NRC Nutrient Amounts per 1,000 kcal of ME

Energy Factor Recommendations + Nutrient Calculator for Adult Dogs

The NRC guidelines calculate nutrient needs for dogs per 1,000 kcal of ME as the general rule and nutrient needs calculated via BW as the exception.

Therapeutic Nutrition Note: Calculating with BW is also sometimes used in part with some therapeutic diets that primarily utilize supplements and/or medications; generally in conjunction with ME, with BW directly applied to very specific nutrients that call for it.

Additional Note: BW is also sometimes used for unusually low energy requirement dogs, as will be explained below.

A Note About Commercial Formulations: All commercial dog food formulations should be done via ME per 1,000 kcals. NRC, FEDIAF, and AAFCO standards are all formulated per ME on a 1,000 kcal basis.

Average & Above Average Energy Requirements

Average energy requirement dogs are described by the NRC as dogs who are kept in a domestic environment with strong stimulus and ample opportunity to exercise, such as dogs in a house with a large yard or in multiple dog households.

Above Average Energy Dogs are described as working or athletic dogs, and dogs of certain breeds. 

Calculating Nutrient Needs for Average and Above Average Dogs is Done via Metabolizable Energy (ME) per kcals. 

Average & Above Average Energy Requirements Descriptions & Energy Factor Examples:

Average kennel dogs or active pet dogs: 130

Young adult kennel dogs or young adult active pet dogs: 140

*As described above, active pet dogs are defined by the NRC as dogs kept in a domestic environment with strong stimulus and opportunity to exercise. 

*Some working dogs and small breeds such as small terriers commonly use an energy factor of 140. Other working dogs use upwards of 180. See “In Between” factors section below.

Terriers, kennel dogs and active pet dogs both: 180

*Many working dogs and canine athletes use an energy factor of 180.

Great Danes, kennel dogs and active pet dogs both: 200

“In Between” Energy Factors

While the NRC provides a chart for the common energy factors used to describe dogs. There are also what is known as the “in between” energy factors. They are used in studies and are commonly applied to dogs who don’t perfectly fit their breed’s typical requirements because of their particular size, lifestyle, or metabolism. 

In Between Energy Requirements Descriptions & Energy Factor Examples:

Active medium size pet dog: 110

More active medium size pet or more active obedience training dog: 120

Active working dogs and or giant breed (such as Mastiff): 160

Below Average Requirements

Below average requirement dogs are described by the NRC as dogs kept in a domestic environment with little stimulus and opportunity to exercise.

Sometimes dogs with below average energy requirements benefit from their nutrient requirements being calculated per BW. For adult dogs with unusually low energy intake (below the suggested requirement), the nutrient concentration calculated per ME may not be adequate.

Examples of Unusually Low Energy Intake:

Dogs kept in a domestic environment with little stimulus and opportunity to exercise and where the kcal factor is 95 or less.

Senior dogs and giant breeds where the kcal factor is 105 or less.

Below Average Energy Requirements Descriptions & Energy Factor Examples:

Older laboratory dogs or older active pet dogs or laboratory Newfoundlands: 105

Inactive pet dog or senior dog: 95 and 90

*As described above, inactive pet dogs are defined by the NRC as dogs kept in a domestic environment with little stimulus and opportunity to exercise. 

Obese or geriatric dog: 85 

*There is a note stating that the requirements of older or overweight dogs may be over estimated when using BW. In those instances, calculating via ME is more appropriate. 

Please note that some nutrients have information next to them regarding safe upper limits (SUL).

Please note, it is recommended to feed above the RA for vitamin E as the dietary requirement is dependent on the rate of free radical production, PUFA composition of membranes in the diet, and the presence of other protective nutrients (e.g., Selenium).

It is generally recommended to feed typical adult dogs 1 IU – 2 IU per one lbs. of body weight. 

If the NRC has recommendations beyond the RA in regards to a nutrient then that information is noted. Examples: Arginine and Tyrosine.

This calculator requires you enter your dog’s daily caloric needs which is also known as their maintenance energy requirements (MER).

If you need help converting the measurements (IU, mg, mcg) for the fat-soluble vitamins, you can find that math here:

Conversion Math for Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.

It is important to note that this calculator is not appropriate for use in pregnant or lactating females, or for puppies.

To calculate nutrient requirements for adult dogs with below average energy needs. visit the Nutrient Amounts • Body Weight (BW) Calculator here.

First calculate your dog’s daily MER (calories) and then enter that number into the nutrient needs per ME calculator.