Last week we spent some time talking about RVing with pets. If you plan well and establish good routines, your four-legged companions (and the feathered ones, and the reptilian ones, etc.) can add another layer of fun to camping and road trips. This week, we want to add some extra tips about safety and emergencies, leaving your pets in your RV, and good pet etiquette at campgrounds.
Safety and Emergencies: Making Sure Everyone Comes Home In One Piece
As we said last week, pets should ride with you, not in the RV by themselves. Not only is this a matter of helping your pet feel secure, it’s also a safety issue. If you have your animals in the RV alone while you’re going down the road and you suddenly have to stop, there will be no one to keep them from tumbling, unrestrained, through the RV. Worse, if you have an accident and things start falling out of your RV cupboards, or if your RV tips, your pet is now at the mercy of flying chairs, pots and pans, and other heavy items than can do serious harm. Some RVers make sure their pets travel in a kennel or crate. This keeps pets safely in one spot while you’re traveling and can ease both your stress and theirs. Having a crate or kennel with you is also a good idea in case of an emergency vet trip, particularly for cats, ferrets and other animals that are small, fast and can easily panic. Again, keep crates or kennels in the tow vehicle, not in the RV.
We can’t say this strongly enough: In the same way that you should carry an emergency kit in your RV for humans, you should have one for your pets. The Humane Society of America has put together a comprehensive emergency kit list for you to use as a reference. You’ll need to check the supplies regularly and replace items you use or that expire as you travel. Also check in with your veterinarian for recommendations that may be unique to your pet.
As we said last week, you should always have your veterinarian’s phone number in your RV pet file. It’s also not a bad idea to have the phone number to the ASPCA Poison Control Center available: (800) 426-4435. If you think your pet may have eaten something poisonous, the poison control center is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. (Note: they may charge your credit card a $65 consultation fee.)
Another safety tip to remember when you’re camping: be aware of the water your pet gets into. Like humans, our pets are susceptible to waterborne bacteria. One rule of thumb is: if you wouldn’t drink it yourself, don’t give it to your pets. It’s also not a bad idea to hose off your animals using the outside shower when you get back to the RV if they’ve been in questionable water or muck.
Leaving Your Pets Alone In Your RV While You’re Away
In general, it’s not a great idea to leave your animals in the RV or tow vehicle alone for long periods of time, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. For pets who are used to being crated or kenneled, this is a good time to make use of it; it can help them feel secure and safe while you’re gone. In lieu of that, you can pull the shades so at least they won’t have to worry about protecting their campsite from whatever they might see out the window and can settle in to wait for you.
Planning ahead can make the time apart less stressful for your pets. Take your dogs for a long walk or a big romp before you leave. This will help them fall asleep while you’re gone. If your dog is a stress-chewer, then keep a great new bone or chew toy for this occasion.
Also be aware of the weather. On hot days, some RVs can get as hot as any car. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can easily hit 100 degrees. On a 90-degree day, interior temperatures can skyrocket in just a few minutes. Similarly, if the heat goes off in your RV while you’re away in the winter, temperatures can plummet. If you’re not there to monitor the temperature of your RV, your pets can be at real risk. Plan your outings so that your pets aren’t in the RV in the heat of the day, and also check in with your campground neighbors; they might be happy to check on your pets while you’re out.
Campground Pet Etiquette
If you’re one of those lucky people whose dogs stay right by your side without any hassle, congratulations; you have the perfect camping dog! However if your dogs are more like ours, they get excited about new campsites and all the possibilities for new smells and friends. In that case, when you first arrive at your campsite look for a place to secure your pets where they’ll be out of the direct traffic routes and away from other campers who might not appreciate them as much as you do. A lot of RVers bring a long lead so their pets can investigate their new surroundings without going too far. Others carry a pet playpen with them, so they can contain them in one spot.
If you want happy campground neighbors and you’d just as soon not get a visit from the campground hosts because of complaints, it’s your responsibility to have pets with good manners. Don’t leave your pets unattended. If your dog howls or barks when you leave the campsite, then you need to bring the dog with you or leave someone at camp. If your pet roams when not on a leash, then you need to keep a close eye on it because it may not be welcome in someone else’s camp. And please, please clean up after your pets. If they had opposable thumbs, maybe they could deal with their own plastic bag for waste, but until they figure that out, it’s up to you. Good camping experiences with pets require humans and animals to be respectful of other campers.
We love our RVs and we love our pets, and we think the two together are perfect! RVing with your animals requires a little forethought and planning, but with the help of packing lists, common sense measures, and schedules, everybody will be happy campers.
Stop by and see us on your next RV trip. Call in advance and make an appointment for grooming services at our Travel Center. While your favorite pooch is being groomed, you’ll have time to fill up on propane, shop in the convenience store, use the laundromat or have lunch at the Guaranty Cafe and Grocery.
contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance with your RV.
Photo: Steven Carlton