There have been many articles written about traveling with pets, and everybody has different perspectives on this important topic. I have had many pets throughout my life, and although I currently only own a pair of sugar gliders, members of my family own quite a menagerie. Therefore, I have had occasion to provide room and board to domestic animals in the RV.
Should your pet travel?
The first and most important question one must ask before setting out with a pet in tow is whether to take your beloved animal along in the first place. Are you doing it for yourself or for your pet? While having your beloved pet along is likely therapeutic for you, the same is not always true for them. Although animals love to be around their humans, RV travel can be stressful on them. If there is somebody available to watch your pets while you are away, it is likely a better option. I realize there are many reasons people travel with their pets, such as full-timers, so aside from my initial question, this article simply provides some pointers. No matter how experienced you are with this topic, it never hurts to review the basics. Who knows, you may learn something new.
Temperature and Humidity
In terms of temperature and humidity, your pet is generally comfortable as long as you are. There are a few exceptions to this, however:
- Bear in mind that dogs do not have sweat glands like we do, which is why they pant, especially when they are hot. If you are in a warm and/or humid location, make sure your pet has access to lots of clean water.
- Also, make sure they can stay cool. Ideally, they should be in an air-conditioned RV.
- Many RV parks don’t allow pets to be left alone in an RV, so please be aware of the rules where you are staying. If you do leave your pet behind, make sure their water dish and a cool location is available.
- Close the blinds, including the windshield skirt, and close the windows if you leave the A/C on. Otherwise, open the windows and turn on the vent fans for cross-circulation.
- Another thing that not everybody thinks about is a contingency plan in case of power or air-conditioner failure. Your pet can go into distress very quickly if the temperature rises. If you leave your pet alone in your RV in a hot location and are relying on air-conditioning to keep it cool, make sure there is at least one inherently cool spot in the RV where the animal can go if the A/C fails. This may include a bathroom, where there are generally no windows. Leave the bathroom door open (the shower is also a good spot to keep a cat’s litter box) with the ceiling fan open and running.
- In a very hot location, it is recommended to never leaving your pet alone in an RV, as power or appliance failures are not uncommon. Take your pet with you and switch off with your family members, partner, or spouse while shopping, etc. If you are eating at a restaurant, see if they have patio seating where you can observe your pet at all times.
Driving with Pets
Keep both your family and your pet safe while driving as well. Never let them sit on your lap while you are driving and make sure they are in a safe location in the vehicle. You don’t have to leave food and water dishes on the floor while driving, but be sure to give the animals regular access to it.
Finally, family pets can be prone to motion sickness just as people are, so it is a good idea to take your pet on a shorter trip before setting out on a longer excursion just to make sure.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.
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Steve, thank you for your post! Very good advice indeed. I would like to add another option that we use rather than relying on campsite power when leaving our pet for many hours or even for the whole day while on our vacations or seasonal stays. First, I make sure our pet is up to date on all vaccinations and is healthy before traveling, then, if we plan to go on an extended outing, such as a round of golf or a national park where pets are not allowed or appropriate, I take our pet to the local pet day-care facility! It’s best to check out the day-care facilities in the area ahead of time so you understand their rules and requirements. This option is very reasonable when you only need a day here and there, and gives me peace of mind that my pet is comfortable.
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