We had no idea what we were getting into when we decided to RV with pets.
We were so busy cleaning out the house and getting everything loaded up, that we didn’t really consider the ramifications of having pets along for the journey.
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How our RV with Pets Story Began
We started RVing back in 2015. Back then, we had 2 cats (Bart & Carrie) and 1 dog (a German Shepherd named Dessy). We only had 30 days to go from sticks and bricks life to RV life. Add to that 2 kids and 3 pets…and yeah. We weren’t totally prepared.
Fast forward 3.5 years and we now only have one tiny cat, Carrie (AKA Tiki). Bart and Dessy have passed away. We miss them so much.
In this blog post, we will be sharing what we have learned as a family with 3 pets to help you as you start your own RV journey with pets.
When you RV with pets, you have to be prepared for travel days. Whether you drive 200 miles or 600 miles, you need to be prepared.
If you travel in a motorhome, travel days will be simple for you. Your dog or cat will be able to roam around their home all day. If you have slides though, make sure that your pet can’t get inside your slide. We once put our cats back inside our RV after a long travel day before we deployed our slide One of our cats got under the slide and it took a good hour to be able to reach him and get him out.
If you have a towable, please do not leave your pet in the RV while you drive. This is very dangerous. Travel trailers and fifth wheels are not designed to have passengers: you can’t maintain a constant and safe temperature, you won’t know if something has fallen on your pet, and it is not safety rated for passengers. Make sure that your pet travels with your family. If you have space, bring bedding and water. If you are unable to have either of these, make sure to stop often to give your pet a break. Even our kitty gets to come in the RV every-time we stop – she gets snacks, water, and the ability to stretch her legs.
Dealing with Limited Space
OK. This is really obvious, but I have to reiterate that if you RV with pets, it means sharing an already small space with your four-legged children.
This means you will always be tripping over them or sitting down and putting your feet on top of them. It means tripping over their food and water.
We are constantly spilling their water. CONSTANTLY.
We also have dedicated the bottom of our pantry to pet food storage. The cat food is fairly small, but the dog food took up quite a bit of space. If you don’t have a pantry area, you will have to find another location to store their food and supplies.
No one really has their own spot.
We have 26 ft of living space. That’s no much. The cats of course just find a quiet spot somewhere (sometimes even in our closet or beds) and just nap.
Our German Shepherd, Dessy, had a way of fitting under our dinette (it is cozy down there with fluffy carpeting). She amazed us with her ability to occupy such a small space. We initially purchased an awesome dog bed, but guess what, we just ended up tripping over it!!
Eventually, we purchased a dog crate for Dessy. Unfortunately, it was mesh and she punched right through it! So, we had to purchase a hard-sided crate. It made a big difference. We recommend getting a hard-sided crate for your dog as well. If you can bring the one from home, even better. A crate is the easiest way to create a place that is specifically for them. A crate will also help with separation anxiety issues and escape attempts (those few seconds might save your pet).
Swirling bits of fur everywhere…
Our Dessy didn’t shed much, really, she didn’t, but we are constantly sweeping with little relief.
Now that we only have one kitty, there is a lot less fur.
Things that have helped with the never-ending fur:
Our air purifier has really helped to pick up dust and dander. We can tell a difference when we don’t have it on.
Even our dehumidifier helps with purifying the air…bonus that it keeps the air comfortable. Pets + People = lots of humidity (especially in the South!)
We always keep a lint roller nearby and brush everyone outside…return the hair from whence it came.
The Escape Artist
The likelihood of your pet escaping and getting lost is higher since you are always moving and your pet may not be familiar with the surroundings.
Our cat escaped one night without us realizing it.
We had to search the campground in the dark.
Luckily, we found her, but have been much more vigilant since then.
Our cat does not have a collar or microchip. She’s totally an indoor baby.
We simply ensure that we see the cat before we leave the RV and double check the outside to ensure that we don’t see her.
It has become a family affair to always check the RV for our kitty when we have returned whether it be a simple walk around the campground or a full day out exploring.
Not all RV parks will welcome Fido, especially if they have been identified as an “aggressive breed”.
This tends to include, but is not limited to, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherd, and Dobermans.
Make sure to disclose what kind of dog you have, even if they don’t ask so you can avoid any unpleasantness when the park discovers you have a restricted pet. Depending on their policies they may deny your stay.
Some places allow dogs, but charge extra for the pets or even put you in a specific part of the park.
This may not be a problem at all for you, but is definitely something to keep in mind when traveling with your dog.
We have run into the “2 pet maximum” policy in the past. When we had 3 pets, we sometimes said we had 1 dog and 1 cat. I’m not sure this was the best policy, but we really needed to be at the campsite and our cats weren’t going to be going out anyway. If we were vacationing or had more options available, we would look for another place. Now that we only have the one cat, this isn’t an issue for us.
Almost every park that allows dogs has a dog park or an area large enough for walking your dog and having him/her do their business.
We have been to some places though that are basically parking lots and don’t offer green space for happy doggy time.
The best places we have been to not only had a dog park/walk area, but they also provided plenty of doggy bags and receptacles. Making it super easy to take care of your dog.
Some places don’t have any of these things, but still allow pets. Make sure to either save your plastic grocery bags or keep your own stash of doggy bags. You don’t want to be that RVer that doesn’t clean up after your doggy. Seriously, don’t be that person!
If your pupper has a habit of pooping right after you get close to the RV or you are boondocking and there are zero dumpsters, you might want to get a special place to dispose of your dog’s waste. You can use a simple trash can or get a Pet Genie Pet Waste Disposal System. That way you can keep it outside in a sealed container and don’t have to worry about putting stinky poo in your RV trash can.
Create your own outdoor pet area
Some campgrounds and RV parks will allow you to create a small corral or dog run. Now, this is not a place to stick your dog while you are inside…unless your screen door is open. You still need to supervise your pet because you don’t know who might get too close to your pet. The last thing you want is for your pet or someone else (or their pet) to get hurt. Safety is key!
What about cats?
Most kitties are indoor and require a little box. So where does it go?
There have been some really creative folks that have created secret cubby areas for the litter box that grant the cat a more private experience.
We did not do that though and just keep our top entry litter box in our tub.
Is it the best? Not really.
It is simple though…most of the time.
Taking a shower or prepping it for the kid’s bath can be a pain, but overall it is the most out of the way place for it.
After many experiments, we found the perfect litter. When we first started out, we just used our regular clumping litter. In an RV, it tracks everywhere. If you have space, a litter catcher mat might solve this problem. Our tiny bathroom doesn’t have extra room for this.
We also tried pine litter and oatmeal litter. The oatmeal litter amplified the cat urine scent. The pine litter ended up being the winner. It smells like pine and doesn’t track. Win, win
What about outdoor kitties?
First, I will always recommend that you don’t allow your cat outside without supervision. Regardless, make sure your cat has proper identification – a collar and tag, plus a microchip. That is the best way to get your cat back in case it runs off. If you want your kitty to be outside and safe, I recommend a cat habitat that will keep your cat outside, but enclosed.
If you aren’t interested in having something like this for your cats, get some claw covers. They can be really cute too.
Vaccines, Weather, and other concerns when you RV with Pets
Some, not all, campgrounds and RV parks will ask for vaccines records. Two years ago we went from Florida to Maine with our two cats. During our research, we found that a few of the parks that we were going to visit required vaccine records. So, before we left our hometown, we made sure to get our babies vaccinated and kept our records and tags in our truck at all times.
As you travel, you might find yourselves encountering fluctuating temperatures. This can happen even when you’re following those wonderful 70s…cold fronts, heat waves, and severe weather can show up anywhere. Make sure that your pet has everything they need to be comfortable and safe – booties, jackets, sweaters, etc.
Monitoring your RV Temperature
If you will be away from your RV and your pet, you might want to consider a temperature monitor. This device monitors the temperature in your RV and then alerts you on your phone. This will give you peace of mind and gives you time to get back to your pet if the temperature changes in your RV.
The biggest thing when you RV with pets – do your research.
Make phone calls, watch videos, and read various blogs, especially if you will RV with exotic pets or livestock. We know of full-time RVers that RV with chickens, goats, snakes, and birds. So don’t think you can’t!
Take a deep breath, you had your pet before hitting the road and things aren’t as complicated as you might think.
Just be vigilant and enjoy your journey with your furry babies.