multiple dogs hanging out in a winnabego motorhome

Pet Safety When Traveling in an RV
Tools and tips, plus towable specific considerations!
By: Becca & Brian Roy

Plan for the worst, hope for the best is the mantra we follow when it comes to the safety of our pets when going from point A to point B with them along for the ride. Like many pet owners, our furry friends are an important part of our family. That’s why we’re excited to share some tips and tricks that we’ve found helpful for keeping them safe while we all RV together.

Preparing for Your Pet’s RV Trip

Pet Essentials: When traveling with the pets we also have to take into consideration food and medications we need to take along. We tend to pack the camper up the day before, but we need to be mindful when storing food as well as any limitations the medications might have. Depending on the time of day, the camper might be exposed to direct sunlight. And, even with the air conditioning on, some of the storage areas might get warmer than the inside of the camper. 

Updated Info: It’s frightening to think of those worst-case scenarios – getting into an accident on your way or losing track of a pet while on site – but it’s important to prepare for the unthinkable. The first step in being prepared is to ensure all contact info is up to date. This includes your pets microchip data in addition to any tags attached to your pet. Bring copies of vaccination records, either scanned into your phone or hard copies. 

It’s also a good idea to locate the closest vet or emergency vet ahead of time and save the location and contact info so you can easily find it. That way, in a real emergency, there’s no need to spend time searching when time could make all the difference.

How to Keep Pets Safe While en Route

Towable-Specific Pet Safety
For those traveling in a towable, hopefully it goes without saying: pets should always ride in your vehicle, never in the travel trailer, camper, or fifth wheel. With no crash protection it could spell disaster for anything and anyone inside the trailer. 

Items in a travel trailer may also shift or fall while in transit and, although we do our best to secure everything before leaving, there’s always a chance for calamity so that’s also an important reason why it is best to keep pets safely out of harm’s way.

Driving with Small Pets
On a similar topic, cats and small dogs should be kept in a crate while in your vehicle (or if traveling in a motorhome without a designated safe area for them). Small pets can easily wiggle away from you and end up in some inopportune spots. This can be distracting for the driver and downright dangerous if your fluffball ends up between you and the brake pedal or behind it. 

Precautionary Tracking Tools
One of the tools that we have utilized for the past few years now are our Whistle GPS/cellular trackers. We have one for each of our pups for the peace of mind that if we do get separated, reunification will be swift as these allow us to track the dogs in real time thanks to the cellular and GPS capabilities of the device. They are also controlled via Bluetooth allowing you to turn the indicator light on as a bright beacon, with solid, pulsing, or quick flashing light as an option. 

Safe Temperatures
Every responsible pet owner knows not to leave dogs in the car on a hot day but, just like your car, that camper can get pretty toasty when the A/C is not running and it's hot outside. When making pit stops, or setting up at the site after arrival, be sure not to leave pets alone without climate control. We live in Florida where it’s summer year-round, so there’s rarely a trip we take in which we don’t need to think about this. 

Pet Safety at the Campsite

With the Florida heat in mind, we know just how fast a car can heat up once those climate controls are off. A camper is the same way, but how do you know what the temperature is in your camper? Is power still on at my site? 

Pet Monitoring
While 99% of the time, the activities that we choose to do involve our dogs, there are times we have to leave them behind for a short period of time. Additionally, we travel with our cat Stella who is always in the camper when at a campground. While we haven’t had any close calls, we did experience a site that had spotty power with several sites experiencing outages.

Luckily, we had recently picked up and installed a Waggle pet temperature monitor that monitors the temperature inside the camper and alerts us if it falls outside one of the user set ranges. This would allow us to get back to the site, assess the situation and reset the power if need be or relocate the pets to the car with air conditioning on if the temperature gets too high. 

The Waggle runs off the Verizon 4G Network allowing us to stay connected with the interior conditions of the camper in real time, from any location. If the power goes out, the Waggle will notify us via text or email that the power is out and that the device is running on its internal batteries. It’s a great addition if you have to leave pets behind for a short period of time. 

Safety Outside the RV

What about pet safety when we’re ready to have fun and explore with our furry friends? With our recent trip to Big Cypress now complete, one of the campsite hazards we needed to be cognizant of was the local wildlife. We saw a few areas around the campsite tamped down giving them the appearance of several walking trails.

What we learned prior to taking any of those ‘walking trails’ was that they were not as they appeared; these were actually gator trails and the tamped down terrain was caused by their massive prehistoric bodies traversing these paths to get to and from the campsite pond. 

After learning this, we followed some basic campsite safety:

  • When going on hikes and trails, make sure they’re marked and designated for the activity you are performing (biking, hiking, walking, etc).
  • Be aware of the local wildlife. While it may be second nature to open the back door and let Fido run around your backyard semi-supervised, never allow pets off leash or unattended. We went as far as to check underneath and around the camper to ensure there were no unwanted reptilian guests in the area before taking the dogs out.

With minimal light pollution at some sites and vehicle traffic at others, it’s also important to be seen when walking our furry friends in the evening hours. In addition to our flashlight, we dress the pups in light-up LED harnesses to increase visibility for all of us. 

Keeping pets safe and comfortable on any trip takes some planning but it’s worth it knowing your special CAMPanions are enjoying the trip as much as you are. Employing some of the tips and tools above may bring you nothing more than peace-of-mind but, for us, it’s all worth it to be sure our furbabies are safe as can be.

Comments

User commented on April 26, 2022 10:23 PM
Excellent article. May I suggest that when caring for small pets, a hawk or eagle can swoop down and carry off any small pet in an instant so watch them, harness/leash them, put heavy coins in their pockets (lol), so they stay firmly planted. Thanks for your consideeation of our traveling pets.
User commented on May 22, 2022 12:08 PM
When we first bought an RV our cat got under the bed frame and ended up in the storage cabinets below. My husband ended up boarding up under the bed since it is a slide and still has to be brought up and back. And then we put large foam inserts into every nook and cranny around the sofa and island in the kitchen. Just something to think about when you purchase an RV. Our next one won't have so many holes. :)
User commented on May 23, 2022 9:00 AM
Thanks for the tips! I never thought of bringing vaccination records!
User commented on June 4, 2022 9:44 AM
Becca and Roy, I am part of the tour guides at the Visitors Center. I have had several questions and suggestions from RV'rs about availability of ingress/egress doors for the RV when parked. Can you drop me a line or do an article about that possibility. Stop in and say hello at the VC the next time you are in Forest City. Paul Fitzgerald [email protected]