Outdoor dogs require special care in the winter months to keep them warm and healthy. Snow, rain and plummeting temperatures can lower your dog's body temperature, weakening its immune system and making it more prone to illness. Obtaining or building a specially insulated dog house helps keep the cold from negatively affecting your dog. Similarly, where you place the dog shelter and inside modifications can also help prevent illness to your dog in the winter months.
Insulated shelter technology has developed throughout the years to maximize warmth inside the kennel. Manufacturers of insulated dog shelters generally use Structurally Insulated Panels, which are a very thick building material made of two outer panels with an insulated filling between them. Dog shelters made of Structurally Insulated Panels are much larger on the exterior than their uninsulated counterparts of comparable interior size. Be sure to purchase a shelter with enough internal space for your dog. Also, consider the structure of the roof and be sure it is strong enough to withstand snow if you live in an area with a lot of precipitation.
Modifying an Existing Shelter
Existing dog shelters can also be modified to increase interior temperature during the winter months. If you own a wooden dog shelter, specifically a wooden dog shelter made of cedar or fir, which are both good insulating materials, you can purchase insulation kits to increase the warmth in the shelter. These insulation kits generally come with a puffy insulation material that can be attached to the inside of the shelter. Be sure that your dog has enough room to move around with the reduced interior space before attaching the insulation.
Location is just as important as insulation when it comes to keeping your dog warm in the winter months. Since most insulated shelters do not have doors to keep the wind out, placing the kennel behind an existing building will help block the wind, keeping the temperature inside the shelter higher. When the ground gets wet from rain or snow the outdoor shelter is also affected, and dampness inside the shelter can contribute to illness in dogs. If possible, place the shelter on a raised platform, preferably made of concrete, so that snow and rain do not penetrate the interior.
Inside the Shelter
Making the inside of your insulated shelter winter-ready is just as important as purchasing or building the proper insulated dog house. Place thick blankets inside the house to help your dog's body heat circulate and increase its comfort level. If you live in an extremely cold climate, consider purchasing a heating pad or external heating unit for the shelter. Insulated shelters promote efficient use external heating elements, keeping energy costs low and the temperature high.