safe travel with pets

Safe Travel With Pets in an RV

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We have a menagerie: 2 dogs, a cat and a box turtle. They are all in the RV with us. I bet especially now that we are moving daily, some of you are wondering how we travel with pets safely.

Safety is our top priority as we travel with our pets

Our pets are our children. Just as (I would hope) no one would endanger their human children while traveling, we try to take every precaution to make sure they are happy, healthy and comfortable. We even remodeled our slide-out to primarily serves as a pet area.

First and foremost, just as every human should wear a seat belt, we believe all our animals need protection while the vehicle is in motion. Our dogs and cat have travel harnesses.

Safe travel with dogs

We mounted tie-downs to the wall of the slide-out and attached doggie seat belts. Each tie-down supports up to 1500 pounds. We attached cushions to the walls surrounding the dog bed so even if the dogs slide around a little, they would not hit a hard wall.

Our cat and turtle go in carriers

Rocky the turtle prefers to stay in his house, but he could get seriously hurt. So he goes into his own carrier which we surround by cushions on the bed. In the 2+ years that we have owned the motorhome and traveled with him this way, his carrier has never budged from its spot (even on very steep and twisting roads). Plus he has the softness of the bed to help with any vibrations.

Mickey Mouse has a travel carrier that sits on its own seat and gets belted in. It has a strap inside that we attach to her harness for increased security.

I’ve seen many RVers who let their pets wander the RV, sit in their laps or even lay on the dashboard. That seems cute, but also very dangerous. If a quick stop happens then that poor animal will go flying. I don’t care how good you are at driving, you can’t control what other people do. Drivers in smaller vehicles have a tendency to jump in front of RVs because they don’t want to get “stuck” behind them and slow down. They don’t leave enough stopping distance for the RV and one day it could cause you to slam on your brakes (we’ve had it happen several times). We are not willing to take that risk with the lives of our pets.

We want our pets comfortable when we travel

When we’re on the road, we always take the weather into consideration when we make stops. While our generator could power the air conditioner or furnace when we leave the RV, it seems a little risky to just leave it running with the pets inside unattended. Some newer coaches have an automatic start on the generator to power the climate control if the temperature reaches a certain level. But ours is…old, so that isn’t an option.

Therefore it it’s hot or cold outside we either don’t leave them at all or only go out for a few minutes if we absolutely need to do an errand. Luckily, the RV takes longer to change temperature than a car but it’s still a factor to consider. I also try to pre-heat or pre-cool the RV by blasting the dashboard heater or air conditioner as we get close to a stop. I don’t think Ryan is a big fan of that part, but I think it makes a difference.

The dogs also have toys and of course their dog bed, which we replace when the padding gets compressed. Mickey has toys and her own bed. They all have access to water while we are gone.

It isn’t a perfect solution for comfort. For example, Tahoe has been an anxious guy his whole life and will sometimes howl when we are gone. But he did that when we lived in a sticks-and-bricks house too. We tried training and even medication, but nothing helped. So we can live in a house with him crying when we leave or we can live in an RV with him crying when we leave. He just doesn’t want us to leave him, ever, and we can’t always take him with us.

Other than that, everyone seems to have what they need.

safe travel with pets

Ryan doing planks and Mack “helping.”

Keeping up with doctor appointments

Mickey has a thyroid problem. We found this out right before we left for our travels. Our vet in Marin (who is awesome) kindly offered to follow her care and fill prescriptions as we travel, provided we brought Mickey to local vets for check-ups and blood tests. Mickey has been to two vet appointments since we left Marin. I only choose vets that have the best reviews on Yelp and have websites where I can read about the doctors who work there.

The vet in Oregon was in Coos Bay at Ocean Boulevard Veterinary Hospital. When I made the appointment I explained the situation and they said it would be no problem to see her. The requested records from our vet in Marin, did and exam and took blood. They called us with the results and sent copies to Marin. When it was time for a refill of medication, our Marin vet emailed a prescription to us and we took it to a local pharmacy.

The second appointment was at Mountain Vista Animal Hospital in Las Vegas. It was about 1.5 miles from our RV park, so we walked there with Mickey in the carrier. They also had very good ratings and the veterinarian we saw, Dr. Jill Cordeiro, is awesome. She is very thorough and suggested helpful changes to Mickey’s diet. She also gave us 6 months’ worth of medication with a refill for another 6 months.

Mickey has done well. Her thyroid levels have been stable and her weight is good. She loves sitting on the dashboard and looking out at the different sights outside the window.

We walked Mack and Tahoe over to see Dr. Cordeiro as well. Thankfully neither of them have any problems and they both are healthy.

Rocky is a challenge veterinarian-wise. He is the easiest to get to an appointment, but the hardest to find a vet for. Most vets do not take reptiles as patients. Even in Marin we couldn’t find a vet for him. But he’s a strong boy. He has a good appetite and as long as I give him his share of bananas, he has no complaints.

How boondocking/dry camping affects the pets

It doesn’t, really. First of all, we still have hot and cold running water and climate control. While we don’t run the generator all the time, we can if we need to if we or the dogs need something.

I even crocheted a sweater for Mack, because he gets cold and he outgrew the hoodie he wore before. At night, I heat a small pot of water to about 90 degrees on the stove. After making certain it isn’t too hot I carefully add it to Rocky’s pool so the water isn’t too cold for him overnight. Although he can survive in cold temperatures, he will try to hibernate. I’ve never allowed him to do so because it makes me nervous. So he stays awake year-round.

This post turned out longer than I expected. But this is something I think about a lot. It’s important to me they have everything they need. I think the key to safe travel with your pets is being well-informed about possible safety issues and loving them enough to figure out what’s right for them.

safe travel with pets

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