Dog in RV
Summer is here, and it’s time to start planning your vacation. If you’re wanting to take your pets along with you this year, consider hitting the road in a recreational vehicle (or RV). You won’t be alone, Kevin Broom, director of media relations for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, says: "According to our spring survey of RV owners (completed in April), 61 percent of RVers travel with pets." He adds that survey data shows that about 90 percent tote their dogs, while 14 percent are accompanied by their cats.

Any time you’re traveling with pets, of course, there are safety concerns to consider. And while an RV might seem homelike, it’s still a vehicle and can pose threats to your pet both while it’s in motion and while it’s parked. Here are five tips to help keep your pet secure.

Buckle Up

It might seem normal to let your pet roam free in the RV while you’re driving; it’s not uncommon to see cats perched on dashboards or dogs with their paws on the windowsill, looking out at the passing scenery. But it’s a bad idea. Just as you would restrain your pet in a car — at least we hope you would — he should be confined while the RV is in motion.

That means riding in a crate that is secured, so it can’t move around, or wearing a pet safety belt.

“We wear our seat belts, and our pets should be wearing theirs, too,” Amy Burkert, of, says. She with her husband and dogs, Ty and Buster, have traveled more than 70,000 miles in their motor home.

Place a crate in an area where it won’t get too hot and attach it to something that is permanently affixed, such as a table or bench. You can fasten a crate in place permanently with bolts and straps or hold it in place with seat belts or some other form of tie-down that provides stability but allows you to move them as needed.

Some safety devices allow the pet to move around in a limited area while still attached to two fixed points. A short tether with a swivel can also provide extra mobility, but keep in mind that you never want to give your pet too much freedom of movement in case you need to make a sudden stop.

And never let your pet ride alone in a fifth wheel or camper that you’re hauling. He needs to be in the same vehicle as you, safely confined in his crate or secured with a pet seat belt.

Keep It Cool

Many people like traveling in an RV, because it can provide a safe place to leave a pet when the humans are going to dinner, for a hike in a national park or any other place where pets can’t go along. But like any vehicle, an RV can heat up in the sun. You can leave the air conditioner running, but power failures are always a possibility.

Clever and safety-conscious RVers use remote temperature sensors to ensure that pets stay cool. The devices monitor the temperature inside the RV and can send an alert to your cell phone if it gets too hot or too cold — although they cannot be relied on in areas with spotty cell phone reception. Other devices can be set to turn the generator on or off when the RV reaches preset temperatures. Choose a temperature monitor with battery backup in case the power fails.

Proper ID

Burkert says another important safety issue is making sure pets don’t get lost while you’re traveling. It’s all too easy for a pet to dart out of an open RV door in a strange place and head for the hills.

Your dog or cat needs multiple forms of identification. A collar and tag are the first line of defense. A tag is visible, and anyone can read it. Put your last name on it and two to three phone numbers where you can be reached, including your cell phone.

Collars and tags can be removed or lost, so a microchip is a great form of backup identification. Be sure you register the chip and keep your contact information updated with the registry.

To help prevent your pet from escaping the RV, always put a leash on him before you open any door. Use a pet gate or other barrier if you are parked and want to keep the door open while he’s inside. You’ll need an extra-tall one if you have an energetic dog or an acrobatic cat.

Safe and Sound

We all know that cats like to hide and can get into just about any-size space they want. To make sure you don’t crush or otherwise injure your feline, it’s essential to make sure you know where your cat is before you extend or retract a slide-out.

Older pets may have mobility issues. Purchase a ramp you can place in the doorway to make it easier and safer for them to get in and out of the RV.

Happy travels!

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