With this article we explain to you how to fully prepare your dog’s outdoor hangout for the freezing temperatures. Follow these steps and you will have a completely winterized area for your canine friend during the winter months.
Of course, on extremely cold days and nights, you should bring your pup inside. For the rest of the winter however, some dogs just love being outside. In particular, breeds from colder climates like huskies or malamutes do well in colder temperatures. As well, dogs shed a lot of fur or your home may not have a lot of room for them to run around. No matter your reason for letting your pup out in the winter, it is absolutely crucial to provide sufficient shelter and warmth for them. Many people are misled by the presence of fur to believe animals can survive any and all conditions, but this is inaccurate! Their fur does insulate them, but anything colder than -6 celsius is dangerous for smaller breeds, and potentially dangerous for large breeds. Providing a warm shelter will prevent your dog developing hypothermia or frostbite
As with human houses, one of the most important factors to a winterized doghouse is its location. You want to maximize the insulation, so protecting it from the elements is key. You’ll want to ensure the opening/doorway does not face directly into the wind. Sometimes wind direction is unpredictable, so you can cut wind by covering the doorway with scraps of carpet, bathmats, or plastic sheeting.
Scope the yard and make note of areas prone to flooding. You will want to avoid putting the doghouse here, in order to keep the dog and house dry. If your dog cannot be dry, hypothermia sets in much faster. In line with this tip, make sure the house is built on a platform so it is raised off the ground.
2. Winterizing your existing doghouse
Here are some cost-effective tips for ensuring your dog’s health and comfort during the cold months:
- insulation. Some dog houses come with in-built insulation, but you can add more, and should. If there is existing insulation, first make sure every part of the shelter is insulated. You will want to cover every part, especially the floor. Between the walls, you can use Styrofoam sheets or polystyrene foam. These make great for great insulating materials. Since dogs are prone to chewing, check the doghouse for weak parts where the dog has ease of access to the insulation. Eating this will make your dog sick as well as destroy the work you’ve done.
- heating pads or units. You can always add a heating pad to the dog shelter. The heating pad should not be larger than the interior of the shelter. Be sure not to leave the heating pad on at all times, lest your dog be burned or dehydrated. You may want to attach the heating device to a timer. Be sure no cords can be chewed.
- It may seem convenient to use old bedsheets or other fabric, but these will not keep your dog dry and warm. You will have to line the bottom of the shelter with straw and/or cedar shavings to keep the dog both warm and dry. You will have to change this bedding once every two to three weeks so it’s consistently clean and warm.
- Water will freeze quickly, so unless you are around to constantly refresh the water, you should get a heated water bowl. These are found at any pet store and should not be placed in the centre of the bedding.
Installing Styrofoam sheets
Styrofoam will trap heat in the house. Using the inside dimensions of the doghouse, cut the panels using a utility knife. Remove the outer walls, then staple the foam panels to the outside of the doghouse, including the front wall. Reattach the front wall, then cut ¼ inch panels of plywood to cover the foam. The panels should be at least three inches wider than the doghouse walls so as to cover the corners of the foam. Using your staple gun, staple the plywood to the foam. If there are any remaining cracks, you can seal these with caulking.
Hypothermia causes irreparable damage to the central nervous system. Signs of hypothermia include irregular heartbeat, impaired consciousness, and irregular breathing. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, you must immediately seek medical help for them.
Check regularly for frostbite. Frostbite occurs when extremities are frozen and blood withdraws in order to keep core temperature up. You may not notice this right away due to their fur. Look at their extremities (fur, tail, paws). If these parts are extremely cold when the dog is inside, then they have frostbite. Ice crystals will form in their veins and cause severe damage and pain.