(WXYZ) — In extremely cold weather, the Michigan Humane Society says owners should bring their pets inside.
MHS says a healthy dog can still freeze to death in this weather.
Dog owners could face fines, community service and prison for failing to provide minimal shelter. At minimum, dogs must have a dog house to stay in.
Per Michigan law, a dog house should be an enclosed structure with a roof and of appropriate dimensions for the breed and size of dog. The doghouse also must have dry bedding when the outdoor temperature is or is predicted to drop below freezing.
MHS says dogs are safest when indoors with the family, especially if they are small or have short fur. Even one night or a break from the cold can help save a dog's life.
Extreme cold temperature limits are 15 to 20 degrees, according to MHS.
MHS says to avoid these common mistakes:
- Blankets, coats and sweaters can kill. This results when they soak up snowmelt. When this water freezes, it further chills dogs, leading to hypothermia, frostbite and death.
- Avoid toxic ice-melt products as they can stick to paws, allowing pets to lick and ingest their chemicals. These chemicals are poisonous, so owners should use non-toxic ice melt products.
- Snow and snowmelt can freeze to animals' fur and feet. Owners can make their dogs warmer and more comfortable by removing the build-up right away.
MHS also says to look out for these warning signs:
- Cold to the touch
- Red ears or tail, especially at the tips
- Digging in the snow as if to create a bed
- Laying in the fetal position or curling up into a ball