RV TRAVELLING WITH PETS
How can you make your RV more comfortable for your cat or dog? Here are some great tips RVing with dog and cats. As usual, we’re including motor homes and fifth-wheels / travel trailers as RV’s, so some of these pet tips will make more sense for one over the other.
Establish an RV Pet Routine
Whether we’re talking about feeding, exercise, bathroom breaks, pets handle travelling better if a routine is followed. You’ll notice that many of the following tips focus on consistency.
Food and Water
Just like, your pets need food while RVing.
Make sure bring the same brand of food that your dog or cat is used to eating. Switching from brand to brand can lead to digestive problems that, at best, make your pet uncomfortable or, at worst, result in unwanted and unexpected output from either end. If your trip is a short one, you can generally bring along enough food from home.
If your trip is a longer one, check to see if your dog’s or cat’s brand of food is available at big box stores, or popular pet stores. If not, it will pay for you to switch your pet over to an available food well before your trip.
Generally speaking, if your pet is drinking the same water as you, things should be fine. If you’re satisfied with water from a campground hookup, your dog or cat will probably do well. If you’re worried about local water – or drink bottled or filtered water as a matter of course – take the same precautions with your pet.
Dry dog or cat foods can be separated into smaller plastic containers. It’s much easier to deal with two pounds of dog food in a container with a pour spout, that trying to carefully fill a pet bowl from a full 25-pound bag.
Keeping pet food in sealed plastic containers also makes the RV pet food storage area less appealing to any mice or insects that are considering moving in.
While RVing, feed your pet at the same time every day. This will typically result in bowel movements at the same time every day – especially important for dogs. Take the time to establish the feeding schedule a few weeks in advance of your RV trip and observe when your pet needs to relieve themselves. That way you can schedule stops with less guesswork.
No, we’re not talking about newspaper for puppies to piddle on. When you’re on the road in your RV, you’ll want to bring along your pet’s veterinary records.
Make sure your cat or dog has had all the required vaccines and shots. If your RV is crossing a border, make sure you research the needed shots to enter the country. You can also research any parasites and diseases that your pet may encounter while RVing. This can easily be done these days with Google. If you’d like additional confirmation, try emailing a veterinarian in the area you plan to RV in. Specific things worth checking are heartworm and ticks.
If you don’t like the idea of carrying extra paper in your RV, scan your pet documents and keep them on a CD or USB thumb drive. That way the vet has full access to the records. It may be a little costly, but an ID chip on your pet will give friendly-finders and vets access to your dog or cats medical history and needs. At the very least, a collar that contains the same information should be kept on your pet. Of course, include a way to contact you.
While we’re talking about pets, if you plan to park your RV in one location for a long time, or travel within a small region, go online and check the locations and ratings of local vets.
If your dog or cat is on medication, make sure you bring enough along to last the entire trip.
If you have any documentation regarding the purchase of your dog or cat, bring that along on the off chance that you need to identify your pet or prove that it wasn’t purchased during your RV trip.
If your travel insurance includes your pets, make sure you have something that proves coverage someplace in your RV.
Pet RV Safety
If you’re in a truck pulling a fifth wheel or travel trailer, or even a car pulling a camper, it’s a good idea to have your pet in a travel harness. A harness will keep your pet safer during a collision, prevent the pet from becoming a projectile that can harm you during a collision, and also keep the pet from jumping into the driver’s area due to panic or excitement.
In a motorhome, smart pet owners leash their cat or dog with the leash attached to a line that runs the length of the motorhome. This allows your pet some movement in the RV, while keeping them out of the driving area.
As you’ve noted above, we’re big advocates of keeping pets of all types and sizes out of the driving area. Do it for your sake. Do it for your pet’s sake.
Put together a pet first aid kit, although most of the supplies in your RV’s existing first aid kit can be used. A pet-specific RV kit for the RV can include the following items:
- Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Gauze rolls
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Scissors (with blunt ends)
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
- Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
- Ice pack
- Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Rectal thermometer
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
- If you have a cat, a pillowcase can help confine it for treatment
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet's size.
- Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
- Nail clippers
- Penlight or flashlight
- Plastic eyedropper or syringe
- Needle-nosed pliers (if you don’t have a tool kit)
Exercising Your RV Pet
Just like you, your pets like to stretch their legs and get some fresh air while travelling.
Keep your pets on a leash when you’re out of the RV unless you’re at a free-run pet facility. You may feel this is unnecessary if you’re out on a side road next to a field, but a free dog or cat can quickly become a lost dog or cat. A leash also allows you to bring your pet in quickly if a skunk, or other dangerous animal wanders by.
If you’re RVing with a dog, it will probably want to relieve itself when you step out for exercise. In public places, make sure you’re equipped with the supplies to clean up if your pet has a bowel movement. As far as urinating goes, use common sense and courtesy. Letting a dog pee up against a public picnic table or someone else’s motorhome tires is rude. Fortunately, many rest stops now offer pet areas.
Don’t rush your pet’s exercise time. The more your cat or dog walks outside the RV, the more they’ll relax inside the RV.
Leaving Your Pet In The RV
You brought your pet along in the RV because you love spending time with them. However, there will be times you have to leave them in the RV, the same way you sometimes have to leave your cat or dog at home. For example, most grocery stores and Laundromats won’t allow pets. You’ll also find that most tourist attractions are not pet-friendly… so make sure your RV is.
The most convenient RV thing you can do is kennel train your dog or cat. That being said, there IS a lot of controversy regarding crating a pet. Your pet is a personal part of your family, so we believe it’s best that YOU research the positives and negatives of pet crating in regards to the RV life, and then make a decision that you’re comfortable with.
Make sure the RV environment is comfortable for your cat or dog. If the weather is cooler, make sure they’ll stay warm. If it’s hot, obviously make sure they won’t overheat. If your pet is RVing with more than one human, the absolute best thing – for the dog or cat – is to have at least one person stay behind.
If you’re in a pet-friendly RV camp or site, and you notice other RVers with pets, offer to mind their cat or dog in exchange for them doing the same.
If you’ll be exploring a town or city for most of the day, there’s a good chance you can find a local pet sitter that will take care yours while you’re out and about.
When possible, give your pet a chance to exercise before leaving them in the RV.
Pets and RV Campgrounds
Not every RV Campground welcomes cats and/or dogs. As a pet owner with an RV, you want to do your part to make sure the campgrounds that are available stay available.
Start with a proactive and positive approach. As soon as you have a chance to bump into your RV neighbors, let them know you have a pet (or two) and they should be comfortable in letting you if your pets bothers them in way. There are things that won’t bother you as a pet-owning RVer, but they could irritate others. Getting off on the right foot can do wonders to avoid problems.
If you have a dog as part of your RV lifestyle, it has to be a quiet one if you want to stay in RV parks – or even Walmart parking lots for that matter. Your campground neighbors won’t put up with a yapping dog for very long. That includes when you’re in the RV with your pet, or leaving it alone in the RV while you’re out.
When your pets are outside the RV they should always be on a leash. If the RV park has a pet area, make sure you use it when your pet needs to relieve itself. Obviously clean up any poop it leaves behind, and never let them pee on or near other campsites, flowerbeds, public paths, etc.