The RVillage Guide to RVing With Pets

Dec 13, 2022 | RVillage Guides

The RVillage Guide to RVing With Pets

From safety tips to pooch-friendly activities, here’s everything you need to know to have the purr-fect getaway with your furry friends.

By Amanda Adler

Photo: Amanda Adler

One of the best things about traveling in an RV is that the whole family can come along, allowing you to include the furry members of your brood in your vacation plans. While it’s wonderful to save money on costly boarding facilities and pet-sitting services, RVing with your pet does require extra planning and work.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when planning a trip with pets, and ideas on how to make your getaway a success.

Getting Your Pet Road Ready

Before hitting the road with your pet, make a list of essentials you’ll need along the way. This includes visiting your vet to ensure your pets are up to date on their shots and stock up on prescription medications and other necessities, including flea and tick prevention. Be sure to store all paperwork for your pets, including their most recent medical records, in a safe spot in your vehicle. Some RV parks will require a copy of this information, as will any kennels you may utilize throughout your trip.

Related How to RV With Pets

Once they’re comfortable and you’re ready to plan your first canine or feline road trip, select a short weekend stay, similar to a shakedown trip, at an RV park relatively close to home. Use this trial run as a chance to test out what works and what you’ll need to adjust for a future outing. If your pet does experience anxiety on the road, you’ll want to discuss options with your vet before embarking on future adventures.

Related How to Handle Vet Visits and Pet Care While Traveling

Getting Your Rig Pet Ready

You can also use your first trip to better understand what additional gear you’ll need for a longer trip. Packing ideas include:

  • Leash and harness
  • A familiar bed and/or crate
  • Food, water, and bowls
  • Favorite toys 
  • Treats and rewards for good behavior
  • Waste bags or litter box

Take some time before you leave home to stock your rig with everything your pet needs and determine where larger items such as the crate, pet bed, and litter box will be located. Introduce your pets to their new surroundings and help show them where they’ll sleep in this tiny home.

Related Rig Roundup: 6 Pet-Friendly RVs

Driving Safely with Your Pet in Your RV or Tow Vehicle

You’ll also need to ensure you have a plan for securing your pet while traveling in your motorhome or tow vehicle. According to an American Automobile Association survey, more than 80 percent of drivers admit that they recognize the dangers of driving with an unrestrained pet, but only 16 percent use pet restraints. Not only does an untethered pet pose a potential distraction to drivers, but Fido and Snowball can also become hazards during an accident. Place your pet in a secured crate during travel, or invest in a pet restraint system like this one.

Remember that your pet should never be left in a towable RV while in motion. Pets should ride within the cab of your vehicle, not in a truck bed, and should not sit in anyone’s lap or the front seat as animals can be killed by an inflating airbag. It’s also important not to allow your pets to stick any part of their body out of a car window, and never leave them unattended inside a vehicle as cars heat up fast, even when the windows are cracked.

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When traveling with dogs, be sure to leave time for regular stops to allow your pooches to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and hydrate.

Two dogs run off leash in a gated dog area within an RV park.
West Glacier RV Park in West Glacier, MT. l Photo: Amanda Adler

Campground Pet Rules

Before booking a campground reservation, ensure that your pets are welcome and inquire about pet policies. Many campgrounds have restrictions on the number of pets and breeds of animals. 

Related 8 of the Best Rated Dog-Friendly RV Campgrounds

If you have a dog, look for campsites that offer pup-friendly amenities, always leash your dogs when they’re not in a fenced dog park, and pack a headlamp for nighttime walks. Picking up your pet’s waste and properly disposing of it is always a must no matter where you’re staying.

Planning for your pets to join you for campfires and other outdoor activities at your campground? Then you’ll need to purchase a gate or tether to keep your four-legged friends safely within your campsite. But remember: Never leave your pet outdoors for extended periods without supervision.

Emergency Pet Preparedness

Hopefully, you’ll never encounter an emergency while traveling with your pet, but in the event of the unexpected, be sure to stock your RV with a pet first aid kit. You can gather helpful ideas of what to include using this list from the American Red Cross. Review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh. It’s also wise to keep a several days’ supply of bottled water on hand.

Related The Village Square: RVillagers Share Their Tips for RVing With Pets

Your pets should always wear a collar with an ID tag, and if they have microchips, check the registration and pet license information to ensure the contact information is current. Bring a picture of you and your pet together to help identify your pet and establish ownership should you become separated.

Leaving Your Pet Alone in Your Rig

Ideally, your pet will be able to join you for all your adventures. But if you need to leave them alone inside your RV, it’s important to keep these outings to only a few hours. Not only will your absence prove potentially stressful to your fuzzy pals, but busy campgrounds are full of all sorts of unknowns, from strange noises to unforeseen power outages, and your pets will need frequent status checks to ensure their comfort and safety. 

Because RV temps can quickly reach intolerable conditions if there’s a power issue, a temperature monitoring system is an essential addition to any rig. My family uses the Waggle Pet Monitor, which has proven to be effective and, once, even helped save my dogs’ lives when we lost A/C during a hot summer day. Because it notified me of the rising temperature, I could return immediately to help my dogs when I otherwise wouldn’t have known they were in distress.

A bernedoodle sits in front of a wall that reads "Bangers Sausage House & Beer Garden. Austin, Texas"
Photo: Amanda Adler
A dog sniffs a crate below a sign that reads "The Fountain of Youth"
Photo: Amanda Adler

Finding Pet-Friendly Establishments

Once you’ve made the drive, prepared your campsite, and set your furry friends up for success at the campground, you’ll want to identify locations to have fun with your four-legged companions. While many parks and hiking trails do allow well-behaved, leashed pups to accompany their humans, there are some destinations where animals pose a threat to the local ecosystem. Be sure to read the pet policies of the locales you’re planning to visit and research any potential hike restrictions on sites such as AllTrails.

Related Your Pup Can Be a BARK Ranger at These Dog-Friendly National Parks

When it comes to locating dog-friendly dining and other attractions that welcome your fuzzy friends, you can search by region on BringFido. You’ll find helpful tips and user reviews, but it’s always wise to call a venue to confirm their current policy before arrival. 

It’s easy to find pooch-friendly beer gardens, beaches, shopping venues, botanical gardens, distilleries, and more, giving you ample opportunities to have a paws-itively good time with your fluffy family during your next RV adventure.

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    Amanda Adler

    Amanda Adler is a writer who splits her time between traveling the U.S. in her RV and soaking up the air conditioning in her home in Orlando, Florida. While on the road she seeks out national parks, theme parks, kid- and dog-friendly hiking trails, and local businesses that tout their wares as being “craft,” “artisanal” or “bespoke.”