We love our pets and those that are involved in mobile travel, including RV’s, trailers and mini-RV’s want to bring out pets with us to enjoy our trips. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association reports that 61% of RV owners surveyed travel with their pets. However, to keep our furred family members happy and healthy, there are some guidelines that you need to follow.
Know Your Pet
You, of all people, know your pet’s behavior, reactions, fears and joys. You know if they travel well or if they have a fear of vehicles. The last thing that you want on your outing is for something to scare your pet and have them bolt out of the door. If your pet demonstrates any of these fear reactions and you are adamant about taking them along with you, you will need to devote a number of months on practice runs.
This means loading them up and taking them to positive locations. For dogs, it can be a trip to the local pet-friendly pet store and a treat and for cats you can create a home-away-from-home environment and make sure they are comfy and have familiar toys and treats. If after months of practice they are still fearful, you may want to reconsider taking them with you.
Get Your Pets Chipped
This is one of the highest priorities and getting an identity chip has saved lives and reunited lost pets with pet families. The initial cost is a bit high but there is no price too high for finding a lost pet that wandered out while you are traveling.
It isn’t enough to just get them chipped, you absolutely must register online so that if your pet is found they can contact you. Multiple cell phone numbers are recommended and even an emergency number for a friend or family member.
Be Sure All Vaccinations Are Up to Date
This is another high level requirement and you will need to talk to your Vet to let him/her know that you are planning on taking your pet on your travels. There are additional considerations that they may suggest such as a vaccination against leptospirosis.
This is a common virus transmitted from a number of wild animals such as raccoons and are typically found in their feces. Other protections could include a vaccine against “kennel cough”. This disorder can be airborne spread from one dog to another. Since cats typically stay inside, you can talk to your Vet about any suggestions they may have to help to keep your kitty safe and healthy.
Once all of the vaccinations are done, keep the records in a handy place with all of your other important documents. These may be required as proof from some of the campgrounds. Be sure to put the ID tag on your pet’s collar.
Make sure that your pet has been treated for fleas and ticks before you leave. The last thing that you want is an infestation in a small area such as an RV, trailer or motorhome.
Packing for Your Pet and Their Area
Before you begin any travel adventures, make a complete list of everything that you will need for your pet. Examine the area that will be dedicated for your furred family member and know that it has to be both comfortable and a place that they feel secure in.
For dogs, you will need the usual leash and/or harness but you will also need food, treats, poop pickup bags, water and food bowls, and (of course) their familiar toys. Kitties need food, water, treats, kitty litter, litter bags, and their toys. Many pack a bit of catnip to make their travel time more fun.
If you have kids your pet must also have an area that they feel they can “escape” to. Children often become overwhelming with love and attention and your pet needs a kind of hiding place. If they don’t have this, they become filled with anxiety and have a tendency to bolt as soon as they have the first opportunity.
If your pet is on any kind of medication you will need to talk to your Vet about having a good supply for the entire duration of the trip…and some. There may be unforeseen circumstances such as repairs that keep you out longer than expected.
On this same topic, you will also want to speak to your Vet about some of the all-natural calming supplements. These are used in the case of loud noises such as thunder and lightning storms or even fireworks from a celebration. Some pets become fearful when there are too many people voices. These supplements act to calm them down and keep the anxiety at a minimum. For storms, some people swear by “thunder coats” for dogs.
Be Prepared for the Potential Accidents
Even the most diligent pet parents sometimes find that their pets have accidents and in a small space, this can be a disaster if you aren’t prepared. Make sure that you have antibacterial spray, plenty of paper towels and plastic bags that seal well, and baby wipes. You may also want to include some of the “pet pads” that are available on the market.
These are especially good for dogs that have to go before you reach a stopping point. Of course, there are also incidents where they may vomit and you need a quick method to clean it up.
Don’t Allow Your Pets to Free Roam Travel in the Cabin
Many assume that just because you have an RV or a trailer that you can let your pets have free reign. This is not recommended and in fact, it can be very dangerous for them. Dogs should ride in the seats with you and your family and should be buckled up. Kitties should be in their carrier and if you have a small crate trained dog you can put them in their crate inside the main seating area.
Other Helpful Tricks
A good idea and practice is to bring along a folding barrier that can be placed at the doorway to deter running away. These “pet gates” are similar to baby gates and are available in a number of sizes and lengths to accommodate your needs. These can mean the difference between a lost pet and a secure one, even when they may be frightened or upset.
Always be aware of the parks and rest stops to take the needed breaks and allow your dog to get out and about. You will need to take them on a leash but this gives them (and you) and opportunity to go to the bathroom while also getting a bit of exercise. If you plan your trip well you can also use these times to have a picnic and see some of the beauty of nature all around you. There are a number of online resources that can help by giving you “pet friendly traveling planner options”
Call all campgrounds ahead of time to ensure that they allow pets as well as if there are any extra fees involved for bringing your pets. Some of the campgrounds do allow pets but have restrictions on the number of pets that you can have. Others allow pets but they won’t allow them on the trails or near the waterways. Find out all of the rules before you show up as well as if the campgrounds offer dog parks.
Your pet’s tags should have all identification information on them, including your cell phone. If your pet gets out in a campground and is found, it will be easy for you to get them back.
If you have to leave your pet in the RV, motorhome or trailer for any extended amount of time, make sure that they have sufficient air flow to remain cool, food and water. During the hot months you will want to leave the air conditioning on as the inside can heat up very quickly and this can kill your pet.
If you don’t have those options, don’t leave your pet inside for any lengthy period.
Additional Resources for RVing with Your Pets