No dog should be left outdoors in freezing weather for prolonged periods, but an insulated and/or heated dog house can keep your dog comfortable if your dog must spend a significant amount of time outside on winter days.
Insulated dog houses use blanket insulation, foam sprays, foam boards, rock wool, cork, or other temperature-stabilizing materials to preserve body heat. Heated dog houses combine insulation with a heat source (usually an electric heating pad) to provide extra warmth. Either type of Insulated dog house can be used year-round to provide a comfortable environment for your dog, even during hot summers.
The best insulated dog houses contain several inches of foam or other insulation throughout their floors, roofs, and walls to prevent heat loss. Their design prevents power cords from being accessible to the dog, to prevent accidental electrocution caused by a dog chewing a cord.
Here are some recommended models:
- The Dog Palace Insulated Heated Dog House ($430 at Chewy.com) accommodates medium- and large-size dogs (which the manufacturer describes as dogs who are 26.5 inches or less at the shoulder). It includes a heater with a remote and digital thermostat, has a raised floor and draining system to keep your pup dry, and opens with a double-hinged swinging door. Its maker, ASL Solutions, also sells an insulated, heated dog house for very large or multiple dogs (the Colossal Round Barn Dog House, for $521) and an insulated one without a heater for dogs who stand less than 16 inches at the shoulder (the DP Hunter Dog House) for $157. All of these models are sold with a 10-year guarantee against cracking or breaking.
- Small dogs don’t need giant houses – in fact, a heated house designed for cats can work well for a puppy or small-breed dog. The K&H Pet Products Outdoor Heated Multi-Kitty House ($88 at Amazon.com) is easy to assemble and clean, well-insulated, and is warmed by an electric heating pad that covers only half of the house’s floor (so the dog or cat can choose to rest on the unheated portion of the floor if they prefer). The large size (meaning large for cats) measures 21.5 inches wide x 26.5 inches long x 15.5 inches tall and has two clear plastic swinging doors, which let light inside and allow the pet to see what’s going on outside the house. Note that this product, while said to be weather-resistant, is not meant to be used without protection from rain or snow; it’s best situated in a garage or barn, or on a covered porch.
An alternative to a dog house that is equipped with a heater is using an electric heating pad designed for outdoor use in whatever waterproof dog house you already have. These products are safe for providing warmth to even rain-soaked dogs, but should not be immersed in water. K&H Pet Products offers half-circle models that are designed to fit PetMate igloo-style houses (such as the K&H Lectro-Kennel Igloo-Style Outdoor Heated Pad ($59 to $114, depending on size) as well as standard rectangular heating pads ($41 to $109), that are activated by the dog’s body weight. This heats the hard plastic pad (which comes with a washable fleece cover) to a maximum temperature of 102° F (a dog’s internal temperature). K&H also offers a soft outdoor heating pad, but the hard plastic ones, we’ve found, have the advantage of not inviting chewing from bored dogs or curious puppies.