Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

Sabal Chase Animal Clinic
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Terrible Toys

If your holiday shopping list includes pets, it’s  important to do your research before stocking up on stocking stuffers.  Some of the pet retail industry’s standard products can be dangerous for our four-legged friends.  The most notable culprit is arguably rawhide chew treats.  Rawhide chews and toys have a tendency to shread, causing dangerous blockages to form in the stomach and intestines.  Pig ears are also a cause for concern, as they can harbor bacteria that has been linked to recurring urinary tract infections.  Chew toys made from animal products that are imported from China should be avoided at all costs.

Remember to consider the temperament of any pet on your shopping list.  A cat who is easily frightened may not appreciate a mechanical mouse.  A dog with a high prey drive may become overly excited by a squeak toy that mimics the sound of dying prey.  Worse yet, yet they may swallow the squeaker, or ingest the stuffing in an attempt to “kill” the toy.  Be sure any treats or goodies are free of any known food allergens as well.  Few things ruin holiday cheer faster than than an unexpected trip to the emergency clinic.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Meet Lola, Our December Pet Of The Month!

World, meet Lola, our December Pet of the Month! Lola is an 11-year-old miniature dachshund with a larger-than-life personality. When she's not busy being adorable or wrapping herself around every little finger in the family, Lola comes up with creative games to keep herself amused. Her favorite is to use her scent hound skills to track down all the plug-in air fresheners in the house. Once she locates them, she pulls them from the wall and hides them in her bed!

Congratulations, Lola, and share with all your friends. In addition to being a character, you're also our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Adopting a Senior Pet

November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month! Many of my clients, some of whom are seniors themselves, express interest in adding another pet to their household, but cringe at the thought of caring for a puppy or a kitten.  Even younger pet owners quietly confess that while the little ones are quick to tug at their heartstrings, they have neither the time nor the energy required to raise a youngster, or the patience required to survive the adolescent stage of development.

After raising two energetic puppies, one of whom grew into a particularly challenging adolescent, I have a whole new appreciation for folks who may decide it is not for them.  If you fall into this camp, you’re in good company - and there are plenty of adoptable pets looking for people just like us.  Senior pets tend to have less drive, and are more content to spend time alone.  Most come

pre-trained, and are well beyond the trials and tribulations of those first few years. Since many adoptive families still prefer puppies and kittens, there are many senior pets in our shelters - and they are often overlooked.  When we choose to adopt senior pets, we are not just enriching our own lives. We are saving theirs.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Meet Toby, our November Pet of the Month!

Toby Vásquez (a.k.a Tobias José) is a sweet little black and white Pekingese dog born in Kansas on September 16, 2008. Mario and Stephanie took him home when he was only 3 months old. Toby moved to Florida in 2012. He loves playing with soft stuffed toys, taking long naps, and rolling around on the rug every time he finishes his meal. We believe Toby might have a “napoleon complex” because he thinks he is a big dog and, therefore is not afraid to bark at every big dog he comes across. This “complex” has gotten him in trouble in the past, so we hope he will learn to stay humble from now on.

But how can you be humble when you're this darn cute?! Congrats, Toby and share with your friends - you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pets and Estate Planning

While no one likes to think about the day we will no longer be around for our loved ones, most of us are pragmatic enough to understand that we are not immortal.  Between life insurance, estate planning, and end of life care, we are all encouraged to minimize the impact of our deaths upon those who are dependent on us.  While surviving spouses, children, and favorite charities are the crux of most estate planning strategies, financial advisers seldom remember to ask about our pets.

Many pet owners have unspoken agreements with friends or family members who promise to look after Fluffy if the unthinkable happens.  Still others have assumptions, which sadly, can be inaccurate. In the time that lapses between a promise made and the need to follow through, life can throw many curve balls. Many situations can arise to render even the most trusted friend unable to fulfill a promise to care for your pet.  Place agreements regarding future pet guardianship in writing and keep them with your estate planning and life insurance documents.  To ensure your pet is not left without care due to financial concerns, make sure a reasonable portion of your estate is bequeathed to his intended guardian once they take custody of your pet.  Potential pet guardians are more likely to step up to the plate if they know your pet will not represent a financial burden.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Meet Morgan, Our October Pet Of The Month!

Meet Morgan, Our October Pet Of The Month!

When Morgan found himself abandoned and injured in the streets, this smart little guy knew exactly where to go.  His feline guardian angel led him to a good Samaritan - who just happened to know someone whose heart was searching for a special kitty.  After two surgeries and lots of TLC, Morgan now has a loving home, two four-legged BFFs, a Mom and Dad who love him to bits, and a following on social media - talk about happily ever after!

Congratulations, Morgan and share with your friends - not only did you hit the forever home jackpot, you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Should I Crate Train My Dog?

Should I Crate Train My Dog?

While veterinarians and behaviorists generally agree that crate training is ideal for both puppies and adult dogs, many pet parents confess they cannot bear the thought of seeing their dogs “locked in a cage”.   Our dogs’ wild ancestors spent much of their time in dens. The den was where they would sleep, hide, shelter from the elements, and raise their litters.  Crate training simply takes advantage of the natural instincts our dogs still possess as descendants of these early den dwellers.

A crate trained dog will perceive his crate as a safe place to ride out a thunderstorm, take a break from a bustling party, or duck out of reach of a curious but overbearing toddler.  Dogs who know they can retreat to their own space are better equipped to cope with anxiety, and therefore less likely to bite.  Additionally, crate trained dogs are happier at boarding facilities, which means we pet parents can travel with greater peace of mind.  When we decide to bring Fido along for the trip, the crate provides him with instant familiarity and comfort.  While the surroundings may be new and strange, crates allow our dogs to feel like they are travelling with their own special room.  And the only thing better than discovering the world, is discovering the world with with a dog!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meet Pearl, Our September Pet Of The Month

This September, our Pet Of The Month is Pearl. At 19 years young, Pearl is playful, lovable and sweet.  And when this vintage sweetheart has had enough, her favorite way to recharge is to cuddlle with her devoted humans.  With regular checkups and wellness care, cats like Pearl can live well into their twenties!

Congratulations, Pearl and share with all your friends - you're our Pet Of The Month!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mosquito Madness!

Mosquito Madness

Can we talk, South Floridians? August is not my favorite time of the year to be a Miamian.  Yes, it’s worth it when our neighbors to the north are shoveling snow in February.  But by August, I can never decide what’s worse - the blistering heat, miserable humidity, daily downpours, threat of hurricanes - and let’s not forget those unrelenting mosquitoes!

In addition to being a nuscience for us, some mosquitoes carry heartworm disease, a condition which can be fatal to both dogs and cats.  Even if your pets never go outdoors, or only venture out when answering nature’s call, it takes only one bite from one infected mosquito to put your pet at risk. My wife and I have even found mosquitoes inside our home! And while feline heartworm disease was once considered rare, the number of cases has been rising steadily in the past decade.  Thankfully, there are several types of heartworm prevention available for both dogs and cats.  Since each pet is different, your veterinarian can best advise you on which products he or she recommends for your pet.  While treatment exists for canine heartworm disease, it is extremely risky and very expensive.  There is currently no treatment available for feline heartworm disease.  As is the case with so many diseases, prevention is indeed the best medicine.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Meet Michael, Our August Pet Of The Month!

Michael is a seven-year-old, sable Collie who is his mom's most trusted and faithful companion - although rumor has it he's got a serious crush on Tiphaine! Sorry, Tiphaine, Michael is his mamma's boy and you can't have him. :-)

Congratulations, Michael, and share with all your friends - you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Prepping Your Pets For Hurricane Season

Pets and Hurricane Preparedness

Remember those balmy, 75 degree days we enjoyed while New England was freezing? Well, South Florida, it’s payback time! It’s time for a refresher course on hurricane season, the time of the year when friends to the north DON’T want to be here!

As many of us know, South Florida has hurricane shelters which allow you to bring your pets. What many people do not know, however, is that only some of our shelters are pet-friendly, and your pets must be registered ahead of time. For information on pre-registration, please contact animal services at  Since spaces are limited, do this now if you would like to use this service.

When preparing your hurricane supply list, don’t forget about your pets. Make sure you have enough non-perishable food and bottled water for your pets, and double check the contents of their first aid kit. Be sure to refill their supplements and prescription medications. Decide where your pet will ride out a storm and have plenty of toys to keep him occupied. In Miami, hurricane preparation is a fact of life. It’s a small price to pay for living in the vibrant, sunny, diverse metropolis we are privileged enough to call home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meet Max and Mindi, Our July Pets of the Month

This July, our Pets of the Month are Max and Mindi!  Sure they may be gentle giants now, but this brother and sister team has been part of the Sabal Chase family since their especially fluffy, adorable, initial puppy visits.  While they may be all grown up, this dynamic duo are just as sweet, and will always have a special place in our hearts.

Congratulations, Max and Mindi, and share with all your friends - you're our Pets of the Month!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pets and Fireworks

The busiest intake day for shelters around the country is July 5th. Estimates run as high as 30 - 60%, with a shelter in Massachusetts reporting an 80% uptick on July 5th, 2014. If those statistics aren’t sobering enough, here are some more. Less than 13% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats are ever reunited with the families that lose them. Simply put, fireworks are so terrifying for pets, that many of them will bolt from the house in a blind panic to escape what they perceive as an artillery barrage. Our pets do not understand our fascination with fireworks, and their hearing is far more sensitive than ours. Let’s face it - fireworks are explosions! Is it any wonder that our pets don’t like them?

As the fireworks get started, place cats in a separate room with lots of hiding places. Leave closet doors open, allow access to areas under beds and behind furniture, and make it abundantly clear to guests that this room is off-limits. Consider crating or boarding anxious dogs if you cannot confine them to a separate part of the house. Turn on the television or some classical music to drown out the noise, and provide them with interesting activities to occupy their minds. For cats, try food puzzles or an interactive toy. Dogs are often content with a Kong toy that has been stuffed with canned food and placed in the freezer. These “popsicles” keep our dogs busy for hours. Do not bring dogs to fireworks displays, as they are likely to panic and get away from their handlers.  If your pet has a history of fireworks anxiety, consider asking your vet for some anti-anxiety medications.  These can take several weeks to achieve the desired results, so do this now, while you still have time to plan ahead.

                                             Zohan's ready to rock the 4th in his "safe space"!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Meet Sammy, Our June Pet of the Month!

Sammy is a seven-year-old sweetie who loves her friends at the vet clinic!  She sets the example for scaredy-cats and pouty pups by showing off "pawshakes" and giving kisses in the lobby.  While she may love everybody, it's clear she loves her pet parents the most.  Naturally, it's mutual. Congratulations, Sammy and share with all your friends - you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finding Newborn Kittens

Spring in South Florida brings a baby boom, not just amongst wild animals, but free-roaming outdoor cats as well.  It is not unusual to find litters of newborn kittens on and around our properties at this time of  year.  If you stumble upon such a litter, the first thing to do is determine if they have been abandoned or dumped.  Stray and feral cats have no choice but to leave their litters for extended periods of time to find food.  Observe the litter for about three hours, and if the mother cat does not return, you may have to intervene.  If she does return, it is best to let her care for the kittens until they are fully weaned.  This takes roughly eight weeks from the time of birth.  Hand rearing kittens involves mixing formula, bottle feeding, scheduled feedings, and sleepless nights.  And without putting too fine a point on it, the other end of the kitten must be cared for as well! If possible, it’s best to let the mother cat do this for you. If the litter has been dumped, or if the mother cat does not return, visit for detailed information on caring for neonatal kittens.  Most importantly, ask for help.  These are the times when we find out who are friends truly are!

If you have an outdoor cat, or are feeding a neighborhood stray, you can prevent this scenario by having the cat spayed or neutered. Female cats can begin having litters as early as five months of age!  And nursing mother cats can become pregnant before her current litter is even weaned.  Miami Dade Animal Services provides low-cost spays and neuters for stray and feral cats.  You can also gain access to low-cost care by contacting The Cat Network at

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meet Smokey, our May Pet of the Month!

For the month of May, we are honoring Smokey as our Pet of the Month.  Smokey is a 12-year-old tabby who came to us with a life-threatening infection.  Cats will often mask the clinical signs of illness, making it difficult for their owners to realize their need for care.  But Smokey's mom was not to be fooled!  Thanks to her quick thinking, and diligent after-care, Smokey bounced back to her usual, regal self.  Congratulations, Smokey, and share with all your friends - you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Orphaned Baby Wildlife

"I've found this abandoned baby squirrel/fox/bat/bird/other! What should I do?!"

With springtime upon us, our local wildlife will soon be busy raising little ones.  April is the month during which our clinic receives the most calls regarding orphaned baby wildlife.  It is only natural to want to help when we see what appears to be a helpless baby.  But “rescuing” animals who do not need our help is one of the many reasons for the high mortality rates of baby birds and animals.  Animal parents will often leave babies alone while they search for food. A baby bird on the ground might simply be having his first flying lesson.  Their parents are often closer than we think, and in many cases, human intervention is not only unnecessary, but can do more harm than good.

If you see a featherless baby bird that has fallen from a nest, the best course of action is to put it back in the nest.  The parents will not abandon it if it has been touched by humans.  This is a myth that has been thoroughly disproven.  The same should be done for baby mammals found near a nest or den.  Do not risk getting bitten, as even bites from babies can be dangerous.  If a baby is brought to you by a dog or cat, has an obviously broken limb, or is bleeding or shivering, then it needs your help.  Ditto for babies that wander or cry for more than a couple of hours.  If a parent does not respond to their cries, or if you see a dead adult nearby, it is time to intervene.  The South Florida Wildlife Center is a great resource for helping injured wildlife.  They can be reached at 866-SOS-WILD, or by clicking here   Since special licensure is required to work with wildlife, your veterinarian may or may not be able to assist you.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Meet Mummy, our April Pet of the Month!

This April, our Pet of the Month is Mummy!

At 16 years old, this fabulous feline continues to steal our hearts. Two years ago, Mummy was diagnosed with kidney disease.  But her sassy spirit, combined with her family's meticulous TLC, have kept her going strong. She's a lover and a fighter!

Congratulations, Mummy, and share with all your friends - you're our Pet of the Month!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why Does My Pet Need These Tests?!

Does My Pet Really Need All Those Tests?

Whenever I meet a new client who expresses disappointment with their previous veterinarian, I try to take a few minutes to find out what caused them to seek care elsewhere.  Perhaps the most common source of frustration is the client’s perception of “too many tests”.  A blood test for this, a blood test for that, multiple x-rays, ultrasounds - and those are just the tools of the general practitioner.  Board certified specialists routinely order MRI’s and CT scans.  A client can spend thousands of dollars before diagnosis and treatment is even discussed.

Every pet is unique, and tests may be recommended for any number of reasons.  Sometimes it is a matter of law that dictates the standard of care. Some tests are used to diagnose a condition, while others are used to rule them out.  My personal creed with regards to diagnostics is that I never run a test unless I think it might change my treatment plan.  I will not run a test out of mere curiosity unless I’m willing to pay for it myself.  Occasionally, I will do just that and chalk it up to continuing education.  But it’s MY continuing education, and clients should not have to fund that. If you are not convinced a test is needed, ask your vet to explain how said test might change the treatment plan.  It is a perfectly fair and reasonable question, and will likely open the lines for more effective communication.

Leah prepares for her CT scan

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Meet Tasha, Our March Pet Of The Month!

World, meet Tasha, our March Pet Of The Month!

Tasha is a six-year-old calico cat who suffered from chronic ear infections and itchy skin.  A test for food allergies revealed that her diet was largely to blame for her discomfort.  Once her family changed her diet to one that was free of allergens, her symptoms resolved - and she's back to her feisty self!

Congratulations, Tasha, and share with all your friends - you're our Pet Of The Month!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

There's A New Flu In Town!

There’s A New Flu In Town!

Early last spring, a new canine influenza virus known as H3N2 arrived in the United States from either China or South Korea.  It swept quickly through the Chicago area, sickening over 1,000 dogs.  By July, the virus had spread as far south as Atlanta, and as snowbirds begin to arrive in Florida, it is expected to become a problem here as well.  In recent weeks, we have seen three suspected cases in our clinic.  

The “flu shot” our pets have been receiving for the past few years is only effective against the strain known as H3N8.  This vaccine provides no protection against the new virus. An additional vaccine that protects against H3N2 has recently become available.  While it might be inconvenient to add yet another vet visit to your schedule, we are strongly recommending that dog owners take this step to protect their pets.  Dogs infected with H3N2 often develop pneumonia, and are susceptible to serious secondary infections.  We have seen no complications or side effects from the vaccine.  Please consider doing your part to stop the spread of this disease by vaccinating your dog as soon as possible.
Zohan was very brave!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Meet Gaston, Our February Pet Of The Month!

This February, we are honoring Gaston with the title of Pet Of The Month.  Gaston is a six-month-old French Bulldog with the fighting spirit of a champion!  Shortly after arriving in his new home, Gaston began showing signs of an upper respiratory illness.   Diagnostics confirmed our worst fears - he was suffering from distemper.  Additionally, his compromised immune system allowed a secondary virus to take hold.  While we did not confirm our suspicions by ordering a test that would not change our treatment plan, we were fairly certain it was the “new dog flu”, otherwise known as H3N2.

Thankfully, Gaston had already received some of his puppy shots - including the crucial distemper vaccine.  Additionally, there is now a new, and extremely effective vaccine against H3N2.  With lots of diligent supportive care from his awesome mom and dad, Gaston is now the picture of perfect health!

It’s important to note that Gaston came from a reputable, licensed breeder who did everything by the book.  These viruses are not “puppy mill issues”.  Disease does not discriminate.  Puppies are not fully protected until their entire series of shots is complete.  If you are unsure of your pet’s vaccine status, or if he hasn’t been vaccinated against “the new flu,” call us to find out more.

In the meantime, tell all your friends, Gaston! You’re our Pet of the Month!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's National Train Your Dog Month!

January is National Train Your Dog Month.  What better time to address some of the behaviors that drove you crazy last year?  This month, many Americans will make New Year’s resolutions to improve their lives by improving themselves. It’s not much of a stretch to incorporate our pets into our new routines.

Many common canine nuisance behaviors are rooted in boredom. Dogs are social animals, and living with humans often requires them to spend many hours alone while their owners are at work.  Boredom can easily escalate to anxiety, and anxious dogs often resort to barking, chewing, biting, and destroying property.  Since most of us gain weight over the holidays anyway, now is a good time to get back in shape by taking our dogs on a brisk, daily walk.  For dogs that are alone for long periods of time, food puzzles and frozen Kong toys can help your dog’s mind stay focused and sharp.  Dogs who do nothing but sleep during the day can be overly excited when we get home.   While this is understandable, it also tends to drive dog owners crazy.  Interactive toys help them to stay awake and alert, so they are calmer by the time their owners return.  And as schedules return to the pre-holiday norm, consider hiring a trainer or enrolling in some group classes.  At Casa Kupkee, we will be setting up a canine agility course!  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Meet Val, our January Pet of the Month!

January is National Train Your Dog Month, and to celebrate, we're honoring Val as our Pet of the Month.  Val is a Papillion with a lot of energy, a willingness to please, and a quick wit.  These traits make him the perfect candidate to compete in obedience.  Here he is, sporting a ribbon with his mom at his first competition!  Keep up the great work, Val - and tell all your friends you're our Pet Of The Month!