Dog in gibsonia with Frito feet.

Have you ever been cuddling with your dog and thought you caught a faint (or strong) odor resembling corn chips? If so, your pet may have a case of Frito feet! This phenomenon may seem strange, but it is a normal occurrence. 

Dogs produce a variety of smells, and some pet owners may notice their pet’s paws smell like corn chips, Fritos, tortillas, yeast, or other corn products. But why does this happen? The team at All Pet Animal Hospital is here to explain this smelly mystery. 

Where the Corn Chip Smell Originates

Even the cleanest dogs still have lots of bacteria and fungi in their paw pads and skin. Dogs pick up even more bacteria when their paws come into contact with the ground in different environments. Additionally, pets who lick their paws can also add to the funk by mixing in saliva bacteria with the bacteria present on their paw pads. 

The yeasty, corn chip smell comes from the bacteria known as Proteus or Pseudomonas. Since dogs sweat through their paws, the Frito-like odor can also come from the sweat trapped in their paw pads that creates a moist, warm environment. Luckily, the popcorn or Frito smell is perfectly normal! 

Keep the Feet Happy and Healthy 

Some pet owners don’t mind the corn chip smell, and that is perfectly fine! However, if the odorous paws start to bother you, keeping your pet’s paws clean with regular grooming (professionally or at home) can help. Regular grooming can help back on bacteria, sweat and debris build-up. 

You can also prevent extra bacteria build-up by wiping your pet’s paws off after they come indoors. Make sure no grass, dirt, or other outside debris is stuck between the paw pads after outdoor time. Dog booties can also protect the paw pads from the elements and reduce the strange smells, as well as protect their feet from the elements or injury.

When to See a Veterinarian

If your pet’s paws start to produce an odor that is strong and foul, it may be an indication of an underlying medical issue. Watch out for these signs of troubled paws: 

  • Red or irritated paw pads 
  • Pus, discharge, abrasions, or visible cuts 
  • Broken, flaky, or crusty skin or toenails 
  • Swelling or bumps around the feet 
  • Excessive licking 
  • Limping or change in mobility 

It’s important to contact your veterinarian for a wellness checkup if your pet is displaying any of the symptoms above. The sooner your veterinarian is able to diagnose your pet and establish a treatment plan, the quicker they will start to feel better. 

We’re here to keep your pets healthy, from paws to tail! Give the team at All Pet Animal Hospital a call at (724) 444-6600 with any questions or concerns.