Building a Winter Dog House for Stray Dogs

Building a Winter Dog House for Stray Dogs

A German Shepard relaxes in a sunlit dog house.A German Shepard relaxes in a sunlit dog house.
A German Shepard relaxes in a sunlit dog house.A German Shepard relaxes in a sunlit dog house.

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With the number of strays in the United States, some pet owners worry about how to protect them during the cold winter extremes. One way to do this is to build or create a winter dog house.

Stray Dogs in the United States

The Humane Society of the United States reports that there are about 70 million stray animals (dogs and cats) in the U.S and of these roughly half are dogs. Of this huge number, it is estimated that only three million dogs make it to shelters. This means that out of 35 million stray dogs, 32 million are left on the streets and roads around the U.S.

Some areas have incredibly rough climates in the winter that can make life tough and sometimes unbearable depending on your location in the country and world.

Difficulty For Strays to Survive the Winter Months

It can be very difficult tor stray dogs to survive in the winter. Some of the difficulties include:

  • Poor nutrition – Stray dogs have poor access to good nutrition and it can be even worse in the winter when things are frozen. They often have exposure to poor quality food, spoiled food, and/or poor nutrients and minerals.
  • Frostbite – Frostbite is an injury to tissue that occurs when an animal is exposed to freezing temperatures accompanied by high winds. The primary areas that are affected in dogs include the feet, tail, and tips of the ears. This is even more common when a stray dog gets wet and does not have shelter.
  • Trauma – Many dogs will wander in the winter to search for food. This can lead to trauma from being hit by a car, gunshot wounds, lacerations, and much more.
  • Animal attacks – Most stray dogs are intact which increases their desire to fight with another dog. Animal attacks can occur not just between dogs but also by other animals. They can occur any time of year but may occur more in the winter when predators are hungry. This is largely dependent on location.
  • Disease – Stray dogs don’t have the necessary vaccination and parasite control of owned dogs. They are more commonly exposed to dangerous and life-threatening infectious diseases.

Tips On Where to Build A Winter Dog House

One way to protect outdoor dogs in the winter is to build a winter dog house. The best place to home a dog house for strays is somewhere out of the wind where dogs have easy access.

Here are some tips to consider as you build a winter dog house:

  1. Size – The correct size for a winter dog house is to be big enough for a dog to sit, stand and turn around. It doesn’t need to be bigger than that. If it is too big, they will lose heat.
  2. Outdoor Location – When you place a doghouse outdoors, it is important to consider water movement, flooding potential, and wind direction. If it is on someone else’s property you need to ask permission to place the winter dog house. If you are thinking of a spot, before you place the doghouse, go there after heavy rain. Look to see where and how the water runs off.  Monitor for storm direction and position the dog house with the opening against the wind.
  3. Bedding – The best bedding is fresh clean straw. Blankets can hold moisture and freeze.
  4. Winter Dog House Essentials. –  To build your winter dog house you will need to consider several essentials in the design. They include an elevated floor to minimize exposure with the wet cold ground, an insulated interior (such as with EPS foam), a waterproof roof (shingle or metal), and a door or flap. You can create a “door” by using thick heavy plastic cut as flaps and nailed across the top to protect the cold wind and weather from entering the dog house. Dog houses made of wood are the first chose. Avoid metal and tile as they hold the cold temperatures.
  5. Build the Winter Dog house. Once you know the dog house size and have an idea about core elements, it is time to build your dog house. You can find several online designs including this one from Home Depot. Home Depot’s Guide on How to Build a Dog House or WikiHow to Build a Dog House.
  6. Test the Winter Dog House  – Once you build the dog house – test it by spraying with a hose and looking for leaks. Spray from the top, bottom, and sides as you mimic a bad storm. If you find cracks, seal with insulating spray foam.  Also make sure there aren’t any exposed nails, sharp edges, or splinters that could injury the dog.
  7. Position and Level the Dog House. Position the dog house based on your location and use a level to ensure it does not wobble.

We hope these articles provide you with tips to build a winter dog house.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Building a Winter Dog House:

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