Animal lovers the world over know that a pet’s companionship is one of life’s great simple pleasures, but how unconditional is that love when we take it on the road? With an open mind and a smartly equipped RV, you’re all set for self-contained, solo, or family travel. Follow a few sensible guidelines to get your RV pet-ready and you’ll be glad to have them aboard.
Set the Scene with Safety First
Begin by creating boundaries inside your RV: an accessible crate tucked into an available corner will help a dog feel safe; and positioning a sunny perch for your cat, in-cabin or cockpit, offers a spot for naps and even bird watching–from a safe distance. If you can, close off the sleeping area. Contained boundaries offer pets a sense of security, and (bonus!) you’ll have less area to clean.
If your road buddy is a dog, make sure to complete some training before you travel. Essential commands include Sit, Stay, Down, and No, and consider teaching dogs to promptly step in and out of your rig. Along the road, you’ll occasionally find yourself in circumstances that aren’t super pet friendly, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your much-loved pets are safe and under control.
Some RV parks don’t allow pets, and other parks limit the number of pets allowed in and around each vehicle, so be sure to plan ahead. No matter where you roam, you’ll find animal lovers as well as folks with little or no experience with animals. Practicing pet safety on the road really is in the best interest of pets, pet owners, and fellow travelers.
Create an added level of security by keeping vaccinations and records up to date, have cats and dogs chipped, and if it feels right for your particular situation, retain a pet insurance policy for unexpected pet health problems on the road.
Pro Tip: Travelling solo and can’t leave your pet alone? Sites like rover.com offer affordable one-off and short-term pet sitting in locations across the United States.
Everybody’s a Beginner Sometime
Fair statement, especially when it comes to life on the road–with or without pets! As you prepare for long-term travel with pets, think about how you and your road family can live together in harmony:
- Has your pet ever traveled long distances in your coach? Consider an overnight trip to test the waters. Small details can make or break the experience: bring along familiar bedding and one or two favorite toys, and maintain your pet’s regular feeding routine. Rubber-bottomed metal feeding dishes will grip the cabin floor as you drive, minimizing spills.
- Is your pet especially, um, energetic? Driver safety is essential. If your usually adorable cat is likely to climb or claw you as you drive, a door or divider between cabin and cockpit is the answer.
- Alternatively, your sidekick may be happiest by your side. In this case, install a ShadePro rubber-backed Dash Cover. The soft velour fabric keeps pets comfy while protecting the dash from fading and scratches.
- When you can, park near dog parks and pet-friendly hiking trails. Cats and caged critters are probably better left inside (with ventilation), but if your playmate is a dog then you know that a well-exercised dog is a happy dog, and that makes for a fantastic traveling companion.
- Here’s a tip worth considering–don’t bring the great outdoors–indoors! A nightly tick check will help everyone sleep soundly.
Quench Their Thirst All day, Every Day
A rule so important that it bears repeating: always have plenty of clean, fresh water available for your pets, and never leave a pet unattended in a closed vehicle. This is especially true during hot weather conditions, and by hot we suggest sustained temperatures below 70 degrees F.
Most RVs and some vans rely on central air to cool the cabin interior, but in warmer climates, and from late spring through early fall, be especially mindful of heat reflected through window glass. A fitted reflective windshield cover can lower interior cabin temperature by up to 20°, deflect the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and offers the added benefit of privacy. When central air isn’t an option, take full advantage of any ceiling fans, floor fans, and specially designed cooling mats.
Bringing pets outside is always an option, and ShadePro retractable RV Awnings do a splendid job of cooling pets–and their owners. Make sure to bring that water bowl outside, too.
In especially hot weather, don’t underestimate old school options like ice packs and bandanas kept cold in the freezer. (Again, for pets and their owners!) And no matter what kind of amenities and hook-ups you enjoy on the road, a regularly filled 5-gallon jug of water is worth its weight in gold, as they say.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of geography: a body of water heats and cools more slowly than a landmass, so coastal regions tend to remain cooler during summer and warmer during winter. Parking near lakes and rivers will help regulate cabin temperatures naturally.
Ready to Ride?
You already know and love your pets on land, so to speak, so once you get the hang of it, the steps you take to protect your pets on the road will come naturally. You might even wonder why you ever hesitated.
Safe journeys ahead!
Lindsay Hill Interiors (featured image)