Traveling full-time in an RV with a senior dog means coping with mobility issues, prescription deliveries, vet visits and many quiet, nap-filled days.
Traveling in an RV full time with a senior dog comes with its rewards and challenges. Our dog, Bear, was an 80-pound cuddler with the most gentle soul one could imagine. He was very well-mannered and although he was a large dog, because of his personality, he didn’t seem to take up much room in the RV. This made him the perfect dog to begin our full-time RVing adventure. He loved the beach, taking short walks in parks, and being inside the RV taking naps. He was an excellent traveler!
Unfortunately, because of his age, he had some issues with being in an RV. The fifth wheel steps were just too steep for him to walk up and down when taking him outside or having him come back inside. He received a commercially made ramp for Christmas from my parents, but even that was a bit too steep, depending on where we were parked. So, my husband made a custom ramp for him that looked kind of like a wide chicken coop ramp with a platform at the top. All of this attached to a frame built for the top step and wedged inside of the cubby for the steps when they are folded up. The platform at the top of the ramp was removable. The only thing we had to do was to remember to remove the platform at the top while walking Bear so the other person could get down the steps of the RV!
Once Bear felt courageous enough to use the ramp, he would trot up and down that thing like it had railings, which it did not. We had to be fast enough to open the door so that he didn’t get stuck at the top with the door closed and have nowhere to turn around. He once panicked and jumped off the side of the ramp. HIs landing wasn’t too graceful and he ended up on his belly, which startled him a little, and truly scared me so I became much faster at getting that door open. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt.
Besides the problem with the steps, Bear had to go to the bathroom – a lot. This occurred not only because of his age, but also because of his Cushing’s Disease and thyroid problems. He drank a lot of water so had to pee a bunch, and no matter what he ate, he almost always had soft stools. The poor guy would try to make it to the pet areas of RV parks, but most of the time we were just a bit too far away and he would have to use the roadway or our campsite. We got pretty good at cleaning up after him, though! When we boondocked none of that mattered and he could go where ever he needed to.
Finding Bear’s herbal supplements for the Cushing’s and medication for his thyroid used to be a hassle until we started using Amazon.com and Walgreens. Amazon would ship his supplements to the RV parks we stayed at or to one of their lockers nearby if we were boondocking near a city. Walgreens carried his thyroid medication and because they are a chain, his records were automatically in every pharmacy. The only thing the pharmacy at Walgreens had to do was to transfer his prescription from the last town we were in, to our new location. We usually only had to wait a few days at the most for them to get enough of the pills to fill his prescription. When I planned ahead, this was never an issue. They even set us up in a program where he could get up to 50% off his prescription price! It all became very streamlined, which was great for this full-time RV lifestyle.
The one thing we never wanted to think about, though, was where would we take him when his body started to break down from his Cushing’s disease and we needed a veterinarian. I would usually look up veterinarians and emergency vet clinics when I got to or near a town. I’d go to Yelp.com to find highly rated vets or vet clinics near where we were staying. Most of the time, if we needed a vet for a check-up I would wait until we got to a town and were staying for a while before I made an appointment. This usually only happened once or twice a year to monitor his thyroid and Cushing’s symptoms. Unfortunately, we had to rush Bear to an emergency vet clinic in Las Vegas. We were so grateful to have been staying only about 15 minutes away from one when Bear collapsed in the middle of the night. His body was saying that it was time for him to go. The next morning we said goodbye to our beloved Bear, our travel buddy. It was one of the worst days of our lives and we will be heartbroken for some time. Fortunately, the emergency vet clinic was able to set up cremation services for Bear’s body. When we picked up his ashes they were in a decorative tin and the company that handled everything gave us an imprint of his paw in clay, and an ink paw print and some of his fur on a certificate. Even the vet who was treating Bear the night he died wrote us a heartfelt card. It was all very thoughtful.
Although our time with Bear in our RV was cut shorter than we wanted, the time we had with him made our adventures all the more memorable. So, no matter the age of your pets, you are the one who knows them the best and will know if they are able to handle this lifestyle, or not. My guess is that your pets will love having you around more often!
Please share your dog stories
- How do you cope with traveling in an RV with a senior dog?
- What have you found difficult?
- What tricks have you figured out?
Let us know in the comments below, or submit your story for our community story post!