Some people travel with garden gnomes, posting photos at famous landmarks. But we’re guessing snapshots of your dog or cat in front of an alien spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico, would garner a lot more attention.
Isn’t it time to indulge your pent-up wanderlust, load up the recreational vehicle with pets, then hit the road? All it takes is a little planning. Here are some suggestions to help make your wilderness adventure with your favorite four-footed friends a success.
Map your trip. Not every campsite accepts pets. Once you have a general idea of where you want to go, find pet-friendly RV parks or campsites along the way. Some campsites offer fenced-in play areas for dogs, which is a great way to wear off energy after a long drive.
Meet with your veterinarian. Your pet should be current on all vaccines. Many campsites will ask for proof of vaccination, so ask for vaccination records and other pertinent medical records. You typically won’t need a health certificate when driving with your pet, but it’s a good idea to check the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the states you’ll visit, just to be sure.
Now’s the time to stock up on medications as well as flea/tick/heartworm preventives to last the whole trip.
Help your pet feel at home. A few weeks before you travel, give your pet a chance to get accustomed to RV living. Start by letting them explore the RV interior in your driveway, so they can get used to where their food, water, beds or litter boxes are located. Provide them with positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise.
Then, try a few short rides (now’s the best time to find out if they get carsick). If you’re towing a camper, your pet will need to ride in the car. Make sure you have a seat-halter system or a way to secure their kennel to keep them safe. If you’re driving an RV, your pets will still need to be inside a secured kennel to help prevent injury if you make any sudden stops.
Get your pet’s identification in order. If your pet wanders away at a rest stop or campsite, a current ID tag is the best way to get them back to you. All pets should have an ID tag with your address and cell phone. If your pet has a microchip, check with the manufacturer to make sure they have your current contact information. It can’t hurt to pack a current photo of your pet in case you need to make Lost Pet posters.
Make a pet packing list. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of the wilderness without a pet necessity. So, start making a list of everything your pet will need, such as: food, bowls, medications, beds, kennels, leashes, litter box, toys, poop bags, swimming life vest, pet sunscreen, playpen for campsite, and a pet first aid kit.
On the road. Schedule stops every few hours, so your pet gets a chance to stretch his or her legs and take care of potty business. Better yet, take a hike along the shoreline or into the woods. Always keep your dog on leash so it doesn’t bolt at an unfamiliar sound or sight.
At the campsite. Always be respectful of your neighbors, which means picking up after your dog, holding barking to a minimum and keeping your dog on a leash so it doesn’t snatch hot dogs off the neighbor’s grill, or worse, wander off.
If you leave your pet behind. You can plan short excursions without your pet, but try not to leave them in the RV for long periods of time. If the weather is hot, make sure to leave the air conditioner and fans on so your pet stays cool.
What are you waiting for? Time to start planning.
The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.