Providing your dog with a kennel floor that is comfortable and washable is essential to his health and well-being. A kennel should provide safety while restricting your dog’s ability to wander off or physically interact with other dogs. Larger than a dog crate, a kennel often serves to house a dog for more than a few hours, so it must be large enough for the dog to do his toilet duties a comfortable distance from his bed and feeding area. Kennel flooring should be easy to clean and easy on the dog. Manufactured kennel floor panels can be expensive, but you can spend a lot less money and still have a healthy kennel environment for your dog.
Concrete, at an approximate price of $100 to $125 per cubic yard, delivered, is enough to pour a kennel floor 9 feet wide and 9 feet deep to a depth of 4 inches. If you form and pour the concrete yourself, the only additional costs are for the lumber needed form the slab, the rental of concrete leveling hand tools and possibly a delivery charge. If you have a contractor pour the slab, it will run at least double the cost of the concrete alone -- but the kennel floor will last a long time and it will be easy to clean with a garden hose or a power washer. The downside to concrete is that it’s very hard, so consider pouring only a partial kennel floor and using different flooring in the rest of the kennel for the dog's comfort.
The area of the kennel where the dog lies down should be relatively soft. If there’s room for a doghouse with a cushioned pad inside, that’s sufficient. In the event that there is no dog house, designate a portion of the kennel floor as the dog’s bed. If the kennel has a separate gravel, sand or grass area for toileting, you can use a rubber livestock stall mat to soften a partial concrete floor. These mats are available from farm supply stores, but don’t use dark-colored mats if they will be in direct sunlight, because they can become painfully hot.
Organic Flooring and Bedding
If the kennel is located on grass or bare ground, covering one end of the kennel floor with 3 to 6 inches of fresh straw will give the dog a soft place to lie down. Organic matter can serve as complete temporary flooring in a kennel that houses puppies not yet trained to use a specified area for toileting. A few inches of hay, straw or wood chips will absorb urine and keep puppies from lying on feces, which settle to the bottom of the kennel floor. Change the organic matter every couple of days to keep it fresh and to prevent saturation.
Indoor kennel floors need frequent cleaning to prevent the spread of bacteria, germs and viruses to other dogs. Often made from concrete, these floors should slope toward a common waste drain. Housing multiple dogs in this type of kennel requires extra attention to floor sanitation. Concrete, which is slightly porous, dries slowly indoors, which can promote the spread of diseases like kennel cough to all the dogs in the vicinity. Rolling the floor with a nonslip polyurethane coating makes it easier to clean, and the coating acts as a sealant to prevent moisture from penetrating the concrete. Rubber mats, placed on the concrete floor, soften the floor for the dogs and you can remove the mats and clean them separately. Install waterproof baseboards to protect the walls in indoor kennels.
Elevated Kennel Floors
Some pet stores display puppies and dogs in kennels that have wire, steel or rigid plastic grid flooring with holes large enough to allow most waste to drop beneath the floor into collection pans. This type of elevated flooring is uncomfortable or painful for a dog to walk or lie on and is not acceptable for a home kennel. An elevated kennel floor, built from weather-resistant wood planks and set above a concrete slab, will allow urine to drain through, but you will still have to remove solid waste daily. Leave enough room between the underside of the wood floor and the concrete slab to spray the slab daily for sanitation purposes. Gaps between the planks should between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch. Redwood and cedar are suitable for outdoor kennel floors, but treated wood is acceptable and less expensive.
The least expensive kennel flooring is grass. Portable kennels, mainly suitable for small dogs, are moveable. You can relatively easily move them from one place in the yard to another every couple of weeks. Such a kennel should be large enough to put a doghouse at one end and allow the dog to urinate and defecate at the other end. You must remove solid waste daily, but the ground absorbs the dog's urine. Mow the grass in the new spot before moving the kennel. Portable kennels are not suitable in rainy weather or any time the ground is saturated.
If a dog does not remain in the kennel long enough to urinate or defecate, there is no need to install a floor with drainage provisions. Concrete is still a cost-effective choice for a short-term kennel, but you can also lay patio blocks or bricks on a bed of sand to make a solid kennel floor. Avoid dark-colored bricks or blocks, however, since they can absorb and retain heat.
- little puppy behind fence image by Victor B from Fotolia.com