If you live in a chilly area, you might want to help keep your dog warm in winter by adding a heating element to its dog house. Most dogs won't need extra heating in a properly constructed and insulated dog house of the right size. But if your dog is older, nursing a litter of pups, or you live in a part of the country where the temperature regularly drops below freezing, you may want to add a heating element to give them some extra warmth.
The most common and easiest way to add a heating element to a dog house is simply by buying a heating pad designed for dogs. These reinforced rubber pads are sturdy, designed to hold up to a dog's scratching, gnawing, and turning in place. You can purchase temperature regulators separately for elderly dogs who have difficulty getting up and may not be able to move off a pad that feels too hot or to regulate the pad for puppies who may not need much heat.
You can also install a furnace—dog-sized, of course. These dog house furnaces are light bulbs inside a special metal housing. It might not seem like much, but in a small dog house, a 60 to 75 watt light bulb can produce 230 BTU's of good, dry heat for your dog. You can buy these furnaces in a variety of sizes—some use a 60 to 75-watt bulb, while others contain a larger, more powerful bulb.
All the bulbs should be shielded with a metal wall to prevent the dog from bumping up against it and installed on a wall or ceiling where the dog is not likely to come in contact with it.
Like all light bulbs, you never know when one is going to go out. If you'd prefer not to worry about your dog's heat source burning out, consider getting a dog heater. Like a portable electric heater, these furnaces have thermostats you can set, and like any electric heater, they will turn on or off and don't have a light bulb to burn out. Install them where your dog will not bump up against or roll over on them. Make sure the cord is also installed in either a metal conduit or in a place where it will not be available for the dog to chew on it.
There are also 12-volt dog heaters and heating pads that work for special situations. Examples include hunters transporting their dogs during the winter in the back of their trucks, people who leave their dogs in the car during an overnight stay at a hotel, or people traveling with show-dogs in the winter who leave them in their crates during shows.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Heating Element
The primary things you want to consider when selecting a heating element include the size of your dog house. Is there room for the element to be installed safely? If not, consider buying a heating pad rather than a furnace. Is your dog a chewer? You might want the furnace rather than the pad, after all. Remember that you'll need to find a way to run electricity to the dog house to operate any heating element you decide on.