By Terri Nighswonger
If you are full-time in your RV, I’m sure you know more than a handful of neighbors that own pets. You might hear Fido barking or see Fluffy checking out the world outside her window. Whatever the species, there are many pets out there traveling with their owners. If you are an experienced RVer or are getting ready to take the plunge, these tips just might make you, your pet and your RV neighbors happy campers.
Plan your trip
Just as you plan a trip for yourself, make sure you take your pet into consideration as you make reservations for campgrounds, sightseeing, hiking and all the things you want to see and do. If you are taking along your pets, make sure you include them in as many activities as you can. Here are a few websites that will help you plan:
Don’t forget to pack for Fido
As a full-time RVer, I call myself a turtle. Everything I have is in my rig, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally hop in the car and head for a nearby destination. It’s a good idea—especially if you are just starting the RV life or spend time in your rig and time in your bricks and sticks—to make a pet packing list. Here is a list to get you started:
- Plenty of your pet’s favorite food and treats for the trip
- Health information including vaccination schedule
- Pet medications
- Plenty of bags for cleaning up
- Towels for pet messes
- Leashes and collar tags with identifying information (microchip is best)
- Toys for outside and to keep them occupied when you are away
- Portable water dispenser for hikes and outdoor fun
Common pet courtesy in an RV park
Nobody wants to hear your yappy Yorkie at any time of the day. Your pup may be fine while you are home, but what does she do when you are away? You may not want to hear the answer but ask someone nearby if they hear or are bothered by your dog while you are gone. If that’s the case, take steps to make sure Fifi is happy and not bothering the neighbors. A good pet trainer can help you desensitize her to noises, smells and people.
If the park you are visiting has rules, please follow them. All dogs should remain on a leash unless there is a fenced dog park area where they can run. Your friendly off-leash Golden Retriever running up to my reactive pooch could possibly cause an issue. Always ask the owner if they are OK for dogs to greet each other. Then pay attention to what they are doing.
Observe the dog’s body language. Signs of aggression can include a fixed gaze, flashes of teeth, avoiding eye contact and a tense posture. If you see any of that in your dog or another, don’t be afraid to walk away quickly.
While I would be hesitant to let my cat roam free any place I stop, there are those who do. Cats on the loose are vulnerable to predators and being killed or injured by a vehicle. If your cat likes to be outside, keep him safe with a secure harness.
Above all, please pick up after your pet. No one wants to step in it, smell it or see it. Keep the park clean and the park owners and campers happy. No one wants to have parks that don’t allow pets because someone ruined it for everyone else.
Be aware of the weather
Summer weather is a particularly dangerous time for pets left in RVs. Much like a car, the temperature can climb quickly if there is a sudden power outage or an air conditioner breakdown. While it is somewhat impractical to expect your pets will never be left alone, there are some precautions that can be taken to ensure their safety while you are away.
There is a plethora of ways to monitor the temperature in your RV. The simplest devices connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to your phone. An alert will let you know when the temperature is outside the range you set. The downside to these is if you are somewhere without a cell signal or the park’s Wi-Fi is problematic.
Other devices can include video so you can see your pet or the temperature sensor. Some connect with a hot spot or cell signal for more secure monitoring.
Prices can vary, depending on the system. Find what works for you.
Health records are vital
Keeping your dog’s health records in a secure and accessible place is important. Those records should include dates for vaccinations and exams. Make sure those are up to date. If your dog bites or scratches someone, you will need that information. Also, if your dog becomes injured or ill, having these records are important, as well.
Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped. It only takes a few seconds for a door to be left open and a pet to escape. More important, make sure the information on the chip is up to date. It won’t do any good if someone can’t access a correct number to call you. It’s great to have the number on a collar, but those can be lost. A microchip is the best way to ensure your pet can be returned to you.
Crossing the border
Of course, if you live a traveling lifestyle, you may want to make a visit to Canada or Mexico at some point. What are the rules regarding taking your pet across the border?
For either country, make sure you do your homework before you go. Rules and regulations can change, so you don’t want to be caught unprepared. You also will need to make sure you have the correct paperwork when you make the return trip.
We love our pets and wouldn’t think of taking off on our RV adventures without them. If you take some time for common courtesy, keep your pet’s safety in mind and make sure you are prepared for the unexpected, you and your pet will have an enjoyable experience.