TOP 10 TIPS FOR NEW RV OWNERS TRAVELING WITH A PET
Pets and RVs just seem to go together for many people. A primary reason for buying and traveling in an RV is so you can take your pets with you. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Go RVing, 68% of RV owners bring a pet with them. Most are dog people 92%, and 14% bring cats along on RV trips. If you are a pet owner new to RVing, or an RVer with a new pet, there are many things to research, learn and consider to help make traveling with your pet a pleasant experience for both of you.
Several years ago, we traveled with two dogs who have since passed. Gracie, our West Highland White Terrier lived until she was 17, and Buck our Australian Terrier was 12 years old when he died from cancer. They were completely opposite of each other. One good (Gracie), one bad (guess who). One shy (Gracie), and one rambunctious (guess who). The only thing they had in common was, they both liked to travel in the RV. We learned a few things about traveling with pets the hard way when we first got them.
You know your pets better than anybody else, but when you travel in your RV with pets there are some things you should be aware of. Our furry family members, just like kids, feel calmer when their routine is adhered to as much as possible. With that said, here are some things we learned about traveling in our RV with pets.
- Take your pet’s favorite bed with you
There is just something familiar with the smells of home. Our dogs always know when their beds are carried out of the house and into the motorhome, some kind of adventure is around the corner. Having their own beds in the RV makes them more comfortable. Fur Baby Tip: When you are traveling to your destination, stop frequently so your pets can stretch and relieve themselves. We try to stop every few hours, at a minimum.
- Crate Your Pet While your RV is on the Road
RVs don’t have seat belts for our fur babies. To keep your pet safe when driving down the road, whether you are in a motorhome or a tow vehicle, keep them safely tucked away in a pet carrier with a comfy blanket or two. There are many unforeseen dangers for an unsecured pet.
- Water and Food
Take the food they are used to and a couple large water jugs of the water your pets are accustomed to from home, so they can drink water they are used to. Water sources can vary from place to place and just like a change in food can upset their digestive system, water variations can too. Fur Baby Tip: If we use all the water from home during our trip, we substitute it with bottled water.
- Vet Checks
Have your vet check your pet before you hit the road so all vaccines are up to date, and you can inquire about any other health precautions you should take. Did you know your dog can catch canine influenza? Dogs are susceptible to the virus at any given time, but dogs that go to dog parks or are in contact with areas where many dogs gather are at a much higher risk of contracting it. A flu vaccine is advisable when you are traveling. Bring your pet’s records with you to include proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate. Make sure you have a current picture of your pet in case they get lost, and having them micro-chipped is a necessary precaution. Fur Baby Tip: Make sure you register the chip number in the National Pet Microchip Registration Database, your veterinarian can assist you.
- Ask About Pet Policies
When you make campground reservations, always ask if the campground is pet friendly, and what their pet policies are. You can usually find this information online too. Some campgrounds, and/or destinations you travel to have Breed Specific Legislation or BSL laws or insurance guidelines that prohibit dogs they consider as bully breeds. Ask or research the campgrounds you plan to stay at about BSL laws.
- Local Emergency Information
When we arrive at the campground, one of the first things we do is look up the number of a local vet and/or pet hospital in the area in case of an emergency. This is easily accomplished with a “veterinarian near me” search from your phone or computer. Keep the info handy in case there is an emergency. Fur Baby Tip: This is when a pet portal comes in handy if your veterinarian at home offers this service. A pet portal lets you log in to your local vet, and access all of your pet’s records. Look into it before your trip. You can log in from your phone or a computer, and it makes getting information to an emergency vet much easier.
- Protective Items
Bring paw booties! Healerspetcare.com or Ruffwear.com are great options. You want to protect their paws from the hot tarmac, or sand as well as any rugged terrain you might take them on. We also take a raincoat in the correct size for our dogs. You would not believe how yucky a wet pet is in an RV. The raincoat keeps them nice and dry. Fur Baby Tip: I also keep a towel next to the entry door so I can wipe their paws off as they go in.
- Day Excursions
An RV can get extremely hot or cold inside. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and/or heat and air. Always have fresh water available for your pet. If your travel plans include day trips or extended travel away from the campsite, please keep this in mind. If we are only going to be away for a short time, we turn on some calming music or we put the TV on a channel that won’t have loud sounds. This helps distract them from outside activity. If you plan to be away from the RV and your pet for an extended period of time, it is advisable to look into a nearby pet boarding facility or doggie daycare for the day. Some campgrounds do offer kennels and boarding services for pets. Another concern is, you never know if the power will go out. There are pet monitoring systems you can purchase, that allow you to monitor the temperature, and offer video and/or audio capabilities. If you go this route, make sure you are close enough to the campground or RV to get back in the event something happens. Fur Baby Tip: If you are just going out for lunch or dinner, call and check; some restaurants with outdoor seating allow your dog to go with you.
- Pet Etiquette & Tips
Make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of the campground and any other area you take your pet. If you use a tie-out anchor (never leave your pet unattended). Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles that they can get hung or caught on. Make sure they are always leashed when you walk them or have them outside with you. Campground pet etiquette is a must. Be considerate of other campers where your pet is concerned. Always pick up behind your pet.
- Creative Pet Containment
Some pet owners get creative with pet containment systems so their pets can enjoy and share time outside with them. It is important they have shade and clean water. Make sure you are always in attendance when your pets are outside with you.
I know I said this is my top 10 pet tips, but it is important to share this tip too. Perform a daily health check on your pet. When your pet is away from home, and off their regular schedule, it can affect their health. Watch for any signs that are out of the ordinary. If you prepare before your trip, you should have a wonderful adventure along with your pets!
Dawn Polk, along with her husband Mark Polk, started RV Education 101 in 1999. Dawn, Mark and their two elderly rescue dogs Roxie and MoMo enjoy traveling in their RV together finding new adventures. For information on using, enjoying, and maintaining your RV visit RV Education 101. Be sure to check out their RV Online Training Site too!