10 Life-Saving Ways To Keep Your Dog Cool While Camping
RV camping just wouldn’t be the same without our dogs. After all, dogs are an important part of the family and deserve a special spot in family vacations. However, hot summer weather can make life absolutely miserable for our pooches. Summer heat can even be deadly for dogs. And it doesn’t take long for the heat to kill, particularly if dogs are left inside an RV or other vehicle.
Some dogs are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than others. If your dog has a short muzzle, you’ll need to be especially careful that they don’t get too hot. Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Mastiffs are a few dog breeds that are more prone to overheating than other breeds.
Fortunately, no matter what your dog’s breed, there are many ways to help keep your dog cool while RV camping (even when it’s hot out). We’ve put together our top life-saving hacks from the advice of dog experts.
1. Choose a shady campsite.
Camping in the shade can help make your campsite seem 5-10 degrees cooler. Not having radiant heat from the sun’s rays directly on the RV can help it stay cooler, even when the air conditioning isn’t on. Camping close to water can help you catch any breezes coming into the campsite and also provides a quick way to get your dog into the water for a dip to cool off.
You can easily find campgrounds in your area with a quick search on RV LIFE Campground Reviews. You can read what other RVers are saying as well as learn more about their amenities and amount of shade/foliage available.
2. Throw some shade on your campsite.
You can’t always get a perfectly shady campsite, but you can make a cooler spot anywhere by suspending Aluminet shade cloth in your campsite. These work better than the average tarp because they are made from light, highly reflective knit fabric that reflects sunlight and allows heat to escape.
The dog event crowd loves these cloths because they can lower the ambient temperature underneath them by as much as 10 degrees. This helps to keep performance and show dogs cool, even in the hot summer sun.
Aluminet shade cloths come in a variety of sizes up to 10 x 14 feet. The price of these shade cloths reflects their technology. They are priced between about $50 and $100.
3. Walk your dog early in the morning.
In the summer, paved surfaces can become hot enough to burn your dog’s paws after about 9-10 a.m. Walking your dog when the sun is barely above the horizon will help to ensure they get the exercise they need without getting too hot or burning their paws. It’s also the best time of day to observe wildlife, so be sure to walk them on a leash.
4. Don’t tie your dog to a picnic table and leave them while the rest of the family plays.
It’s safe to say nobody likes to be tied to a picnic table on a hot summer day—not even your dog. Dogs should be involved in family activities, wherever possible.
Don’t tie them up and leave them while you and the family go to the lake. Making a clothesline style dog run can help your dog to stay involved in family time while they stay contained to the campsite.
5. Pack a portable dog pool.
Portable dog pools are made to fold up so you can easily take them camping with you. These pools come in different sizes and depths for different sizes of dogs.
Weighing just 6 lbs, a portable dog pool is easy to bring along. A portable dog pool will help ensure your four-legged bestie gets to enjoy summer fun while staying cool.
6. Your dog can rock a Ruffwear Cooling Vest.
It may sound counterintuitive to put a vest on your dog when you are RV camping in summer. Dog cooling vests are made with technology that provides a layer of cooled air next to your dog while wicking away body heat.
Ruffwear makes two different cooling vests: the lightweight Swamp Cooler Zip™ Cooling Dog Vest and the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Vest. The Swamp Cooler Zip is perfect for summer activities; the Swamp Cooler Vest is suited for lazy summer days and works well for long-haired dogs.
7. Use an RV temperature monitor
Leaving your pet indoors with the RV air conditioner on can be a good solution to keeping your dog cool. The problem is, in hot weather (when everyone else is also using their RV air conditioner), it can sometimes cause a power outage.
An RV parked in the hot sun can heat up really fast. If you leave your dog inside the RV on their own for any length of time, it’s important to know if there is any change in the interior temperature. There are now quite a few RV temperature monitors on the market.
One of the most popular options is the Waggle RV temperature monitor system. If the power goes out or there is a change in the temperature of the RV while you are out, Waggle sends an alert to your phone. It’s also wise to have a backup plan such as leaving your cell phone number with a neighbor if you will be away.
8. Use reflective windshield and window shades.
Using a reflective windshield cover and window shades can really help keep the temperature down in most RVs and tow vehicles. They are used when the RV or tow vehicle is parked and are not intended for extended use.
However, if you need to keep the vehicle cool for 10 to 15 minutes while you run in and pay for gas, or you just want to try to keep your vehicle cooler in the campsite (without your dog in it), these reflective window coverings can really help.
9. Install BreezeGuard screens on your vehicle windows.
Another favorite in the dog eventing world is BreezeGuard window screens. BreezeGuard screens can also help keep your dog cool when RV camping. BreezeGuards are mesh screens that allow a cross-breeze, while enhancing safety in the back of the vehicle. These screens are custom-fabricated to fit any vehicle.
BreezeGuard is the brainchild of dog agility enthusiast, Susan Stipanovich, who saw a need for a safe way for dogs to get fresh air when traveling in a vehicle. Stipanovich became concerned about vehicle safety for dogs after she saw a dog that looked like it might fall out of a moving SUV. She went home, invented BreezeGuards, and began producing them. One of their features is that they don’t require a permanent installation and are held solidly in place with straps and Velcro.
10. Treat your dog with a Pupsicle.
A Pupcicle is a frozen treat that dogs love, especially when it’s hot out. Make one before you leave home and (if you have room) store it in the RV freezer. To make a Pupsicle for a medium to large dog, you’ll need:
- A 1-pint yogurt or cottage cheese container
- Low sodium chicken or beef stock
- 1/8 inch bits of cut-up cooked meat or hot dog slices
- Kibble or dog treats
- Frozen peas or blueberries and/or 1/8 inch cubes of apple
Put a handful of meat bits, a handful of kibble or dog treats, and a handful of peas, blueberries, and/or apple bits into the plastic yogurt container. Then fill it to the top with broth. Freeze it overnight.
When you are ready to give it to your dog, simply run a little warm water over the bottom of the container to loosen the Pupsicle from the container. Give this to your dog on a plastic rug outdoors (so it won’t pick up dirt), as it can get messy.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.
Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com