I’m all grown up, but I’m still a puppy at heart — and will be for a while! I’ve got a lifetime of learning and loving ahead of me. I still want to follow you wherever you go — especially if we’re going to Grandma’s house! — and the bigger my world is, the more I will learn. Barking of which, when do I get to see my friends again?

"Your puppy is not such a puppy any more, but he will act like it for a few months (or years!) to come. Most of his growing should be done, though — puppies are usually at their full size by the time they reach 18 months. While this section isn’t necessarily tied to a certain time in your puppy’s life, they are good things to have on hand and to review as your family (and puppy’s) needs change throughout life. Routine veterinary care needs to be kept up at least once a year, and safety is of paramount importance. Prevention is the key to a long, healthy life and we are here to guide you along your way."

Dr. Jules Benson

Petplan Chief Veterinary Medical Officer

out & about

Many pet parents can’t wait to start getting out and about with their puppy. Most older puppies are keen for adventure, and enjoy a change of scenery and a chance to spend more time with you. If you’ve been socializing your puppy all along, going on a trip and meeting new people may not be any big thing. However, this doesn’t mean that all dogs enjoy travelling. (Some can even suffer from motion sickness, just like us!)

Once your puppy is safely vaccinated, start out by going on short trips across town, maybe to a new dog park or pet store. As your puppy grows in size and confidence, consider taking a day trip to see friends and family.

Follow these tips for safe and easier puppy travel:

  • tag, you’re it! Always make a collar tag that has either the number of where you will be staying or your cell phone number so that if your pet wanders off, you are immediately reachable by phone. (And make sure your puppy is also microchipped as an extra precaution!)
  • vet the vets: Find a vet close to where you’ll be staying, as well as an emergency clinic, in case your puppy becomes ill or is injured. To help find the vet closest to your home away from home, check out Petplan’s VetFinder.
  • pack mentality: Make sure you travel with enough food and medications to last a few days beyond your anticipated stay, in case your return is delayed.
  • destination vaccinations: Make sure that your puppy is up to date on all vaccines and parasite preventives. Some areas of the country have higher risks for certain diseases, so check with your veterinarian before you leave to make sure your pet is covered.
  • all abroad: If you are planning to travel internationally, make sure you investigate what documents and vaccines your puppy may need. Different countries have a range of rules and regulations for animals that cross over their borders. Some may even require quarantine periods.

car safety

From the Labrador hanging halfway out the back window to the Yorkie sitting on the driver’s lap, dogs left unrestrained in moving vehicles are in danger of being seriously injured in an accident. They also pose a threat to humans in the car, too, by distracting the driver. Several states have laws regarding pet restraint in vehicles, so buckle everyone up to avoid hefty fines and unnecessary injury!

  • strap in: Purchase a pet safety harnesses for your pet to wear in the car. Most modelscan be clipped or otherwise fastened to the existing seatbelt in your car.
  • size right: The right harness is important, so shop around and compare different designs in order to find the best one for your puppy. It should adjust to fit securely and grow as he does.
  • crate expectations: Another option is traveling with pets secured in a carrier or crate. A crate will keep a pup contained during the drive, but will itself turn into a projectile object unless it is tied down.

motion sickness

Puppies are more likely to suffer from motion sickness than older dogs because of their center of balance (which is within the ear structure) isn’t fully developed. The good news is that many puppies will outgrow motion sickness as their systems mature.

  • sick of the car: Pups with motion sickness may drool excessively, yawn, act restless, vomit or dry-heave. In extreme cases, they may defecate. Talk to your vet for recommendations on making your puppy more comfortable, or discuss leaving him home.
  • slow and steady: Prevention is the key here: Once you decide to take a trip, start acclimating your puppy to the car slowly, first just sitting in it in the driveway, then with short, treat-filled trips around the block.
  • bumpy ride: If your pup’s first birthday passes and he’s still experiencing the same old puppy motion sickness with the shortest, smoothest of rides, talk to your veterinarian. Certain medications have been developed specifically for dogs with motion sickness; some owners have luck with a ginger home remedy.

driven to bark

Every year, children and pets die because they were left in a hot car. These accidents are tragic and often preventable. It is important to consider that dogs heat up a lot faster than adults do, with heatstroke damaging organs or taking lives within the course of minutes. During the winter, cars can cool down fast too – leaving your dog exposed to harsh or uncomfortable temperatures.

Experts have shown that leaving the windows cracked is not sufficient and does not allow for enough air flow to cool a hot car. Then, the inside of your car experiences a “greenhouse effect” and heats up much faster than outside, even on mild, cloudy days. Leaving the windows down poses an escape risk for your puppy, even if he is secured by a safety belt or harness.

The next time you just want to pop into the grocery store on your way home from a puppy vet visit, take a look in your back seat, into those big brown eyes. Take your puppy home first and then return to the store. If you have a busy day of errands to do and don’t want to leave your puppy alone, look into enrolling him in a doggy daycare for a few hours.

feeling hot: fire safety

Oooh — that’s shiny and it smells good! Your puppy is a curious being and sometimes is attracted to unsafe objects, much like a moth to a flame. It is up to us to help protect our pets from one of the most common household disasters — fire. According to the United States Fire Administration, around 500,000 pets are affected every year by fires.

While most fires are not caused by pets, they are generally curious and will check out anything that smells good, including scented candles, appliances or a fire on the hearth. Open flames should be kept out of reach — many a furry tail has caught on fire over an open candle and lit the whole place up!

Help firefighters help your pets:

  • calm in the chaos: A fire scene is hectic and someone may not notice if your puppy slips out the door. Be sure your puppy is microchipped and wearing a collar with updated ID tags. If he flees the scene, these precautions will make him easy to identify.
  • plan ahead: Include your puppy in your family’s fire evacuation plan. Be sure your puppy’s leash and carrier are easily accessible and near an exit. Also keep the number and address of your nearest emergency vet clinic handy, in case your puppy shows signs of distress.
  • the more you know: Download and customize a pet alert window cling, which includes your puppy’s name, favorite hiding place and photo, and affix it near your main entrance. This will help firefighters find your puppy if a fire should break out while your family isn’t home.

pet 911: pet first aid kit

Emergencies can happen at any time. Lucky for your pets, you’re ready for anything. As their personal "Pet First-Aider" you make it your responsibility to keep a handy pet first aid kit well-stocked and ready to go.

At Petplan pet insurance we recommend a simple, easy-to-carry kit, complete with the most useful items for most pet emergencies.

essential items

  • extra collar and leash
  • disposable gloves (non-latex)
  • digital thermometer
  • vaseline
  • gauze
  • non-stick pet bandages
  • absorbent gauze pads
  • clean cloth or towel
  • medical tape
  • medicine dropper
  • blunt-end scissors
  • antibiotic wash, wipes or ointment
  • tweezers
  • karo syrup (for diabetic pets)
  • saline wash
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • chemical ice pack
  • blanket (or foil emergency blanket)

other items to include

  • your pet’s vaccination and medical history
  • contact numbers for your vet
  • the location and phone number of the nearest emergency vet clinic
  • pet poison reference guide (or app) with poison hotline information
  • pet carrier, to easily move pets safely

Do you want to increase your knowledge about pet first aid? The American Red Cross has resources and pet first aid certification classes in many areas Just type in your zip code on www.redcross.org to find class listings for your local chapter. You can also download their mobile pet first aid app for your smartphone, or stop by the Red Cross store to pick up their comprehensive dog and care first aid guides complete with DVD demonstrations.

spotting an emergency

In a perfect world, our four-legged family members would never experience pain, illness or injury. Unfortunately, puppies are often afflicted with illnesses and injuries that are all too real. Now it is time to see how you can use your pet first-aid kit in a time of need.

Take a deep breath, stay calm and assess the situation:

seeing red

  • Is your pet bleeding? If so, use the clean cloths, towels and/or gauze in your emergency kit to apply direct pressure and adhesive tape to hold the temporary bandage in place while you transport your pet to the vet. Don’t tape too tightly, just enough to be snug

poison control

  • Did your puppy eat something he shouldn’t have from your medicine chest or candy dish? First, try to identify what and how much your puppy ate. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline, and make sure you have your first-aid kit nearby in case you’re directed to induce vomiting. With suspected poisoning, the sooner you can transport your puppy to the veterinarian, the better.


  • Is your pet having a seizure for the first time? Do not attempt to hold your puppy down — just clear away anything that could injure him if he hits it, and try to track how long the seizure lasts. Call your vet or an emergency vet, and they will be able to guide you on the next steps.

If your pet just seems “off,” and you aren’t exactly sure what is going on, call your vet. Remember, you know your puppy best, and if something doesn’t seem right, don’t wait for it to get worse. Sometimes simple lethargy is a cause for concern, but your vet will be able to tell you more.

When it is all said and done, the most important things to remember are:

  • Make sure you and your pet are safe from harm.
  • Don’t try to do too much. Your goal is to make your pet safe to travel to your vet. Always remember to call a neighbor or a friend if you need assistance.
  • Keep your first aid kit up to date.