RV Living with Pets

Veterinarian advice for RV families with pets

RV Living with Pets

There are a number of factors that you have to take into account when you’ve elected for a recreational vehicle (RV) lifestyle. These factors typically balances all the positives of such a lifestyle with all of the precautions that need to be taken to maintain a certain caliber of living.

Pets enrich our lives. Whether you are at home or on the road, they always give their all to you. As such, it is vital to make sure that any foreseeable problems be addressed before they occur when it comes to your fur baby.

These concerns are magnified if a problem arises when you’re exploring with your pet or are involved in an activity that does not involve your dog (and your pet is hanging out in your RV). You may not be aware of such calamities until you return to the RV; and by then it may be too late. Let’s review some situations and preventable solutions that can occur with RV-living.

Electricity loss and overheating:

Traveling in an RV means experiencing different outdoor climates. In hot climates, air conditioning is vital to preventing your RV from becoming an oven. This is one major concern for pets hanging out in the RV while you’re away.

Doggy daycare facilities can be a source of relief during such concerns. If you are planning a full day of exploration in any given hot area without your dog, plan your travel around where a dog care center or boarding facility will be nearby. This will give you peace of mind and can literally be a life saver if your electricity goes out while you’re out an about.

As an added bonus, some facilities will entice you to sign on by giving you one day free. If you are only staying in that area for the day, there is a possibility they would still offer you that courtesy knowing you’re likely heading out of town at the end of the day. Another valuable note is that such facilities can be open long hours. It is not unusual for such business establishments to be open from 7 AM to 7 PM, hopefully giving you constant peace of mind all the while not limiting your exploration duration during the day hours.

Alternatively, there are devices that can remain in the RV that intermittently or continuously measure temperature and humidity of the RV. Such devices can be connected to you via online or cellular device with a unique app, alerting you to such parameters. You can set the frequency of such measurements and the type of alerts you would like to receive. Try not to be farther than 15 to 20 minutes away from the RV in case a sudden change in internal RV environment occurs!

Customized shades that cover the larger windows on your RV also aid in keeping internal temperatures down. Dash covers can lower temperatures dramatically and give you peace of mind in knowing that your dog can relocate to cooler areas of your RV. It also gives the humans relief from the heat while being inside as well. Such shades also give you the ability to look outside while preventing others from looking in. Shades can be placed on the outside or the inside of the RV dash window. For dogs that love pulling on things, the outside version may be more realistic. 

If you find yourself in a scary situation where your believe your pet is having heat stroke, search for the closest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital and visit them immediately. If you are in a remote location, then contact an online veterinary telemedicine service for further diagnosis and treatment. Do not attempt to diagnose and treat your overheated dog as an incorrect diagnosis (and therefore incorrect treatment) can be life threatening in itself. VetTriage.com is one such televet service.

Mental and physical enrichment:

A carefully planned travel course is one major key factor to the enjoyment of RV-living. We want activities that stimulate us mentally and physically. The same wants and needs apply to your canine companion. Therefore try to maximize the number of human and nonhuman collaborative activities when deciding on your next stop at “adventure station”.

Search for towns that are dog-friendly and have plenty of areas to walk around with your dog. Always remember to keep your pet restrained with a neck collar or body harness and leash. While investigating new areas is a lot of fun, sometimes your dog’s curiosity will get the best of them! Outdoor traumas such as being hit by cars, attacked by other dogs, and falling off high places are all too common and usually preventable with proper restraint. Pet identifications is a must in case they get lost or run away; identification collar and microchip are most common.

When it comes time for meals, plan for food establishments that allow pets or eating outside. Not only is adequate restraint important, especially for very energetic and unruly canines, but continued enrichment is as well. Bring a toy or treat that you know is safe and enjoyable for your pet, to keep them busy while you’re in a social setting. It is additionally beneficial if the toy or treat takes them hours to work on. 

Search for dog parks or dog-friendly hiking grounds. Continue practicing the same safety measures as not every dog at a dog park will be dog-friendly. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Stay alert while having fun! Dog fights are very common and can seemingly come out of nowhere.

Veterinary advice:

Medical emergencies can strike at any time. It is imperative to be aware of available veterinary hospitals around you. A veterinary hospital that is open 24-hours for walk-in emergencies is the most ideal to search for. Additionally, veterinary telemedicine is now available through www.VetTriage.com, is incredibly useful if you are unsure that a medical problem constitutes an actual emergency or if you are located in a remote region. Online vets are available 24-7 regardless of your location.

Bring along with you any past or current human and pet medications; this may come in handy if an online televet service is utilized but pharmaceutical recommendations are not possible due to legal, temporal, geographic, financial, and other reasons. Such medications may be viable safe options to treat unexpected ailments during your traveling, as long as a veterinarian has instructed you to do so.

If your pet is already on medications for a specific ailment, then be sure to bring enough medications to last the duration of the trip, plus extra should travel plans change, doses be lost or spilled, dosage changes occur, drug expirations, etc. If it is a medication that will require a refill then here are some options:


  1. Prior to departure, ask your family veterinarian for the maximum allowable amount of medication, taking into account expiration dates.

  2. Ask your veterinarian for a written or electronic script that can be filled at human pharmacies during your travels.

  3. If you are realizing that a medication will run out, then plan to make an appointment and visit a new veterinarian nearby an area that you are planning on inhabiting. Such appointments fill up quickly; you can always cancel it if needed. A veterinarian who has never met you or your pet before will not simply refill a prescription without an appointment, examination, and further discussion.

  4. When all else fails, and you are in a pinch, “walk-in” to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital to investigate whether their doctors on duty are comfortable examining your pet and prescribing that medication to you.

Enjoy the miles and send us in pics of your fur baby on your travels!