The Puppy and the Dog They have been man’s companion through the ages and adapted to their owners, but they have their own behavioural and nutritional demands. Knowing and respectingthem will guarantee their health and well-being.

The cat’s feline nature is always a matter of fascination.He adapts with apparent ease to daily life, and yet he has behavioural and nutritional requirements of his own. Knowing them and respecting them will guarantee his well-being and his health.

Because of its composition, a Royal Canin Health Nutrition food provides all essential nutrients measured out with utmost precision in order to contribute every day and on a long-term basis to the well-being and health of every animal, according to his age, his size, his physiological condition and his breed.

Innovation for the sake of dogs and cats’ health. For over 40 years, Royal Canin has worked with breeder partners and veterinary nutritionists to go ever further into innovation and precision to enable us to formulate nutritional solutions which perfectly meet dogs and cats’ real needs.

Growth, a key stage

Weaning period

From birth through weaning

It takes just a few weeks for your puppy to take his place in a family hierarchy, which will differ from his mother and siblings once he has been weaned and socialised.


Birth occurs after a gestation period of about 63 days. A week before, the bitch may collect various objects to build a “nest”, search for a quiet space or, even, seek her owner’s company. The amniotic sac holding the puppy appears after a maximum of 12 hours of her waters having broken. If the amniotic membrane has not been torn open, the mother, generally, takes care of it after expulsion. She severs the umbilical cord and licks the newborn’s thorax to stimulate respiratory motion. Expulsion of the next in the litter follows in succession at intervals of a few minutes to half an hour.

The puppy’s nervous system is immature at birth. He is born deaf, blind and has a poor sense of smell. He is unable to quickly convey sensory impulses and, consequently, motion. The mother pushes her puppies towards her teats to suckle the colostrum. This milk is essential in the first weeks of their lives. It has higher protein content than cows’ milk, and supplies 95% of all antibodies necessary for protection from infections. The mother passes on her "immunological memory" to her puppies for a period of 5 to 7 weeks, until they can defend themselves against infections.

The first days

In the first weeks, the mother grooms her puppies. Licking her puppies’ abdomens is important for their defecation and miction reflexes. Puppies feed from their mother about twenty times a day. They react to tactile stimuli and crawl towards sources of heat including their mother. Their eyes open after 10 to 15 days while deciduous teeth appear after 20 days. 

At about 4 weeks, puppies begin to hear and react to noises. This is the beginning of an exploratory period when they start to play, grow attached to their mother and recognise the identity of their siblings. The breeder can take advantage when the puppies are awake to get them used to human smell and presence, play with them and handle them gently.

This socialisation period extends from week 3 to 9. During this period puppies adapt to social life and gradually begin to communicate and acquire the sense of hierarchy by interpreting maternal reprimands, olfactory and postural signs. A large part of their equilibrium is acquired at that period and they require an enriching environment. Puppies need to get used to the various stimuli he will encounter: screams, noises, smells and he will become familiar with humans.


Lactation lasts for about 6 weeks after giving birth, with a maximum peak of production around 3 weeks of age. During that period, it is important to feed the mother a highly palatable food with high energy density to suit her energy requirements, without a large a volume of food. The quantity of milk produced by a bitch can be estimated by regularly weighing the puppies before and after their feeds. It is estimated that a 32-kg Labrador bitch, feeding eight puppies, will produce 2.4 times her own weight in milk to raise her litter!

During the following weeks, the declining lacteal production prompts the mother to regurgitate foods so as to supplement the puppies’ feeds as they’re beginning spontaneously to become interested in their mother’s bowl. This period marks the beginning of progressive weaning that will end between 6 and 8 week of age with the introduction of growth food. Like any dietary transition, weaning must be gradual to enable switching slowly from a lacteal diet to one suited for the growth stage. Puppies’ nutritional requirements at weaning are qualitatively comparable to their mother’s at the end of lactation (i.e. during the period where she rebuilds her reserves), making the breeder’s task vital. He can feed the puppies the same Health Nutrition food, designed for the mother’s lactation and the puppies’ growth, mixed with lukewarm water or formula milk. This food, formulated to offer precise nutritional value, will be less re-hydrated at the end of weaning before switching a post-weaning Growth Health Nutrition.  

Very trusting, a puppy is ready to share and receive anything his owner is willing to give him. Knowing his needs and preserving his health is your duty as a responsible pet owner.

Nutrition, health, disease prevention and protection are essential componentsof his vitality.