I’ve been known to put my foot in my mouth. But dogs do it on purpose. So, why do dogs chew their feet? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Sure, there’s a simple explanation for the behavior. “A dog is essentially trying to scratch the itch,” says Christopher Pachel, DVM, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon. But finding the cause of foot chewing can be complicated. “It can be multiple different things,” Dr. Pachel says. “This is not one size fits all.”
Excellent results have been obtained by using the following exercise to re-orient the dog’s chewing habits. Take away all of the dog’s former chewies, and replace them with a meat-scented nylon bone (NylaboneTM is one such toy). Make this bone the focus of a fetch and play session at least twice a day. The combination of the owner’s scent with the meat scent makes it an appealing object on which to chew. Since the toy bone has now become the focus of intense interaction between the dog and the owner, the vast majority of dogs will aim their chewing at it.
A dog’s deciduous teeth will erupt between three to eight weeks of age and around four to six months of age these teeth will be gradually replaced with permanent teeth. Teething is a painful process and puppies chew more during this period of time because their gums are very irritated during this time and the act of chewing relieves their discomfort. Inappropriate chewing is most likely to occur while the puppy is teething but if not corrected can become a long standing problem even after all the adult teeth emerge and teething ends.
Rawhide: This is a somewhat controversial chew. Though many dogs will do fine with rawhide, it's important to know that large pieces of rawhide are not easily digested and can cause GI blockage or irritation. Additionally, rawhide is often treated with potentially harmful chemicals. There are a few exceptions, though. Some types of rawhide are specially designed by vets with safety and digestibility in mind. Ask your vet for more information about safe rawhide chews that can help keep teeth clean.