Fighting the Canine Cavity Creeps

Are cavity creeps lurking in your dog’s mouth? Well today’s Second Chance Pet Column offers a simple guide on brushing your dog’s teeth in an enjoyable and bonding manner that is positive for pet and person. Don’t believe me? Well heck most dogs are happy when our people just look in our direction – a few minutes of being coddled while that yummy chicken flavored doggie toothpaste is smeared onto our teeth is simply delightful.

However, if teeth brushing is new to your pooch you will want to introduce this activity a bit methodically. This may take a little time up front but, once you get it down, you're talking about a commitment of only one minute a day.

Not all dogs are comfortable with having a hand near their face and a toothbrush inside their mouth. If you push too quickly and sternly it will only make your dog afraid of the process and the cavity creeps win. As with any challenge in life, approach gradually, maintain a calm and loving demeanor, and don’t accept defeat after a few first attempts.

To begin, spend a little time getting your dog comfortable with you handling her face for 30 - 60 seconds. Rub her muzzle, lift her lip, look at her teeth, etc. immediately followed by warm praise and a reward in the form of a treat or toy. (Bucket Head Warning: only try this with non-biting dogs you are very familiar with.)

Step two is to handle your dog’s face while holding a “dog specific” toothbrush in one hand. This will allow your dog to see the toothbrush coming at her face but also understand that it's not hurting her. Next try a dab of paste (remembering that human toothpaste is not safe for dogs) on a treat that you know your pet likes, and then put it right on the brush so she can get used to the bristles by her mouth. Again, follow up immediately with praise and another treat.

Step three (and it can take some dogs several days or more to work up to this step), is to begin to slip the toothbrush in between your dog's cheek and teeth and move it around. A few seconds at first is plenty and should be followed with the usual praise and reward. If all goes well, try the same thing on the other side of your dog's mouth.

Step four is to actually start brushing your dog’s teeth. This may take a few failed attempts to get front, sides, back, and insides of the teeth but soon your dog will love this ritual and you won't even have to give a treat every single time. Bonus: you possibly may start finding your dog’s breathe less repulsive.

My name is Chunky, although I lack the chuckiness my name denotes (I think they really meant to call me Hunky…let’s go with Chunky Hunky then…). I am a charming two year-young, and rather small in stature, Bull mix who is eagerly learning about good manners and getting to know new dogs. I am a great story teller and make a great walking/hiking partner. Although a little nervous at first I quickly become my sweet, cuddly, hunky self. Looking for a Chunky Hunky in your life? Come meet me today! 

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 25 years. Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online:



Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet or to learn about adopting a homeless pet and the SCHS spay/neuter, volunteer, feral cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services at

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