Dog inside RV looking through window toward lake

Essential Accessories You Need When RVing with Dogs

One of the best parts about traveling by RV is that your furry friend can come along too.  Full-time RVing with dogs is fun and easy. Having the right supplies packed for your great outdoor adventure can definitely make it even better.

Other than the obvious necessities of packing the dog’s food and bed, we’ve rounded up some essential items more specific to RV camping.

We hope this list of products and tips for RVing with dogs will help you prepare for an enjoyable camping trip with your furry friend.

Dog sitting inside RV with text 'must-haves for RV camping with dogs'

Must-Have Supplies

Sometimes comfort can quickly become about safety when you are full-time RV living with dogs, especially when it comes to hot temperatures. It’s our job as dog owners to care for them, especially when they can’t help themselves.

Because of this, most of the items we’ve included here are about your dog’s safety and comfort.  We tried to pick essentials, rather than all of the nice-to-haves.

Maybe this list will even spark you to think of something else your specific dog needs to be safe and comfortable while camping with you.

Credit: Kristen Bates/TREKKN

Light Up Dog Collar

Since we do a lot of boondocking with other full-time RVers, we often gather around the campfire. Without street lamps or house lights, it gets quite dark in these remote locations.  So even though our dog is pretty good about staying close to us, we love her light-up collar.

We ensure our dog always wears the light-up collar at night. It’s made with LED lights that have lasted a long time and the battery is rechargeable with a simple USB cord. That’s perfect for our off-grid lifestyle.

It gives us peace of mind to see her little glowing ring, and it gives her some independence to wander around near camp. We originally purchased the collar for the purpose of seeing our brown dog at night while boondocking, but we’ve used it in other situations as well.

We like to use it even if we’re walking on a leash at dusk or after dark for increased visibility.  Even if we’re on a sidewalk, it’s nice to be sure that people can see you. 

We get so many comments about this collar, both in campgrounds and out walking.  People always say, “what’s the floating, glowing light with you?”  This gives us reassurance that the light is visible and catches people’s attention.

Of course, we always laugh and explain that it’s our dog.  In our experience, it seems like not many people have collars like this, but we think for the RV lifestyle and your dog’s safety, it’s a must.

LED Light Up Dog Collar
  • USB Rechargeable
  • Weatherproof
  • Highly visible in dark and low light conditions
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07/13/2024 11:21 am GMT

Dog Cooling Mat

A cool pet pad can help your dog stay comfortable in warm weather.  We like and use this cooling mat made by The Green Pet Shop. It doesn’t require water or electricity (two things we’re always conserving in our RV lifestyle).

It’s pressure activated when the dog lays down and stays cool for three hours at a time. 

The Green Pet Shop Dog Cooling Mat

Pressure-activated cooling mat uses non-toxic gel (no water or electricity required). Available in various sizes.

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07/13/2024 09:15 am GMT
RVing with a dog
Credit: Kristen Bates/TREKKN

If it’s really hot out, like 95 or hotter, RVs (no matter which one you have) just aren’t great at fully cooling down.  Even with two air conditioning units running, the most we can achieve in our RV is about 15-20 degrees colder than the outside temperature.

And we’re desert rats. We lived in Phoenix and we love the heat.  But pets are a real concern when RV camping in hot weather.

Can Dogs Stay in an RV?

If it’s 100 degrees outside your RV and you’re not parked in full shade, you probably won’t be able to achieve an inside temperature much cooler than 80-85 degrees.  That’s even if you’re on full hookups!

Every dog is different, but ours starts panting at about 80 degrees.  So when we’re camping in the desert heat, we do everything we can to keep her cool.

This can not only be a matter of comfort, but also a matter of safety in the hotter temperatures.

Full time RVing with a dog

Here’s a similar, alternative pressure-activated dog cooling bed available on Amazon you might like as well.

Now that we have the cooling mat (out of necessity from one hot summer we spent in the RV), we find that our dog likes to use it even when it’s not totally necessary. If it’s a beautiful sunny 75-degree day and we toss the cooling mat outside, she’ll go outside and lay on it.

Related Reading: Waggle Pet Temperature RV Monitor: TREKKN Review

Elevated Dog Hammock Bed

Our dog had used other dogs’ hammocks before and seemed to like them, but we didn’t see it as a necessity. So, we didn’t buy one for a long time.

Our dog spends a lot of time outside the RV and even though we ask her to lay down on the RV mat to keep her clean, she almost always chooses the dirt.  Enter the dog hammock. 

A dog hammock will not only give your furry friend their own place to relax outside the RV, but it will also keep them out of the dirt and dust. We love that it helps cut down on the amount of dirt in her fur, and therefore what comes into the RV. 

Prevent Bugs

As an added bonus, these elevated beds also help prevent bugs from getting onto your dog.  Our dog is allergic to some bug bites and before she had a hammock she would get bites on her belly from laying in the dirt.

So we’re officially believers in the pet hammock.  It’s well worth the small amount of space it takes up and the cost.

If you’re interested in learning more, here’s an elevated dog bed available on Amazon that is similar to the one we use.

Elevated Dog Hammock

Constructed with breathable mesh and skid-proof feet.

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07/13/2024 12:00 pm GMT

Dog Poop Bags

Dogs and RVing

This may seem like a no-brainer (and I truly hope it is), but don’t forget the poop bags.  Our mantra is to “always be prepared” with a roll of poop bags on our dog’s leash. I like the Earth Rated brand that is climate pledge friendly and leak proof.

No one wants to go camping in a beautiful environment and be surrounded by dog poop.  Please do your part and always pick up after your pet, and pack out all of your waste if you’re camping on public lands.

Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
$13.99 ($0.05 / Count)

Guaranteed leak proof.

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07/11/2024 09:10 pm GMT

Six-Foot Dog Leash

Speaking of leashes, many parks and trails require dogs to be on a leash that is six-feet in length, or less.  We’ve never seen rangers out there measuring dog leashes, but we like to know we’re playing by the rules.

While a 6-foot leash is used on trails, you may also want to bring a longer lead if you’re going to tie your dog up at the RV.

6' Heavy Duty Dog Leash
$12.99 ($12.99 / Count)
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07/13/2024 04:20 pm GMT

Sun Shirt for Dogs

Our dog spends a lot of time outside with us when we’re RVing. She has a thin fur coat, so she sometimes gets sunburned. Yup, that’s a thing.

We always thought she just went through bouts of dandruff, until someone told us that she was getting sunburned.  Maddie now wears the Gold Paw sun shield dog shirt and it keeps the sun directly off her coat and skin.

Gold Paw Sun Shield Dog Tee

UV Protection, machine washable, available in various sizes and colors.

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07/13/2024 05:35 pm GMT
sun shirt for dog while RVing
Credit: Kristen Bates/TREKKN

As a bonus, if it’s hot out and you get the sun shirt wet, it seems to also work to keep our dog cool.

Collapsible Dog Dish

Water for your dog obviously has to be kept as a top priority to protect their health. Because of this, we keep one dish in the car, one in our backpack, and one in the RV so it’s always easy to make sure Maddie has water available, even if her surroundings are ever-changing.

So whether it’s for water while hiking or when you’re out for a day of activities, a collapsible dog bowl is an essential accessory for RV life with a dog.

We also carry an extra water bottle everywhere we go that is dedicated to dog water so we always have it available. 

Collapsible Dog Bowls

Collapsible dog bowls are lightweight and include an attached carabiner, making it easy to both store and carry while hiking.

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07/10/2024 08:30 pm GMT

Dog ID Tag

An ID tag, or a tag with a GPS tracker, provides peace of mind when your surroundings are constantly changing.

Even if your dog doesn’t typically run away from you, RV life and camping in new places all the time can be disorienting. Your dog may not know where home is.

At a minimum you need to attach to your dog’s collar an ID tag that includes your dog’s name and your phone number.

Once when we were hiking in southern New Mexico, Maddie chased a bunny in the woods and got so far away from us that we couldn’t find her and she couldn’t find us. Luckily she found her way back to our car, which she was hiding under when we returned.

This incident got us to consider a GPS tracker integrated in her collar.  If she hadn’t gone back to the car, we probably wouldn’t have been able to find her. I don’t even like to think about that.

Tractive GPS Dog Tracker

Real-time tracking to locate and track dog anywhere. Subscription required.

  • Real-time tracking
  • No distance limit
  • Battery-operated with battery life up to 15 days
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07/14/2024 10:30 am GMT

Forms To Carry When RVing with Dogs

Last but not least, be sure to travel with a copy of your dog’s vet records.  If something happens while you’re on the road, you’ll want to be prepared with all of their information so your dog can get prompt treatment at a new veterinary center.

We were visiting Glacier National Park last summer and expected it to be cool enough for Maddie to stay in the RV while we went hiking in the park.  It ended up being over 100 degrees for the week we were there, and our RV was not parked under any shade.

So we made a last-minute decision to put her in daycare nearby so she could stay cool and safe.  You just never know what might happen when you’re far from home. It’s always better to have everything on hand and be adaptable to your situation.

Are You and Your Pup Ready for RV Camping?

We love having our dog with us on our full-time RV adventures.  As dog lovers and explorers, it’s probably one of the reasons that the RV lifestyle works so well for us.

We hope the advice we offer based on years of experience RVing with dogs helps you prepare for an enjoyable camping trip with your pup.  And we certainly hope you don’t have to learn some of these lessons the hard way like we did!

Safe travels!

what to bring for your dog on an RV trip

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