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Frito Feet: Why Does My Dog Smell Like Corn Chips?

Dog paws


Snuggling on the couch with your pup is always a pleasure, until you catch a whiff of something, and suddenly, all you can think about are Doritos. One second you're petting Fido, and the next you have a craving for corn chips; what gives? The likely reason, your dog has "Frito Feet," and that odor you're smelling is coming from your pup's paws.

What Is "Frito Feet?"

Frito feet is simply a clever way to describe that distinctive smell of many dogs' paws. It comes eerily close to sharing the exact same scent as your favorite corn chips, like Fritos or Doritos. But, of all the odors your dog can possess (like wet dog and just plain funky), why chips?

Why Do Your Dog's Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

No, your dog didn't just walk through a pile of Fritos; that smell comes from a combination of sweat and bacteria. Specifically, it's Pseudomonas and Proteus bacteria. Now, before you let your ickiness radar go crazy, it's not an uncommon thing. The truth is, your pup's paws are covered with all sorts of things at any given moment. 

When you snap on that leash and walk your dog, the bottom of their feet pick up an assortment of fungi and bacteria. Plus, the fur growing between their paw pads makes the perfect breeding ground. So, bacteria basically sticks around and starts to grow, right there between your canine companion’s toes. 

Now, what about the smell? Well, dogs sweat through their paws, and when the sweat combines with the bacteria, that's what causes the odor. Incidentally, it's the same with body odor and humans; it's not the sweat itself that smells. It’s when that perspiration teams up with bacteria on the skin. 

With dogs, since the sweat glands are on the paws, that tell-tale Dorito aroma comes from their feet. There's no rhyme or reason to why it smells like corn chips, that just happens to be what most people associate with the odor. Hmm, maybe you won't want to grab that bag of chips so much anymore after all.

Does Your Dog's Corn Chip Feet Mean Trouble?

Of course, even if it's a common occurrence, should you worry if your dog's paws resemble your favorite snack? Most likely, no, you can relax. Typically, the bacteria causing the smell aren't dangerous and are fairly common, especially on your pal's feet.

But that doesn't mean you should ignore it completely.  Observe your dog for any other signs of unusual behavior. Also, examine your pup’s feet for issues like inflammation or an open wound that doesn’t seem to heal. 

If your dog’s feet seem okay, then the smell is likely harmless. However, if it's particularly intense or other symptoms appear, it needs your attention.

Could Your Dog's Smelly Feet Be A Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection typically begins in the gut, then can spread to other body parts, like the feet. Your dog can get a yeast infection from various things, including stress, environmental changes, allergies, diet issues, or underlying health problems. 

So, if your dog's corn chip feet are especially rank, be on the lookout for these potential symptoms of a yeast infection.

  • Your pet is licking or biting at their paws excessively. 
  • Fido seems unusually tired or a little loopy.
  • Your dog scratches constantly, but you can't find any signs of fleas or other reasons for the obsessive scratching.
  • You see scaly patches on your pup's skin or the skin is overly dry.
  • Your dog's paws seem swollen.
  • There is discharge on your dog's feet.
  • Your pup has other infections.
  • Your dog's shaking their head (a sign of a possible ear infection).

If you feel a yeast infection or another serious reason is causing your dog's corn chip feet smell, call your vet. It's best to get a full assessment, and your vet will likely perform a scraping test to check for yeast. 

Then, if they find an issue, they'll be able to provide proper medication for your dog and any other necessary treatments. For example, if stress triggered the yeast infection, you might consider ways to help your pup calm down, like a lick mat or extra exercise. 

When it comes down to it, you know what's normal for your dog. If the usual chip smell seems different or stronger to you, there could be something else going on that needs a professional's expert care.

Woman holding dog's foot

How Can You Keep Your Dog From Having Corn Chip Feet?

Of course, even if you discover that your dog's Frito feet aren't cause for alarm, you still likely don’t want to keep smelling them. It starts to get a little unpleasant when you're trying to cuddle with your pal (although some dog parents admit to liking the corn chip feet smell — to each their own). 

So, if you'd rather not hassle with the odor, you can try the following tips to keep your dog's paws smelling fresher.

  • Even if you don't give your dog frequent baths, make sure to wash their paws regularly. Use a mild shampoo, rinse, and dry them thoroughly. 
  • Trim the fur on your pup's feet, making sure to get the hair in between the paw pads.
  • Use dog bath wipes to clean your furry friend's feet in between paw baths and after walks in a pinch.
  • Look into foot soak products for dogs if your pal has some extra-smelly paws.
  • If your dog is willing, you can always have them wear dog booties, at least outside. Wearing booties can also help protect your pup’s paws from injury. But this can sometimes be easier said than done, especially if your dog doesn’t agree with the idea.

You can even create a foot soak using warm water and vinegar to help combat the bacteria. Immerse your pup’s feet and keep them calm, then dry their paws and in between the toes thoroughly. If you don’t have vinegar, you can use hydrogen peroxide.

However, never mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. You should use one or the other. Mixing these two liquids can create toxic fumes and chemicals with corrosive properties.

What If The Smell Of Corn Chips Persists?

So, what do you do if, despite all your efforts, the stink persists? Once you've ruled out any serious issues with your vet, you might want to try taking your pup to a professional groomer. Or, just embrace the smell as another quirky part of your pal that you'll (hopefully) learn to love. If all else fails, you can invest in a pack of clothespins. 

After solving the mystery of your dog's stinky feet, the only problem is, you won't have any more excuses for grabbing the chips. For more helpful tips and info about pet life, check out the rest of our blog. You'll find tons of resources to help expand your pet parenting knowledge. You could say it's very much like a bag of Doritos; you can't stop with just one.


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