What’s it like travelling full-time with pets?

We’re just into our 4th year of travelling with pets and it’s a frequently asked question!

Gracie is 10 years old and is a healthy, happy, well-behaved wheaten terrier.   She is hypo-allergenic and doesn’t shed!  Fred is 14 years old and while he is a happy and content lap cat he does shed, he’s been losing weight and is starting to show his age. So far, they’ve been so adaptable and are amazing travel companions!  We’re lucky we haven’t encountered any real challenges but here’s just some of the things we have learned along the way.

PAPERS

Gracie and Freddie need regular annual check-ups and vaccinations and we are provided with Certificates which are readily available at all times.  Gracie is vaccinated against Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Bordetella and Lepto. Fred is vaccinated against Rabies, Panleukopenia and Rhino/Calici.

Who needs to see the Certificates?

All border crossings (we’ve NEVER been asked).
All groomers – anywhere in the US, Canada and Mexico (we’ve ALWAYS been asked).
All other vets and doggie day care facilities we take the pets to (we’ve NEVER had to).

FOOD

Both pets are on a prescribed Hill’s diet and eat a combination of both wet and dry food. Gracie eats 1x a day and Fred grazes 2 – 3 times a day. The food is available at vets only, and not all vets carry our prescribed brand so we’re on a scavenger hunt to track it down and pick it up. They also need to call our vet and confirm the prescription diet. If they can’t reach her they won’t sell it to us!  We now carry copies of the prescriptions.

Hello chewy.com.!

This on-line pet food store carries 1000+ brands of pet food and supplies, offers free delivery with orders over $49 and delivers everywhere in the US (except for Hawaii) – within 2 – 3 days. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver to Canada either – but I’m told this will soon change!

We always use this service when we are in the U.S. and have had pet food delivered to RV parks in Seattle, WA, Chandler, AZ, Naples, FL, Raleigh, NC and Poplar Bluff, MO.  They contact our vet directly to confirm the pet food has been prescribed and then keep this information on file.  The food is cheaper than through the vets and they offer an additional 5% -10% discount on every auto-ship order. We order enough food for nearly 3 months and then pre-book for another order in 3 months. We’re a little nervous about this auto-ship as we have to leave ourselves notes to change the “Ship To” address, especially if we’re on the move. It is super easy to revise your order, change your “ship to” address, up-date your credit card information and even cancel!

We love chewy.com!

GROOMING

We had thought this would have been so easy! There are very few groomers that offer “walk-in” service. You must call for an appointment and they are rarely available same day! Some times we are simply ‘passing through’, but the next available appointment is in 2 – 3 weeks! That really doesn’t work! The groomer in old-town La Quinta, CA (the Village Pup) had Gracie undergo a temperament test before they would even agree to groom her! Fortunately, she passed!

Any Pet Smart (in Canada and the U.S.) offer a pretty good grooming service – at a reasonable price. We don’t use them if Gracie needs a good “Wheaten Style” grooming but they are great for a bath and brush. We are on file and we simply give our name and telephone number and they can bring up all of our grooming history. We can even book our appointment on-line. They have our Vaccination Certificates on file for both Gracie and Fred and we just need to up-date them annually. Pet Smart is just about everywhere so this has become our ‘go to’ for a bath and a brush. They even do cats and, yes, we often get Fred groomed in a “Lions cut” and he loves it!

VETS

Fortunately, we haven’t required vet services while travelling. We’ve been able to get all our work done when we get back to Ontario. I know some full-time travellers who use the services of Banfield Pet Hospital/Vet Health Clinics (at Pet Smart) and we’ll likely try this if we ever need to.

SICKNESS

Yes, sickness happens with all pets and we’ve been fortunate with both of them although Fred has recently started to show signs. Gracie was sick when we were in Haida Gwaii after munching on a dead crab on the beach. (I wasn’t paying close enough attention to her…) She couldn’t keep anything down for nearly a week and she lost some weight. We cut her food right down (nothing for a couple of days) and kept her water bowl fresh and full.

Last year Fred started losing weight and the vet took blood and came back changing his diet to care for his kidney’s. Today, his kidney’s are just fine but he’s lost another 25% of his weight this year. More blood tests and it appears he has a B-12 deficiency and requires weekly injections and another change to his diet.   Antibiotics have also been prescribed.  We are pleased to report he’s feeling a lot better and is even gaining back some weight.

EXERCISE

Of course, Gracie needs to be exercised – and so do we! We’re training partners and it gets us out. We always try to find ‘dog-friendly’ parks and hiking trails so we can bring her. When we arrive at each stop, Fred loves to go outside and check it out. But, he’s always on a leash – and heads for the hot spot in the sun!

FIREWORKS AND FRIGHT!

Gracie had heard fireworks but none as so prevalent and close-by as when we were in Mexico the winter of 2016. AND, she was scared! AND, she shakes, pants, panics and hides when she hears a “bang” even remotely similar to fireworks. So, we bought her a “thunder shirt”.  They sell for about $40 and are available at most pet supply stores and chewy.com.

This isn’t Gracie!
Thunder-shirt modelled on chewy.com

 

 

 Thunder-shirt uses gentle hugging to calm your dog and its constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. Thunder-shirt helps keep animals calm so they are more comfortable in situations that were once frightening.

 

 

If we even think there’s the possibility of fireworks (long weekends, July 1st and 4th, etc.) we swaddle her in the shirt a couple of days prior to any event so she’s comfortable with it. She does like having it on and it really does calm her down.  Ironically, thunder storms are just fine!

LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS

With 440’ square feet of living space pets can take up some room! The dog bed in one corner; the kitty litter in another corner; the cat bed in the living room and of course the food and water bowls.

The pick-up truck carries the 3-months of food and the huge bags of kitty litter. There’s also a cat carrier in the basement but we did buy a smaller, more compact one. The larger hard-shell cat carrier was donated to a local humane society…

When it’s time to snuggle for tv viewing – it’s Chuck and Gracie on one sofa and Fred and I on the other.  The pets are not allowed to sleep in our bed (when we’re in it)…

There’s one overhead cupboard dedicated to holding a smaller supply of canned pet food and treats. There’s another cupboard with poop bags, grooming brushes and Gracie’s assortment of bandanas. Gracie’s rain coat and ‘mutt luks’ hang in the closet. When we’re travelling the passenger seat is usually shared with Gracie and occasionally both Gracie & Fred!

And, Fred loves sitting in the hot windshield…

CAMPGROUNDS

While pets are usually welcome, some campgrounds do have restrictions on certain breeds and sizes and quantity of pets in your RV.   Some campgrounds have dog runs and dog parks and even provide poop bags.  A couple of parks have charged an additional daily pet fee.  We were told this was to compensate the campground for having to pick-up after our pets! Come on people…

SAVE OUR PETS

Accidents, fire and break-in’s are always a possibility. And, if we’re not here and emergency personnel have to enter the coach we want them to be aware that we have pets on board. We have seen little “save our pets” stickers that people put in their windows but I made this one up and had it laminated. It hangs on the passenger side window just beside the entry door. You can’t miss it!


THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!

We’ve seen them small and large. We’ve been dismayed by the bad and in awe of the well-trained. We’ve listened to the yappers and the big barkers. We’ve seen them ridiculously dressed up for dog shows and competitions. We’ve seen them walked in strollers, carried in wicker baskets and pulled behind bicycles in baby carriers.   But the most amazing we’ve seen?

These RV’ers in Gaffney, SC travelling with 11 dogs!

But, only 5 of them sleep with us, their owner exclaimed!!

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This entry was posted in Full-Time RV'ing, Pets, RV Travel Tales. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What’s it like travelling full-time with pets?

  1. Jeanne Koselek Armstrong says:

    Very interesting Jacquie. I can verify that you probably have the best behaved pets that ever came to visit.
    Thanks again for sharing your travels with us.
    Hugs,
    Mom

  2. Helen Picken says:

    Wow Jacquie … You live such an interesting pet-filled life; how come there wasn’t enough room in there for me too then??? I’m dog sitting at my friend Liz’s house right now and she is adorable .. A Labradoodle called Gracie! Since we’re finally getting “July” weather here – it’s 31 degrees here today – Gracie likes to come and help me stir up the lovely pool that I also take care of too. Just got back the arena watching my grandchildren’s hockey which has now begun in full swing. Take care and keep these blogs coming so that I can continue to live vicariously through you guys😄

    • Jacquie says:

      Gracie is the perfect name for a perfect dog and it sounds like your having fun with your dog-sitting adventures! We’ll make some room – next time! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Jennifer Ouellet says:

    That Thunder Vest sounds very similar to a Deep apressure vests that some people affected by sensory issues might use. It is quite tight and can be set to different tightness levels according to the needs of the person. I had no ideas that they made something similar for dogs. Fascinating!!

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