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Dog House Air Conditioner Guide

Keeping your dog cool with a dog house air conditioner is important to your dog’s health. Remember that fur coat? And oh yeah, they can’t sweat as we can. We’ve scoured the world searching for answers and we’ve brought them here to you today. Here are some tips for choosing how to keep your dog in the dog house, and not in the grave.

Are Dog House Air Conditioners Your Only Option To Keep Your Pooch Cool?

Air conditioners are one of the best ways to keep your dog cool on hot days. There are some clever ways to keep your dog cool, in case you don’t want to spend the money on expensive equipment, and we’ll get into the costs of each. Let’s take a deeper dive into the subject.


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How does an air conditioner work? Is a dog house air conditioner expensive? Is it worth the effort? Are there other things I can do instead? How does the way a dog sweat affects how it can cool? What’s the best solution? Coming up: The answers!


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How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

An air conditioner is a heat exchange system. It uses a fluid that boils at low temperatures in a closed-loop system. Basically, it can be broken down into the following steps:

1. The air conditioner sucks in the warm air inside the dog house. The air moves over some cold coils which cool the air. These coils are just like the ones that cool your refrigerator or your freezer even.

2. The cooled moves over an evaporator which reduces the amount of moisture in the air. This prevents the air from feeling cold and damp which is uncomfortable.

3. The air is pushed back into the dog house by an internal fan. While the nice cool air is keeping your pooch feeling comfy in the heat, the heated fluid inside the air conditioner which has evaporated inside the machine from the heat it absorbed from the air inside the dog house moves through the system to the compressor section. Here it both releases heat to the outside air and is compressed back into a fluid.

4. Lastly, the fluid re-enters the system and the process starts over again.

An air conditioner is shown graphically sending cold air downward.
A wall-mounted AC unit

Air Conditioner Efficiency

There are many really efficient air conditioners out there. They often work very well and luckily a dog house isn’t an overly large space. So, you don’t need a really powerful unit. Using some smart tricks to keep the cool air inside the dog house is a good idea. More so if you don’t want the air conditioner to constantly be cycling. Why do air conditioners cycle? Think of it this way. If you have a really big machine trying to keep a small space cool, it will be over kill right? That’s not necessarily a good thing.

In this case, an over-powered dog house air conditioner will turn on but only for a moment as it really isn’t needed to run for long to achieve temperature. In this situation, the unit would be cycling repeatedly and for short bursts. If an air conditioner is the opposite, if it is small and the space larger than the unit is rated for, then the unit will cycle constantly. What you want is a machine that’s rated right in the middle so it isn’t running all the time but isn’t turning on and off and on and off repeatedly either. A big factor in this is of course how well you have the dog house insulated.

Is a Dog House Air Conditioner Expensive?

Dog house air conditioners cost between $50 -$1200 depending on the type of system being used. A true air conditioning unit, that is a closed system unit that uses fluid to inside as a heat exchange system, typically costs between $300 – $1200 depending on the size, quality and brand. Why are some air conditioning units so expensive and some others aren’t? Argh! It’s so confusing! Right? Okay, so here’s the breakdown on what’s what.

Number One Rule: You get what you pay for.

There’s a catch though, you may not need a dog house air conditioner as big as you think. We’ll get to that in a second thought. There are small units, typically sold around the $50-$100 range that claims to cool the air. Be warned. Some of these units make the air feel cooler, by way of acting as a misting spray machine. There are some issues with this, of course, such as

Constant refilling. You have to keep refilling these machines. This is because they use up water and if it’s a hot day that water goes quick. These are really just impulse buy units. People pick them up because they think that it will work and they can save money. Sadly mistaken, I’m sorry to say. 2. Water, mist, moisture… Being sprayed inside your dog house? Really? Do you like mold, cause I bet your dog doesn’t? If history has taught us anything, it’s that this is a sure-fire way to wreck your dog house. Just don’t bother with these things.

Buy a real air conditioner.

Yes, you can use a window-mounted one. But, they’re a bit big and might run into cycling issues if you don’t set things upright. Some other alternatives are portable air conditioners or air conditioners designed specifically for this purpose. But make sure you get one that fits the space requirement of your dog house. Just like a Barbecue, your dog house air condition will be rated with BTUs. But what are BTUs?

What Size Dog House Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Generally, 20 BTU for each square foot of living space is the idea for an ac unit for your home. But hold on a second, we need to consider ceiling height and floor space and … okay, let’s back this up. A good rule I have lived by is that a 400 square foot space uses about a 10k BTU/hr ac unit. If a dog house is 2′ x 4′, it is 8′ squared. Then we could say that due to being half as tall as a human dwelling, it could be equated to 4 square feet for this example.

So, if we use 4 square feet, and 10k BTU for 400 square feet, then 10000 BTU / 100 = 400 sq ft / 100. Therefore, a 100 BTU air conditioner should suffice for a 2′ x 4′ x 4′ space. However, it is likely that we can take this number and due to insulation, large door surface area to inside walls total surface area ratio, we will likely need to multiply our result, I would say by 5, to get an adequately sized air conditioning unit. This would lead me to believe that for a 2′ x 4′ x 4′ dog house, you would require a 500 BTU air conditioner.


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However, it appears that air conditioners that small are difficult to obtain at any kind of decent price. There seem to be air conditioners on the market that provide around 1400 BTU for a price tag of $349.00 which all things considered, seems somewhat reasonable. There have got to be some alternatives though, right?

Alternatives To A Dog House Air Conditioner?

The main alternatives to using a dog house air conditioner are 1. Shade and 2. Air Movement aka a fan and 3. Insulation. It’s no secret that the sun’s rays are devastatingly hot. And it’s no surprise with surface temperatures of 10340 degrees Fahrenheit (5725 Celsius) and the source being nuclear fusion, is it any wonder the dog pants when he or she is baking in the sun on a hot day? Heat stress and heat stroke can affect the health of your loved furry friend just like it can affect you. Shade can be a great way of getting out of the sun. Well, in truth it’s the only way of getting out of the sun.


A good way to keep your dog house cool from the sun beating down is by placing it in shade. Like under a tree, to protect it from the heat of the sun’s rays. If you don’t have a tree, you can place it beside a shed, just watch for a day and see where the sun leaves shade in your yard and use one of those spots. Some spots might only get sun in the morning. Those are good spots because they help heat up the dog house from a cooler night. But, then in the prime heat of the day, the dog house is protected. This can be the ideal situation when it comes to placement vs shade.

Fans And Forced Air

The second most common alternative to keep the dog house cool is to use a fan. Although a fan is blowing air which may be the same temperature, air movement encourages both heat exchange and also evaporation. And evaporation is how we cool off by sweating, and it’s how a dog’s cool off by panting. Neat how life takes advantage of the chemical properties of water, isn’t it. Careful, nerd brain coming out!

A Good Tip

For using a fan, use a smaller, even lower voltage fan like those used in a computer. Setting this up inside the dog house can really help keep things cool. This is because it circulates the air inside the dog house. The air is out of the sun in the shade provided by the dog house roof. And it is already cooler than the air outside. Be sure to make sure it will stay dry and always follow electrical code and local bylaws though.

Insulate that dog house. You can make sure your dog house is insulated well. A properly insulated dog house will act just as good at staying warm, as it will stay cool. Tip: Partially underground bunker-style dog houses stay even cooler than those fully above ground. Try incorporating that into your design, if you do, send me a pic I’d love to see it!!!

How Does The Way A Dog Sweat Affect How The Dog Can Cool?

Dogs don’t sweat. Okay, they sweat, but not like us, humans. Dogs sweat primarily through their nose and paw pads. They have sweat glands like we do. But, they don’t have nearly as many. So, these two spots are the primary spots that dog sweat. So how do they cool down, wearing a fur coat if not for a dog house air conditioner? Well, the sweating on their noses and paws is just the beginning. You’ve probably seen a dog pant, yes?


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Okay, so you know that big slobbery pink tongue that’s always licking your face when you least suspect it? Well, when a dog is panting, that tongue is evaporating saliva which is water-based. Water evaporates and this takes energy, in the form of heat. This cools the dog’s tongue which helps cool the dog. Next, the panting helps the dog circulate air. This encourages further evaporation and thus cooling, inside their lungs which helps to cool the dog’s core.

Lastly, dogs also cool by having their blood get closer to the skin, allowing for further heat transfer. This is called vasodilation. It happens from the blood vessels in the ears and face to expand which is another result of panting. So the best ways to help a dog keep cool are?

What’s the Best Dog House Air Conditioner Solution?

1. Keep Your Dog Hydrated. Your dog uses panting to cool off instead of sweating. For this, they use the evaporation of water kind of like a dog house air conditioner to exchange heat. But once that water has evaporated off their long, pink tongue, they need to replace it. So, keep a good-sized water dish clean and full at the dog house for your pooch.

2. Keep Your Dog Shaded. Shade can lower temperature dramatically and help to retain moisture by also slowing evaporation from the sun. The sun beats down on the earth each hour. According to the US Department of Energy, with a force of 430 quintillion Joules of energy. That is 43 with 19 zeros after it. Your dog doesn’t wear sunglasses, so give him or her some shade will ya? Placing your dog house in a shaded area helps keep it cooler. But, the flip side to that is a shaded area that requires more energy to heat. If it can’t take advantage of the sun, that is.

3. Keep Your Dog’s Climate Cool. Use a real air conditioner, not a mist sprayer.


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Dog House Hacks

Use commercial door panels as walls. Good R-Value and typically made of steel skin with polyurethane foam injected insulation. Most local door companies are happy to part with creased and damaged panels. You can easily cut these down to make a steel, insulated dog house.

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