If you’re living on the road full time and always away from your “home vet” – if you have such a thing – it can make getting your pet quality vet care a little more tricky.
Now that we have been on the road for a while and experienced quite a few scares with our two dogs, we can share some tips and advice from what we’ve found.
Basic Vet Care
For basic vet care like vaccinations, dewormings, fecal tests, nail trimmings, microchips etc, that usually isn’t too big of a deal. We’ve found that vaccination clinics are a low-cost and easy option for getting the basics.
If you’ve never done a vaccination clinic before, you usually go to a pet supply store or other local meeting place for the clinic. You will wait in line with other pet owners until it’s your turn. You tell them what you’re there for, pay, then wait for your turn with the doctor.
Depending on the line, this could take 30 minutes or more. Vaccinations are typically in the $10-20 range a piece (a fraction of in-office prices), and often are bundled into convenient or discounted packages.
Make sure to have a physical copy of your pets’ prescriptions on hand when you travel. If you don’t, most vets can easily fax this to another veterinarian. Many of these can be filled at PetSmarts, too, or you can have prescriptions mailed to you too.
I’ve found that Allivet.com was a cheap (less than half the cost of getting it at a vet office!) and easy way to get my dog’s prescriptions. You can either mail them your prescription or have them call the vet that prescribed the medication.
Finding Vet Clinics While RVing
For anything beyond basic vet care, like illnesses, injuries, and the time Bella had to have a lump removed from her leg, it can get a little more tricky. This is because you probably are unfamiliar with the vet in town, don’t know which one to pick if there are multiple options, and they don’t know you or your pet.
1. Travel with your pet’s health history
This will help the veterinarian out a lot Even if you do this, though, most veterinarians require you to have an introductory office visit and exam with the resident doctor before any major procedure can be done.
This is frustrating in the case that your pet needs something like a dental done and you know it, but it’s going to cost you an extra $50+ to do the preliminary exam so the vet can meet you and the pet. But, they want to ensure that the pet is in healthy enough condition to do the anesthesia required.
Some states actually forbid vets from performing procedures on animals they have not examined first.
2. Ask for printed records of all the exam notes and test results to take with you
Add these to your pet’s history for the next vet visit. Even though the next vet is going to want to do their own exam, notes and test results are always helpful. I stress that you have to ASK for these because most vet offices work with local patients and don’t have to print for everyone.
3. Call around – time to get in and cost of services might vary significantly!
To get your pet seen more quickly and as to run into travel schedule difficulties, call around to multiple vets. The faster you can be seen isn’t indicative of “good vet” or “bad vet” but just a matter of cancellations, scheduling, or vet staffing schedules.
If you’re not faced with an urgent situation, you might also want to ask around for quotes on prices for services. I recently had to make an dental appointment for Bella in the Tahoe area of California, and I ended up calling 16 veterinary clinics within an hour radius. If you can save $200+ it might be worth the hour drive.
I found that prices varied dramatically, especially over the state line between California and Nevada, especially considering taxes.
Some of the vet clinics won’t give quotes over the phone, or won’t give a quote until the vet sees your pet. When I’m planning something like this, I usually go for a vet who is going to be transparent with me from the get-go.
4. Recommendations are great, but not always available
If you know someone nearby, absolutely look for recommendations. Unfortunately, not all vet clinics are created equal, and you are at a disadvantage when you pull into a new town.
I would, however, caution against taking Google reviews at each and every word. Animals are a very emotional topic for most animal people, and that can be reflected in the reviews.
I wish I had more advice in this arena, but most veterinarians are in the business because they love and want to help animals. Be cautious if it seems they are asking you to do a suspiciously high number of tests and things, but otherwise you just have to trust their judgement – they are dealing with a patient that can’t tell them what hurts.
Having your pets along with you on the road is so much fun! I hope this article helps someone with finding vet care while RVing. For more information about RVing with Pets, check out our discussion in the video below. Otherwise, let me know if you’ve discovered any other easy pet care tricks on the road in the comments below!
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