Denver Animal Protection is warning residents that leaving their pets outside in dangerously cold weather could cost you $999.

"Snowpocalypse" is heading for Colorado this weekend, and Denver Animal Protection is reminding area residents that these weather conditions are dangerous for pets. Owners who leave their animals outdoors face a hefty fine of up to $999 and charges of animal cruelty or neglect.

While it may seem that their fur protects from the cold, dogs can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just like people. All dogs are susceptible to temperature extremes, but smaller dogs and those with short hair, as well as very young or older animals are especially vulnerable. Even long-haired and larger dogs that enjoy being out in the cold and snow should be monitored closely and not left outdoors for extended periods of time or overnight when temperatures drop to zero.

Denver Animal Protection and the Dumb Friends League provide several tips and guidelines for keeping pets safe during cold weather, the most important of which is not to leave pets outside for any longer than they must be out when temperatures are extreme. Other tips include:

  • Short walks may be fine depending on the dog, but minimize the amount of time pets are outside during cold weather.
  • If pets must be outside for any length of time, ensure they have a proper shelter that remains dry and provides protection from cold and wind.
  • Always make sure your pet has access to water outside and make sure it doesn't freeze in cold weather or use a heated bowl. Use a hard plastic bowl to prevent their tongues from sticking to frozen metal.
  • Consider putting a coat or sweater on your dog to provide extra warmth.

  • Wipe your dog's paws when they come in from outside as they may track in salt, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could make them sick or irritate their skin. Use a pet-friendly ice melt on your own driveway and sidewalks.
  • Check the pads of your dog's feet for redness or cracks and apply petroleum jelly if needed for extra protection.
  • A car does not provide adequate shelter for pets in the winter. Animals left inside a car can become hypothermic as the car acts as a refrigerator, holding cold air in. Running the car for warmth subjects the animal to the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check under the hood of your car or bang on it loudly before starting it as cats and small wildlife will sometimes seek refuge on warm car engines.

If dogs are truly man's best friend, then let us return the favor and bring our furry friends indoors to safely ride out this chilly and snowy weekend.

How do you keep your dog busy when it's inside all day? Share what works in the comments.