Leaving Dogs Unattended in an RV [Safe to Leave Them Alone?]

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RVing with dogs is becoming more popular for the apparent reason. And I’m sure you have been in a situation where you had to make a quick stop but didn’t want to take your dog out of the RV, whether it be for a bathroom break, shop for groceries, or running quick errands.

And you might be asking yourself, is it safe to leave your dog unattended in the RV?

This should go without saying but never leave a pet alone in a car, even if you plan on being away from your vehicle for just a few seconds while you run into a store that’s only a few feet away.

With the outside temperature getting warmer, it’s more important than ever to be aware of how hot the inside of your RV or car can get on a warm day. Just check out this short clip:

You can see how quickly the temperature inside of the car climbs, even with all windows open between 1.5 and 2 inches. That can literally suffocate your dog within minutes, no joke. In fact, there are many cases where owners have returned to their parked cars only to find their pet has died because they were left unattended!

Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t make it right! Leaving our beloved pets in our RV when stopping short of our destination not only puts them at risk, but we may also face legal consequences.

And my advice is, no matter how quick the stop is, you should make sure to take your pets out of the RV when stepping away from it.

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What Does the Law Say About Leaving Pets Alone inside an RV or a Car?

Caption: Dog is alone in an RV

Many states have laws against leaving a pet unattended inside a vehicle. The penalties for doing so can range from fines to incarceration, and every state has different rules concerning the matter.

In California, for example, it is stated in the California Penal Code 597.7 that a person who confines an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal is guilty of a misdemeanor. That is punishable by a fine and could face imprisonment if the animal suffers great bodily injury.

So if you’re planning on taking a road trip with your pup, make sure to check the laws in the state you plan on visiting before heading out.

It doesn’t just stop there.

Some campgrounds and parks may have regulations against leaving pets alone inside an RV or a car. That simply is because, as stated above, it can be fatal to our canines. Plus, unattended dogs are more likely to bark or howl, which can disturb the peace of other campers.

Why Should You Never Leave Your Dog Alone Inside an RV?

Aside from the legal consequences, there are also other reasons why you should never leave your dog unattended in your RV.

1. The Threat of Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is perhaps the most crucial reason why you should never leave your four-legged friend alone in the RV.

A vehicle can heat up incredibly fast inside, and just a few minutes parked in the sun can make it too hot for a dog to be left alone. In fact, according to the table from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), if it’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise and exceed 100 degrees in just 10 minutes!

And because dogs don’t sweat like humans do to cool off their bodies, they are highly susceptible to heatstroke, which can cause irreversible organ damage or death.

2. Hypothermia

Leaving your dog alone in an RV is just as dangerous during winter. The temperature inside a vehicle in winter can drop in a blink of an eye and turn into an icebox due to wind chill and other factors, which can, in turn, cause dogs to get hypothermia.

When hypothermia sets in, it can cause shivering, low heart and breathing rates, and lethargy, to name a few. If not treated, the condition can worsen and cause loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and death.

3. Loneliness, Boredom, Stress, and Separation Anxiety

When left unattended inside an RV, dogs are likely to get bored, stressed, or anxious, although some pups can handle being left alone thanks to their independent nature and were properly crate trained.

Not only is it bad for their mental health, but they may also start barking and howling incessantly. Or may engage in destructive behavior such as chewing, digging, and scratching, anything that can alleviate the feelings of loneliness and anxiousness to make themselves feel better. This is especially true for young pups who are still learning the ropes on how to be by themselves.

Read More: Best Calming Dog Collars That Can Help Soothe and Relax Your Canine

4. The Risk of Unwanted Break-Ins and Being Stolen

It might sound far-fetched but leaving your beloved pet alone inside an unattended vehicle makes them vulnerable to all sorts of theft.

Even if you have your RV parked in a safe area, there’s no guarantee that someone won’t smash the window, break into your RV, and take your pup when you’re not around. In fact, there are approximately 2 million cases of dog theft every year!

Besides, how many times have you heard news reports of heartless thieves breaking into homes and stealing pet dogs?

5. Injury

Because you’re not with your dog, they could quickly get into mischief that may injure them.

For instance, your fido might find loose wires around the vehicle that they can chew on, which can potentially lead to electrocution or fire hazard. Or they might knock over sharp or heavy objects that can injure them.

That’s not all. Your canine may also try jumping out of an open window when you’re not around, leading to falling and hurting themselves.

What Should You Do If You Have to Leave Your Dog Alone Inside an RV?

Caption: A caravan at the campsite

But let’s say it’s unavoidable and you absolutely have to leave your four-legged friend behind, be sure to follow these steps:

1. Shut the Windows and Turn On the Air Conditioning

As you’ve seen in the clip earlier, there’s no use in leaving the windows slightly open because it can still get scorching hot inside the RV. So what you should do instead is to shut the windows and set the air conditioning on. If it’s too hot outside, having the air conditioner running helps cool down the RV to a comfortable temperature for your fur friend.

2. Invest in a Temperature Monitoring Unit

One of the best ways to ensure your dog is safe and sound inside the vehicle is to invest in a temperature monitoring unit. These devices can notify you if the temperature inside the camper goes beyond a certain level, in which case you can immediately return to the site and take your pup out.

3. Install an RV Auto Generator Starting System

It’s also wise to install an auto generator starting system, which monitors the shore power and can automatically start up your vehicle if the power goes down. This can protect your fur pal against possible power outages when you’re away and keep the air conditioning running, ultimately ensuring the temperature inside is comfortable for them.

4. Buy a Dog Cam

If you simply cannot stand not knowing what’s going on around your dog when you’re away from them, then investing in a dog cam is an excellent idea. Not only does that allow you to check on your furkid at any time via your smartphone, but you can also speak to them to help reassure them while you’re away.

5. Get Your Dog a Calming Collar

If your pet seems particularly anxious and is no stranger to barking, howling, whining, and even crying when left alone, then they may be experiencing separation anxiety. In such cases, purchasing a calming collar for your canine is an excellent solution as its effectiveness has been scientifically proven to work.

6. Leave Toys and Plenty of Water for Your Dog

You would also need to provide your canine with their favorite toys when you’re away so they can play by themselves without getting bored. And, of course, always leave your dog with plenty of water for them to drink to prevent them from becoming dehydrated.

7. Play White Noise For Your Dog

Another useful trick is to play white noise for your pooch, such as the sound of a fan or running water, which has been proven effective at calming anxious dogs. This can also help block out the outside noise and any suspicious noises that can potentially spook your pup.

8. Exercise Your Dog Before Leaving Them Alone Inside the Vehicle

It’s also wise to take your fido out for a good walk or run before leaving them alone in the RV. This can help tire them out, and they’ll be more likely to sleep during your absence rather than getting anxious and restless.

9. Have Someone Watch Over Your Dog

Suppose you have to go away for an extended period. In that case, you need to ask someone else to pop by your RV to check on your dog. Ask them to help take your canine out for a pee break, and go for a walk to make sure your fur friend doesn’t go stir-crazy inside the vehicle all day long, even if that means hiring a dog walker or pet sitter. 

10. Make it Quick

The more time passes by without you around, the more anxious your dog will become. So if you’re really out of options and have to leave your pup alone inside the camper, do whatever it is you have to do and return as soon as possible!

A Final Word

There are many things you might not think about when leaving your furry best friend alone in the camper. And even if you don’t plan on being gone for more than 5 minutes at a time, you never know what might happen.

So even if you’re just stopping to stretch your legs after a long road trip or go into a store to grab something, never leave your canine companion unattended inside your RV, especially during extremely hot or cold weather.

But, again, if you really have to, keep the tips mentioned above in mind to help ensure your fido is safe and comfortable during your absence. And remember that, for many dogs, being left alone in an RV can make them feel anxious. So it’s best not to do this for too long.