Baby It’s COLD Outside! Protect Your Pets With These Tips From Michigan Humane Society

Report all instances of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect to the appropriate agency

Temperatures have plummeted across Michigan, with lows tonight expected to be in the single digits or even colder. Sadly, too many animals will be left outside to fend for themselves, forced to face the frigid winds and extreme temperatures with no food, no water, no shelter, and no hope. In order to protect Michigan pets, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) is urging pet owners to protect their pets with these cold weather safety tips.

Dog Kept Outdoors during Winter



  • When temperatures plummet, pets should not be left outside for any length of time. Be sure to bring small or short-haired pets in when temperatures reach 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to take into account precipitation and wind chill.


  • Cats should be kept indoors or at least brought into a warm, animal-proofed garage during severe weather.


  • Roaming cats often seek the warmth of car engines, so be sure to knock on the car hood or honk the horn before starting your car to startle them and give them a chance to escape.
  • Increase the amount of food you provide for dogs left outside by 10-20 percent during the winter months. The extra calories are needed to help an animal to stay warm.


  • Regular access to clean, unfrozen water is also critical. Check drinking water frequently – every few hours – to make sure that it has not become frozen.


  • If an animal is cold to the touch, or his paws and ears are pale, he may be suffering from frostbite. Move the animal to a warmer area and contact your veterinarian immediately.


If pet owners leave their animals outdoors for any length of time, they are required by Michigan state law to provide enough food and water, as well as adequate shelter. MHS recommends that dogs be provided a well-built, insulated, slant-roofed dog house. The interior should be just large enough for the dog to stand and to lie down comfortably and slightly elevated from the ground for air circulation. The door should face away from prevailing winds and have a protective flap to eliminate drafts. Clean, dry straw should be provided for bedding, rather than towels, rugs or blankets, which absorb moisture and freeze in frigid temperatures.

michigan humane straw and cat house

MHS is currently offering free straw for pets at the MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care, 7401 Chrysler Drive, between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.


To report pets left outside without proper shelter in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park, please call the MHS Cruelty Hotline at (313) 872-3401. A confidential message can be left 24 hours a day. In other areas of the state, animal cruelty should be immediately reported to the local animal control or police.


Examples of inadequate shelter frequently encountered by MHS Cruelty Investigators include an unheated garage or shed, a dog house that is too large or lacks straw, or dogs simply tied out to a porch, fence or deck with no shelter at all.


Failing to provide proper provisions for pets can result in misdemeanor animal cruelty violations carrying a sentence of up to 93 days in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, community service, and loss of pet ownership for a specified amount of time. More serious violations could warrant felony charges.

michigan humane logo

The Michigan Humane Society is a private, nonprofit organization which cares for more than 100,000 animals each year, while working to end companion animal homelessness, provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values. For more information, please visit, or call 1-866-MHUMANE.



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52 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Woof! Woof! We are missing the cold but mom soon … For the meantime be safe. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

    • Sugar, you are in HAWAII…there is NOTHING to miss about the mainland! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  2. Thanks for the hint with the car… my staff is always laying prone with a flashlight before they start the car. But most the stray cats use the bonnet for a warm-up. Think a short honk sounds better than to polish the floor with your tummy ;o)

    • Easy your parents actually lay with a flashlight? They are amazing! Yep the strays do that here too so you have to be careful! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  3. We hope everyone stayed warm.

    • we are in an AWFUL “deep freeze” supposed to be like this all week…single digits or less! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  4. Our dogs are getting stir crazy from being kept inside. I think they were spoiled by the warm winter last year. They would much rather be out, but it is too cold!

  5. Great and important winter tips! Hope your staying warm up there!

    • doing our best! We heard you have some MAJOR blowing snow in Ohio…good ‘ol Lake Erie! I soooooooo miss the “lady of the lake” Love, “Mom”

  6. Dakota those are things we never think of here, but it’s very good that the MHS is trying to help and the free straw is an excellent idea. Of course it brings up the issue of why someone would leave a pet outside alone at any time of year, and the idea of pets just tied up in yards makes us terribly sad

    • it makes us “terribly sad” too…but sadly there are people in this world who do not think. Love Mom

  7. Amazing that some people leave pets out in this weather. We are in the double digits below zero in MN, so mom is really careful with us. We still walk but very short walks like 15 mins and we play in the yard but just for 5-10 mins at a time. Some people just need to be told again and again because they don’t think! Great post.

  8. Great tips! It is so cold here! Woof! Woof!
    Bella and DiDi

  9. We’re just hoping for warmer weather! We’re freezing our tails off here!


    • us too…it’s below zero this morning! I have to head out to start my car later…ugh! Love, “Mom”

  10. Thanks, Dakota! It is cold here in NH too, so I have shared your article on my Facebook page.

    • Thanks Jan! I am sure that Michigan Humane will love that!! Love, “Mom”

  11. Great post with lots of good information here! Personally I can’t stand to see pets outside at all. I will be sharing this on my facebook page as well. 🙂

    • thanks Jodi! It’s thanks to Michigan Humane! Thanks for sharing! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  12. I hate to see pets left outside in severe weather, it just breaks my heart. I hope people read this and take the necessary steps.

  13. We do not have cold temperatures down here in Florida but this is a GREAT and informative post. I hope people will read this and protect their pets from the cold weather appropriately. Brrrr…gives me chills just thinkin’ about it.

    • you are sooooo lucky! Yes…Michigan Humane did a great job! Gives me chills too cause I’m livin’ in it! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  14. Great post. Much needed advice every year, Dakota. People forget, especially about the kitties. Thanks

    • you are welcome! Thanks to Michigan Humane! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  15. Very impawtant and good advice. Thank you!
    Glad we have an inside to stay in!

  16. great information! Keep warm everyone!

    • thank you Misaki! We’re tryin! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  17. Thanks for the cold weather tips. We have plenty of that over here in Idaho. Like below zero. We will follow your tips for all our cats and dogs.

  18. It is friggin freezing here at the moment, If I heard of anyone leaving their pet outside, even a rabbit, I will report them. We are indoors with the heating on and it’s still cold. Oh now I’ve had my moan, got something for you xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  19. Wonderful post! Very good information here! 🙂 I can’t stand cold weather! I’m ready for the spring and summer summer summer tiiiime! 🙂

    • I don’t mind cold…it’s FREEZING cold (single digits!) that I can’t stand!!! Stay warm!! Love, “Mom”

  20. Excellent advice, I don’t know what it’s like in America but in the UK we have a problem with car anti freeze being poisonous to animals and rock salt being used on the roads and then animals licking it off there paws.

    Stay safe and keep warm Sheba.

    • Hi Sheba, we have the same problem with antifreeze here in the U.S. and salt too. I recently read that there is a new antifreeze, can’t think of the name, that is NOT poisonous to cats and there is also a new rock salt too. Not everyone has it yet…it is important to get! Love, Mom

  21. Great post for the humains society Dakota! You really let me know some very good tips, such as honking the horn first etc, to make sure no cold kitties found their way inside, and if so can get out fast! Luckily wehre I live everyone seems to take pretty good care of their dogs, I never see any tied outside period, but I know there are plenty of them that are, and I hope the word somehow gets out to all their owners! Ill google share this!

    • thanks so much Kirby!!! Barks and licks and love Dakota

  22. Thanks for spreading the word! Some stuff which seem self-evident, isn’t always so.

    • you are welcome and soooooo right!!! Barks and licks and love, Dakota and Mom

  23. It is very important to keep us warm and healthy
    Benny & Lily

  24. I’m sure everyone who reads your blog keeps their dogs warm and cozy, but we should all be on the lookout for dogs who aren’t so lucky. I drive by one everyday, chained up to his dog house. Breaks my heart 😦 If he’s out there during this cold spell, I’ll have to make a call…..

    • Sara you are probably right, at least I hope you are right. They just showed dogs on the news tonight (short haired dogs) chained outside in the sub zero temps. ABSOLUTELY if you see that dog again…please call. You can do it anonymously I believe. Love, “Mom”

  25. Really great post – always helpful to know how to best protect your pet!

    Oink oink,
    Katie and Coccolino the mini pig

    • thanks to Michigan Humane Katie and I agree. Love, Mom

  26. Great tips! Hoping everybody stays nice and toasty, ’cause baby it’s cold as the dickens here too!

    • Keep Warm!!! We are gonna be a little warmer today…22!! BOL! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  27. Great tips! My pets have nothing to worry about. We have a cat visitor named Mau staying with us while mom is visiting family in California. Mau is a 100% indoor cat. My dogs are indoors 97% of the time. When out, they are supervised so Pierson doesn’t eat Maya’s poo. Yuck!

  28. Excellent list of tips!

  29. We have been in single digits with below zero wind chills. Lexie sleeps inside, but Mica’s coat is so thick she can’t take for more than a half hour. Our garage is unheated but never goes below freezing. She has a thick bed to keep her off cold floor and there is a dog door inside so she can come in anytime if too cold. We agree with all the above requirements, but some thick coats can’t take a lot of heat. Great post Dakota:-)

  30. Excellent tips sweet Dakota. You all stay nice and warm in that bitter cold. Hugs and nose kisses

    • Thank you Mumsy! Today it is going to be near 60! Crazy weather! Barks and licks and love, Dakota

  31. Going to tweet this and post on facebook at a more sane hour tomorrow. Thank you!

    • you are welcome! Hope you are feeling better! Michigan Humane will appreciate it I am sure! Love, Mom

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