While RVing, have you ever had to rush your pet to a vet?

At least half of RVtravel.com readers bring along a pet on their trips. Like humans, their little friends get hurt and sick. Have you ever had to rush your pet to a vet in a medical emergency? If so, did you know the location of the nearest vet or emergency clinic?

If you have had such an emergency, would you please leave a comment to let other pet owners know about your experience, and if you learned anything for next time?

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43 Thoughts to “While RVing, have you ever had to rush your pet to a vet?”

  1. R. Koch

    While I have not needed a vet I do carry pics ( in case they run off) and vet records. I also look up and take along info on vets in the area I will be in. I had camped at a Pa state park that had a pet event yet did not know where a local vet was. So I now go prepared.

  2. PennyPA

    We were driving down a 4-lane divided highway in Alabama on a cold, rainy day about 4 years ago and saw a dog lying in the middle of our lane of travel. The car in front of us just veered around him and kept on driving. We stopped and while I directed traffic around us, my boyfriend checked the dog. Thankfully, another car stopped and the 2 of them were able to move the dog to the side of the road. After ascertaining that the dog (lab mix) did not “belong” to anyone nearby (one neighbor said he had been living under her porch for a month but he wasn’t hers), we got a blanket out of the truck and were able to get it under him and move him into the back seat. No one knew of any local vets but, using our GPS, we were able to find one about 20 mins away. God Bless our Nuvi!

    The vet couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t sit but chose to lie down all the time. After bloodwork and x-rays, she found he had heartworms and each front leg was broken in 2 places.

    We have named him Willie (for Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”) and he is a licensed, chipped, loving, gentle member of our family that consists of 2 dogs (another stray joined us 2 years later), 2 cats and 2 birds.

    For those who might be faced with huge vet bills, ask if your vet accepts Care Credit. You pay over time and if you pay the full amount within a reasonable time-frame, no interest is charged. We’ve used that for dental work and hearing aids in addition to vet work.

  3. Jan

    Our keeshond swallowed a peach pit. She did manage to pass it, but with predictable side effects. We took her to an emergency clinic in Salem, Oregon on a Sunday afternoon.

  4. Michael McCracken

    While fishing in Idaho, My Jack Russell Terrier Abby, swallowed a fish hook. Bait, line and hook down the throat. I immediately packed up the fishing gear and off to the vet. Her stomach was taken out opened up and the hook removed. This required an overnight stay. The Veterinary was Mary Jane Davis. at Pend Oreille Veterinary Service, Ponderay, Idaho. She was wonderful and stayed overnight to watch over Abby. She kept me informed of her progress by phone. The costs $1,800. This taught me to watch my dog closely around fishing areas. Two years later and Abby in just fine. There has never been a visible scar on her tummy.

  5. Audrey

    Due to pet emergencies while we are at home I now have a pet medical box at home and in the RV. I also take my pets updated medical records with us and a list of 24 hour vet emergencies and regular vet offices I. Each of the areas that we will be. I have also noticed that some campgrounds put the name of a vet on their info packet, which I think is very helpful.

  6. Lisa Cantrell

    Our then 12 year old Springer was stumbling and seemed dazed when I checked her ear and it was severely infected. We were in Baton Rouge where LSU has a Small Animal Clinic. (excellent BTW) Her ear canal was stenosed so she got antibiotics and prednisone.
    This other incident did not happen to me but a friend. He was in Phoenix when his dog started whining and walking as if drunk. He took her to a 24 hour clinic and they said there was nothing wrong. Luckily he found another vet who diagnosed scorpion bite.

  7. Paul

    Our German Shepherd came down with a very serious case of pneumonia on a cross Canada trip. Used Google to find an emergency vet clinic in Brandon Manitoba. By the time we got her in she was down to 1/4 of her lung capacity. They weren’t sure she’d make it. She spent a week in emergency care until she had recovered enough for us to head for home. The clinic was great – they found us a campground and arranged with the furniture store across the street for us to park our A Class there during the day. And their total bill was less than a third of what I’d have paid at home. We also found out that our travel insurance includes $500 for emergency vet care. (Who knew?) Since she’s at risk for a relapse we now travel with antibiotics and a stethoscope (to listen to her lungs).

    1. Michael McCracken

      What travel insurance do you have?

  8. M Lader

    I forgot to add that I always carry a folder of her health records and several years of blood test results.

  9. M Lader

    Our now nineteen year old cat has had several episodes of serious UTIs while we were visiting the area in Oregon where we used to live. We’ve kept up her records with our previous vet so there was no problem being seen quickly. I’ve spoken with another RVer who recommends Banfield because the records are available throughout the franchise.

  10. Barbara

    Yes, we made an emergency visit to a Key West vet after I, unfortunately, squeezed our very large cat down to several inches when I retracted the slide. Fortunately, the cat survived with no lasting ill affects except the $800 dent to my checking account. Lesson learned: Know where your pets are before pulling in the slides.

    1. RV Staff

      OMG! We’re so glad your cat survived. I can just imagine how loud the howl was — judging by how loud my cat is if I inadvertently step on the end of her tail (haven’t done it for years, luckily). Lesson learned is right, and a good tip for others. Thanks, Barbara. —Diane at RVtravel.com

  11. Robert

    We were in Bozeman Montana and had to find a vet fast for our puppy. It was a Saturday afternoon and thankfully Banfield Pet Hospital was open and did a wonderful job diagnosing and treating him at a very fair price, especially considering they were the only vet we could find open on the weekend.

  12. Kom Dixon

    We were staying at Gold Bluff Beach campground in CA where there are a lot of wild elk roaming around. We were well aware that wild elk are, well – wild, and made every effort to give them their space. Never the less, while we were walking our five pound chihuahua on the road in the camp ground – yes she was on a leash, an elk saw us from across the field, ran up to us in seconds! and proceeded to stomp on our little dog. Luckily, the elk just grazed our dog’s head, but did manage to knock her unconscious. I have never packed up camp so fast. We had no internet so had to ask the ranger where the nearest vet was, which was about 40 minutes away. By the time we got to the vet our little Rosie was awake and doing okay. We were extremely fortunate that Rosie only suffered a mild concussion and a scrape down her face. We later found out when we returned to the campground that 1. Elk hate dogs and 2. It was calving season. We were very perplexed as to why there were no warning signs anywhere in the camp ground regarding elks, dogs, and mating/calving season. Yep, the mother elk was just doing what a mother elk does- protecting her calf, but a five pound dog is no match for a 500 pound mother elk.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Kom,

      Wow! What a story! Who would have thought that elk would react to a small dog in that way. Thanks for sharing your story.

      Dr. Deanna

  13. Ray Z.

    RV parks need to do a better job of providing locations of local vets and animal emergency hospitals to guests. Many parks provide information on hospitals, urgent care, etc, but I have seen very few that list facilities for animals.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      I agree with you Ray. However, since most of them don’t, we as pet owners have to figure that out for ourselves. Google helps a lot!

      Dr. Deanna

  14. Bill & Kitty BATEMAN

    Lab with the “trots” [what’s new considering what Labs will eat!] Knew of nearby clinic from friends … All turned out well. giardia!
    When you need to give peroxide to induce vomit try an old turkey baster .. Worked well for us. Best way to retrieve swallowed food imbedded SOS pads from a lab.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      I can tell you lived with a lab before! They are best known in the vet world for eating just about anything. Hmmm, Giardia. Sounds like we may need to do a column on that in the future. Thanks for writing.

      Dr. Deanna

      1. Michael McCracken

        If you have a GPS unit in your car or motorhome, search it for Vets.

  15. Tren

    I always check for local vets wherever we land for the night(s). Had to bring dog to emergency hospital in Mechanicsburg, PA, for bruising spots all over her. Fearing thrombocytopenia, I brought her in. They said it was black flies, biting her when she did her business outside. Each bruise had a small black dot in the center, the bite. Crazy. She was fine.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Good for you to be prepared. And good call. Those symptoms mimic possible thrombocytopenia. Thanks for writing!

  16. Scott Taylor

    5 day visit to Fryeburg, ME Fair. About 3 hours from home. Gal in the registration booth advised us of the local vet she used – nothing beats a personal reference! All turned out fine. I do appreciate it when parks list local vet info on their brochures/site maps, along with the usual Fire/Police numbers, etc. Fur kids are family, too!

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Other people have commented on wishing the campground office would provide vet info. Maybe all of the pet owners should ask they do that at check-in. Thanks for writing!

  17. Frank Drucker

    I took my 12 yr old Golden, who was 6 weeks post op abdominal surgery for a malignant tumor on our annual trip from MN to AZ. Arriving no further than Iowa she became unable to eat or drink and I took her to a generalist vet who requested $500.00 in advance before working on her between other clients. At the end of the day she referred me to a specialty clinic in Des Moines where they refused to see her without $3000.00 in advance! She stayed overnight, and was euthanized in the a.m. Always think of them as The Bottom Line Clinic.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      So sorry to read about your dog and poor vet experience.

  18. Nita Evans

    While staying in Spearfish, S.D., our year old Pomeranian developed black diarrhea. Knowing that indicated internal bleeding we took her to the local veterinarian. He kept her on an I.V. For the day and we picked her up that evening. Still concerned about her, he stopped by the RV park to check on her as he was heading home later that night. Not liking what he saw he recommended we take her to the 24 hr Emergency Hospital in Rapid City. We were there for the Sturgis motorcycle rally and doubled up on the Harley trike and made the run with her wrapped up snuggling next to my chest. She stayed 4 days and although they never could pinpoint what caused the internal bleeding she received excellent care. She’s a happy 4 year old today and loves traveling in the RV.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Nita,
      I loved your story and loved reading that the local vet stopped by the park to see how your dog was doing. Not sure that happens much these days. She likely had HGE: hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis. So glad she recovered and is a traveling Pom.

  19. Bill Jeffrey

    While walking our dog in a small campground in west Texas, we noticed our dog pooping “raspberry jam”. Fortunately, the campground had good wi-fi, and the answer to “what could it be?” came up in a hurry, along with the fact that it could be very serious. An Internet search revealed only three vets, all about 60 miles from us in different directions. We called all three, and though it was approaching 5 PM, one of them was willing to stay open late for us. After a hurried trip down the Interstate, the vet examined our pup, took some samples and analyzed them, gave us some meds – and all was well. I’m not sure what we would have done if there were no phone or wifi service. Scary.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Bill,
      Your dog’s symptoms sound similar to another comment here. You were so right to seek immediate care. Scary, yes.

  20. Janet Noble

    I would recommend to everyone who travels with a pet to adopt a technique I have used since first taking my dog/s on trips.

    When I get to a new area, as soon as I fire up the computer, I find the closest 24 hour emergency vet. In some more rural areas, there may not be one listed so I will then check with the camp host or call a local vet during their hours and find out what is available.

    I then check the location on my directions app on my Ipad so the address is in its history and I have an idea of where I am going if needed.

    Being prepared makes me feel much better!

    And for the comments on foxtails, interestingly enough, having wet conditions LIMITS the production of the foxtails. Being dry increases it so they were likely trying to keep them down as much as they could. Foxtails are nasty!

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Janet,
      Your approach to being prepared is a really good one. Hopefully, it’s like insurance and you won’t need it, but you’ll be ready if you do.

  21. Jo lewis

    Staying at state park in Idaho last summer covered in a weed we were unfamiliar with, called fox tail. There was no where to walk her without her going into the weed to do her business. One night as my husband was brushing her teeth she whimpered and pulled away. Looked in her mouth and saw it at the back. Next day, July fourth, we drove sixty miles to vet in Boise. They were very familiar with the weed and said dogs can die from it traveling down their throat. Blood work, sedation and they found three embedded. five hours, $350 later we had our fur baby back. Sad thing about it, they water that weed three times a week. After that, we noticed the weed everywhere we went in Idaho.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Jo,
      Foxtails can be very bad news. They are built to burrow through skin and mucous membranes. You were smart to get your dog to a vet for removal as quickly as you did.

  22. Betty Dagle

    I did not have to rush to the vet, but when I came into the camper after late night visiting with friends, I found a plastic bag full of vitamin pills torn and thrown around. Not knowing which of 3 dogs or if all participated, I was afraid of poisoning. I called a poison hotline and found out I needed to “induce vomiting” by “encouaging” all of them to drink hydrogen peroxide, which, fortunately I had. It was very challenging, but it worked and all were well. I now keep a pooch first aid book w/national phone numbers and a 24 number for my personal vet. You never know when you will need it.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Good for you, Betty. The poison hotline can be a life-saver.

  23. David Horn

    Yup – ended up with abdominal surgery, $4000 worth. Good thing I was in Tucson with a great vet – found on Yelp!

  24. Skip

    Yes, twice. First time was when our little miniature dachshund picked up some weird intestinal thing in a kennel when we boarded her for a day while we went to a place that didn’t allow pets, and which required a ton of antibiotics and special digestible food; second time was when we thought she had gotten something up her nose and the vet wasn’t able to find anything (it later turned out to be cancer of the palate and we had to put her to sleep).

  25. Ronnie

    So far we have been very lucky with our 4 cats not had to see any but the ones at home

  26. Ken

    Luckily friends who lived local arranged for us to go to their vet

  27. Kathie Vaught

    our dog had her first…very violent…seizure. luckily we found a vet within minutes and I always carry a binder for each of them. I was able to show the vet her history of medical care. we continue to carry these binders with photos of the dogs both scruffy and freshly groomed.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Kathie,
      Your binder idea is a great one! I’ll include that in a future column.

      1. Tren

        I, too, have medical folders of all of the pets’ veterinary visits. I keep it all in chronological order and bring it to every vet visit. It is priceless when you cannot remember which pet had which illness when. It is also handy in noting differences in the bloodwork over the years.

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