RVing With Pets: What You Need to Know (2018 Edition)

Let’s start with some visualization…

Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting outside of an RV.

Now imagine hearing the waves crash against the sand, or the birds chirping in nature, or even cars driving in the distance.

But, wait… what just nudged your leg? Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing?

Your pet is demanding attention. At this moment you think:

RVing with pets

I could never go RVing with pets. It wouldn't work!

Not to call you on your bluff, but you are able to travel with pets if you spend the time researching how to go about doing it (and, of course, you have to be patient with them).

Whether you have one, two, or three pets, you’re able to live (or vacation) in an RV stress-free.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how. 

RVing with Dogs & Cats: The Essentials

So, you want to spend some time in an RV. That’s awesome - you won’t regret the RV life!

You will regret putting your traveling dreams on hold if you decide you “can’t do it” because you “have to take care of your pets” and “they just won’t like it”.

Before Bill and I started traveling, our cat Luna was a huge concern of mine. I was worried he’d have problems adjusting (especially since we went from a two-story apartment to a 32 foot RV within a day).

But, this was our dream! We wanted to RV for a long time and we were determined to just do it.

I started taking Luna outside more. I started leash training him. When we first got the RV, we brought Luna into it and allowed him to explore for as long as he needed to.

He absolutely loved the RV.
Adventure Cats

Luna’s probably not much different from your house cat (except for the fact that Luna comes running when I pull out his harness).

What I’m trying to say here is that you’re able to do the same thing! Cat, dog, rabbit, guinea pig… all animals are able to adapt to their surroundings if you give them time to get used to the changes.

Imagine hiking, kayaking, and sight-seeing with your furry companion. Doesn’t it sound like a blast? This can happen frequently if you adapt to an RV traveling lifestyle!

Now, let's talk about how to do all that with your pet while staying safe.

5 RV Pet Safety Tips

When it comes to traveling, pets can be somewhat temperamental.

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that bringing a pet with you on the road is one of the best and worst things in the world.

Living out of an RV with a pet is, dare I say it, harder than you may think.

You see, you’re not just uprooting your life…

…you’re uprooting theirs, too.

Before Bill and I started fulltime RVing, we lived in a half double apartment. We had two floors, spacious rooms, and plenty of places where Luna could play (and, of course, sleep).

We went from that to a 32 foot RV in less than a day.

Thankfully, I’m usually the type of person who thinks about random (yet important) things most people would forget about.

Something I had thought about? How to make RVing as safe as possible for Luna.

I did extensive research and nearly freaked myself out at times. Some of the articles I read talked about medicating your pets before driving or they’d have serious anxiety.

Luna’s safety was a huge concern of mine, as I’m sure you’re concerned for your pet’s safety, too.

Which is why I’m going to provide you with 5 RV tips to follow when traveling with dogs, cats, and other critters that I’ve found extremely helpful to have on hand.

1. Rules of the road.

Whether you’re full-timing, part-timing, or just want to go on a road trip, your RV is your home. It may feel natural to allow your pets to roam about when you’re driving to your destination but this is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

You could be as confident as you want when it comes to your driving skills but let’s face it, not everyone follows the speed limit signs (and don’t get me started on how many people try to pass you when you’re in an RV).

If you were to get into an accident and your pet was roaming about, they could be seriously injured. Not to mention, wandering pets may come up to visit you while driving, causing you to be easily distracted.

At the end of this article, I’m providing essential RV accessories you should have on hand when traveling with pets. Be sure to check it out - you’ll find some nifty items to use while partaking in a pet friendly road trip!!

2. Remember the essentials.

I’m a firm believer in writing lists. Not because they make me feel productive (or because I love to “check off” the items I have) but because they help me remember everything I need.

Keeping a “Pet Essentials” list is a must.

Sure, you know your pet needs food and water (and treats - if they’re lucky). But what about…

  • Their leash?
  • Their waste pick-up bags?
  • Their litter?
  • Their toys?
  • Their brush?
  • Their crate?
  • Their fuzzy sweater that you love (but they could care less about)?

If you’re able to remember all of this without writing it down and hanging it on the fridge, well… kudos to you. Bill and I have enough of our own stuff to remember let alone all of Luna’s favorite belongings.

3. Take your pet to the DMV (kidding, but make sure they have an updated ID).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard,

“Hey! Have you seen my {insert animal here}? They ran outside and I can’t find them!”

To which I usually replied:

“Oh no! I haven’t, unfortunately. Is your phone number on you pet’s tag in case someone finds them? Are they chipped?”

Eight out of ten times, I got a “No” to each question. Which broke my heart every single time.

When Bill and I were in Maine, someone lost their dog at the campground and we searched for two hours straight to find him. I wish that story had a happy ending, but…

Guys, if you’re going to travel with your pets… please make sure you chip them or give them a proper ID tag.

Pet ID tag

Both Bill’s number and my own are on Luna’s tag in case anything ever happened to him. This is one of the easiest things you have to do when traveling, too!

Go to your local WalMart or PetSmart, find the pet ID kiosk, type in their name on one side with your name and phone number on the other, print it, stick it on their collar, and voilà! Your pet has his/her own personal ID.

4. Keep your pet’s information with you at all times.

This includes but is not limited to…

  • Vaccination records - a lot of campgrounds ask to see recent vaccination records (to ensure your pet’s health is up to par). Such as rabies shots!

  • Proof of ownership - God forbid your pet runs away and the wrong person finds him/her. They can easily say the pet is theirs, leaving you baffled and screwed unless you can prove otherwise. Let’s hope this never happens to you!

  • Photographs - you’d be surprised at how many people don’t keep any pictures of their pets while on the road! While having pictures on your phone is great, print one or two good-quality pictures of your pet in case they run away.

These are the top three documents I keep on hand at all times, but if your pets have any allergies or medical ailments be sure to bring the paperwork for that, too. And don’t forget the first aid kit!

5. Incorporate exercise into your new lifestyle!

Regardless of who your travel companion is, driving is a drag. After a while, no matter what you try to do to pass the time, driving becomes irritating and the sound of your partner’s voice will set you on edge (sorry, Bill).

No one wants to be cooped up in a car for hours on end, your pets included. Sure, the frequent bathroom break stops are nice, but unless you plan to stay at a rest area for an hour or two to play with your dog (or allow your cat to wander the RV), they’ll wind up being bored out of their minds, too.

Being stagnant at a campground is no different. While you’re out exploring new areas, your pets are locked inside of your RV patiently waiting for you to come home to play with them.

If you’re traveling with a dog, make it a point to take daily morning and evening (and maybe afternoon) walks. Allow them to explore the area! If they want to sniff that bush ten times, by all means, let them!

Keep in mind, if you’ve never taken your pet on a long road trip before, they’ll get really antsy!

If the campground you’re staying at is big enough (and the owners don’t mind your dog running around), play fetch for a while! There might even be a dog park nearby.

And, whether you believe it or not, cats love going for walks outside.

It may take your cat a while to get accustomed to a leash and harness, but in due time, they’ll come to love it.

I’m not just saying that, either. Luna hated harnesses when I first introduced them to him. When he sees a harness now, he runs over to me with excitement in his eyes!
Leash Training Your Cat

I spent a lot of time reading the Adventure Cats book while traveling with Luna, too. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone considering traveling (or to anyone who just wants to explore the great outdoors) with their mighty feline!

Now that I’ve gone over the tips and tricks of RVing with a pet, let’s talk about the five most asked questions asked…

RVing With Pets FAQs

While I'm only providing you with five questions, there are tons of RV pet forums filled with questions that you may have.

The following are questions most people ask me, which is why I felt confident enough to answer them! Just click on the question to reveal the answer.

1. Can I leave my dog or cat unattended in an RV at a campground?

2. How can I find dog friendly RV parks near me?

3. What should I do if my pet gets carsick?

4. Is there a way to eliminate the smell of cat litter?

5. Can I travel with smaller animals?

Pet RV Accessories

Before you get super excited, grab your pet, and put them into an RV, it’s important to know what accessories you should bring along with you...

Which is why I created a list of accessories I believe are essential when traveling with pets.

Let’s dive in!

RV Accessories for Dogs

1. Car Seat Belt Harness

Car Seat Belt Harness for Dogs

As I mentioned in the RV tips section, practicing pet safety is a must when RVing with pets. For dogs who aren’t used to kennel training, I recommend buying this adjustable car seat harness.

Simply attach it to your pet’s harness and buckle it in! It’s easy as pie. It also works with the belt buckles in most RV couches.

2. Outdoor Bathing Tool

Outdoor shower for dogs

Dogs love getting into things we’d really rather them stay away from (mud, ponds, etc.). Because not all RVs come with a bathtub, bathing your pup might cause a few problems.

Thankfully, this outdoor bathing tool is able to connect directly to your water hookup in just a few seconds.

3. GoPro Harness

Pet Go-Pro harness

If you have a GoPro (or you plan on getting one) I highly recommend getting your pup a GoPro harness. It allows you to see what your pet sees (which is super awesome because they tend to look at things that you wouldn’t notice).

Pro tip: While this is a great harness, I wouldn’t put it on your pup unless you were with them (or watching them closely). Otherwise, they may roll over and could break it!

4. Toy Bin

Dog toy storage bin

So, I put this under the “Dog” category because dogs naturally have more toys than cats. However… Luna would be lost without his toys and I’m sure he’s not the only spoiled cat with far too many toys!

Whenever I’m exploring a new town, I always see something that I know Luna would like and sometimes buy a bit too much for him. Luckily, I have a toy bin where I can store his toys so they’re not scattered about the RV!

Pro Tip: This toy bin is easily storable, which is what an RV owner needs (especially if you have little space to work with now).

5. LED Harness

 LED harness for dogs

I’d go as far to say that this is a must if you and your dog take nighttime walks (which I’m sure all dog owners do).

You can never be too careful and by getting your dog an LED harness, drivers will be able to spot you and your pup easily!

6. Travel Water Bottle

Travel water bottle for dogs

Whether you plan on taking your dogs for a hike in the woods or just want something easily accessible during rest areas, this travel water bottle will come in handy.

You’re able to purchase this in multiple colors, too!

7. Hiking Accessory Pack

Hiking accessory pack

There’s nothing better than taking a walk (or hike) with your pets. However, if you leave your camper without dog food and plenty of water (and maybe a toy), your pets will start dragging after a while.

This hiking pack has room for toys, comes with a food dish and water bottle, and is super comfortable.

8. K-9 Float Coat

K-9 Float Coat

I see so many people kayaking with their dogs, but too few have float jackets on! I know, I know…

Why would I put my dog in a float jacket when he/she can swim?

Because, dear reader, your pup’s legs will eventually get tired and not all dogs can swim well. I’d rather you (and your pup) be safe than sorry!

9. Collapsible Food and Water Bowls

Collapsible bowls for dogs

I am such a fan of collapsible bowls. They’re easy to clean and when I’m back on the road, I can easily collapse them to store them in the cupboard.

If you don’t have any of these - I definitely recommend getting them!  

10. Just For Fun - Doggy Selfie Stick

Pooch selfie stick

Taking pictures with Luna is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, the only time he’ll look at the camera is if he sees something in the distance that sparks his interest.

This dog selfie ball is friggin’ genius. If only they made one for cats with a bird attached instead of a tennis ball…

RV Accessories for Cats

1. Portable Cat Carrier

Portable cat carrier

As all cat owners know, cats are far too antsy for a strap-in harness. This portable cat carrier is perfect for cats of all sizes and is big enough to put their litter box inside of it!

Luna has gotten so good at using the litter box while on the road, he never has accidents (anymore, that is).

2. Litter Trap Mat

Litter trap mat

Remember how I said that Luna likes to throw his litter around like confetti? This litter-trapping mat is absolutely amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have to vacuum around his litter box daily, but it’s so much easier to manage with this mat.

3. Grooming Kit

Groomer kit

There’s nothing worse than your cat stepping all over you with their talons claws digging into your skin.

This grooming kit has helped me keep Luna’s claws in check and I am forever grateful. If you don’t have one already, get one. It’s a total game changer.

4. Playful Cat Scratcher

Playful Cat Scratcher

Because you’re not always going to be in your RV with your cat, it’s important to have something that will make them feel like they’re being pampered and pet enough.

If you spoil your cat with an abundance of love and they don’t have anything to simulate their senses, they may feel a bit of separation anxiety until you return!

This cat scratching grooming kit is amazing and your cat may start to prefer this over your pets (probably not though)!

5. Cat Harness

Cat harness with leash

Like I said before, Luna loves going for walks. If your cat has an unexplainable need to go outside and you’re willing to take the time needed to leash train your furry feline, a cat harness may be a good buy for you!

6. Outdoor Enclosure

Outdoor Cat Enclosure

If you want your cat to enjoy the great outdoors but don’t think they’ll be comfortable walking on a leash, this outdoor enclosure will come in handy.

Bonus: The fluffy mat is included with this outdoor enclosure. Score!

7. Mini Organic Cat Grass

Mini Organic Cat Grass

Some cats are just not interested in being outdoors. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring the outdoors to them, though!

This grass will grow within five days of planting (according to the seller).

8. Catit Senses 2.0 Wellness Center

Catit Senses 2.0 Wellness Center

Luna has this exact wellness center and he absolutely loves it. You’re able to store catnip in the green thing on the top (which will promote kittens and cats to clean and massage their gums trying to get it).

Pamper your furry feline with this wellness center and they’ll be forever grateful!

9. Travel Cat Backpack

Travel Cat Backpack

Want to go on an adventure with your travel cat? Duh! This travel backpack is perfect for cats of all sizes, but be warned… if your cat is a bit on the heavy side, you may end up hurting your back on your hike!

10. Just for Fun: Wine Catnip Toys

Wine Catnip Toys

After a long day of traveling, both you and your cat will need to unwind. While you’re able to drink a bottle glass of wine, your cat is not.

These wine shaped catnip treats are the next best thing, though! Plus, they’re funny and will make guests laugh when they see your cat playing with them.

RV Accessories for Small Critters

1. Critter carrier

Small pet carrier

This critter carrier will allow you to bring your hamster, mouse, chinchilla, guinea pig, and practically any other small animal outside without having them freak out in your hands.

2. Critter playpen

Critter playpen

This critter playpen is fun, easy to set up, and will allow your pet to play outside without accidently running away.

When I had a guinea pig, her favorite thing to do was to go outside and play in the leaves:

Clover

Your critter’s favorite thing may be to go outside and play in the leaves, but you’d never know if you never take them outside!

3. Little critter harness and leash

Harness and leash for small critters

I don’t know about you, but this is one of the cutest pictures I’ve ever seen in my life.

This harness and leash is perfect for hedgehogs, guinea pigs, etc. Just be careful putting it on - I’m not sure what they’d think of this at first!

That’s all, folks!

We’ve reached the end of this guide to RVing with pets. Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot and you feel better about traveling with your furry critters!

But now, it’s your turn!

What pet accessories do you bring along when RVing? Do you have any tips and tricks to share when traveling with pets? What do your pets like the most about the RV life?

Drop a comment below!

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Kayla Blydenburgh

Just your average small-town girl living in an RV following her dreams. You can find me in the mountains, kayaking, exploring small towns, cuddling my cat, reading a good book, or playing video games.