RVing with dogs is a great way to bring your dog on the road with you. Your pets will feel right at home. And you will enjoy knowing they are with you not staying at someone else’s house, at a kennel or being left at home for hours in between people stopping in to check on them.
We traveled full-time with our 2 large labrador retrievers in our RVs for over 5 years. When we first started full time RVing, we had a lot of concerns around how it would work traveling with pets. Over the years we have figured our a few things to help make it work. Here are our recommendations before hitting the road with your dog.
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Most RV parks allow pets, but be aware that not all do and others have limitations. Limitations you may come across are:
- Pets have to be under a certain weight
- You can only have 1 pet
- The combined weight of your dogs has to be under a certain weight
- Certain breeds aren’t allowed – Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepards, etc.
It is always good to ask what the pet rules are when you are making reservations for your RV adventure. You don’t want to show up and then not be allowed to stay!
A lot of RV parks that do allow dogs will have a dog park. This is nice for letting your dogs off leash for a while.
All state parks and national parks we have been to have allowed pets. But again it is always worth it to double check. They do tend to ask for documentation showing that your pet has been vaccinated. Which leads to the forms that you should bring with you when traveling with your pet.
Forms To Have When Traveling With Your Pet
1. Proof of vaccinations, especially rabies. You should be able to get a printed copy of this from your vet. I would recommend also having them email it to you so you have an electronic copy.
2. Vet records. It is also good to have your vet records on hand. This isn’t really for the RV park but for you to have in case there is an emergency.
And you have to make an unexpected visit to a vet while you are traveling. It will be very helpful for the vet, who has never seen your pet before, to know the history.
3. Tags. Your pet should always wear a collar with their name, your mobile number and a rabies tag. We only take their collars off at night, but make sure to put them right back on in the morning.
Even if you don’t think they will ever get out. It is still good to have their collar on as often as possible. Just in case they see a stray squirrel and make a run for it out of your RV door!
4. Chip information. If your pet has a chip implanted in them, make sure to have the chip number, website, and that you verified all information is current on your pet as well as your contact information before you leave on your trip.
If your pet eats a special type of food that is only found at your local pet shop, be sure to ask them if there is anywhere else you can get it or if they could ship it to you. I wouldn’t recommend this. Unless they can guarantee quick shipping or if you are plan to stay in RV park for 2 weeks or more.
If you are planning to RV full time, you may want to switch to a brand of dog food that can be found at large chain store across the country.
Yes, traveling in an RV you do have storage areas under your RV. But these areas are not always that large. If you want to bring all of your pets food with you on your trip, make sure to consider storage space when buying or renting an RV. Those pet food bags are large and heavy!
You may also want to have a collapsible water bowl. That you can bring with you in the car. Great for if you take your dog out hiking or exploring with you.
Leaving Your Pet In the RV When You Go Out
There will most likely be places you want to explore on your trip. Where you either don’t want to bring your dog or they aren’t allowed. No worries! They can stay in the RV when you are gone, but there are a few things to take into consideration:
- If it is going to be hot, you will want to run the air conditioning. Also keep some windows open just in case the power goes out at the park. An RV is like a car, so if the power goes out and there is no AC, it will get HOT in your RV.
- If you are worried about rain or someone climbing in through a window, you can also buy rain covers for your roof vents and run the overhead fans.
- I would also be sure if you plan on leaving your pet in your RV. That you are staying at an RV park that has workers or security that are active during the day in case anything happens.
- You can either buy or make a paper sign to hang by your door that tells people there are pets in the RV and leave your phone number in case of fire or in case there is a problem. Be sure to note what kind of pet you have and how many so it is clear to any responders.
- If your dog is a barker you will need to do something about this. Having a neighbor with a barking dog is NOT fun. One of our dogs would bark any time she heard a noise outside the RV if we were not inside with her. We bought a collar that spritzes a citronella mist when she barks. It took one bark for her to realize she didn’t like that smell and it has worked ever since. You can pick them up at pet stores.
- You may also want to look into a temperature monitor. Especially if you are going to be somewhere that is really warm.
If you take these precautions, your pet will be fine hanging out while you go out to explore. We don’t like to do it, but if we are visiting somewhere a few hours from our campground, we are able to leave our dogs alone for 12 hours. We would never go longer than that.
If you are staying at a campground that has a lot of full time RVers, you may be able to find someone who has a business where they will stop in, check on your pet or even take your dog for a walk. There are a lot of RV travelers that are dog owners. Your comfort level on a stranger entering your RV would determine if this would work for you.
You will of course want to be sure that your dog is up to date on their vet visits and vaccines before traveling. However, you also want to be sure they are up to date on their flea, tick and heartworm medicine.
Also, it never hurts to explain to your vet where you will be headed to see if they have any additional vaccines they would recommend. We took our pets to Colorado and our vet recommended a Lyme Disease vaccine. Which we have continued to do.
To take it a step further, you can always call a vet that is local to where you are visiting to see what they recommend for their patients. For example, in South Florida fleas are resistant to a lot of flea medicines that people give their pets in the northern part of the US.
And remember, just like with people, certain medicines are available over the counter and some require a prescription. Even further, there are also medicines that can only be prescribed after a vet has seen your pet. Discuss with your vet that you are leaving: the length of time, and what they recommend you purchase ahead of time to have with you.
We like to keep a supply of:
- Heartworm medicine
- Flea/Tick medicine
- Ear infection medicine
- Upset stomach medicine
Having these means we can stay on top of preventive medicine. Plus have a few things on hand in case of unforeseen situations without having to visit a vet on the road.
Our dogs were always great on travel days. When we had a motorhome they would lay on their dog beds when we traveled. When we moved to a van and trailer we would bring their dog beds into the car and put them on the floor.
Really they were always 100% OK traveling. I think they just liked spending time with us in the car and being where ever we were.
Places to Visit
If you want, you could totally plan your destinations around places that allow dogs to participate in activities and tours and even take them out to eat with you. Here are our favorite pet friendly locations.
They’re part of your family, so it’s always cool to include them in your vacations and our dogs loved these locations plus we had a great time having them with us!
Or you could plan it based around things you want to see and then find things for your pet to do when you get there. Most cities we have visited have a dog park or a local park we can go to, but don’t count on all locations being dog friendly.
Some cities have a LOT more restrictions than others. So if you are someone who wants your dog to come with more often than not, then do some up front research so you aren’t disappointed. We recommend checking out these top dog friendly cities in the US.
If you are thinking you don’t want to do an RV or that you want to also include some hotel stays in your travel with your pet you can. We have stayed at a few hotels with our dogs and one chain that normally allows pets is La Quinta.
However, we were surprised by some of the more upper end hotels that did too. Be prepared there may be a large additional fee for you to bring your pet with you or a limit on the number of pets or their weight. Always call ahead to ask.
Boarding Your Pet If You Are Planning To Be Away From Your RV Overnight
There have been a few times we have had to board our dogs. Whenever possible, we have had family who was traveling with us or friends we have met come check and help out with our dogs.
When that wasn’t an option, we learned that a person who watched dogs out of their home was our best bet. Our #1 recommendation for finding a place to leave your pet is to stop in at the local pet food/bakery, not one of the chain stores, but more the boutique type of locally owned shops. Talk to the owner and see who they recommend. This has worked out really well for us.
If that is not an option, make sure you read a LOT of reviews on kennels and if possible bring your dog in to visit to see how they react and feel as well as seeing how you feel about the place and the staff. Use your gut instinct here.
We have found this site to be really helpful when planning travel with our pets: http://www.bringfido.com
RV living really is the route to go if you have pets. Or if you want to do extended road trips, travel or just like the idea of having them with you. In the end what it really comes down to is that you and your pet will love the fact that you get to hang out together at night, in the morning, and I am sure multiple times sitting under your awning by the picnic table enjoying the outdoors!
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