Traveling with Pets in Your RV: Things to Consider

traveling with pets 1 If you have ever traveled with pets, you know how much enjoyment they can bring to your lives and your adventure. In a recent survey, over 75% of RV owners travel with pets; in fact in most cases they bought the RV strictly to be able to take their pets more conveniently.

RVing with pets is not difficult although it takes time and dedication. It means potty breaks and exercise time; packing toys, food, medicine, grooming items. It might mean having to locate a veterinarian while traveling, or spending less time at attractions so you can attend to your pet’s needs.

Before You Go

Before you hit the road with your pet, you will need to contact your vet to not only get the latest vaccinations, but also because many campgrounds now also require a current health checkup as well. This includes checking for fleas, ticks, lime disease, and other issues that may not be covered by typical vaccinations. Make sure you obtain a certificate of vaccinations and the health checkup and keep them in your RV.

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Also keep a list of current medications your pet is taking and a copy of any prescriptions in case of an emergency on the road. Many pet owners will scan these documents and prescriptions and create a PDF file to store in an email account or take a picture and keep them in their phone. If your pet is on any prescribed medication make sure you have enough for the entire trip or that you are able to access on the road for fulfillment.

Pet Identification

The old method of pet identification is the tag on the color, however when traveling out of city or out of the state, this information may not be enough to help locate them in case of emergency. There are several permanent ID methods such as tattoos and even the microchip which has become smaller and less of an invasive issue for pets. Pet Tracker has developed a collar with GPS capabilities and even a monitoring system that will send a signal to your mobile device if the pet’s vital signs such as ambient temperature or heart rate get to dangerous levels.

Pet Restraining Devices

traveling with pets 2 You should never travel with any type of pet without a restraining device. Not just for the safety of the pet, but the safety of people inside the RV if a sudden stop or impact occurs. According to AAA an unrestrained dog weighing 10 pounds becomes a 500-pound projectile and an 80-pound dog at only 30 mph will exert over 2400 pounds of pressure! Also, unrestrained pets can cause distractions for drivers and even create a dangerous situation if they get under or around brake and fuel pedals.

There are several devices available at pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart for whether you are traveling in a car/truck pulling a trailer, or a motorhome. RV owners pulling trailers will need to have their pets inside the tow vehicle and restrained using a harness or cage. One type of harness fastens to the body of the pet and connects to the seat belt, while another has a harness on the pet and a “tether strap” across the vehicle which provides a little more mobility. If you use a soft cage, carrying bag, or larger cage, the cage must be secured in the vehicle as well.

Traveling with pets in a motorhome provides more challenges as the seat belt locations are not placed in the best position to attach the harness. Most are in a side facing sofa, booth dinette, or swivel and reclining chair. I recommend customizing your rig with D-ring connectors or loops placed in out-of-the-way locations such as under the sofa, next to a wall, or even on the side of the wall to secure the tether strap or enclosure in a forward-facing position.

Food and Water

Some pets are very sensitive to certain types of food and will have severe digestion problems if you run out of their “normal” food and are required to substitute. Make sure you either have enough food for the entire trip, or are positive you can find the same food on the road. Just because your food was available at Petco in Iowa, doesn’t mean they carry the same brand at Petco in Colorado. Trust me, I found out the hard way. An 85-pound dog with digestion problems in an RV on the road is not fun!

Same goes for water. Most campgrounds have well water which is hard and unfiltered. If your pet is used to the soft water from your home system, test a few bottled waters before you go and keep in mind the un-softened water from your outside home system has been treated by the local water treatment plant, and is totally different from well water found at campgrounds.

Potty Breaks!

You spent quite a bit of time training your pet to go the bathroom in the appropriate spot, but now you are taking them on the road and into unfamiliar territory without the normal ability to signal when they need to go the bathroom. They are in the tow vehicle or motorhome and as we travel we are not typically stopping until we need fuel or the “humans” need to go the bathroom.

Schedule more stops and develop a routine for bathroom breaks. I also like to take along a PoochPad from Petco which I have used to train several dogs in my home and relatives’ homes. There are other products on the market too, all of which are synthetic turf with a diaper system underneath.

When stopping at a fueling station, be careful about opening the door as pets can get excited about a new place and can run out into traffic on other fueling lanes. They might also become interested in dangerous fluids on the ground, like oil, transmission fluid, or even worse… antifreeze. I typically like to find an out-of-the-way location to take our pets out with a leash and let them exercise and go to the bathroom away from the congestion of the fueling station. Be careful of the pet runs at rest stops and fueling stations though; walk the area yourself first and look for broken glass and other trash that might be a hazard to your pet.

Campground Restrictions

Most campgrounds have restrictions in place for aggressive pets and abusive owners. Some even post breed, quantity, and size restrictions. However I have found that most campgrounds will evaluate how well your pet(s) are mannered and trained as well as the control you have. It’s best to call the campground before arriving to discuss their specific restrictions.

At the Campground

Once you have set up camp the first consideration is containment of your pet whether inside or out. For pets outside, most campgrounds do not allow the “electric fence” system as it is not a permanent barrier for pets and other pets can walk into the area without restraint. If you wish to have a pet outside, you should either have a suitable fence or leash. If using a leash, make sure it is not a metal type connected to the pet and any conductive part of your RV. If there is an electrical surge in the campground system, it will travel to the pet and electrocute them. It’s best to connect a leash to a separate structure such as a picnic table or ground post.

Before letting your pet outside, comb the area for any dangerous situations such as broken glass, engine fluids on campground pads, and dump stations. Keep them away from all campfire rings, garbage cans, and especially the main dump station.

Finally, check with management on any wild animal threats. Even if the area you are camping in seems tame, even small predatory wildlife can present threat to pets.

Our pets are an important part of our lives and families, and can enhance our travel experience so much more with their presence. With a few precautions and proper planning, you and your pet can be safe, healthy, and happy while traveling together in your RV.

Related Blog: 6 Tips for Hot Weather RVing

Discussion
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11 Responses to “Traveling with Pets in Your RV: Things to Consider”
  1. Jeanne

    Please be sure to pick up your dog’s poop and deposit it in the proper trash receptical! No one likes to step in poo, and a few inconsiderate pet owners can cause dogs to be banned from previously accessible areas. Always carry a supply of poo bags with you, please.

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs

      Hi Richard. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist in your adventure with your dog to Canada. According to several websites, all that is required is certification of updated vaccinations. The best description of restrictions is at: http://travel.gc.ca/returning/customs/bringing-your-pet-to-canada

      There you will find what certificates need to be filled out and if there might be a pet food restriction as well. They do not require ID such as tattoo or micro chip however I do believe it’s a good idea to have some identification. And keep in mind, at any point of entry it’s the up to the legal interpretation of that agent. So better safe than sorry, I would suggest getting a current health certificate from your vet AND printing out the specific regulations listed on the web page for reference. I spent an entire evening at an entry point in Michigan trying to “cut through” to Buffalo NY with a factory demo unit that the late night custom agent would not accept our documentation. The next morning we were cleared by the day shift but wasted 12 hours. Hope this helps and have fun in Canada.

      Reply
      • Jim

        Hi. Just a note on caring sufficient food. A number of years ago when travelling with our dog from Canada to the US we took a large bag of dry dog food for sensitive digestion , which we had purchased from our vet. At the border the food was taken away because it was made in Canada. Not sure if this is still the case but probably worth looking into before purchasing an expensive bag of food only to have it thrown in the garbage.

        Reply
  2. Bill Holly

    RV Make: Crossroads, RV Model: Sunset Trail Reserve, RV Year: 2013

    My pet peeve about RVing are people with dogs. Sitting in your RV eating and someone lets their dog stop and squat outside your window instead of getting them to the designated dog walk area. And not picking up after them. I’ll let it go with that.

    Reply
    • Marsha B

      RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Challenger, RV Year: 2016

      Not all campgrounds have a designated dog walk or dog area so this isn’t always available. I agree that people should always pick up after their pets. I always take our dogs to a location that is “common ground” and not on someone’s campsite. Unfortunately, not everyone even thinks like that which I just consider common courtesy.

      Reply
  3. Joe

    RV Make: none, RV Model: none, RV Year: NA

    My wife and I are looking to buy our first RV so that we can take our dog with us when we travel. We have a well behaved pit bull. We are aware that pit bulls are banned in many places in the US and Canada. I understand that you cannot even travel through the Province of Ontario with a pit bull. I also understand that pit bulls are not allowed in Denver, CO. We have no interest in taking our dog somewhere he is not allowed but it is impossible to keep up with all of the laws throughout the US and Canada and it is almost certain that we will take our dog into a jurisdiction where he is not allowed. In those situations, we will promptly leave the jurisdiction but we do not want our dog taken by local authorities. Does anyone out there have experience with this issue and how have you handled it?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Joe. To my knowledge there is no “State Ban” on Pit Bulls rather Breed Specific Legislation passed by individual cities that do have bans. A professional dog trainer named Ronnie Van Zant has started The Pit Bull Advocates which you can find information about on their Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/pbaofus?fref=ts
      He has also conducted a Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) census and listed all the cities around the country that have restrictions or bans. It can be accessed here: http://bslcensus.com/
      According to the site, Colorado does not identify Pit Bulls, rather Dangerous Dogs identified as such:
      Click on the Colorado State and here is what they define:
      B) a dangerous dog means any dog that:
      1. Inflicts bodily or serious bodily injury upon or causes the death of a person or domestic animal or:
      2. Demonstrates tendencies that would cause a reasonable person to believe that dog may inflict bodily or serious bodily injury upon or cause the death of any person or domestic animal or:
      3. Engages in or is trained for animal fighting

      He and Kris Diaz have started a blog called Stop BSL that has more information here: https://stopbsl.org/

      These two have been working hard to stop the breed specific legislation and they are seeing more cities and states adopt the “dangerous dog” type description instead. Also, check with the campground you are planning to stay at for restrictions. Many are going away from the breed specific and other types of dogs can be just as dangerous.

      Reply
  4. Kathy

    RV Make: 5th wheel, RV Model: Wildcat, RV Year: 2010

    I have one more comment concerning RVing with pets: Not everyone loves your pet the way you do. Keep your pet restrained at all times in the campgrounds. Do not allow your pet to bark at everything or everyone that goes by. If we ,as pet owners don’t act respectfully with our pets, we will loose the privilege of having them in camp with us.

    Reply
  5. John B Lewis

    RV Make: Keystone, RV Model: Montana, RV Year: 2006

    We travel with the veterinarian and vaccination records for our dog. Escapees parks now ask if your pet is current on vaccinations. We also have found that if we have to take our dog to a vet while traveling, having our dog’s records is a tremendous help to the vet. Also, if he need a vaccination to keep him current, we can show the vet our records, so the vet knows on what vaccinations he is current, and he doesn’t have unnecessary vacinations.

    Reply
  6. Steve

    RV Make: Newmar, RV Model: Dutch Star, RV Year: 2007

    Just traded in our Jayco White Hawk for this coach..we have a Shitz Tsu that has traveled with us the last two years.

    Reply