One of the best things about RV travel is that it makes it easy to bring your pets along with you. You can pack all their gear once and not have to worry about finding pet-friendly hotels or even worse, boarding your pets. A recent survey from the RV Industry Association found that 65 percent of RV campers bring a pet on their RV adventures. Dogs are the most common at 93 percent with cats next at 8 percent. The 101 percent total means that some RV owners bring both.
That is exactly where we were when we started full-time RV travel six years ago. We had two senior dogs and one cat. Along the way, we found several strategies and products to make pets safe and happy during RV travel and we’re happy to share them with you.
As you plan your RV adventures, it is important to keep your pets in mind. Many places nowadays are pet-friendly, but not all. That means you’ll need to do a little advance planning to be sure. And you’re not only looking for pet-friendly activities like hiking trails or pet-friendly patio dining, but also checking to see if the campground has a dog park, breed restrictions, or limits on the number of pets allowed. In fact, you’ll also want to check and see if there is an additional charge for pets as this is becoming more and more common.
Be sure to check out Go Pet Friendly, the #1 Resource for trip planning for pet-friendly vacations. The owners of the website are full-time RV travelers and have definitely been all around the country finding the best of the best for pet lovers.
Finally, if you are traveling to a location with a lot of activities that don’t allow pets, you may want to look into doggy daycare in the area. Why should your dog have to sit in the RV alone when you are out having a blast? Treat him or her to a dog spa or day camp with a pool for those hot summers days.
Buckle Up for Safety
I think it is pretty standard now for Americans to buckle up for safety in their vehicles whether it is in a motorhome or tow vehicle that is pulling your fifth wheel or travel trailer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that practice extends to our furry companions. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen people driving down the road with pets in their laps or on the dash.
The problem with that though is the danger it poses to you and your beloved pet. The primary reason why you’re buckled in is if there’s an accident and you have an abrupt stop but if you have nothing to hold you your body still goes flying and can be ejected
from the vehicle. Well, the same thing can happen with your pets. An unrestrained 10 lb. dog involved in an accident at just 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of force – more than enough to inflict serious harm on itself or a passenger.
A pet safety harness can protect all of you. It also protects your pet from running away in the ensuing chaos if there is an accident or even from slipping away when you stop to refuel.
I’m sure that many people don’t buckle their pets because they’re afraid their pets are
going to be uncomfortable and it’s going to make an overall miserable travel day for everyone involved. The good news is that there are actually a lot of different styles of pet restraints so you can find the one that works best for your companion.
We personally like the K&H Pet Products Buckle N’ Go Dog Car Seat because it doubles as a restraint and protector for the seats. You could also just get a simple strap that attaches to your dog’s collar and the seat belt or headrest. There are also soft-sided carriers for both dogs and cats that can be buckled into a seatbelt.
Pet ID or Microchip
We all know even with the most vigilant parents, pets can be pretty darn crafty and sometimes get away from you. Can you imagine being on vacation, miles from home, and losing your dog or cat? I think it is one of my greatest fears.
Obviously, one thing you can do is have your pet microchipped. A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radiowaves put out by the scanner activate the chip. If a lost pet is found, most kennels will scan the animal for a chip which will then transmit the identification number to the scanner. If you have registered your contact information with the microchip, they can contact you.
But what if someone in a nearby neighborhood or even the campground finds your pet? They won’t have a scanner and they will have to call animal control or take your pet to a vet’s office to have it scanned delaying your reunion.
That’s where a pet ID tag comes in handy. Now you can obviously buy an inexpensive one that has your phone number on it. We’ve gone a step further and have something called the Pet Hub ID tag. This tag goes on your pet’s collar or on their harness like the traditional ones, but it has a QR code that can be scanned by a smartphone, a website, and a phone number. It provides three ways an individual can find your contact information.
The great thing is you can easily update it and put the campground you’re staying at or have both you and your spouse’s phone numbers listed. And if your pet has a medical condition, it can also share that. So say your pet has diabetes and requires insulation. It can have that urgent message on there. Finally, when the code has been scanned it shows you the location on a Google Map.
The Pet Hub also allows you to digitally store all of your pet’s medical records so that you have them anytime you are traveling. Then you have easy access if you need to pay a visit to the veterinarian. And you get all that for only $27/year for an individual pet. There is a multi-pet discount as well.
As much as we try to find pet-friendly attractions to visit, there are times we leave our fur babies in the RV while we’re out and about. It has always made me nervous that we’d lose power and the RV would quickly get hot as a car does. That’s why we purchased the Temp Stick™ WiFi-powered smart monitor that sends alerts to your phone or emails the instant an important change in temperature or humidity is triggered. You set the trigger points and alerts.
Now you might be wondering how we’d have WiFi if the power goes out. That’s simple, we have a hotspot from our cellular service provider. We keep the battery charged and the temperature monitor connected to it.
We chose this particular brand because it doesn’t require a subscription service. With Temp Stick you just pay for the sensor. The unlimited data logging and 24/7 monitoring and alerts are FREE for the lifetime of the sensor.
See how simple it is in the video below.
Pet First Aid Kit
It is also important to make sure to have basic first aid supplies for your pets in the RV. Carefully putting together a well-provisioned first aid kit will make you more ready to deal with a medical emergency if one confronts you for your dog, cat, or other pet. Have this kit in the house and fully stocked with supplies at all times, next to the first aid kit for your family. See the Ultimate Pet First Aid Kit or make your own using the checklist below.
Here’s a special word of caution about being prepared for poison hazards.
Related: Read our article on RVing with Cats for specific tips and products to help your feline friend enjoy RV travel.