Travelling With Your Pets In An RV

Posted on 8/29/2016 12:00:00 AM

More and more, people are viewing their pets as full-fledged members of the family. Until it's time to go on vacation. Then the family dog or cat is consigned to "watching the fort" at home while everyone else experiences the joy of traveling in their recreational vehicle.

Many pet lovers hesitate to take their animals with them into their RVs because they don't think they will be able to find accommodations that accept four-legged guests. Others aren't sure how or if their furry friends will adapt in a recreational vehicle.

Traveling with pets requires special care and attention to their needs. Including a pet in the family vacation is fairly easy so long as you plan ahead. Most pets respond well to travel.

Many pets, especially dogs, are great travelers and enjoy a vacation as much as any other family member.

Some pets, however would be happier staying at home in familiar surroundings, eagerly awaiting your return. Cats rarely enjoy traveling. Most are stressed by riding in a car. Traveling with a cat can also increase the risk of it being lost.

You have come to the right resource! Here you'll find everything you need for safe and successful travel with your pet.

We invite you to send us any information that you may think would be of use for this section. We also invite your comments on this feature and any suggestions on what we can do to improve this section or the website.

Start reading and get packing!

Your best friend wants to hit the road in your recreational vehicle with you!

And, remember...

Preparation is the most effective way to help ensure a smooth, enjoyable trip in your RV, for you, your family and your pet.

Should your pet travel?

Before you make reservations, determine if your pet should travel. Most animals can and do make the most of the experience, but a small percentage simply are not cut out for traveling. Illness, physical condition and temperament are important factors, as is your pet's ability to adjust to such stresses as changes to his environment and daily routine. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. If you feel your pet isn't up to the trip, it's better for everyone if he or she stays home.

Rule #1: Pets who are very young, very old, pregnant, sick, injured, prone to biting or excessive vocalizing, or who cannot follow basic obedience commands should not travel.

Take into account the type of vacation and activities you have planned. No pet is going to be happy (or safe) cooped up in a car. Likewise, the family dog may love camping and hiking, but the family cat may not. Putting a little thought toward your animal's needs and safety will payoff in a more enjoyable vacation for everyone.

Rule #2: If your pet can't actively participate in the trip, he/she should stay home.

Most of the information on these web pages pertains to cats and dogs. If your traveling companion is a bird, hamster, pig, ferret, lizard or other exotic creature, remember that unusual animals are not always accepted as readily as more conventional pets. Always specify the type of pet you have when making arrangements.

Rule #3: Be specific when making travel plans that include your pet. Nobody wants unpleasant surprises on vacation.

If your pet is staying behind, leave him or her in good hands while you're gone. Family, friends and neighbors make good sitters, especially if they know your pet and can care for him in your home. Provide detailed instructions for feeding, exercise and medication, as well as phone numbers for your destination, your veterinarian and your local animal emergency clinic. Professional pet sitters offer a range of services, from feeding and walking your pet daily to full time house sitting while you are gone. Interview several candidates, and always check credentials and references.

Rule #4: Never leave your pet with someone you don't trust.

No need to explain this one...

Travelers with disabilities

Individuals with disabilities who own service animals to assist them with everyday activities undoubtedly face challenges, but traveling in their RVs should not be one of them. Service animals are not pets and thus are not subject to many of the laws or policies pertaining to pets.

A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. All public accommodations are required to modify policies, practices and procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

The purpose of these modifications is to provide equal access opportunities for people with disabilities and to ensure that they are not separated from their service animals.

Public accommodations may charge a fee or deposit to an individual who has a disability, provided that fee or deposit is required of all customers, but no fees or deposits may be charged for the service animal, even those normally charged for pets.

The animal's owner is responsible for his/her care and behavior; if he/she creates an altercation or poses a direct threat, the handler may be required to remove the animal from the premises and pay for any resulting damages.

Preparing your pet for RV travelling

If you've never traveled in your RV with your pet before, there are a few simple things you can do to get her ready for a vacation. To ease the uninitiated pet into a comfortable travel mode, start by simply playing with your dog or cat in the RV and rewarding her good behavior. Next, run some quick errands with her and then try short day trips. Your final step is an overnight or weekend jaunt.

A Month before

  • If you don't already have one, get a pet identification tag for your dog. It should have your dog's name, your name and phone number. Consider using a cell phone number, a home number, and possible the number of where you will be staying.
  • Get a first aid kit for your dog. It comes in very handy if you need to remove any ticks. The kits are usually available at a pet store, a veterinary office or on the Internet.
  • If you do not already have a dog harness for riding the car, consider purchasing one for your dog's safety. They are usually sold at pet stores or on the Internet.
  • Make a trip to the vet if necessary for the following:
    • A current rabies tag for your dog's collar. Also get paperwork with proof of the rabies vaccine. You might need this if you day board your dog.
    • Consider any recommended vaccines. A Lyme disease (from ticks) vaccine might be recommended if you plan on hiking. A Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine might be recommended if you plan to day board your pooch or if your dog will be in contact with many other dogs.
    • If you are not already doing so, consider placing your dog on a monthly heartworm preventative medicine. Dogs can usually get heartworm from mosquitos in the mountains, rural areas or on hikes.
    • Consider using some type of flea preventative for your dog. This is out of courtesy for the dog-friendly hotels plus for the comfort of your pooch.
    • Make sure your dog is in good health. If you are driving to Canada or Mexico, you will probably also need a recent health certificate.

Several Days Before

  • Make sure you have enough dog food for the duration of the trip.
  • If your dog is on any medication, remember to bring it along.
  • Some dog owners will also purchase bottled water for the trip, because some dogs can get sick from drinking water they are not used to. Talk to your vet for more information.

Road Trip Day

  • Remember to pack all of your dog's necessities: food, water, dog dishes, leash, snacks and goodies, several favorite toys, brush, towels for dirty paws, plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog, doggie first aid kit, possibly dog booties if you are venturing to an especially cold or hot region, and bring any medicine your dog might be taking.
  • Before you set out on your trip, take your pet for a leisurely walk. Let her work off a little energy; you may tire her out so she is more apt to sleep. Do not feed her or give her substantial amounts of water just before your departure. Once you are on the road, make sure that your pet's area is either well ventilated or amply air-conditioned. While each pet is different, plan frequent pit stops (at least every two hours or so) to exercise your pet on a leash.

What to Take When You Travel With Pets

Packing a bag for your pet only takes a few minutes and can save you from spending unnecessary time searching for pet supplies or services while traveling or on holidays.

Pack as carefully for your pet as you do for yourself. The checklist below will help you pack all necessary items when you travel with your pet.

Before you leave, make sure you haven't forgotten:

  • Can opener and spoon (for canned food)
  • Carpet deodorizer
  • Chewing preventive
  • Collar and leash(es)
    Bring an extra leash - just in case one of them breaks.
  • Comfortable bedding
    Bring old blanket or whatever your pet is accustomed to, and what smells like "home".
  • Cooler with ice
  • Extra towels
  • Favorite toys
  • First Aid kit
    • gauze
    • banadages and adhesive tape
    • towels
    • hydrogen peroxide
    • rubbing alcohol
    • ointment
    • muzzle
    • scissors
    • tweezers
  • Food and bottled water from home
    If your pet has a sensitive stomach, keep him on the same diet that he's accustomed. It will help to prevent the dreaded "messy butt" or vomiting.
  • Food and water bowls
  • Grooming tools
    • comb and/or brush
    • cotton balls/tissues
    • nail clippers
    • paper towels
    • shampoo
    • towels
  • Health certificate and other required documents
  • Healthy Treats
  • Identification with a recent photo
    Be sure to record the license numbers, tattoo numbers, and microchip numbers of your pets and bring this list with you. If your pet is lost while you are traveling, the photo will come in handy when describing him to others.
  • Litter supplies
  • Medications
    Before you leave, consult with your veterinarian. Ensure your pet is in good physical healthl. If your pet is taking prescribed medicine pack a sufficient supply, plus a few dey's extra.
  • Plastic bags
    So that you can clean up after your pet.
  • Stain remover/cleaning supplies

RV travel and first aid for your pets

Everyday first aid is used to save human lives. First aid for pets is taken from human first aid and has been modified to suit. In most instances your pet will need to see a veterinarian. It is always extremely important never to give human drugs without advice from your veterinarian.

Your safety always has to come first.

If you put yourself at risk and are injured then who will then help you? Don't jump in to a river to save your pet as you are more likely to become a statistic than the animal. While we would like a dead snake for identification don't put yourself in danger collecting it. Be careful.

Any animal injured or in pain can bite or scratch you. Even your own dog who has never bitten anyone before must be handled with care for the safety, of all involved. If you are accidentally bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Both dog and cat bites can become infected quickly!

Checking the pulse

The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).


Normal temp. for dogs and cats: 100-102.5 degrees
Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.
Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhea, or black, tarry stool.

Basic First Aid Procedures

All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

  1. Fractures
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Gently lay animal on a board, wooden door, tarp, etc. padded with blankets.
    • Secure animal to the support.
    • Do not attempt to set the fracture.
    • If a limb is broken, wrap the leg in cotton padding, then wrap with a magazine, rolled newspaper, towel or two sticks. Splint should extend one joint above the fracture and one joint below. Secure with tape. Make sure wrap does not constrict blood flow.
    • If the spine, ribs, hip, etc. appears injured or broken, gently place the animal on the stretcher and immobilize it if possible.
  2. Bleeding (external)
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Press thick gauze pad over wound. Hold firmly until clotting occurs.
    • If bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart.
    • Loosen tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.
    • A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used in life-threatening hemorrhaging of a limb. It may result in amputation or disability of the limb.
  3. Bleeding (internal)
    • Symptoms: bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum; coughing blood; blood in urine; pale gums; collapse; rapid or weak pulse.
    • Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible.
  4. Burns
    • Chemical
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water.
    • Severe
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Quickly apply ice water compresses.
    • Treat for shock if necessary.
  5. Shock
    • Symptoms: weak pulse; shallow breathing; nervousness; dazed appearance.
    • Often accompanies severe injury or extreme fright.
    • Keep animal restrained, quiet and warm.
    • If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body.

Restraint Methods

If your animal is injured, you must restrain him/her for your safety as well as your pet's. Muzzle your pet to restrain it unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing or has a mouth injury.

Dogs - Muzzles

  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the dog with a leash.
  3. Approach dog from the side and behind its head; do not attempt to put muzzle on from the front.
  4. Quickly slip a nylon or wire cage muzzle over nose, secure snugly behind ears.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, you can make one from a strip of gauze, rag, necktie, belt or rope about 3 feet long.
    • Make a large loop in the center. Quickly slip loop over dog's nose.
    • Bring ends under chin. Tie snugly behind ears.

Cats - Muzzles

  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the cat by holding the scruff of its neck firmly. This does not hurt the cat; it just prevents him/her from moving.
  3. Working from behind the cat, quickly slip a nylon muzzle over the cat's face. The muzzle will cover most of his/her face, including the eyes. Secure snugly behind head.
  4. If you are alone, scruff the cat with one hand and put the muzzle over the cat's face with the other. Slide both hands along muzzle straps and secure behind the head.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, one can be made with a rag or a strip of gauze. Make sure that it is carefully placed around the cat's mouth and securely fastened, as cats can escape from these temporary muzzles.

Cats - Body Restraint

  1. Most cats can be restrained by holding the scruff of the neck.
  2. The "Cat Sack" can be used for fractious or very frightened cats. Slip sack over cat from tail to head, zip up appropriate zippers.
  3. Wrap cat in a towel, making, sure his/her front legs are covered and against the body.
  4. Gloves are not recommended for handling cats. They reduce the handler's dexterity and can easily be penetrated by a cat's teeth.


Basic First Aid Procedures

All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

  1. Fractures
    • Wing
      • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or slipping into a sock with the toe cut out.
    • Leg
      • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or sock, leaving leg exposed.
      • Splint leg with 2 pieces of adhesive tape placed perpendicular to leg across break site.
  2. Bleeding
    • Broken "blood" feather (new feather)
      • Pull feather out gently; bleeding should decrease.
      • Press finger over removal site until bleeding stops.
    • Wound or broken nail
      • Apply pressure to site with finger(s). Bleeding should decrease.
      • Apply "Quick Stop" powder or styptic to stop bleeding.
      • Flour or cornstarch can be used in an emergency.
  3. Puncture Wounds
    • Wrap bird in towel or sock.
      • See veterinarian: antibiotics are required to prevent infections.


  1. Carefully wrap bird in towel, gently folding his/her wings against the body. Keep your hands out of the way of the beak.
  2. Gloves are not recommended for bigger birds. They reduce the handler's dexterity and strong beaks can easily penetrate them.

Restraining Small Mammals and Reptitles

  1. Wrap the animal in a towel or rag, gently folding his/her legs against the body.

Once you reach your destination

How well your pet behaves on the road directly affects the way future travelers with pets will be treated - clean up after your pet and keep them under control. Allow your pet only in designated exercise or animal approved areas; never take him into such off-limits places as the lobby, pool, patio or restaurant. And always expect to pay some type of additional charge.

A few words on "petiquette":

  • Try not to leave your pet alone, but if you must, crate or otherwise confine him or her.
  • Crate at night as well.
  • "Barker" or "chewer" makes poor neighbor - keep your pet quiet and on your assigned site!
    If you leave the site, take your pets with you (if it is permitted) on leash.
  • If your dog barks at the neighbor's dog, reposition him so that the two animals are out of one another's sight - out of sight, out of mind!
  • Unless you will always be present, do not tie your dog outside.
    They could become tangled in the tie-out and get hurt, loose animals could attack them, strangers could feed them, they could tip over their water, and as the day progresses, the "shade" could move, leaving them baking in the sun.
  • Keep lots of toys handy to keep your pets busy if you can't be entertaining them.
  • Clean up after your pet immediately - children often play in those areas too.
    If you walk your dog, carry your pooper-scooper baggie with you so that people along your path can see you are prepared if your dog decides to make an "unscheduled deposit."
  • Walk them regularly - at least three times a day.
    Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. A normally active dog may become quite discontent with having to remain sedintary at your campsite. He/she will be more able to remain quiet and content if you walk them or play with them so that their normal activity level is maintained.
  • Never take your pet into off-limits places like the lobby, pool, patio or restaurant.
  • Keep your dog or cat leashed, especially in wilderness areas and around small children.
  • Teach your dog basic manners.
    So that when some little child down the way asks to pet your dog he will sit quietly to be petted and not jump on him.
  • After feeding your dog, remove any food which is not finished.
    Leftover food will attract insects during the day and wildlife at night.
  • Always keep your dog's water dish full of fresh, clean water.

In Case of Emergencies

When traveling with your pet be prepared for any turn of events by knowing how to get to the nearest animal hospital and always use common sense. Take first aid supplies with you and know how to use them. An animal in pain may become aggressive, so exercise caution at all times.

It is not advisable to take animals other than dogs into wilderness areas. When hiking, stick to the trail and keep your pet on a short leash. Keep an eye out for such wildlife as bears, big cats, porcupines and skunks. Be aware of indigenous poisonous plants.

No matter where or how you spend your vacation, visit the veterinarian when you return home to check for injuries, parasites and general health.

Nature has its fury days: tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzards... No one is exempt from the possibility of being affected personally. You need to prepare for yourself and for your animals in case of a disaster.

Emergency evacuation shelters do not accept pets, and domesticated animals do not fare well left to weather an emergency on their own, especially when far from home. Avert a potential tragedy by planning in advance where you will go with your pet in case of evacuation. Have the name and number of a local animal shelter and a local veterinarian handy - ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

Don't wait for disaster to strike. Leave as soon as the evacuation order is announced, and take your animal with you.

International RV Travel

Traveling with your pet can be complicated. However, if you are considering taking your dog with you on an international vacation, be prepared for even more complications. International travel requires preplanning.

Each country has its own rules and guidelines for admitting pets. Most of these regulations are based on health issues, with rabies being one of the most important. Check with the consulate of the destination country for health requirements. Be sure to have a valid rabies certificate and a veterinary health certificate in addition to proof of rabies vaccination.

Don't wait until the last minute to find out what is required for international travel with a pet. Arriving without all the necessary items will result in your pet not being allowed into the country, and this, of course, would ruin your vacation.



  • Valid health certificate.
  • Proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Vaccination against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

Pets entering Mexico are not quarantined.



  • Valid health certificate.
  • Proof of rabies vaccination within the past 3 years.
  • Vaccination against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.
  • Pets under 3 months of age are not allowed into USA.

Pets entering USA are not quarantined.

Final tips on traveling with your pets

The first step in ensuring your pet's well-being during a vacation is to train her to ride in the car. For safety reasons, pets should be confined to the back seat, either in a carrier or a harness attached to the car's seat belt. This keeps the animal from interfering with or distracting the driver, and also may save her life in the event of an accident. And a restrained animal will not be able to break free and run away the second the car door is opened.

To help prevent car sickness, feed your pet a light meal 4-6 hours before departing. Donot give an animal food or water in a moving vehicle.

Avoid placing animals in campers or trailers. If your pet cannot ride in the car with you, leave him at home.

Don't let your dog stick her head out the window, no matter how enjoyable it seems. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears, and the animal is at greater risk for severe injury if the vehicle should stop suddenly or be struck. If it is hot outside, run the air conditioner instead of opening the windows, and be sure that the air flow is reaching your pet.

Your pet will appreciate the same break. Plan to visit a rest stop every 4 hours or so to let him have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature. (Cat owners should bring along a litter box; dog owners should clean up afterward.)

Be sure your pet is leashed before opening the car door. This is not merely a courtesy to fellow travelers; it will prevent her from unexpectedly , breaking free and running away. Keep in mind that even the most obedient pet may become disoriented during travel or in strange places and set off for home. Hint: If your pet is not used to traveling, use a harness instead of a collar; it is more difficult for an animal to wriggle out of a harness.

NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk.

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