Dog Health & Care

Pet Dog Kennels in the Winter

Pet dog kennels in the winter consist of three types of situations involving winter preparation for kennels in the winter:

  • There are dogs who are inside dogs most of the time, preferring their own particular style of inside pet dog kennel or “safe cozy den”;
  • There are dogs who remain outside all the time;
  • And there are dogs who live inside and/or outside…depending on the dog, the day and their owner.

The latter two require pet dog kennels of quality standards to keep the dogs safe that live in them during the coldest time of the year, unless them dog owner lives in a warm climate.

If that is the case, keeping the family dog cool will become the top priority…not keeping them warm. Quality standards do not mean rushing out and purchasing the most expensive dog kennel However, it does mean having a dog kennel that keeps the dog comfortable, warm, dry and out of the elements.

Northern breeds of dogs

pet dog kennels
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The dogs that live outside all the time in cold climates will vary by breed. In Alaska and the far north, the double-coated Huskies and other northern breeds sleep comfortably outside in the snow. Their noses bury deep as they snuggle down in a curled-up position as snow swirls around them, very much used to this type of weather.

The average dog cannot tolerate significant temperature variations, like its human owner. The animal’s feet and legs are its most sensitive areas exposed to the severe cold…or heat…as they are in direct contact with the frigid world around them.

But the northern dogs have adapted to deal with this by tissue adaptation to the cold. According to Ted Greenlee in his article “T


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  1. Janice Schroeder
    December 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

    We have 4 Beagles. 3 female and 1 11 yr. old male. Our concern is leaving them in the outside 10×10 kennels in the wintertime while we work all day. Have the dog houses and do turn them away from the wind. Placed tarps around the areas with the most wind. They do have heavy tarps on top of the kennels. We have the prairie hay in the houses also. But the concern is, the front door cover to the dog houses. If you use blankets, they will get wet and freeze. If you use the heavy plastic, it will become brittle and crack. What else is there in the way of materials that we can use for wintertime oudoor stay when it’s terribly cold? Very concerned ! Thank you ! Janice

    • December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      You have some excellent protection used, but your dogs are small with short hair and their feet are still bare when they go outside. I would suggest several things. Get a hard board of some type, even something you have laying around and lean it against the front opening. Make sure it is painted to prevent bacteria from growing in it.

      I don’t know how big your dog house is, but slant the bottom about 12 inches away the bottom of the kennel door toward its opening. Add two inches or so to the height to prevent snow or rain from entering in through the slant top.

      I had a USDA inspector tell me to to make sure the prairie hay was over half full in the kennel, as the dogs will crush it down to half or less as the “circle” to get warm. Check it the next day and refill to half again. Also, layer a bunch of the hay at the boards bottom toward the kennel opening. It will catch some of the snow and wind that way.

      This is a breed that is usually placed in an inside kennel on the average. So, you could place a heat lamp inside (only 125 heat bulb, not the larger ones), pulling the cord as high as I can out of a little hole in the top. so the lamp is above their heads and not touching when they stand up. I place a new bulb in my outside kennels on the first of every month to make sure they do not go out in the middle of the night or when you are at work.

      Are they on cement flooring outside or dirt in the pen? In the icy winters, they should be on dry flooring, which requires snow or ice to be totally scooped out as much as you can…especially where you both are gone all day. Their feet pads are the most vulnerable and regulates their body temperature.

      Hope this helps….if you need anything else, contact me.

      Nancy Houser

      • Janice Schroeder
        December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

        Thank you SO much Nancy for your comments. One kennel is on concrete, the other is on grass. We do have the dog houses placed on skids and off the ground. My husband is a rabbit hunter so he knew about the prarie hay and the dogs DO gather around the hay and also will push some out of the house b4 they find their comfortable spot. Your info. on the board in the front door area will be one we’ll work on b4 severe winter sets in. Your advice was great ! Janice

        • December 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm

          I am assuming your little rabbit hunters are the dogs? haha

  2. December 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I love pets even if their small or big. I ts really hard to have a dog, you have to walk them and feed them and even more but they will always be your best friend