Boston veterinarian gives health tips for pets
Dr. Sarah Cazabon received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Harvard University in 1996 and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University in 2001. She's been a veterinarian at Fresh Pond Animal Hospital since 2003 and became their chief of staff in 2006.
"I appreciate establishing close relationships with my clients and their pets from kitten/puppyhood to old age," says Cazabon, who owns a Border collie mix named Jorji who loves showing off her tricks.
Why should pets get regular dental care?
Periodontal disease is one of the most under diagnosed/untreated diseases. Greater than 85 percent of dogs and cats older than four years have periodontal concerns.
Periodontal disease starts when plaque forms. If the plaque isn't removed, mineral salts in the food can precipitate to form hard dental calculus.
The calculus is irritating to the gingival tissue and changes the pH of the mouth, allowing bacteria to survive above the gum line.
When periodontal disease isn't treated, bacteria under the gum line continue to proliferate and create deep pockets around the tooth and infection in the surrounding bone.
This process can lead to severe bad breath, tooth pain, jaw bone infection, and persistent bacterial shedding into the body that can lead to chronic heart and kidney problems.
What dental services do you offer?
We examine the teeth and gums of every patient during a physical examination at least once a year or twice a year if the animal is over age seven.
We recommend a dental procedure - full scaling, oral exam and polishing under general anesthesia - once stage 1 periodontal disease is identified.
Typically a routine procedure includes dental X-rays to examine the structures under the gum line.
The vet will then make recommendations to the client that could involve gingival pocket treatments, removal of baby teeth, crown amputations for feline resorptive lesions or full surgical extractions.
Sometimes even jaw fracture repair may be needed. Estimates for procedures vary widely from $350 to $1,200.
What can a pet owner do at home to keep their pet's teeth healthy?
Prevention of periodontal disease begins at kitten/puppyhood. All clients are counseled about brushing their pet's teeth and are given free samples of toothbrushes and pet toothpaste.
A nurse presents a demonstration and provides literature on the appropriate brushing technique.
Teeth and gum brushing should be performed at least three to four times a week, if not daily, with toothpaste that is safe for your pet to swallow.
Other dental hygiene options involve dental diets such as Hill's Science Diet RX t/d or OralCare; dental treats like Greenies or C.E.T. chew treats; a periodontal vaccine that protects against the two most common types of bacteria that lead to periodontal disease; and water additives to limit the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
A combination of two or more of these options will help with prevention.