So, you have your first RV and are excited to hit the road? Congratulations! Have you thought about what to do with Fido and Fluffy? Your pets won’t be happy if you leave them behind. Boarding can be expensive and, face it, you’d miss your furry friends! Here are some things to consider before heading out on a long RV trip:
How do you know whether your pet will enjoy the RV experience? Take a trial trip close to home. (Even your backyard will work.) A larger dog will need room to move about. And if you have a kitty, you’ll need to find a good place for the litter box (here’s more on that) and figure out where the pets will sleep. Will kitty be able to slip out of an open window? (Emergency escape windows don’t always have screens.) Can Fido bust through the RV’s screen door when another dog happens by? These are good questions, and ones that should be answered before you’re 100 miles down the road headed for adventure. So, take a trial run.
Plan to spend a good bit of time together with your pet on that first trial run. Let kitty and/or doggy explore the RV while you observe. Show your dog where his food and water dish are located. Let him see into the closet, pantry, and bunk room if your RV has those features.
Watch closely as your pet explores your rig. Would it help to remove extra dining chairs to allow Rover more room to move around? Maybe a “pet gate” would better secure the RV’s screen door. If kitty seems intent on clawing the RV sofa, it’s probably worth it to pack her scratching post. Use your trial run to identify these and other potential issues. Then address them before your first real trip.
Know before you go
Take your pet for a checkup before you travel. Get copies of your pet’s vaccination and health records to take with you, and if your furry pal isn’t already microchipped, have that done, as well. Explain to your vet where you plan to travel and the activities you’d like to share with your pet. The vet may suggest area-specific protocols or pre-treatments like heartworm or tick prevention.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar featuring tags with your contact information. Check to see that the information is up-to-date and clearly readable. If you intend to tether your pet outside your RV, pack the necessary equipment (e.g., shade canopy, chew-proof or chain lead, extra water bowl).
Most campgrounds are pet friendly, but always inquire when making reservations. Also ask about any special campground amenities for your pet, like a dog park, accessible beach/river access open to pets, or pet-friendly trails nearby.
Plan on boondocking? Be sure to research the area’s climate, vegetation, and wildlife. For example, it’s good to know if rattlesnakes may be present or if certain times of the year mean poisonous flowers or other potential dangers. The information you find will help you be prepared so you can better protect your pet.
If you plan to be away from your RV for special tours or activities, find out if pets are allowed to accompany you. If not, arrange for a pet-sitter ahead of time. Nearby community businesses may offer boarding services, or the campground itself may offer this perk.
Caution: While your pet may be safe alone at home, s/he is not safe in an unattended RV for an extended time. The park’s electricity may fail. Your generator can malfunction. As a result, your pet may experience dangerously hot (or cold) temperatures while trapped inside your RV. Keep this in mind as you plan your trip. (There are devices like this one that help monitor and control the temperature inside your rig while unattended.)
Upon arrival, be sure to read the campground’s rules regarding pets. Are there pet-restricted areas in the park? If so, obey the restrictions. Plan to keep your pet on a leash whenever outside of your rig or dog park enclosure. Be diligent in picking up after your pet. Keep them quiet, especially at night. Realize that the park’s “quiet time hours” apply to pets, too. Follow all the CG’s rules as stated.
Just like home
It may help your pet adapt more quickly to the RV if you replicate your pet’s home environment as much as possible. This may mean bringing your dog’s bed along rather than purchasing a new one. Check out this ingenious crate-alternative modification.
Plan to pack along your pet’s favorite food, treats, and toys, too. Do all you can to follow your pet’s regular feeding and exercising schedules while on the road.
Pets can be quite sensitive to their owner’s emotions. If you are happy and calm in your RV’s environment, chances are your pet will be too! Here’s hoping you and your pet have many, many wonderful adventures on the road!