6 Tips to Keep Dogs Cool in an RV

RVers like me treat our pets like family. Where I go, she goes. But keeping dogs cool in an RV during hot weather isn’t as easy as it sounds. For my canine co-pilot’s safety, here are the six precautions I take for hot weather RVing with dogs (and cats, too!).

Is it Even Safe to Leave Dogs in an RV?

Dogs are great teachers. A dog fully immerses himself in the excitement of visiting an all-new place. They live in the moment whether it’s hot weather or cool. Dogs need us as much as we need them to make the most of wherever our wheels take us.

RVing makes it easy to explore the outdoors as a team. We carry our favorite creature comforts, sleep on cozy beds, and eat meals side-by-side. But unlike a stick house, RVs aren’t as well-insulated against summer weather. Our dogs feel hot temperatures much faster than we do. And they overheat much easier too.

3 Common Sense Ways to Keep Dogs Cool in an RV

For RVing dogs, summer weather safety must be a priority every single day. Here are the six most important things to know about RVing with dogs in summer:

If you must go hot weather boondocking with dogs, here’s what you need to know.

1. Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone in the RV During Hot Weather, Ever!

It’s tempting to leave your well-behaved RVing dog at home when you want to explore without her. But don’t be fooled by your air conditioner in summer. Anything can happen if you leave your dog alone in the RV on a hot day, even if you leave the A/C running for your dog. A campground power grid can easily get overwhelmed by too many guests simultaneously running their A/C. If power fails and your RV air conditioner shuts down, the temperature inside your closed-up RV can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Find a Kennel or Pet Sitter for Your RVing Dog During Summer

In many popular summer RVing destinations, dog boarding facilities and private dog sitters rely on tourists to pay the bills. It’s not unheard of to find excellent pet sitters and dog kennels near national park entrances, amusement parks, and popular tourist attractions like beaches and casinos. Do your RV trip planning research ahead of time, and look for dog kennels near campgrounds on your itinerary. Get your dog’s required boarding vaccines before departure day. When you arrive at your destination, you’ll have a safe, cool kennel waiting to dog sit while you go exploring in hot weather.

3. Avoid Hot Weather Boondocking If You Aren’t Equipped to Do It

The first time we went RVing with dogs in summer, we made the mistake of dry camping in Southern Utah. It was July, and suddenly the temperature skyrocketed to 100 degrees for a few days. Our beautiful campground was next to a river, and our dog loved being in the water. But in-between swimming he got so hot, we thought he had heatstroke. But once we plugged in at a nearby full-hookup RV park in Moab, he was a new dog! After that scary scene, we always put his needs ahead of our desire to see certain places in summer.

Unless you rig is equipped with an RV A/C soft-starter, hot weather dry camping with dogs is not being very kind to our fur-wearing co-pilots. Look for RV destinations in cool places, or pay for a full-hookup RV site so you can run your air conditioner. Isn’t your dog worth the cost?

3 Things to Pack When RVing with Dogs in Summer

After you find that perfect full-hookup spot to safely summer camp with dogs, it’s time for outdoor summer gear to keep your dog safe! Two pieces of summer RVing dog gear we always carry include a life preserver, and a cooling mat.

1. Dogs Swim Better with a Ruffwear Float Coat

The Ruffwear Float Coat is the only one I use for my dogs

Even the best dog swimmers can use a little help with a dog life jacket. A flotation jacket helps dogs stay in the water longer, without getting exhausted or swallowing too much water. My favorite model is by Ruffwear. The Float Coat’s unique design has flotation foam underneath your dog’s belly. Cheap dog life jackets only place foam on the sides. By putting it under your dog’s belly, the Float Coat does a better job keeping your dog’s head above water.

2. A Dog Cooling Mat is a Must

Cooling mats are nicer than sleeping on hard tile.

You and I know what it’s like to sleep on a hot, sweaty bed. Dogs are no different. Their fur makes cooling off more difficult, which is why so many dog prefer sleeping on cool tile during summer. But instead of making your dog sleep on the hard floor, why not put a cooling mat over your dog’s cushy sleeping bed?

  • Cools your dog (or cat!) as soon as they lay on it.
  • No electricity or ice required. The pressure-activated gel cool mat is activated by your pets weight and body heat.
  • Cooling sensation lasts for up to 3 hours.
  • Lightweight, portable, and puncture resistant material
  • Automatically recharges after 15-20 minutes of non-use

You’ll find a variety of dog cooling mats on Amazon.

3. Portable Insulated Water Bowl for Dogs

On normal days, dogs require 1 ounce of water per 1 pound of body weight to stay hydrated. You need to carry even more to keep dogs cool in an RV in summer. Keeping ice in your dog’s dish is a nice thing to do, and so is carrying a portable insulated water bowl whenever you head outside.

This 33 Ounce Stainless steel bottle with a removable dog bowl on the base features:

  • Detachable Bowl. The base of the bottle detaches easily to fill with water for your pet to encourage drinking from clean water
  • Anti-Slip Base. The bowl has an anti slip base for easy use no matter the size of your pet
  • Easy Grip Handle. Going for a walk with your dog and holding your phone the leash water is challenging but our easy grip handle makes that much simpler
  • Vacuum Insulated. No matter how long you spend inside the water will stay nice an chilled for hours for you and your dog

These are just a few ways to you can keep dogs cool in an RV. Our tips show that you don’t always have to leave your dog at home during hot weather, just play it safe and don’t let your dog overdo the fun during summer camping adventures.


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