Heating a Dog House
If you live in an area with frigid winters, the temperature may get
so cold at times that your dog's body heat is not sufficient to keep her
warm in the dog house.
This is most likely to be the case with older dogs since their
metabolism and general fitness isn't what it used to be. The same
applies to sick dogs or dogs who are recovering from an illness. In
these situations, a heated dog house can make a difference.
A heated dog house is also recommended if the house will be used for
What about dogs with short hair? The general "wisdom" is that
short-haired breeds such as as Daschunds, Dobermans, Greyhounds, and
German Short-Haired Pointers need an external heat source to stay warm.
However, many veterinarians disagree. They say that short-haired
dogs have the same ability to keep warm as long-haired dogs because even
though their hair is shorter, the hair structure is different. For
example, the hair on a Doberman is hollow inside and the air pockets in
this hollow space provide excellent insulation.
Whether your dog has short hair or not, if he is used to being inside
and is abruptly placed outside (not that you would do that), a heated
dog house will make the transition easier for him.
Proper Cold Weather Construction
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of heating a dog house, it's
worth pointing out that a properly constructed dog house will go a long
way towards keeping your pet comfy warm during the winter. Ideally, a
cold weather dog house has the following features:
1) The dog house floor is insulated and elevated above the ground. A
cement floor is nice and cool in the winter but bitter cold in the
winter. It soaks the heat right out of live things. Insulated wood is
best. In a pinch, you could place the dog house on top of a wooden
2) The house is large enough for your dog to comfortably turn around
and to stretch out but not so large that it’s own body heat can not keep
the house warm.
3) The floor, walls, and roof of the house are insulated.
4) The doorway has some kind of door. A flap of clear vinyl or carpet
5) The house has an interior wind break wall so your dog is better
protected from the elements.
Products for Heating a Dog House
Onto the main event... In terms of heating a dog house, here are some
suggestions arranged in order of increasing expense and complexity.
Heated Kennel Mat
The simplest and lowest cost approach to heating a dog house is to
heated kennel mat or heating pad. You just put it on the floor of
the dog house and plug it in. Alternatively, the mat could be hung on a
wall of the house so the dog could lie against rather than on top of it.
A heated mat is an effective way to warm your pet - especially if the
house is insulated - although some owners may be a bit nervous about
their dog sleeping directly on an electric device with a cord running
from it. This is mostly a concern if your dog is a chewer. Note
that most mats have a metal safety coil around the cord so if you can
run the unprotected part of the cord out of the dog's reach, you're in
business. Otherwise, you might consider encasing the rest of the cord
with PVC pipe.
If you think your dog will chew through the hard plastic cover on the
itself, you should probably consider other heating options.
Some dog house owners opt to place the pad under the house rather
than inside it. That way the house never becomes too warm but the floor
of the house never gets cold. It also prevents the dog from chewing on
the pad. If you have an un-insulated dog house sitting directly on
concrete, this approach may be worth investigating. Personally, I
would be nervous about having an electric pad directly exposed to
A heated dog mat is appropriate for both wood, metal, and plastic dog
houses. Most other heating sources are designed for wood or metal houses
only. A heated mat will set you back about 40 to 80 bucks.
Heated Dog Bed
Heated dog beds are similar in some respects to heated kennel mats
with the main difference being that they are designed for indoor use
only. They provide radiant heating from a heating strip buried inside
the padded bed that keeps the surface of the bed about 12° to 15° above
the ambient air temperature. The outer covers are usually removable and
washable. If you have a drafty house or perhaps an older dog with poor
circulation, a heated dog bed is a low cost way to keep your dog warm
and snug. Energy consumption is minimal - about the same as that
for a 10-watt light bulb.
dog house heater box is basically a metal box with a light bulb or
ceramic emitter inside. The box mounts in an upper corner of the dog
house so as to not impinge on your pet's sleeping space and heats up the
house in much the same way an egg incubator does.
Currently, there are only a few models of heater boxes on the market.
Perhaps the best known is the
Hound Heater. According to the manufacturer, the heating unit will
maintain a comfortable temperature when the outside temperature is below
freezing. For example, when it is 0° F outside, the heater will keep the
house around 40° F. A separate thermostat can be purchased if greater
temperature control is required.
dogs like to sleep in the dark. If a light bulb is used as the heat
source for a heater box, the light could be an issue. In this case, you
could use a ceramic emitter instead. A ceramic emitter resembles a
flattened light bulb with a ridged face. It gives off no light and
should last the life of your dog (which is a good thing since they cost
$35 a pop).
You can expect to pay about $50 to $60 for a heater box. By the time
you add in a temperature control switch, some infrared bulbs or perhaps
a ceramic emitter, you're looking at around $100.
There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests a metal heater box
will outlive heated kennel mats (some dogs like to chew on mats) so you
may want to factor that into your buying decision.
I've heard of people making their own heater boxes by placing a light
bulb inside a metal duct or a chicken wire cage. Just make sure you
safeguard against broken bulbs. If the house has straw bedding, the hot
pieces from a broken bulb could fall into the bedding causing it to
smolder and possibly ignite.
PETCool Heater / AC Unit
Cadillac approach to heating your dog's humble abode is to install a
standalone heater/AC unit such as the
PETCool Therm-ASSURE system. (Actually, this is the ONLY heater/AC
unit designed specifically for dog houses as far as I know).
Depending on options, the PetCool system will set you back $400-$500.
For some pet owners, the system is well worth the cost because it
automatically maintains a comfortable and safe year-round temperature
for your pet. It also doubles as a de-humidifier to keep mold and mildew
at bay. And if it you don't have a shady spot for locating the dog
house, the cooling provided by the PetCool is invaluable.
You can buy dog houses already configured for the PetCool or retrofit
an existing one. It mainly involves cutting two holes in the wall of the
dog house and connecting hoses from the unit to each hole. The unit
itself needs to be placed on a flat surface about 1-2 feet from the dog
house. You'll also want to attach a vinyl flap door to the house (one is
included in the kit) to better maintain the temperature of the house.
The PetCool comes with a 6 foot power cord. If your dog is a chewer,
you should find a way to protect the cord. PVC pipe or metal
conduit are both viable options. The manufacturer estimates that it
costs about $0.90 a day for cooling and slightly more for heating - IF
you operate the unit around the clock. However, chances are that you
won't be using the unit 24 x 7 throughout the year.
Other Ideas for Warming a Dog House
Here are a few less conventional approaches to heating a dog house...
Dog house inside garage
Put the doghouse in the garage and give him his own private entrance.
This involves cutting a hole in the garage wall between two studs and
building an overhang or tiny porch on the outside (to match the rest of
your house of course). Position the doorway of the dog house towards the
cut-out with either a vinyl flap or electronic door to keep out the
Dog house next to house with heat via dryer hose
If you're able to position the dog house next to your home, you can heat
it using a dryer hose. Cut a piece of plywood so that it fits in the
window of the room closest to the dog house. Then, cut a hole in the
plywood to the diameter of the hose, attach one end of the dryer hose to
the plywood and the other to the roof or wall of the dog house. Use a
small fan to blow air from the house into the canine house. You might
want to use one of those outside dryer duct flaps to keep critters from
crawling inside when the fan is not in use.
Dog box heated by 12 Volt ceramic heater
Here's an idea for heating a dog box that I came across in a newsgroup.
The idea is to use one of those small 12 Volt ceramic heaters with
built-in fan that plug into the cigarette lighter of your car or truck.
You can find them at most auto parts stores or online for $10 to $30.
Mount the heater on the roof of the dog box and connect it to a 12 Volt
gel cell battery hooked up to a continuous charger. (A gel cell battery
is a more expensive type of lead-acid battery that contains a semi-solid
electrolyte to prevent spillage). This keeps high voltages away from
chewing dogs and enables the heater to work for a few hours after a
power outage. You could also wire in a thermostat that allows the heater
to automatically come on at say 30 to 40 degrees. Just make sure all
electrical components are out of reach of your pet.
Solar heated dog house
Here is a
solar dog house that features an insulated cedar living den fronted
by a solar unit made from polycarbonate panels. The solar unit is
essentially a miniature green house with a circular doorway. As the sun
shines down on it, the solar unit heats up and channels some of the heat
into the adjoining living quarters of the dog. At night-time, the dog
must rely on his own body heat and whatever residual heat remains from
the solar heating.