In October of 2019, my husband and I had been on the road for almost three months in our Class A RV. We were excited to be on the last leg of our trip, spending longer amounts of time in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. When our dog, Honey, had gotten sick at our campsite outside of the Grand Canyon.
Immediately, I knew something was wrong and that we should call the vet. The major problem was that the closest one was over an hour away. I tried to get Honey to stand up and drink some water when she started swaying back and forth as if she we on a boat. NOPE, that was a clear sign that she was either dying… or she was dying. We aren’t from Arizona and had no idea what plant she could have eaten or what could have bitten her that was poisonous.
We packed up our entire RV and headed to the vet. The road was the windiest we had ever experienced, that plus the sick/dying dog on my lap forced tears in my eyes. Anxiety was practically oozing off of me.
When we got to the vet, I was calmed by the way that no one panicked when we explained everything. The vet was kind and thoroughly looked over Honey. Finally settling on a question that had me shocked: “Do you partake in extracurricular drugs?Any Marijuana?”
My husband and I were both shocked, never having even tried it in our lives. After an assessment, some blood work and fluids given to her later, the vet came to the conclusion that our dog, Honey, had eaten weed. We both recalled having seen her eating something out of an abandoned fire pit near our campsite, but never thought it could have been that.
A few hours later, around 2AM we were finally back in our RV, parked outside the vet clinic in case her symptoms got worse. One high dog, 2 1/2 hours spent at the vet clinic and half of our remaining money saved— spent, we had no choice but to then cut the segment in Arizona short and head for Colorado.
Now, this is the part where I help you not end up in the same situation we were in. Here are 16 tips on how to get pet-care while on the road:
1. Budget for a vet visit because, it will most likely happen.
We all know that accidents happen. And as much as we may try to prevent our pets from getting into something they aren’t supposed to, they may still find a way to. Prepare your finances for any pet emergencies/check-ups. The average vet visit can range anywhere between $60 – $300 depending on the exam.
2. Keep an organized folder of all of your pets medical history.
Keeping a drawer or folder of all of your pets medical history will help you out when you are on the road and needing to visit differing vets.
3. Stock up on your pets food and treats.
Switching your pets food can cause vomiting, diarrhea and a decreased appetite. Try to buy a bulk amount of treats and food or simply make sure the brand you are using is accessible where you are traveling.
4. Research the area you are in.
When you arrive at a destination that you are unfamiliar with, research any poisonous or toxic plants/animals in the area to have a better understanding of your surroundings. (This can also help come up with a diagnosis when going to the vet.)
5. MONITOR YOUR PET.
You don’t need to “hover,” but you do need to be aware. Know where your pet is and what they are eating, if they are chowing down on some branches or plants at your campsite.
6. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
When taking your pet on a long hike or walk make sure to bring enough water for them.
7. Prep your RV before you leave.
Making sure that your RV or trailer has proper air flow and ventilation is vital. Hundreds of pets die every year from being left in a hot car. The internal temperature of a vehicle can reach above 100ºf, that doesn’t exclude your RV.
8. Update the tags for your pet.
If there is ever a situation when your pet gets lost, you want to make sure that there is a way for someone to be able to reach you when they are found.
9. Understand Pet Policies.
When you arrive at a campground or a National Park, always ask about their pet policies to better understand the area.
10. Get updated medications and vaccines.
Before leaving for a big trip (or if you are full-time: once a year), get all vaccines, heart guard, flea collar/drops, other medications, and bloodwork done.
11. Know where the closest vet clinic is.
Research clinics in the area near you, whether your pet is having a medical emergency or not.
12. Call multiple vets in the area to get a quote for the visit.
Don’t be afraid to call as many as you need in order to make sure your pet gets the proper treatment. You can also ask for an estimate on the payment that will be needed at the visit to determine which clinic you decide on.
13. Get a detailed receipt.
When visiting the vet clinic make sure to get a detailed list of everything that happened/what medications or vaccines were required. Then you can add them to the folder you have of all of your pets current medical history.
14. Look into getting Pet Insurance.
This may be a huge help when it comes to caring for your pet. If you have an older pet or a pet with more specific needs this may be something to strongly consider. Here is a website to check out if you are seeking more information on this option: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/pet-insurance/best-pet-insurance/
15. Unless your pet is having a real medical emergency— make an appointment.
Emergency visits can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500, so this can be a huge determining factor in the type of treatment you need to seek for your pet.
16. You know your pet best.
If you feel like it’s an emergency or that your pet needs a vet appointment, do it. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pets.
Taking the steps above, whether that be the preventive measures or the ways in how you seek the medical attention for your pet, are so so important. But, they all rely on your knowledge of your pet. We have added all of these steps into our daily lives when it comes to caring for not just our dog Honey, but our cat Tomato and our elderly blind ferret, Pepper. Being full-time on the road with a full-house of your furry family can be overwhelming at times. What matters most is giving them the best possible care.
I hope that you can learn from our mistakes, as well as use some of these tips in your journey while traveling with your pets.