I would venture to say that at least half of all fulltime and seasonal RVers we know travel with at least one pet, and sometimes more. And most of those pets are dogs and cats, though we have seen people with other pets that are a little more exotic. These have included somebody who traveled with a kangaroo, a few RVers who traveled with birds ranging from parakeets to macaws, to snakes, ferrets, and all the way up to a miniature horse and a potbelly pig.
We even met a traveling tortoise named Randy while we were staying at Fisherman’s Landing, a city owned RV park in Muskegon, Michigan.
Like anything, from owning a firearm, to having children or traveling with pets, when you decide to do so you take on a responsibility. The great majority of RV pet owners we have met have been wonderful people who really cared a lot about their pets. But there have also been a few clods along the way, like the people parked across from us at a Thousand Trails campground in Indiana who left a poor dog tied outside with no water or shade during the hot summer. Other RVers and the park rangers had to bring the poor animal water and food. There is no excuse for that. People like that do not deserve to have animals.
There is also no excuse for people who allow their dogs to bark all day and all night long, disturbing the peace of other RVers parked nearby. We once were parked next to some folks at a campground in Washington state who had three dogs that barked incessantly. They left their rig early every morning and came back late at night, and when I complained about the dogs barking, the man said, “Yeah, I know they do that. Just ignore them, they’ll grow on you.” I don’t think so!
Something else that really ticks me off are the people who go to places like Quartzsite, Arizona to boondock in the desert and allow their pets to run around of leash, or even to be tied up outside unattended. Every year people lose pets to coyotes, bobcats, and even hawks. I’ve written about this before in a blog titled It’s Cruelty, Not Love.
Given all of that, today I want to share some tips that might make life easier for people who travel with pets.
A product I recently became aware of is called the CoyoteVest. It is body armor designed to protect small animals if they are attacked or bitten by a larger dog or coyote. The vests offer multiple levels of protection, from the large spiked collar area that prevents neck bites and deadly shaking. They are made of ballistic nylon reinforced with a special stab-resistant Kevlar® that was originally developed for prison guard uniforms. The Kevlar® side panels prevent even the sharpest canine teeth from puncturing the vest in the primary bite zone. You can find out more information about the CoyoteVest at their website, https://coyotevest.com/
Another wearable item for pets that has made life easier for both animals and their owners are Thundershirts. They provide gentle, constant pressure to an animal’s body, much like the feel of their owner holding them, to help calm anxiety, fear, and over excitement. Most pet owners I know who have used Thundershirts all say they have been worth their weight in gold, especially when the animals are exposed to fireworks, thunder, and when being introduced to traveling. They are a great alternative to having your vet prescribe drugs to calm an animal.
Speaking of veterinarians, I recently received a link to a new website, My Pet Records Online. It is a new service that makes pet medical records, shot, and vaccination records available to any vet at any time, anywhere in the U.S. It is also smart phone friendly so vets and pet owners can pull up shot records when they need them. If something happens and you are in a strange city, this allows any vet in the country to access your pet’s complete medical records instantly, at no cost to the vet. This avoids duplicating tests, or waiting for your vet to fax or e-mail records to wherever you are. Even if you carry your pet’s health records with you, do you have time to find them in an emergency? They are offering new customers 15% off their choice of a plan with the Promo code RV15.
Do you remember those barking dogs that I told you about? A dog that barks nonstop will quickly make you the most unpopular person in the campground. One solution to the problem is acquiring one of the different bark alerts that are available online from Amazon or at pet supply stores. Some of them, like the First Alert Bark Genie Automatic Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent, use an ultrasonic sound that startles and discourages dogs from barking.
Others, like the PETnologics Anti Bark Collar, give the dog a small, harmless electronic jolt that deters barking. Some people think they are inhumane, but I have used them on my German shepherds over the years and found them to be quick and effective. What the dog feels is pretty much like I feel with the TENS unit I use on my back for muscle pain.
I am also a big believer in using some kind of crate or enclosure to secure your animal while traveling. If you introduce it to them properly, it becomes a comfortable place for them when you are on the road. And more importantly, if you secure it properly inside your RV or tow vehicle, it keeps the pet from becoming a missile in the event of an accident or sudden panic stop. The Petmate Sky Kennel is a brand I am familiar with that works well.
Something else that is very important is to make sure your cat or small dog is secured in a kennel or someplace where you can see it while you move your slide rooms in and out. More than once we’ve heard of animals being maimed and killed when they got caught in a moving slide room.
And finally, are your animals chipped? Even if they have a tag on their collar with your name and contact information on it, you should have a veterinarian insert a chip into them so they can be returned to you if they ever stray away or run off. It’s inexpensive, it’s painless to the animal, and it can help you’re fur baby come home to you.
Of course, the best thing you can give your pet doesn’t cost a penny; it’s your love. Don’t just throw an animal into a new RV when they have never been in one before, and expect them to adapt immediately to this change in their lifestyle. Start them out with slow, short trips, maybe just a drive around the neighborhood so they can become familiar with the feel of a moving vehicle under them. If they have a pet bed or a favorite toy, put it in the RV so they have something familiar to reassure them. And on those first trips, talk to your pet and let it know that everything is okay and they are safe. It really does make a difference.
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Thought For The Day – Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give some people.