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Ever wondered how you can travel with dogs? Have you put off your travel dreams because you don’t know what to do with your dogs. Can you even travel with pets?
Yes. You can travel with your dog. There are plenty of people proving that traveling with a pet is possible. there is no better way than traveling in an RV.
Today, we’ll share with you how we travel with a dog and think there is no better way than traveling with dogs in an RV.
RVing with dogs will make them feel right at home and you’ll enjoy knowing they are with you and not staying at someone else’s house, at a kennel or being left at home for hours in between people stopping in to check on them.
We’ve been traveling full-time with our two large Labrador retrievers and our four kids in our RV for almost two years. When we first started traveling with our dog, we had a lot of concerns around how it would work traveling around America but over the years we have figured it all out!
Top tips to travel with dogs in an RV in the USA.
(I’m sure many of these tips apply to any country you travel with your pets in!)
How to find dog-friendly campsites and RV parks
Most RV parks allow dogs but be aware that some don’t and others have pet limitations.
Pet Restrictions in RV parks you may come across include:
- Dogs have to be under a certain weight
- You can only have 1 pet
- The combined weight of your dogs has to be under a certain weight
- Certain breeds aren’t allowed – Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepards, etc.
It is always good to ask what the pet rules are when you are making reservations since you don’t want to show up and then not be allowed to stay!
A lot of RV parks that do allow dogs will have a dog park, which is nice for letting your dogs off leash for a while.
All state parks and national parks we have been to have allowed pets, but again it is always worth it to double check. (In Australia, pets are not allowed in National Parks). They do tend to ask for documentation showing that your pet has been vaccinated.
That leads us to the forms that you should bring with you when traveling with dogs.
What forms do you need when traveling with dogs?
You will need the following forms when you travel with your dog, or pets.
- Proof of vaccinations – especially rabies. You should be able to get a printed copy of this from your vet and I would recommend also having them email it to you so you have an electronic copy.
- Vet records – having vet records on hand is less for the RV parks and more for in case of an emergency or if you have to make an unexpected visit to a vet while you are traveling. It will be very helpful for the vet, who has never seen your pet before, to know its medical history.
- Tags – your pet should always wear a collar with their name, your mobile number and a rabies tag. We only take their collars off at night, but make sure to put them right back on in the morning. Even if you don’t think they will ever get out, it is still good to have their collar on as often as possible. You never know when they may see a stray squirrel and make a run for it out of your RV door!
- Chip information – if your dog has a chip implanted in them, make sure to have the chip number, website, etc. Verify the information is current for your pet as well as your contact information before you leave on your trip with your dogs.
How to manage pet food when traveling with dogs
If your dog eats a special type of food that is only found at your local pet shop, be sure to ask them if there is anywhere else you can get it or if they could ship it to you.
I wouldn’t recommend this unless they can guarantee quick shipping or if you are planning on staying in one RV park for two weeks or more.
If you are planning extended travel, you may want to switch to a brand of dog food that can be found at large chain store across the country.
Yes, traveling in an RV means you do have storage areas under your RV, but these areas are not always that large. If you want to bring all of your dog’s food with you on your trip, make sure to consider storage space when buying or renting an RV. Those pet food bags are large and heavy!
How do Leave your dog in the RV when you go out
There will be places you want to explore when you either don’t want to bring your dog or they aren’t allowed. No worries! Your dog can stay in the RV when you are gone, but there are a few things to take into consideration.
- If it is going to be hot, run the air conditioning and also keep some windows open just in case the power goes out at the park. An RV is like a car, so if the power goes out and there is no AC, it will get HOT in your RV.
- If you are worried about rain or someone climbing in through a window, you can also buy rain covers for your roof vents and run the overhead fans.
- If you plan on leaving your dog in your RV, check that your RV park that has workers or security that are active during the day in case anything happens.
- You can either buy or make a paper sign to hang by your door telling people there are dogs in the RV. Leave your phone number in case of fire or any other problem. Be sure to note what kind of dog you have and how many so it is clear to any responders.
- If your dog is a barker you’ll need to do something about this. Having a neighbor with a barking dog is NOT fun. One of our dogs would bark any time she heard a noise outside the RV if we were not inside with her. We bought a collar that spritzes a citronella mist when she barks. It took one bark for her to realize she didn’t like that smell and it has worked ever since. You can pick them up at pet stores or on Amazon.
If you take these precautions, your pet will be fine hanging out while you go out to explore. We don’t like to do it, but if we are visiting somewhere a few hours from our campground, we are able to leave our dogs alone for 12 hours – we would never go longer than that!
If you are staying at a dog-friendly RV park that has a lot of seasonal RV’ers (people who come back every year and stay for 4 months or more), you may be able to find someone who has a business where they will stop in, check on your pet or even take your dog for a walk.
Your comfort level on a stranger entering your RV would determine if this would work for you.
Vaccines/Preventative Medicine for your dogs
Ensure your dog is up-to-date on their vet visits and vaccines before traveling as well as their flea, tick and heartworm medicine.
Tell your vet your travel plans to see if they recommend any additional vaccines. We took our dogs to Colorado and our vet recommended a Lyme Disease vaccine.
To take it a step further, you can always call a local vet to the area you’re visiting to see what they recommend for their patients. For example, in South Florida fleas are resistant to many flea medicines that people give their pets in the northern part of the US.
And remember, just like with people, certain medicines are available over the counter and some require a prescription.
Even further, there are also medicines that can only be prescribed after a vet has seen your pet. So again, discuss with your vet your travel plans, the length of time you’ll be away, and what they recommend you purchase ahead of time to have with you.
We like to keep a supply of:
- Heartworm medicine
- Flea/Tick medicine
- Ear infection medicine
- Upset stomach medicine
This helps us stay on top of preventive medicine and have a few things on hand in case of unforeseen situations without having to visit a vet on the road.
Places to visit when traveling with dogs
You can plan your trip around places that allow dogs to participate in activities and tours and even take them out to eat with you.
Here are our favorite dog-friendly locations. They’re part of your family, so it’s always cool to include them in your vacations!
Or, you could plan it based on things you want to see and then find things for your dog to do when you get there.
Most cities we have visited have a dog park or a local park we can go to but don’t count on all locations being dog-friendly.
Some cities have a LOT more restrictions than others. So if you are someone who wants your dog to come with you more often than not, then do some up front research so you aren’t disappointed.
How to find dog-friendly destinations in the USA
Bringfido.com has an attractions search box where you can put in the city you’ll be traveling to and it will show what pet-friendly things you can do there. It also lists the top dog-friendly places to visit.
The other option is to call the Visitor Bureau before you visit. We have had quite a few send us information specifically on things you can do with your pet in the area.
We did not know that St. Augustine was so pet-friendly for traveling with dogs until we got there. And then the CVB told us they had a big focus on pets and gave us a list of all these pet-friendly things.
You can also google something like: things to do with pets in (whatever city you are going to). And there are usually a lot of results.
To see if pets are allowed at a specific attraction googling or else calling ahead is your best bet. It’s worth doing because there have been places we were surprised you could bring a dog. We have also seen people show up at some crazy places thinking their pets could come when they couldn’t. So we recommend calling first to verify.
If you’re thinking you don’t want to travel in an RV, or you want to stay in a hotel with your dog you can. We have stayed at a few hotels with our dogs and a dog-friendly hotel chain that normally allows dogs is La Quinta.
However, we were surprised by some of the more upper-end hotels that offer dog-friendly accommodation too!
Be prepared there may be a large additional fee for you to bring your pet with you or a limit on the number of dogs or their weight. Always call ahead to ask.
Boarding your dog if you are planning to be away from your RV overnight
There have been a few times we have had to board our dogs. Whenever possible, we have had family traveling with us, or new friends we’ve met check on and help out with our dogs.
When that wasn’t an option, we learned that a person who watched dogs out of their home was our best bet.
Our #1 recommendation for finding a place to leave your dog when you travel is to stop in at the local pet food/bakery, not one of the chain stores, but more the boutique type of locally owned shops. Talk to the owner and see who they recommend. This has worked out really well for us.
If that is not an option, make sure you read a LOT of reviews on kennels, and if possible, bring your dog in to visit. This will help you see how they react and feel, as well as seeing how you feel about the place and the staff. Use your gut instinct.
We have found this site to be really helpful when planning travel with our dogs.
Traveling with dogs in an RV is the best way to travel, especially for extended travel.
In the end, what it really comes down to is that you and your dog will love the fact that you get to hang out together at night, in the morning, and I am sure multiple times sitting under your awning by the picnic table enjoying the outdoors!
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Do you go traveling with dogs? Share some tips and experiences in the comments below.