Dog houses offer excellent protection for your pet especially in the cold months of winter. This is especially beneficial for dogs that are unable to regulate their body temperatures efficiently such as elderly and sick dogs as well as puppies and naturally skinny hounds. Choosing the right dog house for the winter is, thus crucial to helping our pets feel comfy and warm as they weather through the bitter cold. While there are plenty of dog houses in the market, only a handful deserve to be called as the best for your canine friend. Here we’ve listed 8 of the best dog houses for winter according to pet parents, dog-lovers, and animal experts.
Best Dog Houses for Winter Buying Guide
Dog houses for winter come in various designs, sizes, and shapes. Some are packed with features while others are only embedded with the essentials. You need to understand that picking the best dog house for winter can be tricky. Our guide for choosing and buying the best dog house should help you navigate this maze.
Regular Dog Houses vs. Insulated Dog Houses for Winter
Knowing the difference between an ordinary dog house and a doggie abode built for the winter can help you decide on the best dog house for your pet for use during the winter months.
The main difference in these two types of dog houses is in the presence of thermal insulation in dog houses for winter. Thermal insulation can come in different forms, although what many would consider as insulation is the presence of an extra layer of protection which can significantly increase the barrier between the interior of the dog house and the ambient temperature outside.
Some dog houses for winter come with thick thermal insulation made of polyurethane foam since it has an excellent thermal insulation R-value of 6.3 for every inch of thickness. Other manufacturers use polystyrene and cellulose, although others would go for fiberglass or mineral wool. Other dog houses for winter also come with additional features such as extended doorways and door flaps to help keep cold air drafts from getting inside the doggie house. Some also come with double-wall construction, effective increasing the distance between the outer wall surface and the inner wall surface.
Regular dog houses will be those that do not have any of the mechanisms we have described above and as such are excellent for warmer weather conditions.
What Makes a Good Dog House for Winter?
Picking the right dog house for winter can be particularly intimidating especially if you recognize the fact that there are plenty of products in the marketplace all saying they are the best in keeping your dog warm and cozy when it’s freezing outside. Zeroing-in on the best dog house for winter requires an understanding of the characteristics of a good dog house for winter. Here are some of them.
A good dog house for winter should have adequate thermal insulation. This is the first and perhaps most important characteristic of a doggie house intended to be use during the winter. As we have already explained above, dog houses with PE foams should offer exceptional warmth even when it’s freezing outside.
- Thick Wall
This is akin to having good insulation. The thicker the wall the better it is when it comes to keeping the interior warm and cozy.
- Elevated Floor
Raising the floor provides two fundamental benefits. It makes the sleeping surface warmer in cold months and cooler in warm months for the simple fact that it is moved farther away from the ground surface where the earth’s temperature can be easily felt if the floor is not elevated.
Waterproofing is now a standard for all dog houses. But this is especially true for dog houses for winter particularly those that are placed outside the house. Snow can accumulate on the roof and has the tendency to melt once the sun’s up. Rain can sometimes accompany snow so keeping your dog warm and dry inside its house can be ensured with a waterproofed dog house.
In addition to these characteristics you also need to look for durability, ease of cleaning, and ease of setting up. These are characteristics that you would normally look for in any type of dog house.
How to Keep Dog House Warm and Comfortable
A well-insulated dog house for winter does a good job at protecting your dog from the bitter cold. Regrettably, there are days when the temperatures outside can be extremely cold that even a well-insulated dog house is unable to keep your dog warm and comfy. Here are some tips on how you can keep your dog house warm and comfy.
- Consider investing in a pet-safe dog house heater. These are small devices that you mount onto the wall of your dog house and work in pretty much the same way as the heater in your house, only this one is made specifically for dog houses. Do take note, however, that these may cost more than the price of your dog house.
- Purchase a heating kennel pad to be placed under your pet’s bedding inside the dog house. This helps provide warmth to your pet’s body and also increases the distance between the floor and your dog’s body. Under no circumstance should you place this directly on your pet’s bed as it can also overheat your pet.
- Use heated dog beds in lieu of the heating kennel pad. This is a special type of bed that comes with a heating element inside. Unfortunately, these can only be used indoors.
- You can also make a heater box which is similar to the droplight used in hospitals to help warm and heal the perineum of women who just gave birth. It’s nothing more than a box open on one end and having a light bulb shining inwards on the other end. The problem with this, of course, is the risk of breaking the light bulb.
- Make sure you have the right size of dog house for your pet. Too big and you risk losing more of your pet’s heat to the interior space. Too small and your dog will not be able to move about comfortably.
- Increase the elevation of your dog house without limiting its accessibility. Also place it away from running water or areas where puddles usually form.
- Do not place the dog house in an area where wind usually blows. Cold drafts can be menacing to dogs even though they are already inside their dog houses.
- If your dog house already comes with good insulation, make sure that there are no breaks in the integrity of the insulation. You may also want to check the flooring, walls, and the roof for any signs of damage or leaks. These can be entrance points for cold air. Fix these if you can.
Dogs That Need the Most Protection From the Cold
Owing to differences in breed characteristics, there are certain dogs that need more protection from the cold compared to other breeds. Generally, dog vulnerability to cold temperatures is often dictated by the following factors.
- Type of Coat
Dogs that have thinner and single-layered coats suffer the most in cold temperatures. As such if you have a Greyhound or even a Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican Hairless, then you know that these dogs will need exceptional protection against cold.
- Color of Coat
Interestingly, experts say that dogs with light-colored coats tend to feel the cold a lot more than their dark-colored counterparts. This observation works only during daytime when the sun is up as heat can be easily reflected off white- or light- colored objects.
- Body Size
In general, smaller dogs have a higher ratio of body surface area to volume. Technically they have ‘more’ skin surface area upon which they can readily give off heat. As such smaller breeds are more vulnerable to the effects of cold temperatures given, however, that all other factors are equal.
- Amount of Body Fat
Everyone knows that one of the essential functions of body fat is insulation. In other words, thinner dogs or those canines that do not have sufficient layers of fat tend to feel colder than their fatty cousins. However, do understand that being fat does have its many drawbacks especially on the heart and metabolism. If this is the only reason you have for making your dog fat, know that there are other ways in which you can protect your pet from the bitter cold.
Extremes in age are a major factor in susceptibility to the effects of cold weather. Puppies don’t have mature thermoregulatory mechanisms so they feel colder than adult dogs. They also have a larger body surface area in relation to their body mass. On the other hand, senior dogs already have poor muscle tone, reduced amount of fat, and a less-than-optimal thermoregulation, making them vulnerable to cold effects, too.
- Existing Health Condition
Dogs that are sick generally cannot regulate their body temperatures as efficiently as when they are healthy. As such, sick dogs will also require protection from the cold.
- Environmental Conditioning
Dogs that are already accustomed to living in cold weather have developed adaptive mechanisms to make them highly resilient even in extremely cold conditions. As such, if your dog is already accustomed to cold weather, it may require less protection against cold.
Any of these factors can play a part in a dog’s vulnerability to the effects of winter. Here are some of the breeds of dogs that really require our assistance when it comes to protecting them against the bitter cold of winter.
- Doberman pinscher
- French bulldog
- Great Dane
Dog houses for winter help keep our dogs warm and comfy in pretty much the same way that our homes keep us safe and well-protected from the elements. Insulation is a fundamental requirement for all dog houses for winter. As such, your efforts at looking for a suitable house for your pet dog to be used during winter should be focused on the quality of insulation as well as other features that can keep cold air out. Of course, if that fails or if you need additional warmth for your pet, you can always consider our tips on how to keep your dog house warm.
- 10 Dog Breeds that Need Extra Protection in Cold Weather, Pets World
- How Cold is Too Cold for Your Dog?, PetMD
- How to Keep a Dog House Warm in the Winter, Central Park Paws