There are a million things to worry about when going from a sticks-and-bricks life to an RV life. This is especially true when you have no previous experience with RVs. From the very beginning—all the way back to my research phase—one of those million things I was obsessed with was the logistics of bathing my dog. It lessened as I actually transitioned into the RV life. Not sure why. Maybe the other 999,999 things started screaming to be heard which quieted the dog bath worries.

Despite allergy shots, Benadryl and medicated baths, Solstice can take off a lot of hair during a bad allergy season by scratching, licking and biting herself.

Others may not obsess with dog bathing the way I do. I wish I could be so lucky. The reason for my vigilance is that my dog, Solstice, has severe allergies. I mentioned them in the post introducing her. She’s allergic to things like grass and human skin. So avoiding what she’s allergic to isn’t an option.

To alleviate the symptoms (extreme itchiness and nerve sensitivity), I give her injections every three weeks. She takes Benadryl on a regular, sometimes frequent, basis. And, finally, she is supposed to have weekly baths with medicated shampoo.

Solstice always gets a bath or at least a rinse off after muddy river or lake walks. They sure make her happy.

She doesn’t much like getting a bath and I don’t much like giving her a bath. Though she is very cooperative about them. Even in the sticks-and-bricks environment, I was happy with myself if she got a bath every other week.

In the RV, my goal has been to coordinate shot day with bath day, meaning baths every third week. It hasn’t been easy. But neither has it been as difficult as I expected. Obsessing may not have been necessary. So in today’s post I wanted to share what I’ve figured out so far.

Try Bathing Your Dog Outside

If possible, a good option is to bath your dog outside. You won’t deal with hair or shaken soapy dirty water in the rig. What you’ll need:

  1. An outside water source. Some rigs, including mine, have an outside shower which makes this task convenient. If you don’t have a shower, it may work to hook a hose up to a water spigot though you’ll have to make sure the water doesn’t come out too cold for your pup.
  2. A drain. You can do a rinse off pretty much anywhere. I try to rinse my dog if she has jumped into a lake or gotten muddy on a walk. But to use soap, you’ll want to ensure it gets to a drain.
  3. Decent weather. Even if you have water and a drain, in colder temperatures it still may not be a good idea to try to bath your dog outside. It’ll be too cold for both of you. Plus, if the temperatures are below freezing, you risk creating an ice skating rink which is another word for “a fall just waiting to happen.”

A Dog Bath in an RV

A mesh drain. I bought a 3-pack of various sizes for $2.49.

The two biggest issues I find with giving Solstice a bath is dealing with all hair and, of course, space. You can’t do anything about the space. Your bathroom is the size it is. And your dog is the size he or she is. You should be able to manage even if the fit is tight, as it is in my rig.

  1. Comb or brush your dog first. I discovered this trick a few years ago. It’s amazing how much less hair you’ll have to deal with in the tub and drain if you give your pet a good brushing beforehand.
  2. Put some kind of screen over the drain if the drain doesn’t already have a small-hole cover.
  3. Bathe as usual.
  4. Brushing again after the pet is dry will reduce more loose hairs from collecting in the rig.

It’s tight but she fits in the RV shower. When she stands up, she fits less well. Her wagging tails bonks on the walls and the toilet.

The medicated shampoo has to stay on her skin for 10 minutes. Waiting is the hardest part of the process.

Non-rig Options

If you can’t bath your pet outside or in the rig, you still aren’t out of options.

  1. Go to a self-serve dog wash I haven’t ever used this option but many people love it. What is included in the service varies as do prices. When I was in Walla Walla, I did an internet search for a dog wash place and nothing came up, leading me to believe there wasn’t one. Then I happened to drive by a locally-owned pet supply store and saw a sign in their window that they offered self-serve dog baths. So the lesson for me was that if you don’t find one immediately, it may be worth the time to call a few pet shops.

    Getting a bath in a sticks-and-bricks tub.

  2. Let someone else do it. This is generally geared more for people whose pets need groomed, not just bathed. Dogs like poodles don’t shed but need their hair cut or shaved. Even in small towns, you generally won’t have trouble finding a dog groomer who would be willing to do a simple bath.
  3. If you are visiting friends or family, ask if you can use their sticks-and-bricks tub. If they say yes, brushing the dog and placing a screen in their drain will help ensure you don’t plug up their bathtub. Use your own towels and be sure to wipe down everything when you are done which includes the tub, the walls and the floor. Those dog shakes get water every which way.

A full-time RVer is location independent. If it doesn’t work out to bath your pet in one location, it may in the next. Like so many things about the RV life, I’m learning to figure things out and to be flexible (something that doesn’t come naturally to me). So much is so different from everything I’ve known up until now. It helps to look at it all as an adventure.

I would love to hear your ideas for bathing pets on the road. And, if you are an RVer, what has been your experience with a dog bath on the road?