The pressures of the weather—of the natural world—continue to show themselves to be more than a match for the comfort, security, and the safety that we relish in our homes. This year may well be no different, given a wide enough sample size, but it is certainly the most potent in the minds of most Americans. Of course, Hurricane Florence is a sad and extreme example of the power that Mother Nature has at her disposal, and indeed she does dispose of everything—from houses and roads, to cars and cities! It is at times such as this that we fear for what we care about most—family. For some of us that family includes our furry animal companions. With winter on the horizon and Florence filling it, one can’t help but take a moment to reevaluate the structural integrity of their own lodgings as well as those of their pets. These lodgings may include horse paddocks, barns, dog kennels, and dog houses.

What You Should Consider

Now, while it is surely a task-and-a-half to build a hurricane-proof barn, shed, or dog kennel, it is more straightforward to have a winter-proof animal-friendly lodging put up. That said, there are still a number of things that any animal lover looking to leave their pooch with more than a lean-to should know. The first thing is to insulate. Be sure, especially if you are having your dog house or dog kennel built to order, that you consider what type of insulation you have installed. Fiberglass batt is a standard in the industry, however, depending on the specific needs of your animal, as well as the sturdiness and depth of its walls, your animal may get the opportunity to paw at and aerate the fiberglass, which can be a huge problem. Fiberglass fibers, if ingested or inhaled can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. As a safer alternative, you may consider a natural insulator—the likes of which are increasingly available on the market—such as wool, or natural fibers.

The next item to consider for your pet’s winter lodging is the quality of the joining or woodwork. This is especially relevant in states along the north eastern seaboard, and throughout New England. In colder weather, especially in the case of cheaper, pre-fabricated structures, joints can contract and cause cracking and chipping. This, in turn, will compromise the overall structural integrity of the building.

Even though you may have a particularly well insulated canine companion, the temperature in the north east is extremely variable, not to mention the erratic snowfalls we’re all prone to receiving here. It’s here that you really have to adapt your design to environmental conditions, and go with a dog kennel that has higher than normal overhead clearance as well as a (somewhat) steeped roof, which will aid in snow shedding and prevent standing water from damaging the building. Each design choice lends itself to the other; and each will increase the amount of heat that your dog’s home can retain.