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If you are traveling with pets, their safety becomes a number one concern for you. In fact, it’s important either on the road or in an RV park.
One question that particularly worries RVers is whether it is safe to leave their pet in an RV. Well, it seems to be safe if you don’t think much about it. In reality, things are more complicated than you may think.
Is It Safe To Leave A Pet In An RV?
Let’s put it straight – if you can avoid leaving your pet in the RV alone, then you should do so. By leaving your pet in the RV, you are exposing it to hazards which aren’t controllable. If the pet is with you, you have direct control over its safety, but if it is out of your view, you can’t know what may happen.
Temperature, the biggest hazard to your pet
Perhaps the biggest hazard to your pet in an RV is temperature, be it hot or cold. There are a few other things that you need to think about, but the temperature should be the number one concern for you.
To be fair, it isn’t difficult to keep the temperature steady in the RV, as well as to ensure it is warm in the winter. However, all that convoluted equipment isn’t safeguarded from malfunctions that may occur in either inside or outside of the RV.
Sure, you may rely on your air conditioner keeping the air cool or your furnace / heater keeping the temperature up. However, the problem here is that these appliances require a power source. What if the power goes out in the RV park, or if the circuit breaker in your RV trips? Your climate control will no longer work, exposing your pet to the extreme temperatures that are so harmful to him.
Due to this, leaving your pet in the RV alone is the last thing you want to do. There are many other, safer options for taking care of your pet while you are away, which we will overview below.
However, we do realize that leaving your dog or cat in the RV can be the only option in some cases, so we are also going to have a look at the steps that you can take in order to ensure the safety of your pet when you are away.
RV park rules may also matter
While temperature is the biggest concern when leaving a pet in an RV, if you are staying in an RV park, its rules may also become a problem for you.
Not all RV parks are pet-friendly. In fact, some parks forbid leaving pets in the RV unattended, and if you fail to comply with the park’s rules, you will most likely be asked to leave.
In other parks, you will be allowed to leave your pet in your RV, but you will need to ensure that it doesn’t disturb other RVers while you are away.
Alternatives to leaving your pet in the RV
While leaving your pet in the RV may seem like the most obvious option, there are other, safer alternatives to leaving your pet alone while you are away. And as we mentioned above, you should keep leaving your pet in the RV as your last option, so you may want to consider the below alternatives first.
Take your pet with you
Quite an easy way to go about your pet is just taking him with you. You will be able to keep a close eye on your pet, and your pet also won’t feel lonely.
However, this option may not be suitable for all kinds of situations. If you are going out to visit a store, then you won’t be able to bring your pet with you if the store doesn’t let in any pets. There may be many other similar situations in which bringing your pet along isn’t the most reasonable option.
Have someone at the park look after your pet
Arguably the most convenient option would be to leave your pet with a trustworthy neighbor. Not only that, but if there is no need for every member of your group to go out, you should leave one adult in the RV to look after the pet. Leaving children wouldn’t be as good of an idea since they may not be able to react properly if something goes wrong in the RV.
Leave your pet at a pet care center
If there’s a pet care center nearby, then leaving your pet with them is another good option. This may cost a small fee, but you can be sure that the staff can take care of your pet.
Is it safe to leave a pet in a moving RV?
Another question that bothers RVers is whether it is safe to leave a pet in a moving RV, i.e. whether or not you can leave a pet in a travel trailer which is towed behind a moving vehicle.
It is not safe to leave your pet in a moving RV alone, even if it is closed up in a crate. You won’t be able to keep an eye on your pet, and the pet won’t understand what’s going on and may get destructive.
If you are considering leaving your pet in the RV while towing it, then it should be accompanied by an adult. But ideally, you wouldn’t want to leave a pet in a moving RV, be there an adult with it or not.
What if you have no other option than to leave your pet in the RV?
In some cases, you have no other option than to leave your pet in the RV. However, before making a final decision, make sure that leaving your pet alone is indeed the only option that you could go for.
As we mentioned above, the main danger to your pet in the RV is temperatures, whether cold or hot. The problem here is that you can’t ensure with 100% reliability that your AC will be powered on the entire time you are away.
Fortunately, there are ways that allow you to safeguard your pet from power outages and equipment malfunctions to some extent. If you can, employ as many of the tips below as possible to protect your pet from temperature changes.
Remote temperature notification
Perhaps the easiest and least costly option would be to go for a remote temperature notification system. These systems allow you to set a temperature threshold, which when exceeded will trigger a notification on your phone.
Remote temperature monitoring systems usually operate on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Due to this, when choosing such a system, you will need to consider your distance from the RV.
Beyond 100 feet, Bluetooth systems usually don’t offer reliable connection, so unless you will be close by, avoid a Bluetooth system.
Wi-Fi systems are arguably better since they can deliver notifications no matter where you are as long as you have an internet connection. The problem here is that you may have no access to the internet, which may be a reason big enough for you to consider other, non-internet-dependent options.
Backup power source
The biggest fear of any RVer when leaving their pet in the RV alone is that the power will go out and that the air conditioner will stop running. There’s not much you can do to prevent power outages, but there is one thing you may do to ensure that the AC stays running.
Essentially, you need to make sure that you have a power generator, and that the generator kicks on as soon as the power goes out. A generator can literally be a lifesaver if the AC receives no power from the RV park grid.
Your portable generator needs to have an automatic generator start controller that will start the generator automatically once the power goes out. The vast majority of generators do not have auto start controllers, so you will need to buy one. A good auto generator start controller may cost a few hundred dollars, but it definitely is worth it since it can save your pet’s life.
Aside from that, your generator itself matters a lot as well. What you should particularly care about is the runtime of your generator. If it’s a small generator with a small fuel tank, then it may be unable to power up the AC unit while you are away.
With that being said, when choosing an RV generator, keep in mind that it needs to have sufficient runtime AND power output to run the AC in the RV.
And, of course, you need to ensure that the generator’s fuel tank is full so that the generator can power the AC for a longer time period.
Keep in mind that generators can be noisy and thus bothersome for your neighbors. Due to this, leave a generator as your last option. You also should probably let your neighbors know that your power generator may kick in to keep the RV with the pet cool if the power goes out.
You probably don’t have a ceiling fan in your RV. Usually, only bigger and pricier RVs come with ceiling fans, unless you’ve installed one in your RV yourself.
Ceiling fans certainly don’t deliver the cooling capacity of air conditioners, but they do not consume as much power either. Due to this, leaving your ceiling fan on may be a good option if you are away for a long time.
Keep in mind though that a ceiling fan won’t be as effective in hot weather. For extreme heat, your RV’s AC will be the best option. Not only that, but the rotating ceiling fan may be a safety hazard to your pet, which means that leaving a ceiling fan isn’t the best option, but it should still be considered.
Extreme temperature preparation
You may and probably should prepare your RV for extreme temperatures.
If it’s winter out there, then your RV should be well-insulated and equipped with portable heaters to keep your pet warm. If using any kind of heaters, you will need to think about ensuring that they are running even if the power goes out.
Preparing your RV for winter is a thing that you need to do beforehand. It will be very difficult for you to try and insulate your RV if the winter has already come, so make sure that you do it before your trip.
In summer, things may get a little bit more difficult since it’s arguably easier to keep your pet warm than cool.
The first thing to do is, of course, to leave your AC unit running. Remember that you may want to ensure that it can run even if the power at the campground is out.
Secondly, provide your pet with plenty of cool water so that they can hydrate themselves. Not all pets rely on sweating to cool themselves down in hot weather, but you should nonetheless provide them with a supply of water.
You can also leave the windows in the RV open to keep the air, but if you do so, you may want to mount screens on the windows so that your pet doesn’t escape from the RV and get lost somewhere.
Speaking of windows, cover all openings through which light can get in with curtains. This will allow you to limit the amount of heat that enters the RV and thus keep it cool.
Asking someone to check up on your pet
If you don’t have tools to monitor the RV or Camper conditions with, another option is to ask someone at the campground to check up on your dog occasionally. It should be someone trustworthy who you know will do as you ask.
You may also ask someone from the campground’s office to check up on your dog. Chances are that there will be people who will be happy to do that for you.
Leave your name, phone number, and location to the person who you asked for the favor. They should call you and notify on changes with your pet or if any power problems occur at the campground while you are away.
If you liked this article, take a look at our other RV how-to guides.