Traveling with a Senior Dog in Your RV
Traveling with a senior dog in your RV means coping with mobility issues, prescription deliveries, vet visits, and many nap-filled days.
Our dog, Bear, was an 80-pound cuddler with the most gentle soul one could imagine. He was very well-mannered.
Although he was a large dog, he didn’t seem to take up much room in the RV because of his easy-going personality. This made him the perfect dog for 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!
We loved traveling with a senior dog. Unfortunately, because of his age, he had some issues with traveling in an RV.
RV steps are hard to navigate
Our fifth wheel steps were too steep for Bear to walk up and down. He just wasn’t strong enough to pull himself up or keep from falling when going down.
If we were going to continue traveling with a senior dog, we had to make some accommodations.
Bear received a commercially made ramp for Christmas from my parents, but even that was a bit too steep depending on where we parked. We had to do something different.
My husband decided to make a custom ramp for Bear 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 that wedged inside of the cubby for the steps. 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. But it truly scared me so I became much faster at getting that door open. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt.
Senior dogs often have health issues
Traveling with a senior dog meant we had to adjust our expectations of what he could endure and for how long.
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.
How to find medications when traveling with a senior dog
Finding herbal supplements to help with Bear’s Cushing’s symptoms, plus his thyroid medication, used to be a hassle until we started using Amazon.com and Walgreens pharmacies.
Amazon would ship his supplements to the RV parks where we stayed 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 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 our full-time RV lifestyle.
How to find a veterinarian
Traveling with a senior dog means you need to know where vet clinics are in each town you plan to stay in.
The one thing we never wanted to think about was where would we take Bear 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 we got to our destination.
I’d go to Yelp.com to find highly rated vets or vet clinics near where we were staying. If we needed a vet for a check-up I would wait until we got to a place we planned to stay at for at least two weeks. This usually only happened once or twice a year to monitor his thyroid and Cushing’s symptoms. He would get his vaccinations when we traveled back to our home state.
Sometimes you have to say goodbye
Traveling with a senior pet means you sometimes have to make difficult decisions when they start to fade away.
Sadly, we had to rush Bear to an emergency vet clinic in Las Vegas when he collapsed late one night. We were so grateful to have been staying only about 15 minutes away from the clinic.
Bear’s 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.
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, 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.
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.
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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!
Hi I just started RVing and my dog Bella loves it too. She is scared and will cry and bark if left alone and I was wondering what do you do when you want to go somewhere you can’t bring your dog. I tried everything but she will still cry. Are there people at campgrounds that babysit dogs? If not that would be a good business I bet.