Alves I. A model of puppy growth during the first three weeks. Vet Med Sci. 2020; 6:(4)946-957

Brannian JD, Schmidt SM, Kreger DO, Hansen KA. Baseline non-fasting serum leptin concentration to body mass index ratio is predictive of IVF outcomes. Hum Reprod. 2001; 16:(9)1819-26

Case LP, Daristotle L, Hayek MG, Raasch MF. Canine and feline nutrition, 3rd edition. Maryland Heights: Mosby, Elsevier; 2011

Cave NJ, Allan FJ, Schokkenbroek SL, Metekohy CA, Pfeiffer DU. A cross-sectional study to compare changes in the prevalence and risk factors for feline obesity between 1993 and 2007 in New Zealand. Prev Vet Med. 2012; 107:(1-2)121-33

Chastant S, Mila H Passive immune transfer in puppies. Anim Reprod Sci. 2019; 162-170

Courcier EA, O'Higgins R, Mellor DJ, Yam PS. Prevalence and risk factors for feline obesity in a first opinion practice in Glasgow, Scotland. J Feline Med Surg. 2010; 12:(10)746-53

Dämmrich K. Relationship between nutrition and bone growth in large and giant dogs. J Nutr. 1991; 121:S114-21

Fontaine E. Food intake and nutrition during pregnancy, lactation and weaning in the dam and offspring. Reprod Domest Anim. 2012; 47:(Suppl 6)326-30

German AJ. The growing problem of obesity in dogs and cats. J Nutr. 2006; 136:1940S-1946S

German AJ, Holden SL, Mason SL Imprecision when using measuring cups to weigh out extruded dry kibbled food. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. 2011; 95:(3)368-373

German AJ, Woods GRT, Holden SL, Brennan L, Burke C. Dangerous trends in pet obesity. Vet Rec. 2018; 182:(1)

Glickman LT, Sonnenschein EG, Glickman NW, Donoghue S, Goldschmidt MH. Pattern of diet and obesity in female adult pet dogs. Vet Clin Nutr. 1995; 2:(1)6-13

Grandjean D, Pierson P, Cacciani F, Pawlowiez S, Michaellet T. Royal Canin Practical Guide to Dog Breeding. 2006;

Greco DS. Nutritional supplements for pregnant and lactating bitches. Theriogenology. 2008; 70:(3)393-396

Small animal neonatology: they look normal when they are born and Then They Die.

Hedhammar A, Wu FM, Krook L Overnutrition and skeletal disease. An experimental study in growing Great Dane dogs. Cornell Vet. 1974; 64:(2)5-160

Ishioka K, Hosoya K, Kitagawa H Plasma leptin concentration in dogs: effects of body condition score, age, gender and breeds. Res Vet Sci. 2007; 82:(1)11-5

Jones A, Ackerman N. Canine and Feline Nutrition. In: Ackerman N (ed). Great Britain: Elesevier Ltd; 2016

Larsen J. Feeding large-breed puppies. Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2010; 32:(5)E1-4

Lawler DF. Neonatal and pediatric care of the puppy and kitten. Theriogenology. 2008; 70:(3)384-92

Leclerc L, Thorin C, Flanagan J, Biourge V, Serisier S, Nguyen P. Higher neonatal growth rate and body condition score at 7 months are predictive factors of obesity in adult female Beagle dogs. BMC Vet Res. 2017; 13:(1)

Mila H, Grellet A, Feugier A, Chastant-Maillard S. Differential impact of birth weight and early growth on neonatal mortality in puppies. J Anim Sci. 2015; 93:(9)4436-42

Moser E. Feeding to optimize canine reproductive efficiency. Probl Vet Med. 1992; 4:(3)545-50

Nutrient requirements of dogs and cats.Washington DC: National Academy press; 2006

O Neill DG, Church DB, McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Brodbelt DC. Prevalence of disorders recorded in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England. PLoS One. 2014; 9:(3)

Royal Canin: NeoCare Center Toulouse National Veterinary School (ENVT). 5 years of science to improve the health of newborn puppies. 2016.

Root Kustritz MV. Clinical management of pregnancy in cats. Theriogenology. 2006; 66:(1)145-150

Rowe EC, Browne WJ, Casey RA, Gruffydd-Jones TJ, Murray JK. Early-life risk factors identified for owner-reported feline overweight and obesity at around two years of age. Prev Vet Med. 2017; 143:39-48

Salt C, Morris PJ, German AJ Growth standard charts for monitoring bodyweight in dogs of different sizes. PLoS One. 2017; 12:(9)

Serisier S, Feugier A, Venet C, Biourge V, German AJ. Faster growth rate in ad libitum-fed cats: a risk factor predicting the likelihood of becoming overweight during adulthood. J Nutr Sci. 2013; 2

Veronesi MC, Panzani S, Faustini M, Rota A. An Apgar scoring system for routine assessment of newborn puppy viability and short-term survival prognosis. Theriogenology. 2009; 72:(3)401-7

Wichert B, Schade L, Gebert S, Bucher B, Zottmaier B, Wenk C, Wanner M. Energy and protein needs of cats for maintenance, gestation and lactation. J Feline Med Surg. 2009; 11:(10)808-15

The role of energy and weight: from conception to adulthood

02 May 2022
11 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 4
Figure 1. After birth nutrition is provided by the colostrum and milk until weaning at 3–4 weeks.
Figure 1. After birth nutrition is provided by the colostrum and milk until weaning at 3–4 weeks.


Growth represents a fundamental phase in a cat or dog's life and plays an important role in their life-long health. Energy intake influences not just bodyweight (both weight gain and loss), but also the rate of growth and even the success of reproduction. This article will take an in-depth look at the changing energy needs of cats and dogs from conception to adulthood and the role weight plays in supporting optimal growth.

Growth is a key stage in a kitten and puppy's life and is a time for both great exploration and physiological changes. The foundations that are laid down in growth can impact the long-term health of the animal. Nutrition, and specifically energy intake and bodyweight play a vital role in supporting growth; and this starts from before mating.

Adipose tissue is an active organ that produces a large range of hormones and protein factors called adipokines. One such hormone is leptin, which plays a pivotal role in reproduction. Leptin levels have been found to be higher in dogs with an increased body condition score (Ishioka et al, 2007) and while studies in cats and dogs are limited, in human medicine it has been demonstrated that increased levels of leptin may negatively impact fertility (Brannian et al, 2001).

Breeding from queens and bitches at ideal bodyweight and shape will therefore help to support successful mating.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.