Article Thumbnail

Why Do My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos?

I’m not sure if I’m hungry or disgusted, but I need help

My dog is many things — loyal, loving, crazy — but odorless is not one of them. He produces all kinds of, um, special smells, the most perplexing of which is the strong Frito aroma that emanates from his paws, a problem many dogs have. Where does that scent come from, though, and why does it smell like Fritos?

Why Do My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos?

“The smell of certain yeast or bacteria can cause the paws of dogs to smell like corn chips,” says Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club. In most cases, the culprits are bacteria known as Proteus or Pseudomonas, which are completely natural and usually harmless, but give off a yeasty odor that can resemble processed corn products.

What can contribute to the spread of these bacteria more than usual is the fact that dogs sweat through their paws, providing the perfect conditions for microorganisms to breed and stink up the place. “Dogs have merocrine glands in their paws, which function similarly to human sweat glands,” Klein explains. “They’re located in a dog’s paws and activate when a dog is hot to help cool the body temperature down.”

How to Cure Frito Feet in Dogs

In most cases, paws that smell like Fritos are nothing to worry about and can be mitigated by regular cleaning. “Proper hygiene of paws, such as keeping hair from growing too long between pads, and cleaning and drying thoroughly, may help prevent the condition from occurring,” Klein says. “Diet may play a contributing factor to this condition, too.” Food allergies, for instance, can cause inflammation of the skin, which can result in yeast infections that give off a foul odor.

If you notice anything like that, or paws that smell nastier than a bag of Fritos, it may be time to check in with your vet. “If a dog’s paws have a strange or funky smell, the cause is often a dermatologic condition that requires contacting your veterinarian,” says Klein. “They’re the one who will help determine the cause of the condition, such as a yeast or bacteria, and then can address the proper way to treat the condition.”

Otherwise, go on loving your dog as they are, Frito paws and all.