Shelter for an outside dog means a well-built, insulated, slant-roofed doghouse, elevated slightly off the ground for air circulation. The interior should be large enough for the dog to stand, turn around and lay down comfortably, but not much larger--extra space dissipates warm air quickly. The doorway should face southeast, away from prevailing winds, and have a flap to stop drafts. Clean, dry straw is to be used for bedding and should be replenished several times during the cold weather season.
Blankets or rugs are not good bedding materials during the winter. These easily freeze when moist and provide no protection to your pet.
If your dog is shivering, trying to curl up into a small tight ball, or attempting to dig a "bed" in the snow, he is probably too cold to remain outdoors. If he is extremely cold to the touch or if the paws, ears or tail tip have turned bright red, he may be showing signs of frostbite. In either of these cases, your pet needs to be moved to a warmer area and his veterinarian contacted immediately.
If you fail to provide adequate shelter for your pet you may be in violation of Michigan law.
Severely cold weather can be extremely dangerous for animals. The following precautions will protect your pet during the winter.
Cats should be kept permanently indoors or, at least, brought into a warm garage during very cold weather.
Outside cats often seek the warmth of car engines. A knock on the car hood and a honk of the horn before starting the car will alert the cat to move.
Dogs must not be left outside during severely cold weather. Small or short-haired dogs should be brought inside when the temperature reaches 15- 20 degrees. Larger breeds and thick-coated dogs may remain outside, with adequate shelter, until the temperature drops to around 0 degrees. If your pet is an "outside" dog allow time for his body temperature to adjust by keeping him in a cooler area, such as an enclosed porch or basement, for the first 12-24 hours he is indoors.
Water and food for outside dogs should be increased by 10-20% during the winter. Drinking water should be checked every few hours, to avoid freezing.