Calculating Required Calories for Pets, Based on Science by OSU

The Veterinary Medical Center at The Ohio State University provides more than 18,500 pets with health and medical care each year. Research and hands-on experience has led the center to develop lots of nutritional information and guidance for pet owners.

Based on research by the OSU vet center, a calculator was created to help dog owners learn how much dry dog food to feed their dog. The age, activity level and body condition of the pet is input and analyzed against a wide range of dog food food brands.

Using the tool, pet owners are shown the resting energy requirements of their pet. The amount of recommended cups per day are revealed depending on brand and other factors. The database contains detailed information of 3,000+ common dog food products, so it’s easy to find a particular brand.

Live pricing for each brand is analyzed across the web showing daily, monthly and yearly costs of food.

Using the tool

Say you have a 50lb dog named Fido. The first thing you will enter into the dog food calculator is the weight of your dog. The corresponding kilograms are shown for users in various countries.

Next, dog owners will be able to input the name of their pup. They will choose whether the dog is a young puppy, between 1 and 4 months, or an adult.

Next is a list of questions to help the application further analyze the requirements of a particular dog.

  • Whether or not the dog has been neutered
  • The activity level or presence of obesity
  • The effort being put towards losing or gaining weight
  • Whether or not the dog is an active working dog

Selecting the type of dry dog food is one of the last steps requiring inputs from the user. There have been over 3,000 popular dry dog food products added to the database to ensure that users find the brands.

Knowing the brand and particular product being used by the dog owner, the calculator is able to compute the recommended amount of cups to feed per day.

For example if you used “Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib Flavor Dry Dog Food” and you chose the 15lb bag size, you would learn many things:

  • You can currently buy that bag online at for $9.99
  • Fido would require 3 cups per day of this brand
  • An average cup of dry dog food contains 389 calories
  • Fido’s daily recommended calorie intake is 1,164
  • According to the current price on, a daily amount of this dog food would cost you $0.42, totaling $12.65 per month or $153.85 per year.

Weight is the biggest factor when determining the amount of required calories for your dog. Of course the activity level, age and whether the dog is neutered play important roles in determining recommended caloric intake.

A breakdown of all factors impacting dog calorie needs is shown with the formulas behind each consideration. Weight loss, weight gain, intact or neutered, active working dogs and various ages are all examined.

Knowing the amount of protein a dog requires is important for most dogs. Adult dogs need at least 1 gram per pound of weight but both younger and older dogs can have higher requirements depending on their particular health situation.

Many active working dogs require many more calories than the typical stay-at-home pet. Active working dogs can include police dogs, service, dogs, herding dogs, therapy dogs, sled dogs, guide dogs, and many other dogs that assist humans every day throughout the world.