Gulf Gate Beat: A Pets Perspective


Gulf Gate Beat began several months ago as a series of posts I wrote about how Gulf Gate Village influenced the desirability of Gulf Gate Estates. In his 2012 article "The Next Hot Sarasota NeighborhoodsSarasota Magazine's Bob Plunket discusses how Brooklyn did not attract Manhattanites—like Gulf Gate Village did not interest Sarasotans—until its restaurants and bars improved.

These are links to those blogs: Il Panificio, Jim’s Small Batch Bakery, and $500K for Gulf Gate Village Beautification Plan. Recently, I wanted to learn more about the pets of Gulf Gate. I strayed from Gulf Gate Village to Gulf Gate Animal Hospital (GGAH) where my miniature schnauzer received terrific care for more than 10 years. Even before we decided to purchase a home in Gulf Gate, we would travel from Lido Key for appointments.

When I reached out for feedback from Gulf Gate pet owners on, the cost of veterinary care was a concern. provides a list of resources. It has a comprehensive list of links to everything from help paying vet bills to a pet pantry. There are also other resources like a link to an ambulance. I hope one day Gulf Gate residents won't need to forego their pet's treatment because they can't afford it. For now, is just a page on my Realtor® website. There is an icon to contact me if you want, but you will not be asked to provide contact information.

The Staff at Gulf Gate Animal Hospital

Gulf Gate Animal Hospital employs 13 full-time and two part-time employees. There are four Veterinarians, including Co-owners Drs. Ed and Jeanette Cole. Significantly, Veterinarians Dr. Christina Whitcomb and Dr. Marcie Burn are each former Technicians of the hospital. According to Dr. Ed, seven employees of the hospital have gone on to enter veterinarian schools.

From ultrasounds and blood work patterns to spot-on medications, Dr. Ed Cole primarily cared for our miniature schnauzer, Whitney, so I roped him into this. I’d like to thank him for his patience and kindness and their entire team for Whitney's many years of great health.

Dr. Ed Cole

When he was just nine-years-old, Dr. Ed tagged along with his big sister, Dr. Kate Cole, DVM to her job in High School at a veterinarian hospital in Lakeland. “I didn’t get paid; I can tell you that” he laughs. He continued working there until he graduated from Lakeland High School with high honors. After which, he became the youngest person ever accepted into the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (UFCVM), graduating summa cum laude.

Drs. Ed & Jeanette Cole

Drs. Ed and Jeanette Cole are co-owners of GGAH. They were in the same class at UFCVM. After completing their internships in Boston, they moved Lakeland. They worked at the same veterinarian hospital where Drs. Ed and Kate worked in the 1980s. During that time, they made a visit to Sarasota. “We stayed at a friend’s condo in Sarasota,” Dr. Ed recalls. “We knew we might want to return someday.”

Sarasota captured their hearts, and in 2000, Drs. Ed and Jeanette Cole purchased the building at 2031 Bispham Road. Although it has since undergone a complete renovation, it was designed to perform as a vet clinic when they bought it. Dr. Ed notes “Dr. Bud Tallman Jr. had moved his practice here from the Gulf Gate Village strip mall 30- or 40-years-ago."

Gulf Gate residents make up 60-80% of the clients at GGAH and span three generations. “We’re starting to see our clients’ grandchildren bringing in their pets,” Dr. Ed says. Of the three generations cohabiting Gulf Gate, Dr. Ed says millennials stand out as choosing pets for reasons of mobility. “If I could say anything about millennials,” he answers. “It would be that they’re choosing smaller pets for reasons of mobility. They want a pet they can easily bring along when they travel.” Then I asked Dr. Ed the most significant medical need for our pets, and the number one medical need for our pets turns out to be counseling---for us! 

The rest of this blog is just that--counseling to help us understand our pets.

Reminiscent of the 11th-century European reports on Animal Trials, we human animals continue to project our thinking onto non-human animals, in an attempt to explain their behavior. Sometimes trying to modify behavior that is caused by medical (sometimes painful) issues. According to Dr. Ed, animals can tolerate a lot of resulting pain from disease, making it important for regular health and dental exams. "A lot of people think when a dog is peeing or pooping in the house, they’re being spiteful,” Dr. Ed says. “To say they’re being spiteful would be too much. I don’t think a dog is going to be spiteful.” One time, he discovered Whitney had a broken tooth that was causing her pain. It was necessary for her to have dental surgery performed.

Florida Specific

Protecting pet food from the moisture in SW Florida’s humidity is a consideration for us. Dr. Ed suggests we don't buy our pet's food too far in advance. The more natural ones, he says, are often heated at lower temperatures and for less time, creating even more risk. I kept Whitney's indoors, in an airtight container.

Our weather makes parasites a unique concern. “People come here from up North, and think they only have to treat for fleas and ticks three to six months of the year,” Dr. Ed says. “Parasites can live year-round in our climate," Dr. Ed explains.

Counseling by Dr. Ed Cole

In a follow up email, I request more information from Dr. Ed about how we can keep our Gulf Gate pets in tip-top shape. According to Dr. Ed, major red flags include weight loss, poor appetite, drinking and urinating greater amounts than usual, tiredness/weakness, prolonged diarrhea, and repeated vomiting.

How do we know when a pet is suffering from pain?

Over thousands of years, natural selection has resulted in their hiding pain very well. When it comes to moaning and complaining, they are nothing like us."Dental exams and regular exams are critical to identifying pain and disease in pets," Dr. Ed says

How important is it to brush my pet's teeth?

Dental disease is a very common problem, and significant dental disease is present in 40-60% of cats and dogs. To avoid bad teeth, it is really necessary to brush them between two- and seven-times-a-week. Bad breath is a good indication of bad teeth. Dr. Ed says, "If we never brushed our teeth they would be pretty bad, too." Relying on the groomer to brush them only once- or twice-a-month is not enough.

According to Dr. Ed, "bad breath is the best indicator of dental disease."

Periodontal disease can lead to increased disease in other parts of their bodies, including the kidneys, urinary tract, and heart, to name a few. Dry, more abrasive foods that require them to chew more can minimize the risks of them developing bad teeth. Periodontal disease starts out as gum disease. The gums will recede then the bone and ligaments around and supporting the roots of their teeth are affected, leading to chronic bone infection and tooth loss.

Excessive Barking

Barking is a another shared problem of many pet owners. It can be a normal, protective behavior to ward of intruders like mail carriers. This behavior is constantly reinforced: one, come to door; two, the dog barks; and three, the mail carrier leaves—Success, right? Each time the mail carrier is thwarted in attempts to invade, the barking is positively reinforced.

One of the many things that can be done to help with this problem is by purchasing a bark collar. It contains an unappealing citronella spray that acts as negative reinforcement. There are also other redirection behavior modifications that can help. It's just a matter of letting people know what's out there.

"It just a matter of letting people know what's out there." Dr. Ed Cole

Medical Causes for Accidents in the House

There are a lot of treatable (sometimes painful) medical reasons a pet might relieve themselves in the house, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), urinary stones (usually in the bladder), bladder crystals, behavioral issues and systemic diseases like kidney disease, diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease. “Marking, dominance, storm anxiety, and noise phobia (jumpiness) could all be indications that your pet is suffering from treatable conditions.”


Gulf Gate Animal Hospital is located at 2031 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota, and is open Monday 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m., and closed Sundays. For more info, call (941) 922-3917 or click here.

Forest Balderson is a Realtor® with Michael Saunders & Company. Email him at Read past Gulf Gate Beat blogs on Sarasota Patch.

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