To demonstrate the dangers of leaving a pet outside in the cold for too long, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward filmed himself spending a freezing night in a doghouse during winter. He resolved to stay in there as long as he could “stand it.” At the beginning of the experiment, the inside of the doghouse was already a bitter 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

A half-hour in, the temperature had increased to 25 degrees. Dr. Ward was shivering and ice crystals had begun to form inside of the doghouse. At the one-hour mark, the temperature had dropped to about 21 degrees. As the doctor’s feet went numb, he mentioned that “no dog is biologically adapted to handle this” and explained that pets undoubtedly suffer in such conditions. After 90 minutes, the temperature had decreased to 18 degrees and Dr. Ward’s legs started to go numb.

The belief that a dog’s fur will keep them warm in the extreme cold is a myth, Dr. Ward explains. While different breeds of dogs have varying tolerances to the cold, prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures poses threats to all canines. Some states now consider it a crime to leave pets in the cold for long periods of time.

Two-and-a-half hours into his experiment, the cold had a noticeably draining effect on Ward’s energy. After three hours, his internal temperature was a shocking 93.9 degrees – much lower than the human average of 98.6. The compassionate vet says if the experiment raises enough awareness to save just one pet’s life, it was worth it.

Dr. Ward’s message is a simple but important one: bring your pets indoors in freezing temperatures and limit their time spent outside in the cold.