When we first thought about getting our motorhome one of our main concerns was what would it be like RVing with dogs? With two nearly 70 lbs chocolate labs one of the deciding factors on what RV to purchase was made with thoughts of how much room they take up. If we had smaller dogs or no dogs at all we probably would have chosen a smaller RV. Sierra and Ruby love going for rides and we knew they would love traveling seeing new sights and sniffing new smells. We never knew they would love it as much as they do. They get to spend more time with us now that we’re on the road. We try to take them everywhere we can.
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Keeping Your Dogs Safe
- Heat Stress Heat exhaustion is one of the most common threats to pets. Just like your car on a hot day, and RV can become very hot in a short time. In 70°F, the sun can cause the inside of your RV to reach over 100°F! Too hot for a pet to survive. Our RV has two air conditioners that do a good job keeping our motorhome cool during those hot days. The problem when we have things we want to do that they can’t be included in. How can we leave the dogs for a few hours while we go play and ensure they’re safe at home? Our answer to that is our MarCELL Pro temperature and humidity monitor. If temperature or humidity go outside the safe range we’ve set or power is lost to the unit the MarCELL PRO immediately makes a connection online via cellular service and “dispatches” the notifications you have set up (phone call, email or text message). No matter which temperature monitoring system you use ensure it has a proper connection at each camping location, whether it is cellular or Wi-Fi. It needs to have a way to contact you. If you do a lot of boondocking it may or may not work for you.
- Riding in the RV You may be tempted to let your dog sit on your lap while on the road, but please note that doing this is not safe for your dog or you! Just like you, your pets should be buckled up when in your vehicle is in motion. Whether its riding in your pick-up truck that you’re pulling your trailer with or riding in the motorhome. Keep both you and your dog safe by using a seat belt harness or a dog crate while driving. If you’re using a crate or carrier, make sure that you secure it so it won’t slide around. Whichever safe way you choose to keep your dog safe, it needs to be in the same vehicle as you. You should never leave them alone in a camper you’re pulling. By practicing the above safety precautions, you will help prevent your dogs from getting injured, injuring you, and also from distracting you while driving.
Ruby loves laying on the dash of our motorhome (she’s like a nosy neighbor) she likes to see everything going on. She would be up there when we travel if we’d let her.
We get most of our pet supplies while on the road from Chewy.com and highly recommend them.
Your Dog’s Essentials
You want to make sure your dogs have all the necessary items with them in order to have a great trip with you.
Here are some top things to bring:
- Collar – If you’re like us your dog is always wearing this.
- Leash – Your dogs will need to get out and stretch their legs when you stop or have to go out to the bathroom. Unlike at your sticks and brick home you can’t just let them out the back door to do their business.
- Food and Treats – Your dog expects to eat on the same schedule as at home.
- Bedding – Our dogs love lying around on our bed, couch, the rugs, pretty much where ever they like. They do have their own beds but they like to do their own thing. You definitely want to have what’s comfortable for them available.
- Toys – We have a small cloth toy box that we keep our dogs favorite toys in. Of course Sierra loves to pull everything out when she’s looking for something to play with. Now if we could just teach her to put her toys away.
- Food and water bowls – You’ll want to pay particular attention to the water bowls. Water can be your RV’s worst enemy. Ensure your bowl is spill proof or sit it on something to prevent water from spilling and creating a problem for your RV.
- Medication – If your dogs need any medications make sure you have plenty along to get through your trip.
- Waste bags – please pick up after your dogs.
Identification and Information
Ensure your dog has a dog tag with their name and your up to date contact information on it, in case they get separated from you. Consider having your dogs micro-chipped or update your contact information if they are already chipped. It would be terrible, but pets do become separated from their people while traveling quite often. Shelters, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and humane societies have scanners that can read the chips so they can get your dog back to you as quickly as possible.
Also, keep your dogs information with you at all times.
Some items you should carry:
- Veterinarian Records – a lot of campgrounds ask for recent vaccination records to ensure your dog’s health is up to date.
- Proof of Ownership – It would be heartbreaking if your dog runs away and the wrong person finds them. A scrupulous person could easily say the dog is theirs, leaving you baffled and screwed unless you can prove otherwise. Let’s hope that never happens!
- Photographs – While having pictures on your phone is great, print one or two good-quality pictures of your pet in case they run away.
More and more places are adopting pet friendly policies and welcoming pet travelers. One of the most important parts of bringing your dogs along on your RV adventures is to always be a good neighbor, be considerate and be a good representative of the pet travel community.
Obey leash laws and pet guidelines, and always, pick up after your pets. Attempt to keep barking to a minimum, and if your dog is aggressive to other dogs don’t pretend it’s a good dog. Our girl Ruby has been attacked twice by supposed good dogs in the past year.
Keep in mind that bringing pets along is a privilege. Bad behavior by one pet owner can affect us all!
On travel days, we always try to take the dogs for a long walk. This way they get all their business taken care of, and get wore out before we hit the road.
Some animals get anxiety when traveling. You may need some way to keep the anxiety to a minimum. Our Ruby was a wonderful traveler for the first nine months of our adventure. Then somewhere along the line she started to get nervous on travel days. She would pant and worry about what was going on. We took her to the Vet and got some medications that didn’t do anything. We tried a few other over the counter remedies that didn’t do anything either. Finally, we tried Hemp Quiet Moments. That and a good long walk before heading out finally calmed her down a bit on travel days. She is still a little nervous but it doesn’t worry her as bad as before.
We know how tempting it is to put the RV in drive and just keep on rolling! But making time for potty breaks or a short walk along the way is one of the best parts of traveling with pets!
Sierra and Ruby love to stop and sniff the grass or wander down a trail to break up the drive. It’s good for us all to take a little break every few hours. Pick a rest area, or choose a little town to explore along your way. It will break up the day and won’t feel like you’ve spent the whole time behind the wheel.
Keeping the RV Clean
One thing about RV living is that there isn’t a lot of room so cleaning is usually quick and easy… At least fairly easy.
Did we mention that Sierra sheds like there is no tomorrow? She constantly sheds so we vacuum almost daily to keep the hair under control. It would start to look like everything is covered in fur otherwise. We use a Shark Ion Duo Clean to vacuum our RV. The MultiFLEX Technology folds over for compact, free-standing storage and provides flexible reach to get under beds, couches, and tables. It works well on our vinyl floors as well as our throw rugs and is a great overall vacuum for an RV.
The worst days are the rainy ones. The dogs still want to go out for their exercise. Some campgrounds have muddy roads and other areas that really create a problem for keeping the RV clean. To combat tracking mud throughout our RV we have a set of towels specifically for the dogs on rainy days. When we bring the dogs back into the RV on a rainy day they immediately get their paws and bellies wiped down and dried. We’ve found this keeps the RV much cleaner on nasty weather days.
One of the hardest issues we’ve run into with the dogs while on the road is Veterinary care. Though your dog may be up-to-date on all its shots, and may seem in perfect health when you leave on your trip, things can happen, and you want to be prepared in case they do.
Seems like a lot of Veterinarians want you to be an established customer before they’ll see your pets or at least that’s what we’ve been told when they find out we’re just passing through the area. We have been lucky enough the couple times Sierra and Ruby got sick while on the road to find some great Vets that took good care of them. It just took some searching to find them.
We’re thinking of trying Banfield Pet Hospital. They have locations throughout the country and are located in most PetSmart stores. Once we’re an existing customer finding one to take our girls to may be easier than trying to get into a random Veterinary Hospital.
Thanks to the comforts of home that RVs offer, bringing your dogs with you is quite simple and will prove to be a wonderful addition to your trip. After traveling with Sierra and Ruby in our motorhome, we’ve learned a lot and hope our article helps you decide to take your dogs on the road with you. If you have any questions or comments please post them below.