By Peggi McDonald
Animals are such an important part of so many families – they also make great RVers. When we settle into a new destination ours can?t wait to get out the door to investigate the new smells, sights, sounds and interesting places to explore. In a word ?They are so curious!?
Each time we come home, our four-legged kids meet us at the door with the warmest of welcomes ? tails wagging and a jubilant greeting. Their contagious love and devotion is difficult to explain; other than a pat on the head or a cuddle from time to time they never ask for much in return ? they simply want to be our friend. Although John and I have dogs, all pets provide RVers with a sense of security plus they are warm understanding companions. Although pets may tie you down at times, they add such a sense of purpose to your lives.
Q ? Are Pets welcome at RV Parks?
Generally yes, but we find park pet policies range from one extreme to the other. Approximately five states have rules prohibiting pets in their state parks. These restrictions are listed in the write-ups of each park in the large International Campground Directories such as TrailerLife or Woodalls. This information is also available from state tourist bureaus or local Chamber of Commerce offices. Frequently small animals (under 20 pounds) are welcome but we see pets of all types and all sizes strolling the campground roads and trails. A cat belonging to friends in Mexico loved to be tied outside for the entire day. Our American neighbour in Milton, Ontario was travelling with his pet cockatiel on his shoulder and en route north a few years ago an RVing neighbour was caressing his immense pet snake on his patio.
Although most parks don?t question pets, a few do charge a fee per pet while others prefer a costly refundable deposit if your site is clean when you leave. When we had three dogs for a 6-month period, we found there was frequently a one or two-pets per RV restriction, but this may be negotiable if you talk to the manager. In our 20 years of fulltime life on the move, John and I have encountered very few restrictions while travelling with our two dachshunds but we decided early in our travels when our pets are not welcome we don?t stay. We are fulltimer RVers ? so our pets are fulltimers too. North America is a big place and there is always interesting destinations that understand the value pets are to RVers.
Q ? Must pets be leashed at all times?
Yes even cats in campgrounds must be on a leash. Most parks insist that you clean up after your pets and if they are running loose you have no control. Our kids come from a show kennel and our previous two would only go potty if they were in an exercise cage. However when they were in their ?playpen? our gentle babies quickly became ferocious ?Guard Dogs On Duty? if anyone approached.
Q ? What preparation is necessary to travel to another country?
When we check into a new campground we make a mental note where the local animal hospital is located (as well as one for us) ? just in case. All dogs and cats require an International Statement of Health from your vet along with a record of shots received. Special conditions also exist for birds and other pets but your vet should be aware of applicable regs. See www.inspection.gc.ca
(Cdn numbers: East: 877-493-0469 or 514-493-0468; Central 800-835-4486 or 1-416-661-3039); West: 888-732-6222 or 604-666-9240.)
It is also wise to carry a copy of their medical history for emergencies. During our winters in Mexico our pet?s papers were issued from our Canadian vet, however officials mainly were more interested to know if our dogs would bite rather than if they had their shots in place.
Routine rabies vaccine is frequently effective for a three year period although most vets recommend annual shots. When we asked our vet, Dr Allyson about this, she recorded the expiration date on our certificate ? plus she removed the label from the vial and attached it onto the certificate. To enter Canada you only need a vaccination once every three years, but when heading south, if the expiration date is not on your rabies certificate it will be considered a 12-month vaccine. For easier verification ask your vet to add the expiry date to their certificate.
Q ? What about Pet Meds?
Carry a supply of their special medicines, including heartworm pills, plus a copy of their prescription(s) with you to last the duration of your trip. It is difficult to restock without costly examinations from a veterinarian who doesn?t know your animal. Be certain all pills (yours RX pills as well) are properly labeled before crossing any border. We keep all their treatment invoices and health papers together in a pet Passport folder we obtained from our animal hospital.
Fleas seem to be more of a problem in the warm sunny south. All pets should be on a steady flea, tick and heartworm medication. If your spray or treatment isn?t effective visit a local pet store or veterinarian to see what combats the resistant strain in the area you are visiting. Don?t forget to treat their beds along with your RV furniture/carpets.
It may be wise for pet owners to also carry a bottle of Benadryl Antihistamine Liquid Medication. If your pet suffers from a bee sting or bites by fire ants, (like our 17-year old Maddie did last winter) an adult dose will help relieve them from the stress.
Q ? Is it easy to buy dog food wherever you go?
When possible carry a good supply of your pet?s favourite food; it is possible but frequently difficult to find familiar brands as you move from place to place.
Note: The beef ban may or may not be lifted for 2006 but in 2004 transporting pet food across the border was frequently a problem. If there was meat from hoofed animals in the pet food it was confiscated. From time to time a poultry ban is also in place (See Travel to the USA www.rvliving.net/TraveltoUSA—tips-hintscont.htm pages for updated info. Usually for us, immediately after crossing the border our first stop is to buy groceries for us, and for our ?kids?. We find it less of a hassle to take everything out of the unit before we reach the border.
Q ? How can we prevent our pets from getting lost?
Many RV clubs sell Pet ID Tags ? so do Vet offices, pet hospitals and pet stores. These tags have a phone number (an 800# if possible) on the back along with your pet?s name. Anyone finding a lost pet can phone the number ? the owner also phones the number to report their location; hopefully both owner and pet will be united.
One more way to find a lost pet is to have your veterinarian insert a microchip under their skin. Particulars of the owners can be read by any animal shelter and vet clinic ? plus the pet can?t lose the chip like they can a tag.
It is sometimes difficult to understand park pet policies but remember we all pay for inconsiderate pet owners. To ensure you leave a good impression, ask yourself if you and your pets would be welcome back? And were you a responsible owner? Don?t worry about pet restrictions, just work around them; take your kids on your next trip and simply have fun.
Special Tip for all RVers especially Pet Owners
Make up some blank forms similar to the following. Fill one in each time you change destinations and file it with your driver?s license. If you have an accident in a vehicle away from your RV, rescue people will know immediately where your RV, possibly your mate and most importantly, your pets are located. This is a copy of the notification we carry in our wallet – modify yours as required.
Peggi and John have been fulltime RVers for the past 20 years. They are RV Lifestyle Consultants and Webhosts of the Information Site For ALL RVers ? www.rvliving.net . Peggi is also author of RV Living in the 21 st Century; The Essential Reference Guide for ALL RVers? this sequel to her first best seller Spirit of the Open Road is loaded with mega hints, tips and ideas ? an invaluable resource for newbies for part-timers for fulltimers too. It is simply a MUST-HAVE publication. This book will quickly become your on board RV style ?bible?. Details and Order information see www.rvliving.net or call 1-888-280-7715 ($14.50 US$ plus S&H).
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