camping with pets, RV Life, RV Tips, RV with cats, RV with dogs, RV with pets, Travel Tips, travel with pets
Take a look back at Part 1 of our Traveling with Pets series where we discussed some general insight on how to minimize stress when taking your furry friends on the road. Continue reading with Part 2 as we discuss some important considerations.
Bathing Your Pet On The Road
You should be prepared to bathe your pet while traveling, as they could get dirty or require a flea bath. You don’t need special flea or pet shampoo, as human shampoo works just fine. Just make sure to leave the shampoo on for a few minutes to suffocate the fleas. Do not use pet shampoo that contains pesticides, as your pet can ingest the toxic contents. Baby shampoo is also effective, especially if you have concerns about getting shampoo in your pet’s eyes. We have always found that regular bathing is a more effective flea prevention than a collar or drops. Some RV parks do have pet washing stations, but you can also use your inside or outside shower to do the deed. Be sure to tie your pet up while bathing them, as there are many temptations.
Age & Disposition of the Animal
If you have a senior or very young pet, it may not be in their best interest (or yours), to have them with you. An older animal may have aches and pains that render them more irritable than normal. A young animal will likely be overly energetic and may lay waste to your rig. I’m not suggesting these are show-stoppers, but consider your pet’s personality as part of the decision. If your dog is not very social with humans or other dogs, this could be a problem as well.
A howling cat or barking dog is not conducive to good RV etiquette. Remember that most RV parks have rules prohibiting animals being left in RVs unattended. This is mostly to do with nuisance barking. If your dog is well behaved and keeps quiet while you are away, this is rarely an issue. We leave our dog and cat in our RV if we are doing something where pets are not welcome. We never get a complaint from the park or neighbors because Pandora does not make a sound. The exception to this would be if somebody tried to break into the coach; the best burglar alarm system going. If you have a loud dog or cat, leaving them in your rig would be problematic, and you would likely be asked to leave the park. We have stayed in many RV parks where all you could hear during the day was a barking dog left in an RV unattended.
If you travel with a towable, your pets will be riding in the towing vehicle during the drive, which may not be conducive to their comfort or yours. Do not leave them in the trailer while you are driving, as this is unsafe. Smaller RVs may also limit the comfort and enjoyment of both human and animal.
If you are traveling in warm weather, remember to open some windows, turn on a fan, run the roof Air Conditioner and/or find a cool area of the coach to put their food, water, and bed so they may hang out there. This is also true when you stop for a break from driving. Do not leave your vehicle without ensuring your pet will be comfortable while you are out. If you have a towable, remove your pet from the towing vehicle and put them in the trailer. NEVER leave your pet in a hot vehicle for any length of time!
If you are crossing the border between USA, Canada, or Mexico, ensure your pets are fully vaccinated and you have the documentation from your veterinarian to prove it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is important to remember that each situation and pet is different. However, the most important decision is what is best for the animal. Sometimes it is best to leave them behind. If you will be spending a majority of your time out of the RV, your pet may be happier staying behind at a boarding facility, or with a friend or family member. They will enjoy being with other dogs or human friends and will anxiously await your return.
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.
Bob B. ~ “Consistent with our past experience, the dispatcher was friendly, concerned, and efficient; she returned calls as promised to let us know who the provider would be and when to expect arrival, as well as to confirm arrival. The service provider, Ratholland Automotive Service, and its driver, J.T. called immediately to estimate arrival time, and arrived within 5 minutes of the estimate. J.T. was prompt, friendly, and efficient. He had the proper equipment and took care of changing our tire and getting us on the road quickly and professionally. We’ve had Coach-Net for about 14 years, and you’ve always come through when needed. I’m now the Director of the Forest River Owners’ Group, and we provide Coach-Net coverage to all new Forest River RV purchasers. I’m happy to be able to promote that affiliation.”
Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA said:
The best and only sure-fire way to prevent pet damage to your rig when you leave your pet alone is to use a crate. A crate can provide a conflict-free zone for your pet to keep out from underfoot and safe when visitors come, the grandkids visit, or when you’re hosting a barbecue.
I respectfully disagree with using human shampoo on a pet, unless it’s specifically baby shampoo. Human shampoo often contains harsh chemicals that can sting eyes and sensitive mucus membranes. Always use a shampoo that specifically says “no tears formula” on the bottle! My favorite is Burt’s Bees pet shampoo. It makes plenty of lather and does not sting.
If you have a large dog, consider stopping at a self-service dog wash. These wonderful places provide everything you need to get the pup clean, without making a sopping wet mess in the rig. Outside showers are theoretically great but usually result in a mud puddle and a dog with muddy feet–not really what we wanted when we started out to clean the dog!