If you live in an area with cold winters, you might have seen fish staying entirely still in super cold water. Have you ever wondered why we don’t stand still when the temperature dips below 50 Degrees Fahrenheit?
It’s because we are warm-blooded! Warm-blooded animals, like humans or dogs, maintain a stable internal temperature year round. That’s why you don’t see any fish with jackets!
This can be a really difficult & energy-consuming process to do, which is why we use heaters & ACs to help bring us back to normal.
If you have a dog that stays outdoors in the colder months, you can make his life a lot easier & more comfortable by investing in a well-insulated dog house. Or, you can try out these tips to insulate it yourself!
If you are thinking about insulating the doghouse yourself, we recommend these materials that are very useful but don’t break the bank.
This is a traditional insulation material for doghouses. Fiberglass insulation is the pink material that you’ve probably seen in your attic.
It’s an extremely practical insulator, which is why it’s used in house insulation. Insulation is measured on a scale of R; the higher the number, the more powerful the insulator. Fiberglass has the highest R-value of any of the materials.
This is also one of the only materials that work in both extreme heat & extreme cold.
This lightweight material also slows moisture deterioration, making it a great option for wood doghouses. It is also suitable for extreme cold and hot weather.
However, make sure that you keep this fiberglass between 2 solid layers of wood. It could be very harmful if your dog chews through it.
You can staple fiberglass on the doghouse’s walls, ceiling, and floor for extra heat retention. It’s very easy to work with; all you need is a sturdy pair of scissors to cut it to shape. Be careful when working with it, though, as it can cause rashes & irritate your lungs if breathed in.
Foam spray is a slightly more expensive option for insulation. Spray foam comes in a can; all you have to do is spray it & it expands to fill up the available space.
This makes foam insulation great for small spaces, like corners or repairs. Make sure to use foam with vapor barriers & protection if you would like to use it on a large area.
Spray foam doesn’t absorb water, so it is mold resistant, which is great for a plastic or wood dog house.
To install, simply spray it between the two layers; however, you must work quickly because the foam expands really fast, and you need to make sure that you have the 2nd layer ready by then.
There is a slight risk of the foam insulation shrinking over time, which could leave the house unstable. Consider the climate you have before investing in foam insulation.
Aluminum Bubble Wrap
Just like aluminum foil helps to keep our food nice and warm, this shiny reflective bubble insulation helps keep your puppy toasty. Aluminum foil bubble insulation works on two principles: reflection & trapping heat.
Just like a sweater helps to trap our body heat near our skin, these bubbles hold air that is the perfect temperature for our dogs. These bubbles are lined with a layer of aluminum. This reflective insulation stops heat from transferring into the doghouse.
Clearly, aluminum bubble wrap is a great option for wood houses; just make sure that it’s covered to prevent your bored pup from chewing it up.
However, we wouldn’t recommend reflective bubble wrap for plastic dog houses as it can severely limit air circulation. If you do decide to use this, you must keep an air pocket between the bubble wrap and one wall panel to allow some airflow.
Polystyrene Foam, more commonly known as styrofoam, is probably the cheapest insulative material because you don’t even need to buy it!
Just save some whenever you get a package or ask if any small businesses could sell some for you for a low price. Chances are they were going to throw it away anyways!
Styrofoam is an effective insulation material. If you feel that it isn’t providing your pup with proper insulation, then simply increase the thickness of the styrofoam that you add.
However, you must be wary of styrofoam’s life span. It is not the most durable option, and if your dog gets ahold of it, they will rip it up! So, I recommend stapling styrofoam panels down & then placing a wood panel on top.
Carpet is definitely not a traditional insulation solution. But, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You can find carpets anywhere; you can buy damaged carpets from a showroom for very cheap. Or, you can ask them for their old carpet samples, which will also be pretty inexpensive.
You could also buy carpets, but we really recommend finding it second-hand somewhere.
An outdoor carpet will most certainly last longer. However, a shaggy indoor carpet will trap more air, leading to less heat loss.
Just staple it onto the walls, ceilings, and floor to install it. You can also use carpet as flaps behind windows to prevent strong winds from blowing in.
This is another insulation material option we didn’t consider at first. However, we realized that water has a very high boiling point because it needs tons of energy to heat up. Therefore, lining a doghouse with water means that all the water will absorb the heat.
Now, pet owners can’t just leave water sloshing around in the kennel. Instead, you can pour water into plastic bottles & line them next to the kennel wall. Next, cover it with the second panel of wood.
This system means that most of the air will have to pass through the water so it doesn’t enter the dog house. Moreover, if you want to provide a little extra heating, you can fill in the gaps between the water bottles with spray foam.
One negative of this material is that water is prone to leaking, which can be disastrous in a wood doghouse.
In the winter, the water bottles might freeze. However, this is great because this creates an igloo dog house, which keeps the inside nice and warm on cold winter nights.
Insulation kits are ready-made coverings that are sold specifically for their company’s model of the dog house.
These provide protection from all types of weather and are often water-proof. They are very easy to install, as you simply have to place them inside the dog house & you’re good to go!
They are usually made of a soft material coated in plastic. This creates a really comforting & welcoming inner area, which can be used in lieu of a bed.
However, these options tend to be pretty expensive. Plus, you can only use them for a certain doghouse model; you can’t transfer them to others because the dimensions are exact.
Furthermore, these insulation kits are also not too durable and can be chewed up by some really bored dogs.
Guide: Constructing a Weather-Proof Doghouse
There are some things to keep in mind while you are creating the perfect doghouse. If you’d prefer to leave the building to the professionals, check out the best doghouses for winter for some really good designs at a low cost.
- Use Cedar Wood: Cedarwood is one of the best woods for making dog houses. It has got a low density & a coarse texture, which makes it nice & durable. It also has excellent insulative properties.
Therefore, the wood itself will help to keep the doghouse sufficiently warm.
- Choose the right location: A good location is crucial for the warmth of your doghouse. Try to keep it next to your house, but away from any chilly winds & direct sunlight.
This will make it easier to insulate overall.
- Choose the right size: Sizing is extremely important when it comes to insulating a dog house. It seems natural to want to give our beloved pooches the biggest doghouse possible. However, in the cold winter season, this may actually be detrimental.
A smaller dog house that’s just big enough for them to turn around in is the coziest & warmest option for winter. A bigger doghouse only means that your dog will lose more heat through the house walls & cold floor.
To keep your dog warm in the house, it must be nice & compact, filled with comfy bedding & proper insulation.
- Choose the right insulation material: As we have discussed, so many insulation materials are out there; the list is practically never-ending! All you need to do is consider important factors like your budget, the humidity, the size of the doghouse, and the design of the doghouse.
Based on this, choose the best insulator for you, which can differ from person to person.
- Raise the kennel: One of the biggest ways heat is lost in a doghouse is through the floor. Therefore, you must make sure that you raise up the floor so that the heat doesn’t escape to the cold floor.
The doghouse floor can be elevated by a couple of inches with bricks, plastic pallets or you can construct wooden legs in each corner. This helps keep inhospitable temperatures away.
- Insulate the floor: I absolutely dread touching cold tile in the winter months, and I imagine our pups feel the same way! Make them more comfortable by adding blankets, carpet, or mulch to the floor.
Mulch is a layer of wood chips that is typically added to soil, to make it more fertile & water-retentive. It’s a great option for flooring dog houses for winter, because of how economical it is & its insulative properties.
- Double walls: As you design your dog house, ensure that you incorporate a double wall design. The gap between the interior & exterior wall is great for adding insulation and is also great at trapping heat in the cold weather.
- No nails/screws: When you are all done with the construction of your dog house, do one last check to ensure no nails or screws poking out.
These could end up piercing through the double wall & exposing the insulation material. Or worse, it could end up hurting your dog.
Now that you have the design for a great dog house, here are some tips for the final touches so that you’re absolutely sure that your dog house is nicely insulated.
- Repair! Repair! Repair!
- We all know how frustrating it is in the winter to have a window that doesn’t fully close and lets all the air in. It’s so important to stay on top of the repairs of your dog house. Invest in a spray foam to quickly plug up holes. Make sure to cover the foam so that your dog can’t get to it & chew it up.
- Install a flap door
- Consider making an acrylic or vinyl flap door if you have a window vent or a large main entrance. This is basically just vertical strips of material that prevent chilly winds from blowing in.
- If you want a flap with insulation, you can also make them out of leftover carpet, but these will be a lot heavier and harder to clean.
- Add warm bedding
- To make the floor of the dog bed warmer and more inviting, you must add bedding. This could be an outdoor dog bed, a blanket, a rug, or even mulch if your dog is low-maintenance! Whatever it is, make sure it’s soft and retains heat.
How Can I Heat the Doghouse?
If you believe that no amount of insulation is going to get your doghouse warm enough, try adding some extra heat using these methods.
- Heating Pads
- Heating pads are durable rubber pads that are meant to lie on the floor of the dog house. They are often chew-proof & don’t consume too much electricity.
- Furnaces are small metal objects that radiate heat. These are really effective, and they often come in chew-proof dog-safe varieties. However, these must be kept high enough that they don’t come into contact with your dog or any other surfaces. Do not use a regular space heater for your dog house. Instead, look for dog-safe portable heaters that are built for kennel use.
- Solar heating is a great no-electricity option that can help you save some money in the cold winters. It works by absorbing the sun’s light energy and converting it into heat energy for your dog. Throughout the day, the solar panel will collect energy and convert it into hot air. At night, your dog will rely on insulation & their blankets.
How cold is too cold?
If you have a breed like a Husky, you might be wondering if you can just leave them outside for the rest of the winter, because of how much they love it. However, the outside temperature could easily become extremely cold & you need to be vigilant and take your dog indoors when necessary.
Under 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you should begin observing your dog carefully. Make sure that they don’t seem uncomfortable or show signs of anxiety. If you see them shivering, bring them in immediately. However, most healthy dogs would be alright in this temperature.
At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you should take dogs with short coats, illnesses, older dogs, and small dogs inside regardless of how they are behaving. Only dogs with natural insulation that love the cold should be left out at this point.
Below 20 degrees Fahrenheit is when all dogs may start to suffer from cold-related illnesses. Assess the situation, but aim to keep your dogs inside, unless they are enthralled with the freezing weather.
Insulating your dog’s house is tricky business. You have to choose the right material that is cost-effective, easy to work with, and not too damaging.
There are a couple of great options, including fiberglass & styrofoam, that vary widely in cost. Choose the best one for your needs.
Also, try to follow the construction guide & design tips for a well-insulated doghouse that will keep your pup nice and cozy. For some added warmth, consider investing in a heater to make your pup more comfortable.
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