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DIY Insulated Dog House: How-to, Tips and Best Practices

Keeping your dog happy and healthy means that you must provide the right shelter over the cold winter months. Not everyone wants to keep the dog inside the house, which begs the question: What kind of insulated dog house is the best match for your pet?

An insulated outdoor dog house is the answer to a fur-free home and a happy pet all year round. It will also prevent it frostbite and hypothermia during winter, so you must give this matter all your attention. Don’t be fooled – even dog breeds that do well in winter need to be protected from rain, ice and snow.

This article will provide you with the necessary tips on what are the best practices when it comes to winterizing your dog house. Scroll to the end to also check out a video on how to build a dog house from scratch.

How-to: Avoiding Frostbite and Hypothermia

For people and dogs alike, winter comes with certain health risks. Being exposed to harsh elements can lead to a very sick dog. Hypothermia is particularly dangerous; an abnormally low internal temperature might mean trouble to your dog’s central nervous system.

In an attempt to preserve body heat, the heart and rate of blood flow are significantly slowed down. If you suspect your dog of hypothermia, look for an irregular heartbeat and irregular breathing. A dog that that acts lethargic or slower than normal needs medical attention immediately.

On the other hand, frostbite is not so easy to diagnose because of the dog’s fur. Make a habit of checking your pet’s extremities during the winter. If the ears, tail or paws feel extremely cold, then frostbite might be to blame.

Frostbite means that the body struggles to keep the core temperature regular by retracting the blood flowing into the extremities. If this is the case, immediately seek medical attention for your dog.

Preparing the Dog House for Winter

So, what can you do to winterize your dog’s house? If you don’t want to start from scratch, then you will need some extra purchases to keep your dog warm during the cold months. While you can buy a dog house that is already insulated, it also helps to go an extra step to keep your best friend happy and comfortable.

The options we present below are cost-effective and easy to install. At the same time, if you’re dog isn’t particular about some of the additions, you can always switch them around until you find the perfect match.

Insulation

Store-bought dog houses are usually equipped with the minimum of insulation materials. However, you should consider adding your own measures for winter.

  • Check that the dog house you have is insulated on all sides of the shelter. Be particular about the floor, which might need your own input.
  • Polystyrene foam and Styrofoam sheets are the easiest to work with. They make for great insulation when correctly installed between the walls of the dog house.
  • You also have the option of buying Dog House Insulation Kit. This will ensure that the warmth doesn’t escape and the cold air seep in.

Warning: Make regular checks after you install the insulation. Your dog might treat the polystyrene foam as his new toy and make holes in it. Not only will that defeat the purpose of the insulation, but it will also pose a health risk to your dog.

Heating Pads and Units

Want to go a step further? Make sure you have an insulated dog house by including heating pads or heating units in the mix. These can be used either on the inside, placed on the floor, or added on the exterior of the dog house. The latter will allow the warmth to radiate within.

If possible, purchase a heating pad that comes with thermostat control. These will allow you to keep your dog comfortable, but not too hot.

Warning: Do not let the cords of the heating pads be visible; this will avoid the risk of chewing and electrocution. Also, do not let the heating units on at all times; this will prevent the risk of dehydration and burning.

Bedding

Consider using bedding to keep your dog warm and dry. Fabric bedding and sheets might be the less expensive option, but they are not enough. Your best option is purchasing straw and/or cedar shavings to line the floor of the shelter with. However, you must keep in mind that bedding needs to be changed regularly. Provide a constantly clean dog house by cleaning it once every two to three weeks.

Useful tip: The cedar shavings are quite affordable if bought in large bags.

Water

Even though this is not insulation per se, it also ensures that your dog experiences a comfortable winter. Seeing that a dog needs a constant supply of fresh water, consider buying a heated water bowl to prevent the water from freezing.

They’re cheap and easy to find in any pet store; you can also order one from Amazon. However, make sure that the heated water bowl isn’t placed inside the insulated dog house if you are using bedding.

Best Winter Practices

Do you a tiny dog? Many of the smaller breeds would do better indoors than in dog houses during winter. Even though a good insulated dog house will go a long way, bringing your furry friend inside for a couple of months will prevent any health risks. Seeing that it doesn’t occupy a lot of space, you can just buy a cute dog bed for its winter accommodation needs.

If you have a big dog that you also want to bring indoors, there are solutions for that as well. Purchase a portable and collapsible shelter that doesn’t take too long to assemble. This will ensure that your dog is safe and so are your rugs.

How-to: Building an Insulated Dog House from Scratch

If after reading this entire article you decided you want to build the dog house from scratch, here is a video that might help you figure out what you need. Keep in mind that you will need some construction skills so you can provide your pet with the best insulated dog house.

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William E. Eubanks
 

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