Big demand for Edmonton indoor dog park as deep freeze continues

An indoor dog park has seen a high demand due to the extreme cold weather. Laura Krause looks into how to keep your pets safe and warm this winter.

The phone at the Happy Hound has been ringing off the hook this week.

The indoor door park has become the place to be for Edmonton dog owners to bring their pups – to run around, burn energy and escape the deep freeze.

“It has been a little crazy,” Jennifer Giesbrecht, the owner of Happy Hound Spray and Play. “We saw over 100 phone calls yesterday (Thursday), which is really, really great.

“We’re pretty much booked full throughout the weekend. We’re booking into next week.”

Dogs at the The Happy Hound, Edmonton’s indoor dog park. (Courtesy: Facebook/The Happy Hound Spray & Play)

Temperatures in Edmonton dropped to -37 C Friday morning and were expected to hit -40 C overnight for the first time within city limits since January 1972.

That’s significantly colder than what’s considered normal in Edmonton for the middle of January – highs of -8 C and lows of -16 C.

RELATED: Record cold in Western Canada triggers havoc across B.C., Alberta

“We have the hottest of hot in the summer, coldest of cold in the winter, we’ve got smoke and mosquitos,” said Giesbrecht.

She calls the Happy Hound the first of this kind in North America because of how it’s structured. Instead of being one open space where all dogs interact, the indoor dog park is split into four – by size of the dog.

“We decided to do four parks because we wanted it to be as controlled of an environment without it being a wild west of a dog park, so we have smaller groups in each park, and we keep numbers pretty low,” she said.

“The whole goal of opening up the place was so that we could have a place where people to do more with their dogs.”

The indoor dog park, which opened in October, also offers daycare overnights, training services, and a splash pool.

“Not a deep-water swimming pool, but one that little dogs can run in there and splash as well,” Giesbrecht said.

The frigid arctic blast that’s taken over Edmonton was expected to last through the weekend for the majority of Alberta.

Winter safety advice for pets

It’s putting the safety at indoor pets at risk. The Alberta Vet Medical Association, for instance, says pets cannot suddenly be expected to tolerate the cold and can easily get frostbite. Dog boots and jackets are recommended for keeping them warm.

For anyone braving the cold, the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) says it’s important to take shorter walks and watch for signs of discomfort or distress.

“Its really important that dogs in particular still get their daily walks, that’s very important for their physical health and that bond that we have with those pets, but we want to limit the time that they are outside,” said EHS CEO Liza Sunley. “So keeping an eye on them, getting out for frequent walks, maybe shorter than usual, but keeping an eye on your pets and watching for signs of hypothermia or frostbite.”

“Looking for things like shivering, lifting paws, chewing paws, things like that, those are really important to watch for, and time to get inside.”

—Liza Sunley, CEO of Edmonton Humane Society

Sunley agrees clothes and boots can be hugely beneficial for dogs.

“There are definitely some dogs that are more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, so if your pets are comfortable wearing clothing, things like booties can be really helpful to keep their feet warm, but also create a barrier between them and some of the salts and de-icers that are used on sidewalks.”

Animal safety advice from the Alberta Vet Medical Association, as well as a list of numbers to call if you see an animal in distress, is available here.

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