Leaving family pet(s) behind when we venture out on RV trips can be emotionally difficult. However, it is possible, under the right conditions, to take your furry friends with you. This two-part article will provide some insight into traveling with pets and will hopefully offer some ideas how to minimize the stress on both the two- and four-legged members of the family.
There are several issues to consider at the outset prior to deciding whether to take your pets out on the road, and the type of pet you have is obviously also a consideration. We will focus exclusively on cats & dogs, as well as part-time travels. Full-time RVers have generally necessarily dealt with this important issue.
We adopted our latest dog Pandora about a year-and-a-half ago. Prior to that, it had been many years since we last owned a dog, so we had become accustomed to travelling without one. We have also always had cats, which we have always left at home to be tended to by whoever was watching our house for us.
We realized very quickly that Pandora would be an awesome “RV Dog”. She loves riding in the rig and generally sleeps while we are driving. She will not complain if we leave her in the RV, but jumps up on the dashboard to watch us walk, ride, or drive away. We are true adventurers when we travel, so we take Pandora out with us exploring and walking or biking, unless we are visiting a location that does not allow pets. Sometimes you may find yourself leaving your pet in the RV for long periods of time. You must understand your pet well enough to know how long they can be left alone before they have to relieve themselves. Pandora is good for about 16 hrs. You can also pad train your dog. When Pandora was a puppy, we kept a pad in the shower for her to use. Cats of course will use their litter box, which we also keep in the bathroom.
Our 15-year old daughter is very attached to Pepper the cat, so she decided it would be a good idea for him to experience the family travel adventure. Since we have a large RV with plenty of room, we decided to give it a try and took Pepper with us on an RV trip. We were rather unprepared for the outcome. The cat howled and meowed the entire time, and was both vomiting and had diarrhea. It was a bit of a disaster, and it is a very fortunate thing that we have a washer/dryer in our coach. It was clear to us that the cat suffers from motion sickness, and since our daughter is non-deterred in her desire to have her cat along, we now give Pepper Gravol® at a dose of 12.5mg every four hours. We do this by cutting a 50mg tablet into four pieces. We first dose Pepper about one hour before we drive. By doing so, Pepper is a reasonably good traveler. One benefit of cats is that they are generally not a problem to leave alone in the RV, as they will generally find a place to sleep. If you are considering taking your cat on the road, and they experience motion sickness, you can try the above procedure. Some cats will crawl under the bed or couch and stay there the entire trip. This may or may not work for you. Fortunately, Pepper does not do this, but does like to curl up on a dinette chair. Overall, it is a joy to have our pets along, and we feel more complete as a family.
Part 2 will present some important considerations regarding taking your pets on your RV adventures.
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.