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How to make visits to the veterinarian less stressful for you and your cat

How to make visits to the veterinarian less stressful for you and your cat

1. It starts at home.
Your carrier should be out in your living room or kitchen several days, if not weeks before your scheduled appointment. During this time, you can leave treats and toys in the carrier for your cat to get acclimatized to it and not associate it only with going to the vet. Feeding your cat next to the carrier can also help. A special blanket with his scent or your scent can provide comfort. Also, a pheromone spray called Feliway can appease your cat very effectively. Spray Feliway in your carrier 20 minutes before your cat will be transported in it for the best result.

2. The car ride.
The trip in the car itself is often enough to stress your feline friend.
Try to make the trip the most pleasant possible. Studies have shown that most pets enjoy classical music- so re-acquaintance yourself with Bach and Beethoven. Your cat will feel most secure in a carrier and this is also safer than letting her roam loose. If it is very warm outside, start your car several minutes before leaving and turn on the air conditioner . The same goes for the winters- if it is very cold, warm up your car before placing your beloved friend in a cold, unpleasant vehicle.

3. Feeding your cat.
If at all possible, try not to feed your cat prior to her appointment.
Bring her food with you or better yet, if there is a tasty treat or some leftovers from your table that she enjoys, bring them with you for the appointment. Most cats that are hungry and have good food presented to them will eagerly eat during their veterinary visits, making the experience more pleasant for all involved.

4. Transporting your cat.
When carrying your cat in her carrier, it is best to hold the carrier steadily with both arms on the bottom of it instead of using the handles and swinging it back and fourth. Also, draping a towel over the carrier helps many cats relax and feel more secure.

5. The waiting game.
If there are other pets in the waiting room, ask the receptionist to move to a private waiting area where you can be alone with your cat away from noise. This will help reduce her anxiety.

6. Reducing stress and anxiety.
If you and your cat have had previously negative experiences at the hospital or during transport and you are concerned about your scheduled appointment, please do not hesitate to call us to discuss your concerns. In some instances, the veterinarian will prescribe sedatives for you to administer to your cat at home which are effective in reducing stress in your cat and can make her experience a more pleasant one.

7. At the hospital.
We will reduce anxiety for your pet in several ways:
We have Feliway pheromone sprays and plug ins placed in the hospital to appease your kitty
We use mats on the examination room tables so the surface is not cold or slippery
We have a separate waiting room available for privacy for you and your kitty
We have a variety of treats for her to enjoy
We utilize minimal restraint during the examination process

We hope that the above guidelines will make your experience at our hospital a purr-fect one !


Heartworm disease in dogs

Heartworm disease in dogs

As many of you are aware, spring is the time when your veterinarian recommends that your dog take a preventive medication to protect against heartworm diease. Below, you will find information that will help explain to you what heartworm disease is and why it is important to prevent the disease.
At the current time, we are not recommending heartworm prevention in cats in Quebec since the disease is still very rare in this species in this geographical area.
If you need additional information, do not hesitate to call us anytime to speak with one of our animal health technicians or veterinarians. We will be happy to answer your questions.

Thank you

The Baker Animal Hospital Team

What is heartworm disease?


Heartworm disease is one of the major health problems of dogs in the United States and throughout the temperate and tropical areas of the world. As well as being found in dogs and other species, it is now being found in cats in ever increasing numbers. The disease develops when a pet becomes infected with parasites called Dirofilaria immitis that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Dogs may be infected by a few or up to several hundred heartworms. Cats are similarly infected although usually by only a few worms. Heartworm infection often leads to severe lung disease and heart failure and can damage other organs in the body as well.

How is heartworm disease transmitted from one pet to another?


Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog or other host release their young, called microfilaria, into the bloodstream. Mosquitoes become infected by the microfilaria while taking a blood meal from these infected animals. During the next 10 to 14 days, microfilaria mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. When the mosquito then bites another dog, cat or susceptible animal, the infective larvae exit the mosquito’s mouth parts and are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin. The infective larvae can then actively enter the new host through the fresh bite wound.

Inside a new host, it takes a little more than six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms may live up to five to seven years, and because of their longevity, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in our pets.

What physical signs could my dog have?


Heartworms may accumulate gradually over years, or quickly when conditions allow exposure to high numbers of mosquitoes carrying infective heartworm larvae. Clinical signs of disease may not be easily recognized in pets that have been recently infected or in those with low numbers of heartworms as they may not yet exhibit outward signs of disease. However, pets heavily infected with heartworms or those with chronic disease often show prominent clinical signs.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure commonly recognized by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen giving the pet the appearance of a “swollen belly.” Dogs infected with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockage of blood flow within the heart leading to a life threatening form of cardiovascular collapse called “caval syndrome.” Signs of caval syndrome include a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums and dark bloody or “coffee-colored” urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few pets survive.

Can you tell me more about heartworm testing in dogs?


Two common types of tests exist for diagnosing heartworm infection in dogs. Because adult heartworms release their young (microfilaria) directly into a dog’s bloodstream, a relatively simple blood filter test can identify them. A positive test tells us adult worms are present. Positive means positive. Unfortunately, 15 to 20 percent of heartworm-positive dogs will not have “microfilaria” circulating in their bloodstream and a negative test will sometimes be falsely negative. The most accurate test for detecting heartworm infection in dogs is the antigen test. This test looks for the presence of small proteins released by adult female heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream. A positive test tells us mature female worms are present. And, while false negative results are uncommon, they can occur if a pet has a “male-only” infection (since the test detects antigen from females), if only one or two worms are present, or if the female worms are immature.

Your veterinarian may have reason to suspect a negative test result to be inaccurate and might recommend re-testing using other methods. Chest X-rays and ultrasound evaluation can help identify heartworm disease and may be indicated.

How long does it take before heartworm infection can be detected by blood tests?


It takes five to seven months from the time a dog is bitten by infected mosquitoes until a blood test can accurately detect the presence of adult worms.

Do you need a prescription for heartworm preventive medication? If so, why?


Yes, heartworm preventives must be purchased from your veterinarian or with a prescription through a pet pharmacy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling on heartworm preventives indicates that the medication is to be used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. This means a veterinarian must have a doctor-client-patient relationship in order to write a prescription. Typically, prior to prescribing a heartworm preventive, the veterinarian will perform a simple heartworm test to make sure your dog doesn’t already have adult heartworms. It is not necessary to test very young puppies prior to starting preventives since it takes approximately six months for adult heartworms to develop to adulthood in a dog. If the pet is free of heartworms, prevention is prescribed. Giving preventives to dogs infected with heartworms can lead to rare but possibly severe reactions that could be harmful or even fatal to the dog.

There are many types of medications available for heartworm prevention. What is the difference between the daily and monthly tablets?


Until the late 1980s, the only medication available for the prevention of heartworms had to be given daily. These products work by killing the microscopic heartworm larvae deposited by the mosquito, but must be given every single day to be most effective. This is because infective heartworm larvae quickly molt within two to three days into their fourth stage of development. This fourth stage can not be killed by the daily medication. Daily heartworm preventives have largely been replaced by monthly products and are no longer commercially available in the United States. Compounding pharmacies still formulate daily preventives on an “as needed” basis. An important note to keep in mind is that monthly medications are quickly eliminated from a pet’s system and do not continue to work for 30 days. Instead they work “backwards” to eliminate the larvae the pet acquired the previous 30 days, in essence, “de-heartworming” our pets each month in many cases, these monthly preventives control other parasites too.

How do monthly heartworm preventives work?


Fortunately, there are many very effective once-a-month heartworm preventives available today. Some are chewable tablets and others are topically-applied solutions. Monthly heartworm preventives, because of their ease of use and effectiveness, have become the popular choice for prevention of heartworm disease. Unlike the daily products of the past, these compounds are capable of killing developing heartworm larvae, and administering the preventive every month will effectively eliminate the chance of infection. Check with your veterinarian to see which product is right for your pet.

Why do dogs need to be blood tested before starting heartworm medication?


Before starting a preventive program, all dogs should be tested for heartworms. Giving preventives to dogs that have adult heartworm infection can be harmful or even fatal to the pet.

Adult heartworms produce millions of microscopic “baby” heartworms (called microfilaria) into the bloodstream. When you give a monthly heartworm preventive to a dog with circulating microfilaria, this can cause the sudden death of microfilaria, triggering a shock-type reaction. Even if your dog does not have this type of reaction, heartworm preventives do not kill the adult heartworms (although they may shorten the worms’ life expectancy). This means an infected dog will remain infected with adult heartworms.

Unfortunately, as long as a pet remains infected, heartworm disease will progress and damage the heart and lungs, which can lead to life threatening problems. Giving heartworm preventives to heartworm-positive dogs can mislead an owner into thinking everything is all right, while within a pet, heartworm disease is worsening.

I heard that certain heartworm prevention medications will also protect against intestinal parasites. Is this true?


Certain heartworm preventive products are also effective in removing specific intestinal (and external) parasites and are labeled for such uses. They either contain a single active ingredient that is effective against several parasites including developing heartworm or a combination of ingredients to achieve control of many different parasites. Such products have been tested and meet the same safety requirements as the heartworm-prevention-only products.

I heard that the heartworm prevention medication is toxic to certain breeds of dogs, particularly collies. Is this true?


When given as prescribed, all of these medications are safe. It has been found, however, that some dogs are genetically predisposed to be more sensitive when doses dramatically exceed the recommended amount. Problems can occur when products designed for large animals (horses, cattle, pigs) are inappropriately used in dogs, or when dogs are dosed incorrectly. Heartworm preventives are safe for all breeds of dogs when used as directed.

Is a puppy born with immunity to heartworm disease?


No, even nursing puppies are at risk for heartworm infection. Puppies of any age exposed to mosquitoes carrying infective larvae can become heartworm-infected, so it is important to begin prevention early. Puppies can be started on heartworm preventive as early as four to eight weeks of age, depending on the label recommendations of the preventive.

Is there an effective natural prevention for heartworm?


No, there is no natural prevention for heartworms.

What is the treatment for heartworm disease in dogs?


If a dog is infected with heartworms, the treatment needs to kill the adult and immature worms. Currently, only one product is approved by the FDA for this purpose (Immiticide®- melarsomine hydrochloride). It is given by deep injection into muscle. A series of injections are given, either over a 24-hour period or two treatment periods, one month apart. While treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, hospitalization for the procedure is often recommended. Other medications may be given at the time of treatment depending on the stage of heartworm disease.

What causes the death of a dog due to heartworm disease?


Heartworm disease may cause a combination of medical problems within the same dog, including heart, lung, kidney and liver disease. The worms are found in the right side of the heart, and in the major vessels that bring blood to and from the right chambers of the heart. The worms cause inflammation of the blood vessels and can block blood flow leading to pulmonary thrombosis (clots in the lungs) and heart failure. Heartworm disease can also lead to liver or kidney failure, causing death by one or a combination of these problems.

Is heartworm contagious from dog to dog?


No. Heartworms can be transmitted from animal to animal only by the bite of a mosquito carrying the infective stage of the larvae. Heartworms release live young (microfilaria) directly into the bloodstream of a dog. When a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected pet, it may become infected by several microfilariae. The larvae then develop into an infective stage within the mosquito. As the mosquito bites another susceptible dog or cat, the infective larvae can be left behind to cause infection. The life cycle of the heartworm requires the mosquito as an “intermediate host.” Without the mosquito, heartworms can not be transmitted.

Can children get heartworm disease by playing with and being licked by a dog with heartworm disease?


No. Heartworm disease is transmitted only by the bite of a mosquito that is carrying the infective stage of the parasite.

I have missed two months of heartworm prevention for my dog. Should I worry?


Yes, you should worry. You need to consult your veterinarian, and immediately start your dog back on monthly preventive and retest in seven months. The reason for testing seven months later is that heartworms must be approximately seven months old before the infection can be diagnosed.

The above questions and answers were provided courtesy of the American Heartworm Society. For more information, go to


Small mammal medical services

Small mammal medical services

top-small-animalsNous sommes heureux d’annoncer que nous pouvons maintenant fournir des services complets de médecine et de chirurgie à nos amis les petits mammifères.
Nous avons hâte de rencontrer vos lapins, furets, cochons d’Inde, hamsters, gerbilles, rats, planeurs de sucre, hérissons et souris.
Dre. Geneviève Bisson est notre experte de petits mammifère avec plus de 3 ans d’expérience de travail avec eux.

We are pleased to announce that we are now able to provide full medical and surgical services to our small mammal friends.
We look forward to meeting your rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, sugar gliders, hedgehogs and mice.
Dr. Genevieve Bisson is our small mammal expert with over 3 years of experience working with them.small-animals-bottom


Cats and Fleas

Cats and Fleas

How do cats get fleas?

The most common source of fleas is from newly emerged adult fleas in the home or outside. The flea life cycle includes: eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.  When adult fleas are on our cats, they bite them (ie. Take a blood meal) and then start laying eggs as soon as 2 days later. In ideal conditions, adults will emerge in as little as 2 weeks; in adverse conditions, eggs can develop into adults up to 1 year later. This means that fleas can develop in the house even over the winter months. Houses can provide ideal conditions for fleas to develop in: carpets and central heating provide  conditions for year round development of these parasites. It is very difficult to find fleas in the home since they are so small and hide in carpets and furniture. Eggs are tiny white specks the size of dust particles and larvae migrate deep in carpets, furniture and cracks in floors away from the light. So, often flea infestations go unnoticed by owners.

 What signs may my cat exhibit if he/she has fleas?

Many cats will groom or scratch excessively after being bitten by a flea. Some cats are allergic to flea bites and these cats scratch and bite themselves so much that they can develop patches of fur loss and skin infections secondary to the trauma they cause to themselves.

Fleas can also be a source of tapeworms. If a cat swallows a flea infected with tapeworms while grooming, the cat will likely develop a tapeworm infestation. Signs of tapeworm infection include weight loss, poor hair coat and diarrhea. Tapeworm segments look like grains of white rice stuck around your cat’s perianal area.

 How to get rid of fleas?

Fleas need to be eliminated from 3 sources: the cat, other cats and dogs in the home, and from the home and yard. Keep in mind…outdoor sources can be difficult to control since we cannot control wild animals, other people’s pets and other outdoor areas. Raccoons and squirrels are important sources of fleas to our pets.

 What safe products are available to treat my cat and the environment?

Flea shampoos and powders have limited efficacy because they only work a few hours after application. They will only kill the adults present on your cat at the time of application but have no residual effect. This means that fleas jumping on your cat over the next few days and weeks will not be killed and the flea cycle will continue.

Your veterinarian has several safe products that are effective at getting rid of fleas. Some kill adult fleas, larvae and eggs with residual activity lasting a month and are given orally or topically every month. Others contain insect growth regulators that work as a flea birth control and prevent females from laying eggs. Many of the above products also kill eggs and larvae developing in the home by being in the pet’s dander and when the dander has contact with the eggs and larvae in the home, it kills them.

Vacuuming weekly and throwing out the vacuum bag to prevent eggs and larvae from developing inside the vacuum cleaner will also help get rid of infestations. Pay particular attention to areas where your cat spends most of his/her time such as the bed, sofa, and carpets.

 My veterinarian is advising flea control even though I have not seen any fleas on my cat.

If your cat is scratching more than usual, has hair loss or is grooming excessively, your veterinarian may suspect a flea problem. When fleas are present in small numbers they can be very difficult to find. They move very quickly. They can usually be found near the neck, stomach and around the tail base area. Often your veterinarian will not see adults but see “flea dirt” instead. This is fecal matter from the flea that contains partially digested blood. It indicates that the cat has fleas. Flea dirt looks like small black specks and when placed on a damp tissue it leaves a reddish brown stain. Flea dirt can sometimes be seen on the cat’s bedding or anywhere the cat sleeps and spends most of his/her time.  Do not forget that cats spend most of their time grooming. Their tongue will remove fleas and flea dirt from your pet’s coat and make it hard to find evidence of a flea problem. So, even if no adult fleas or flea dirt is found, your veterinarian may still recommend treating for fleas if she/he thinks that is the source of the problem.



Our veterinarians and technicians follow continuing education seminars regularly in order to stay up to date on the most recent treatments, tests and equipment needed to care for your pet as best as we can.
The most important thing for us is to provide you with the best medicine and surgery possible so that your pet is given the best options available.
We have an in house laboratory for blood, urine, Xray and fecal tests so that if your pet is ill and we need answers as soon as possible, we can get things done quickly and efficiently.
We are able to provide all types of surgeries from routine spay/neuters to growth removals, minor ocular procedures, abdominal exploratories, urinary bladder stone removal, dental cleanings and some orthopedic procedures as well, to name a few. All of our animals are placed on intravenous fluids while under anesthetic and their blood pressure, oxygenation, heart rate and temperature are monitored throughout the procedures.
We have a special interest in pain management and make sure that your pet is provided with medication to prevent pain as much as possible following any surgical procedure .
We also believe in the importance of long term pain management for animals suffering from such conditions as osteoarthritis or cancer.
We have many senior patients and believe they need extra TLC. We are aware that many of them develop long term diseases such as thyroid, disease, diabetes mellitus, renal failure , and osteoarthritis and we strive to offer the best treatments possible in order to keep them healthy for as long as possible.



A large reason for frustration and dissatisfaction with veterinarians is the fact that communication gets lost somehow and animal owners often do not know why certain treatments or medications were administered to their pets and no one takes the time to explain it to them.
We feel that communication is the key to success: both in treating our patients effectively and in keeping their owners informed. An educated client is a satisfied one who is able to make all of the decisions that are right for him and his pet.
At our hospital, you are always welcome and encouraged to take the time you need to get the information and explanations required. You can call us anytime to speak to a technician or veterinarian to answer your enquiries. Our veterinarians will return your call as soon as possible and they spend a large portion of their busy day answering your inquiries.


Caring family atmosphere

At Baker Animal Hospital we take pride in being a small independent business. With the recent advent of veterinary hospital chains, we feel that the personal touch can be lost and we make every effort to make all of our clients and their pets feel special. You will not be given a file number – you will always be called by your name.
We take the time to learn about you, your pet and your family.
We offer long term relationships so that you recognize that familiar face when you walk through the door or that familiar voice when you call us for advice.
We always take the time to answer all of your needs.
We have the unique atmosphere of having the majority of our team members working alongside us for  years! We offer an environment of stability so that when you return to visit us, whether it be a month or a year later, you and your pet will feel right at home with us.
Our new team members fit right in and quickly become a part of your extended family.


Dogs, Cats and Automobiles

Dogs, Cats and Automobiles

By Andrea Lin–

 People are on the go, and increasingly, they are taking their pets along for the ride. While some pets seem born to ride, for others the loud noises can be a real problem.

 Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine, advises owners on issues related to animal behavior. She offers these tips on how to make traveling a safe and pleasant experience for your pets.

 “The first step is to watch for signs that your pet is stressed”, advises Dr. Ballantyne. 

 That is easier said than done, because not all animals express distress in the same ways. Some animals that are very anxious show obvious signs, such as pacing and vocalizing, whereas other, equally stressed pets may give much more subtle indications.

 “Fog dogs, you should watch for excessive salivation, panting, a furrowed brow, holding their ears back, and frequent liplicking or yawning”, says Dr. Ballantyne. 

 “Cats may crouch or try to hide when stressed”, she says. “They may also twitch their tails and pull their ears back. These all can be signs that your pet is anxious and not enjoying the trip”.

 Your veterinarian will be an important partner in finding a way to manage your pet’s anxiety while traveling. There are many options, and you may need to try several approaches to discover what works best for your pet. Dr. Ballantyne recommends experimenting with different approaches when taking your pet on short trips so you can find out what works before taking your pet on a long road trip.

One option available for both dogs and cats is a synthetic equivalent of a natural pheromone with stress-relieving qualities. Feliway is a pheromone product for cats that comes as a spray or in a diffuser. A similar product for dogs is a DAP (dog appeasement pheromone) collar or spray. 

 For dogs, specially made clothing that applies gentle, constant pressure on the torso is marketed to produce a soothing effect on stressed dogs. Lavender aroma therapy has also been found to help calm anxious dogs. 

 For some pets, prescription anti-anxiety medications or sedatives may be the best alternative.

 In addition to addressing your pet’s stress level, you should ensure that your pet will be safe while traveling, according to Dr. Ballantyne.

 “Cats should always be in a carrier”, she says. “You can’t predict how your pet will react while traveling. A carrier will keep her safe and ensure that she can’t accidentally get away from you”.

 Dog should also be secured in a carrier or harness when riding in a car. Special harnesses and seats that attach to seat belts are marketed to ensure safe car travel for your dog. If your car has airbags, your dogs should not be placed in the front seat, just as small children should never ride in front.

 Nausea is another problem that plagues pets that travel. In dogs, drooling and looking sick to their stomach are likely signs of carsickness. Owners of pets prone to carsickness wonder whether or not to feed their pet. 

 “It probably isn’t a good idea to feed your pet a large meal before a trip, especially before a place flight”, says Dr. Ballantyne. “When going on a long car trip, try feeding small meals during rest stops and feed the biggest meal at the end of the day. If your pet has been carsick on a trip before, talk with your veterinarian about anti-nausea medicine”.

 Your veterinarian can also advise you on how to handle a long trip if your pet has a special medical condition that requires controlled feeding times, such as diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.

 A final piece of advice from Dr. Ballantyne is for people on the go who are getting a puppy or kitten: “Start when you pet is young. Let him get used to traveling and learn that it is a positive experience.”

 So get going, and bring your pet with you!

 Just be sure to work with your veterinarian to find safe and low-stress strategies that will make the experience enjoyable for you and your pet. Happy travels!

 Universitry of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine


 PETS Magazine

March/April 2012



February is Dental Health Awareness Month

February is Dental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats above the age of 3 have some degree of gingivitis and tartar build up?
This not only means that they are more likely to have bad breath, bleeding gums and in more advanced cases, diseased teeth such as tooth root infections, but it can affect their overall health!
The best way to prevent the above complications is to get your pet used to having its teeth brushed at a young age. Most cats and dogs will enjoy the taste of the flavoured enzymatic pet toothpaste and like the sensation of the toothbrush rubbing on their gums and teeth.
For those pets that already have some degree of periodontal disease, a prophylactic cleaning and polishing of the teeth by the veterinary team is the best way to prevent problems later on.
The cost of a dental prophylaxis ranges depending on your pet’s age, the degree of periodontal disease, and whether any extractions are needed. One of our veterinarians will be more than happy to examine your pet’s mouth and give you an estimate of what the cost would be for this procedure.

For further information and to book an appointment, please contact us at
(514) 739-1935

Some frequently asked questions:

How are my pet’s teeth cleaned?

Some frequently asked questions:

How are my pet’s teeth cleaned?

All dental cleanings are done under a general anesthetic using an ultrasonic scaler and polisher, similar to when you visit your dentist. Your pet is monitored closely by our veterinary health technician and has a Cardell monitor that measures his blood pressure, oxygenation and heart rate during the procedure. Your pet also has an intravenous catheter in place and is on intravenous fluids while under anesthesia to make sure that his blood pressure is kept stable throughout- which is important for his heart and kidneys!
If your pet is above 7 years of age, he will also have some blood collected prior to the dental prophylaxis to assess his kidney and liver function (among other things) in order to reduce the risks associated with anesthesia as much as possible.

Why is it not enough to break the tartar off my pet’s tooth while he is awake?

If only a scaling is performed on the teeth without proper polishing afterwards, the surface of the tooth will be uneven, predisposing it to more plaque and bacteria build up, more quickly. This is why a proper cleaning under anesthetic is needed to make sure the surface of the tooth is smooth after the scaling and polishing. We also want to look for other signs of periodontal disease such as pockets and fractures. When your pet is anesthetized, we not only assess the health of the teeth and gums but we make sure the entire oral cavity looks healthy.