Average Calorie Content in Dog Foods

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It has been some time since I have published updated statistics on key dog food indicators and today’s post will do this, focusing on the average calorie content in dog food.  I used our pet food database, which currently consists of near 3,000 dog foods along with their calories, ingredients, macronutrients, and more.  Using this data, I can determine the average caloric profile of dog food, and a lot more as well, (which I will share in the coming weeks).


How Many Calories, on Average, are in a Cup of Dog Food?

A shown in the picture below, the average caloric content of a cup of dog food is markedly different for dry and wet foods.  Dry foods are 52 % higher in calories than wet foods: the average calorie amount for 8 oz. of dry food is 395 kcals vs. 260 kcals for wet.


calories in dog food


Having run these kind of numbers before, I am not surprised that dry dog foods are so much denser in calories than are wet.


Why is Dry Dog Food More Popular than Wet Dog Food?

A primary appeal of dry food is that it is a lot cheaper (normally) than similar wet food recipes.  One of the reasons that dry food is cheaper is due to its greater caloric density, which means that all else equal, the dry food will last long.  It will simply take a smaller amount of food to satisfy the calorie requirements of the dog.


The other major appeal of dry food is that it is more convenient than wet food.  Why is dry food more convenient than wet food?  For a few reasons that I can think of:

  • Dry food is easier to store than wet food
  • Dry food is less messy than we food
  • Dry food can be purchased in large bags which reduce the trips to the store (or online ordering)


In next week’s post, I will compare the average macronutrient profile (e.g. protein, fat, and carbohydrates) for dry and wet foods.  Like with calorie amounts, the numbers are significantly different.


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  1. We were all dry food, but then we started testing out the Merrick wet food and now with Katie not wanting to eat, we have expanded to Bravo canned as well. We mix it with the dry and it gets Katie to eat more. We love wet, but Mom feels the dry is good for our teeth and won’t let us only have wet. One just has to make sure the wet food is also high quality like the dry food.
    Emma recently posted…Nose Work Lessons Learned On An Iowa FarmMy Profile

  2. I feed a dehydrated pre-mix and add my own protein and oils. We always keep some kibble on hand for training or an emergency (overslept) fast breakfast. ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Catch Dr. Harvey’s Health + Shine Salmon OilMy Profile

  3. Well that explains why I’ve found it harder to keep Honey’s weight down now that we’re feeding her more dry food. That and my husband’s tendency to feed her nibbles.
    Pamela recently posted…The Emergency Word Every Dog Needs To LearnMy Profile

  4. Daisy had dry food and Cocoa has dry food. I never thought about the calories!!
    Julie recently posted…Easter Bunny and the Weekend!!My Profile

  5. Do you find that the calorie count varies quite a bit from brand to brand? I’m sure it does. With Ace, I usually have more of a problem with getting him to gain/maintain weight so too many calories is rarely a problem. Now, my cat Beamer on the other hand …
    Lindsay recently posted…Should You Give A Dog Supplements? – PetVi Nutrition GiveawayMy Profile

    • Calorie counts tend to vary across a Brand’s product lines. Foods in the same product line tend to have similar recipes (and thus, should have similar calories).

      With that said, your question is a great one. I might go ahead and run the numbers so I can report the truth!
      steve recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check: Nervous System | BrainMy Profile

  6. Fascinating info!

  7. Another thing with dry food is spoilage is not as fast. It is so much easier to just fill the bowl and forget it. I am not saying that is a good thing, just easier.
    Peyton recently posted…How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?My Profile

  8. Dehydrated food with veggies, pumpkin, protein, oils, and seaweed. I want to start adding sardines (yuck) haven’t done that yet.

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