Although gas prices still appear to be heading north, record numbers of people will take to the road with their pets this year as more and more pet-friendly hotels, resorts and other accommodations roll out the welcome mat. Recreational activities like camping and hiking will involve four-legged members of family like never before, and more campgrounds and RV parks are beginning to design pet areas that offer dog runs and opportunities for off-leash exercise. Some even offer pet-sitting services so families can enjoy day trips and sightseeing excursions that may not allow pets.
Safe and enjoyable RV pet travel means planning ahead
Just as you would pack your own things, don’t overlook what your pet may need to keep him comfortable, too. Being prepared with the right essentials and equipment is the key to ensure a happy time on the road and once you get to your destination. Also keep in mind when and where you plan to travel. The time of year and geographical location of your trek can make a big difference in how and what you prepare to take along. Know what the weather conditions are likely to be and pack accordingly.
Make your pet travel experience safe, fun and enjoyable by following these simple, common sense tips:
- Check ahead at the RV park or campground to make sure they permit pets on the premises. Don’t assume that “pet-friendly” means all pets are accepted. They may have certain size restrictions or a limit on the number of pets you may bring. Others may offer kennels or other boarding facilities for travelers who may want to set out on excursions or attractions that don’t allow pets.
- Check with your vet before you leave about flea and tick treatments or repellent, heartworm medication and other preventives.
- Safely secure your pet while traveling. An unrestrained pet can become a deadly projectile in the event of a sudden stop or crash, causing serious injury (even death) to itself, you or your passengers. For example, an unsecured, 25-pound dog in a 40 mph crash becomes a 1,000-pound mass (half a ton) flying uncontrollably inside the vehicle. Pet vehicle safety harnesses and dog car seats (to elevate smaller pets so they can see out) are ideal to help keep them safe and not distracting to drivers.
- Don’t leave your pet locked inside your RV without the air running or proper ventilation. If a generator malfunctions, temperatures can heat up fast in the spring and summer and can cause heat stroke or be fatal to your pet. Make sure your pet has plenty of water and air circulation if you must leave him or her for short periods of time.
- Do not tie your pet to your RV with a metal chain in case of a power surge or improperly grounded facilities.
- Be aware of the kind of metal steps on your RV that may be a potential hazard to your pet. Some RV’s are equipped with steps that have little holes in them. There has been a report where an unattended dog had gotten its claws stuck in the holes and, in trying to get freed, tore out its nails and bled to death.
- A pet first-aid kit is an essential item to pack when venturing out and should contain things such as antiseptic cream, assorted bandages, tweezers, eye drops, gauge, tape, and the like. Know what items are in your kit and how to use them.
- Do not allow your pet to ride with its head outside of the window. An obstacle close to the vehicle could potentially strike your pet’s head, causing injury or death, or dirt particles could get into your pet’s ears, nose, eyes, or throat, causing health problems.
- Be considerate and practice good “petiquette” by cleaning up after your pet. Always keep a supply of pick-up bags with you and dispose properly.
Whether you and your pet plan to travel together for a weekend trip or a month-long excursion, the bottom line is to be prepared. Having the right equipment and attitude will help make the experience of RVing with your pet very rewarding. Most of all, be safe and have fun!
Happy Pet Travels!