How to RV With Pets

Mar 19, 2020 | Travel & Destinations

How to RV With Pets

Being able to bring your pet along is one of the many perks of RV travel, so here are some things to consider the next time you want to RV with your dog or cat.

By Karen Blue

Photo: Karen Blue

You’ve planned the perfect adventure in your RV, mapped your route and packed everything you need for an epic road trip. But what will you do with your fidos, felines and other family pets? You could hire a pet sitter or board them, but why not bring them along for the adventure? It’s not uncommon to find dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, snails, even goats riding along in an RV. So, if you’re wondering how to make the trip safe and enjoyable for both you and your pets, read on to learn more.

Related The Best Dog Camping Gear for RVers

Dog in an RV
Photo: Karen Blue

1. Acclimate Your Pet Before You Leave

Before you depart on your trip, spend some time acclimating your pet to the RV. Each day, slowly increase their time spent inside and around the RV. This is also the time to reinforce potty training. If you are traveling with animals that relieve themselves indoors, make sure they know where that spot will be. As you get settled into the RV, designate one specific place for all pet items. That way, everyone will know where to go to get food, medication, leashes and toys, and you won’t waste time searching all over the RV to find them.

Dog gear next to an RV door
Photo: Karen Blue

2. Vet Care on the Road

Before you hit the road, be sure to review your pet’s vet care and get any necessary shots or vaccinations. If your pet needs specific medications, make sure you have enough to carry over until your next visit. We like to keep a copy of our dog’s latest vet records on our phone for easy reference. It also doesn’t hurt to let your vet know when and where you will be traveling. That way, if something does happen and you need to call them, they will be better prepared to offer direction or advice remotely.

3. Staying Safe While Driving

While driving your RV, you want to try and minimize distractions and keep everyone safe. In order to do this, your pet needs to be properly secured while the RV is in motion. There are several leashes and harnesses on the market that work as seat belts. Or, if you have a smaller pet, putting them in a secure crate is also a good option. Just be sure your pet has access to food and water, and enough space to stand and turn around (or swim around).

Dog in a cage in an RV
Photo: Karen Blue

If your pet is whining or panting a lot, they may be car sick or need to relieve themselves, so be sure to stop regularly and let them out. A good rule to remember is if you’re feeling hot, cooped up or queasy, it’s likely your pet is feeling the same way.

4. Train Impulse Control

When you reach your destination, there are going to be lots of exciting things right outside your door—people, other pets, new smells, wild animals. The last thing you want is for your pet to bolt out the door and potentially put themselves in danger. It’s essential to teach your pet to wait until they are released to go outside. This will not only protect the environment, but it will help protect your pet as well. We also recommend getting your pet microchipped and having them wear a collar with up-to-date contact information. That way, if they do get out, it will be much easier to find them.

Dog outside an RV
Photo: Karen Blue

5. Hitting the Trails

It should go without saying, but always pick up your pet’s waste. Keep a few extra bags on your pet’s leash or in your pocket any time you go outside (they even have biodegradable bags now). It’s imperative that you obey rules about where pets are and aren’t allowed, particularly in national parks. A pet’s barking or scent can change the natural patterns of park wildlife, so always be sure to read signs or check with a park ranger. When you do take your pet out on a hike or adventure, be sure to bring some treats, extra water and a bowl or collapsible dish.

6. Leaving Your Pet in the RV

A woman in an RV
Photo: Karen Blue

There may be times you have to leave your pet unattended inside your RV (trust us, our pup definitely enjoys her alone time). If this happens, your biggest consideration should be temperature. It could be cold in the morning when you leave, but heat up very quickly as the run rises. If this is the case, be sure to leave the AC on and the roof vents open. If the temperatures are extreme, we recommend a temperature monitoring system just in case the power goes out. And regardless if it’s hot or cold, we suggest keeping your blinds closed. This not only helps regulate the temperature but also prevents your pet from reacting to anything it might see outside (no one likes a dog that barks at every single squirrel).

7. Grooming and Cleaning

Tiny spaces are easy to clean, but they can also get messy really quickly. Pet hair can cause issues with your RV systems, so be sure to brush your pet often and brush them outside. We also like to keep a washcloth or wipes by the front door to help clean any dirty paws.

A dog being groomed outside an RV
Photo: Karen Blue

If your pet requires regular grooming, try to plan this around when you will be close to larger cities. A quick Google search for groomers in the area should bring up a few different options—just be sure to call and see if they are familiar with your pet’s breed. It helps to bring a photo of how you like your pet groomed. That way, a new groomer can have a better idea of your exact preferences.

8. Most Importantly, Have Fun

Your pets are part of the family, and your adventures will be even more memorable with them by your side! Just like at home, don’t forget to play with them and give them lots of love and affection.

Dog sleeping in an RV
Photo: Karen Blue


Karen Blue

Karen is endlessly curious, with an insatiable appetite for travel and exploring nature. She is an entrepreneur, scuba instructor, and photographer, living full-time on the road with her husband, daughter, and pup in a 30-foot Airstream Flying Cloud. She believes in creating the life you desire and living it to the fullest.