caloric feeding for puppies

I strongly recommend you read the Introduction to Caloric Feeding for Puppies Guide found here, prior to using the calorie calculators for growth stage. Puppies go through several phases of what is known as “growth stage” before they reach adulthood and there is a lot of misunderstood information about how much to feed a puppy and when a puppy becomes an adult. The Introduction to Caloric Feeding for Puppies Guide, will give you the foundation you need to correctly assess where your puppy is in its growth and allow you to appropriately make selections on the calculators.

Highly Critical Notes About Feeding Puppies

It is enormously important to understand that reaching "full adult weight" is not synonymous with physical maturity in terms of skeletal and muscle development. Reaching full adult weight does not equal reaching adulthood. It is important to feed puppies as puppies, with strict attention paid to their growth progress until they reach adulthood. As discussed in this guide, when a puppy reaches adulthood is different by breed size.

A misunderstood generalization is, that you feed a puppy as an adult when it reaches 80% of its adult body weight. That is not accurate as shown here in this guide. Remember, an energy reduction to 1.2 x adult MER occurs when a puppy reaches about 80% of its adult body weight.

Puppy maintenance energy intake and puppy maintenance nutrient intake (Covered in the Introduction to Nutrients for Puppies Guide) are important to provide until a puppy is fully developed. 

Feeding puppies as adults before they are actually adults, is a leading cause of nutritional issues in a dog. 

The calorie calculators below are for growth stage and they will configure your puppy’s daily energy requirements based on their current phase of growth. It is important that you choose the correct calculator for your puppy.

A puppy’s daily energy requirements are the number of kCals they need to take in to support their current phase of growth.

Calories are not a linear function of body weight.

Requirements Relative to Metabolizable Energy (ME)

The allometric formulas used for these calculators are the NRC (2006) Daily Energy Requirements for puppies during growth stage.

You can learn about the method on the Introduction to Caloric Feeding for Puppies here.

You do need to know your puppy’s weight in kilograms to use the calorie calculators, so you can use the lbs. to kg converter below to find your puppy’s weight in kg.

Once you have determined your puppy’s daily kcal needs, you can find out your puppy’s nutrient needs, by visiting the nutrient calculators here. (Link will be reactivated Fall 2020)

Using the Growth Stage Calorie Calculators

There are two growth stage calorie calculators: One is for small and medium breed puppies and one is for large and extra large breed puppies. These provide you with your puppy’s DER configured using the biomath/allometric equations taught in the Introduction to Caloric Feeding for Puppies Guide.

Select your puppy’s weight class by using the information provided in the breed sections over on the guide or refer to the Adjustment Factors chart here for a quick reference.

Once you have determined if your puppy is a small, medium, large, or extra large breed, convert your puppy’s weight from pounds (lbs.) to kilograms (kg).

Next, choose the correct calorie calculator and enter your puppy’s weight in kilograms (kg).

Finally, select the appropriate phase of growth stage from the drop-down menu options. The calculator will calculate the recommended number of calories your puppy needs each day based on NRC recommendations for growth.

Remember, this number is the recommended allowance based on studied and tracked breed statistics of puppies; however, the calculator doesn’t know your puppy so it is important to use the calculated number as a base number to jump from. There can be a 20% – 30% swing downwards or upwards based on environmental factors and life activities. It is additionally important to note that the number on the scale is not the only determining factor. Body condition, muscle condition, head to body to limbs to tail stats also factor. Every breed and every puppy is different.

When in Doubt, Reach Out

Not all of the puppies that I formulate diets for fall "exactly" into the calories that on paper factors dictate they should. MUCH goes into the proper formulation of a puppy diet and so when in doubt, reach out! I am available to help you and I am glad to do so. Send a message here on the site via the envelope button if you need me.


Once you have determined your puppy’s energy requirements, the next step is to determine its nutrient needs. (Links to the puppy nutrient guide and nutrient calculators will be activated June 2020)