Tools/calorie-calculator feeding guideline differences

Just wondering why feeding guidelines for pretty much any food do not come anywhere close to providing the calories required on the calculator on this site (Tools/calorie-calculator).

It is not just this one. All of the calories calculators seem to be very high compared to the calories in food.

For example, a 14kg active dog should have about 162g of Eden dog food a day (1.62x365) which is just under 600 calories. The calculator says I should be feeding nearly 1200 calories and 300g of Eden? This is for a 12.5kg dog who is slightly underweight so should be 13.8kg according to the calculator.

I am really struggling to get weight on her after an illness and wondered which is the more accurate number. The guidelines or the calorie calculators.

Any ideas?

Hello Steve_Apts. Did you use the body condition slider and answer the neutered/intact question? David’s comments are pertinent:

.....these figures are only intended to provide a starting point and since every dog is different, finding the correct amount of food for yours will likely require at least a little trial and error. Dogs' nutritional needs also change over time so be sure to recheck how your dog is doing regularly.

In my experience there is often wide variations in what a dog needs to sustain a healthy weight. The usual advice to help a dog to gain weight is to use a food with a higher level of fat and protein since both contain more calories than carbohydrate. Also, although exercise is good, too much will be counterproductive. If you are feeding a high quality, low carb food it might help to add some carbohydrate to it eg cooked, mashed sweet potato or well cooked brown rice. Feeding the dog at least twice a day might help digestion.

I will ask David to look at your question to answer your specific question about the variation that you have noted and to see if there is anything else he can add. He will reply but it might take a little while so please keep a watch on your thread.

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Many thanks for the reply - I will give the sweet potato a go.

I will also keep an eye out for any more info from David.

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Hi Steve,

That’s a great question. Basically there aren’t any set rules for calculating feeding guidelines so different companies do it in different ways.

Many pet food companies simply calculate their figures from FEDIAF’s ‘estimated daily maintenance energy requirements’ (110kcal metabolisable energy per kg body weight for adult dogs for example) while others use more advanced equations or may carry out feeding trials. To find out which model your pet food manufacturer uses, you will need to ask them directly.

It is worth noting that manufacturers are heavily incentivised to choose models that provide low daily feeding amounts, even if those amounts aren’t quite accurate. This is because lower daily feeding recommendations mean a lower estimated price per day which is becoming an increasingly important consideration for a lot of pet owners.

Our calorie calculator works out the suggested amounts based on studies carried out by the Hummel & Trueman Hospital for Companion Animals in the US which is one of the more specific, evidence based models available.

I hope that helps.


Thanks for the detailed reply David - very useful.

I switched her to Skinners Superior over the past week to try and get more calories in (no calories are stated but most external reviews state it is good for weight gain) and am feeding her 200g a day which is enough for a 16kg dog according to their guidelines. Thankfully she is now gaining some weight and has put on 200g in the last few days and is now around 12.7 - 12.8kg. Still some to go but stools are fine so it must be agreeing with her.

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Hello Steve_Apts. It’s good to hear that you have found something that is helping your dog to gain weight. I am not familiar with Skinners Superior so have just checked it out - link. Dry weight nutrients are protein 32.6%, fat 21.7%, carbohydrate 34.2% (above average). Possibly these higher levels are helping your dog to gain weight, particularly the carbs as they are efficient in releasing energy.

Thanks Dottie. That’s the reason I changed to Skinners as it had extra carbs compared to Eden and I hoped it would make a difference.

As an aside - if the calories contained in Eden is correct at 365/100g then how on earth is that enough food for a dog to survive? Now I have used Eden while she was a puppy but mainly free fed early days but I just cannot see how less than 600 calories for a 14kg dog is enough. No matter how good the ingredients are - surely they need the same amount of calories?

Looking at a raw diet for a 14kg dog (Able dog food) they say ‘In order to grow and develop, your dog requires 724kcal each day’. Even that is low compared to most calorie calculators.

Is it that there is just such a vast range of metabolisms for dog? It would be interesting to hear from any other people who need to feed way more than the guidelines.

Some years ago I was trying to reduce the weight of one of my dogs. I talked to someone from one of the big dog food companies and she told me that calories were not so important in feeding dogs. I tend to agree and rarely look at the calorific value of foods. So much depends upon what the dog is like and it’s activity level. I have two dogs, same breed, same level of activity. One is small and never puts weight on. The other is larger and the normal size for the breed. She gains weight very easily. Currently they have the same amount of food, despite the difference in size and weight. I check their body condition regularly and weigh them from time to time.

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