RV with Pets: How to Travel with Your Pets
We traveled with our pets every chance we got prior to owning an RV. I always hated leaving our animals behind when we visited family for the holidays.
We’ve traveled via pet friendly hotels like a mountain cabin near Asheville with three people and three dogs. We’ve also done tent camping with two big dogs. Every trip with our pets was an adventure due to the pets being so unpredictable. For example, on our way from Florida to Asheville, one of our dogs got sick and had diarrhea most of the way. We had to stop every hour to let him out. The other time when we were tenting, our one dog kept us up all night because he could hear all the animals scampering outside and would randomly bark at them.
On that trip we were tent camping while our friends were camping in their Class A RV. We were so jealous that they were sleeping on a nice warm bed while we were sleeping in a cold tent. I think that weekend sealed the deal for us to buy a RV. Two years after that tent trip, we were living fulltime in our 27 ft Class C RV with two dogs and two cats. It was as much a transition for them as it was for us.
Both cats had been indoor/outdoor cats with freedom to roam and the dogs had a huge backyard to wander around when they went outside. I believe the animals love traveling as much as we do. It just took a few weeks adjust to everything.
We were pretty scared in the beginning about the cats darting outside and getting lost. Luckily, they were initially petrified enough from the change to not seek the outdoors.
Instead they loved looking out the big windows of the RV to see the birds and squirrels. The dogs loved going outside when we would arrive at a new campsite to sniff all the new smells. Seeing that the animals were ok and enjoying themselves made it easier on us. We learned quite a lot about traveling with pets during this time and hopefully we can help you on your next trip with your animals.
The Traveling Part[envira-gallery id=”3300″]The dogs were used to being in a moving vehicle but the cats were not. When we pulled out the first time with the cats on board, one cat didn’t stop crying for over an hour.
I was worried that we had made a mistake by bringing them but at that point, didn’t know what to do. As soon as we stopped she was ok and was her normal self.
We decided to keep our travel time down to only a few hours to see if the cats would adjust to the moving vehicle. Sure enough, only after a few days, the whining was down to only the first 5 minutes. One of our cats would actually go in his carrying crate when we would start down the road.
I guess it made him feel safe while our whining cat loved the upper cab. Our bulldog decided the best place for her was on the floor in between us while our other dog loved laying on the couch.
When we stopped for gas I would make sure the station had a section of grass away from the road to walk the dogs to not scare them with all the traffic noise. After a while the pets would sense when we were about to be on the road by our routine and would go their collective spots for traveling.
The Dreaded Litter Box
Let’s just talk about the worst part about traveling with cats. As much as I love my cats, I hate the litter box.
In our house, we had a small closet under the stairs, which we kept the litter box. I installed a cat door so the smell was kept to a minimum in the house. In our RV, we ended up keeping the litter box in the shower since we had nowhere else to put it. We also didn’t want to make the whole RV smell like litter.
The shower was great, because there was a small curtain that kept it hidden but the cats could sneak past. It was also easy for cleanup since if there was anything spilled, I could easily sweep it up and rinse it with the shower wand.
Since we were in such close quarters even when we cleaned it everyday it would still smell so we did some research and found this litter from Arm & Hammer. It was the best litter we ever used.
Even with two cats, we could go two to three days without cleaning it and it still wouldn’t smell. There’s a couple different versions of the clump and seal but I can’t recommend it enough for cat owners. We would get the smaller version and keep it with the litter box in the shower.
We have a rear bath RV which has a lot of room so when we needed to take a shower, we simply removed the litter box and put it on the toilet and the placed the litter next to it and we still had plenty of room to shower, get out towel off and put on clothes.
We also bought a squeegee to wipe down the shower walls to remove all the excess water before putting the litter box back in the shower which kept the shower pretty clean.I know many people install cat doors on the bottom dinette storage pullout bins. Others use their access holes from inside the rig to a down under compartment would put the litter in the down under compartment. People can get very creative when it comes to dealing with cat litter.
Water and Food Bowls
Before we got on the road, we had fancy water fountains for our cats and our picky english bulldog. The bulldog wouldn’t drink water if there was a speck of dirt in the bowl.
Seriously, she would sit by the bowl and whine until you changed the water. Having the fountain on the road wasn’t a possibility so we sold it. Our Class C had a dinette that we rarely used so we put the water bowls for the dogs under there so it wasn’t underfoot in the walkway.
Before we discovered the dining nook, I can’t tell you how many times I would knock the water bowl over while walking by since we don’t have any slides. As fas as the food bowls, we don’t free feed our dogs, so food bowls were kept up until feeding time.
The cat water and food bowls were kept on top of the dinette table. We got bowls that had grippy feet which were surprisingly good at keeping the bowls stationary on the table. I think the only two times they fell while driving was when I had to slam on brakes and everything in the RV not bolted down came crashing toward the front.
Dealing with Pet Hair
We had a lot of pet hair all the time and we continuously vacuumed to keep the hair down. Since our rig had cloth covers for the barrell chairs, sofa, dinette and the cabover we got several products to make it easier to dehair everything.
The most important purchase was our little dirt devil vacuum. It was handheld and small since we didn’t have anywhere to put a regular vacuum. I could shove the dirt devil in a cabinet after I was done.
The suction on this small vacuum was amazing and since it was so small I could get it in very small crevices. It’s lightweight and easy to use. The 16 ft cord was long enough to reach from one end of the RV to the other if plugged in the middle of the rig. It’s bagless so you’ll have to empty the contents after each use.
We had so much hair, sometimes I would have to empty it twice before being done but luckily was easy to clean out. For the price, you really can’t beat this small vacuum for cleaning your RV.Removing pet hair from clothes when living in less than 200 sq ft was a challenge. At first we got the cheapy lint brush that you roll and then peel off. It didn’t get all the hair off and was finish in a month.
Then we found the lint brush which has two sides and you run it along your clothing to get the hair off. It was so much better at getting the small cat hairs off everything. I felt like I didn’t look like the crazy cat lady out and about after using the Magik brush.To keep our cats from destroying the RV furniture and scratching up the carpet, we bought this scratcher. We hung it off a wall next to our closet which was opposite the shower cat litter. Our cats loved scratching it after doing their business and it kept them from scratching everything else.
We’ve been lucky to have healthy pets while traveling. None had to be on any medicine other than monthly heartworm and flea and tick medicine.
Before we left I ordered a year’s worth of medicine from our vet. After we were on the road more than a year, I researched online and found hoofandhound.com Since they’re located in Australia, I was able to order the medicine without going through a vet. Some people are opposed to this but since it was just basic medicine, I didn’t have a problem with ordering it online since it’s basically the same medicine that you get in the US.
When you have two dogs that you have to walk every time to do their business, you go though a lot of poop bags. In the beginning we were buying the small rolls at the pet store when we’d get their food but we were going through them at a fast rate.
We decided to buy them in bulk for better pricing and ended up getting the 1000 bags. They lasted us over a year with two dogs. Campgrounds are very picky about picking up after your dog, so please do so.
No one likes to step in or smell dog poop while sitting outside their campsite. Also, if you have small dogs, don’t think you don’t have to pick up their poop as well. It’s still poop even if it’s smaller.
We didn’t use an outdoor play pen for our dogs because they’re too big but we saw many RVers that had them with small dogs and the dogs seemed to like being outside without having a leash.
So one of the best discoveries we found to clean our pets as well as ourselves while on the road were wet wipes. When water is at a premium, a wet wipe will clean most anything quickly.
We decided to get a whole bunch of them. We get the sensitive version since we had to wipe our bulldog’s face folds regularly. We got the generic version since baby or pet specific ones can cost more.
The biggest obstacle was finding a place to store all the extras but we would go through them pretty quickly.
They say they’re flushable and that may be the case in a regular toilet, but please don’t put them down your RV toilet.
Leaving Pets in the RV Unattended
There are times while traveling that you have to leave your dog unattended in your RV for an hour or more. An example is grocery shopping before setting up camp.
In the hot summer months we would start the generator so we could turn on the A/C. If you have no option of turning on the A/C then hopefully you have a DC connected fantastic fan to turn on while opening the windows and keep your errand short.
In colder months, we could leave the RV without having anything on since we were never in weather colder than 30-40 degrees. Please don’t leave your animals in a hot RV without any air flow or water for them to drink. If we stayed at a campground with plugins then we’d leave the RV without any changes, but sometimes we would close the curtains and/or turn on the TV since our bulldog liked to bark at anything she could hear or see next to the rig. If the campgrounds have rules about dogs left unattended, even inside, ask the ranger before checking in.If we were boondocking, we’d plan our outings when it would be ok to the dogs in the RV without it being too hot or we’d run the generator.
We’ve seen people leave dogs unattended outside their campsite. I would don’t recommend that for several reasons
- Your dog could get loose
- Or Tangled up in the leash
- A person could take your dog
- A ranger can come by and give you a citation for leaving the dog outside since many campgrounds don’t allow it.
The biggest thing we’ve learned about traveling with animals in a RV is to plan ahead and be prepared. Be courteous to your fellow campers.
You’ll see a lot of RVers traveling with pets since it’s a great way to travel with your four legged companion. I can’t recommend it enough for people that can’t take their dog on airplanes for vacation. It takes a little longer to get where you’re going in a RV but there will be more things to see and do on the road than you ever thought possible.