Tips for Area Residents to Keep your Pets Safe in the Cold!

With the extremely cold temperatures in the Metro DC area, we wanted to share some helpful tips to keep your pets warm, as well as resources in the area. We’re fortunate that at the Lost Dog Ranch, the cats live in a nice cat “cabin” which is of course cozy and heated. The dogs who have access to the outside will get to stay cozy inside with their heated kennels and nice comfy blankets. Our farm animals will also be keeping warm, as all of them have access to the indoors and will be getting lots of extra food to keep them warm over the next few days. Now, here are some tips and resources to help you keep your animals warm and safe!

Max, an LDCRF alumni, LOVES the snow!

Max, an LDCRF alumni, LOVES the snow!

Dogs and cats:
The best way to keep them warm is to keep them indoors! If you’re dog is used to playing outside a lot longer than they’re able to tonight, try filling a Kong with peanut butter and freezing it for 30 minutes. Then give them that to keep them busy and entertained.

When taking your dog outside, make sure to wipe their paws with warm water before coming back inside so that they don’t lick the salt and/or get irritated paw pads. Using a washcloth with warm water to wipe their feet makes all the difference.


A Rubbermaid container, Styrofoam and straw makes an excellent warm shelter for feral cats. Photo from NYC Feral Cats

Outdoor cats:

If you have outdoor cats that you feed, make sure they have warm places they can retreat to.  Have straw (not hay) inside the

storage container you put out will help them stay warm. The containers you have for food and water also make a big difference. Using thicker plastic water containers is more effective, as the cats can get their tongue stuck to metal, and ceramic containers aren’t as well insulated.

Check your cars:
Feral cats and wildlife will sometimes hide in the hood of cars for warmth, so make sure to bang on the top of the hood to alert any wildlife or cats underneath (Try to avoid honking the horn, as that can injure their ears!).

Horses eating hay in the snow. Photo from

Horses keeping warm by eating hay. Photo from

An excerpt from, and if you have horses we recommend reading the entire piece here :
“As the temperatures decrease, a horse’s feed requirements increase. Allowing horses free choice to good quality forage (hay) is the surest way to ensure that they consume enough energy, and the process of digesting forage will actually produce heat. Horses will typically consume 2 to 2.5% of their body weight in forage each day; that would be 25 pounds per day for a 1,000 pound horse. Winter pasture alone will not provide enough forage to sustain a horse and, therefore, must be supplemented with hay and/or grain.”

Fairfax County Animal Shelter is providing temporary emergency housing:
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter has a great offer for area residents that we wanted to share: Because the freezing temperatures predicted over the next few days may be deadly to pets, the animal shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs, and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-324-0208 or e-mail

Local Animal Control Contact information in case of emergency:
Here are some tips on what to do if you see an animal left out in the cold

Animal Welfare League of Arlington 703-931-9241
Animal Welfare League of Alexandria 703-746-4774
Prince William County Animal Shelter 703-792-6465. After 5 p.m., call 703-792-6500
Fairfax County Animal Shelter 703-324-0208

Prince George’s County Animal Control  301-780-7200
Montgomery County Animal Control 301-279-8000
Frederick County Animal Control 301-600-1544 Emergency After Hours: 301-600-2558
Howard County Animal Control 410-313-2780
Charles County Animal Control 301-743-2222

Washington DC
Washington Humane Society 202-576-6664

24 hour Vet Hospitals:
Please note, this list is a compilation of area 24 hour vet hospitals, and not an endorsement of services

Washington DC:
Friendship Heights Animal Hospital
4105 Brandywine St NW, Washington, DC 20016

Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates
120 Cornwell Lane, Purcelleville, VA

VCA Animal Hospital Alexandria
2660 Duke Street, Alexandria VA

The Hope Center
140 Park Street SE, Vienna, VA 22180
703- 281-5121

The Life Centre (TLC)
165 Fort Evans Rd NE, Leesburg VA

Animal Emergency Pet Hospital
807 Bel Air Rd, Bel Air, MD

VCA Veterinary Referrel Associates
500 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg MD

Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic
808 Bestgate Rd, Annapolis MD

Metropolitan Emergency Animal Clinic
12106 Nebel St, Rockville MD


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