Energy Needs of Your Dog

ENERGY NEEDS OF GROWING PUPPIES

The growing puppy starts out needing about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog of the same breed. Owners should start feeding puppies food at  approximately 4 weeks after birth, because mother’s milk is no longer sufficient. Food is best offered to puppies in multiple, well-spaced meals.

ENERGY NEEDS OF OLDER DOGS

Because of decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism, older dogs need 20% fewer total calories than do middle-aged adult dogs. As dogs age, they tend to become overweight. It may take obese dogs longer for their blood glucose concentrations to return to normal. This disrupted carbohydrate metabolism can lead to diabetes.

ENERGY NEEDS OF LACTATING DOGS

New mothers generally suckle their puppies for at least 6 weeks. The mother’s need for
calories increase with the number of puppies and the week of lactation, up to 4 weeks. Giant breeds (like Great Danes) have proportionately smaller digestive tracts and may not be able to eat enough to sustain themselves during lactation. Owners of such dogs may need to start feeding puppies supplemental food at an early age.

AVERAGE DAILY ENERGY NEEDS

CALORIES PER DAY
(Kilocalories per day*)
TYPE OF DOG 10 lb 30 lb 50 lb 70 lb 90 lb
PUPPIES (10 lb puppy growing
to 33 lb at maturity)
990
INACTIVE DOGSdogs with little stimulus or opportunity to exercise. 296 674 989 1272 1540
ADULT ACTIVE DOGSdogs with strong stimulus and ample opportunity to exercise, such as dogs in households with more than one dog, in the country or with a large yard. 404 922 1353 1740 2100
PREGNANT DOGSfrom 4 weeks after mating until delivery. 518 1274 1940 2570 3170
Young Adult Active Dogs 436 993 1451 1876 2264
Older Active Dogs 327 745 1093 1407 1700

*1 Calorie =1 kilocalorie =1,000 calories. The term Calorie that is used on food nutrition labels is really a “food calorie” sometimes called a “large calorie.” It is equivalent to 1,000 calories (or 1 kilocalorie) as calories are defined scientifically (the amount of energy needed to warm 1 gram of water 1°C). In Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, energy needs are expressed in terms of kilocalories, which are equivalent to Calories in this document.

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