Note: pv stands for Live Weight (the real weight of the dog in kg)
K x (kg pv) 0.67

where K =

  • 99 inactive dog
  • 132 ACTIVE DOG
  • 160 very active dog

These formulas allow you to calculate the so-called maintenance calorie requirement, which represents the amount of energy consumed by a moderately active adult dog in optimal climatic conditions.

These are therefore approximate data, since the energy needs of a dog can vary, for example, according to the type of breed, the state of health and the level of physical activity.

In order to refine the results and obtain a more likely energy requirement, various corrective coefficients have been developed, shown below.

If you want to calculate the daily energy requirement of your dog with reasonable precision, you must therefore multiply the result of one of the generalized formulas just seen, by the coefficient (K) that best suits the animal.


Coefficient of adaptation of energy needs in dogs (Blanchard, 2002)

Breed factor (dog) k1 Nordic breeds (Labrador, Husky, Newfoundland, etc.) 0,8 Beagle, Cocker 0,9 Others 1,0 Greyhound, Great Dane 1,1


Behavioral factor k2 Lethargic 0,7 Very calm 0,8 Calm 0,9 Normal 1,0 Active 1,1 Very active 1,2


Physiological state of the dog k3 Pre-weaning 3 Post weaning 2 to 1.2 Adult 1 Second half gestation 1.1 to 1.5 Lactation 3 to 4 Castrated animal 0,8

Online Calculator

  Weight of the dog kg   Breed factor (dog) Nordic breeds (Labrador, Husky, Newfoundland, etc.) Beagle, Cocker Greyhound, Great Dane Others   Behavioral factor Lethargic Very calm Calm Normal Active Very active   Physiological state of the dog Pre-weaning Post-weaning Adult Pregnancy (first half) Pregnancy (second half) Lactation Castrated animal Daily metabolizable energy (EM) KCal   Humidity % Proteins %   Fat % Fiber %   Ashes % Football %   Phosphorus %       Daily metabolizable energy (EM) Kcal Kcal per 100 grams of food KCal Daily amount of food grams
Dog health status k4 Physical inactivity 0,7 - 0,9 Hypometabolism 0,5 - 0,9 Trauma 1,0 - 2,0 Initial tumor 0,8 - 1,2 Final tumor 1,1 - 2,0 Septicemia 1,2 - 1,5 Burns 1,2 - 2,0

Macronutrient requirement

Dog protein requirements (AAFCO, 2000)

    % s.s.1 % EM Dog       Adult (maintenance) 18 18   Growth and reproduction 22 22


1 diet with 3.5 kcal / g s.s. (dry substances)

Requirements for lipids and essential fatty acids in dogs (AAFCO, 2000)

    Lipids% s.s.1 Linoleic acid% s.s.1 Dog       Adult (maintenance) 5,0 1,0   Growth and reproduction 8,0 1,0


1 diet with 3.5 kcal / g s.s. (dry substances)


NOTE: The ideal ratio of fatty acids w-6: w-3 of the diet is between 5: 1 and 10: 1 (see dedicated article on human nutrition)

Need for Micronutrients



NUTRITIONAL ELEMENT UNIT" AMOUNT" Football % 0.59 Phosphorus % 0.44 Potassium % 0.44 Sodium % 0.06 Chlorine % 0.09 Magnesium % 0.04 Iron mg 32.0 Copper mg 2.9 Manganese mg 5.1 Zinc mg 35.6 Iodine mg 0.59 Selenium mg 0.11 Vitamin A U.I 3710 Vitamin D U.I 404 Vitamin E U.I 22 Thiamine mg 1.0 Riboflavin mg 2.5 Pantothenic acid mg 9.9 Niacin mg 11.0 Pyridoxine mg 1.1 Folic acid mcg 200 Biotin mcg 100 Vitamin B12 mcg 26 Choline mg 1250


* DIET BASED QUANTITY WITH AN AVERAGE ENERGY CONCENTRATION OF 3.67 Kcal EM / g s.s. (3.67 Kcal of metabolizable energy for each gram of dry matter ingested by the dog).

Other articles on "Dog's Energy and Nutritional Needs"

  1. Feeding the pregnant bitch and the senior dog
  2. Feeding the dog
  3. Feeding the dog: kibble and industrial feeding
  4. Homemade dog feeding
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