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Why Do My Dog's Paws Smell Like Corn Chips? | Pupford

December 27th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Have you ever found yourself lounging with your beloved canine companion, only to catch a whiff of a peculiar smell coming from their paws?

Some pet parents describe it as a yeasty, slightly sweet aroma, while others associate it with the smell of a popular snack - corn chips.

This phenomenon, often affectionately referred to as "Frito Feet," has puzzled many pet parents. But don't worry; you're not alone in this amusing observation.

More importantly, it's usually nothing to worry about. This unique scent, reminiscent of a bag of Fritos, is a common characteristic among our four-legged friends.

But what causes this unusual scent? Is it a cause for concern? Or is it just another endearing trait that makes our furry friends even more lovable? Let's delve into the science behind this curious canine trait.


what to do if your dogs paws smell like corn chips

The primary cause of the corn chip smell, scientifically known as "Frito Feet," is the presence of natural bacteria on your doggo's paws.

The bacteria Pseudomonas and Proteus are of ten the main culprits. These bacteria and yeast are part of the normal flora on your dog's skin. They are harmless in small quantities and are even necessary for maintaining a healthy balance on your dog's skin.

However, when these bacteria increase, they can produce a compound called putrescine, responsible for the corn chip smell.

Just like humans, dogs sweat to regulate their body temperature. But unlike humans, dogs sweat primarily through their paws. This sweat, combined with the warmth of your dog's body, creates a moist, warm environment perfect for these bacteria to thrive.

When your dog sweats, the moisture can activate these bacteria, creating a distinctive corn chip smell. This is why the smell can become more pronounced after your dog has been active or has been walking in water.


dog with paws on their guardian

While the corn chip smell is typically harmless, it's important to keep an eye out for signs of infection. If your dog's paws show signs of inflammation, a foul-smelling odor, a cut that doesn't heal, or discharge, it's time to consult your vet.

Dogs that are more susceptible to infections include:

  1. Dogs with injured paw pads
  2. Dogs with compromised immune systems
  3. Dogs with poor health

Regularly checking your dog's paws can help you catch any potential issues early.

Related Reading: How Big Will My Puppy Get? Can Their Paws Determine It?


clean your dogs paws after going on a walk

If the corn chip smell from your dog's paws is accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, swelling, or excessive licking, it's crucial to seek veterinary care. These symptoms may indicate an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast, leading to a condition known as pododermatitis.

Your vet will likely conduct a thorough examination and may perform tests to identify the specific microorganisms causing the issue.

Treatment for pododermatitis varies depending on the underlying cause. If bacteria are the culprits, your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics. For yeast infections, antifungal medications may be necessary. In some cases, both types of medications may be needed.

Topical treatments such as medicated shampoos, sprays, wipes or a mudbuster can also be beneficial in managing the corn chip smell. These products can help reduce the number of bacteria and yeast on your dog's paws, alleviating the smell and any associated symptoms.

In addition to medical treatments, your vet may recommend dietary changes. Some dogs may have food allergies or sensitivities that can contribute to skin conditions and the overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. A hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet can help identify food triggers and reduce symptoms.

Remember, while the corn chip smell is typically harmless, it's always best to consult a professional if you notice any changes in your pooch’s health or behavior. Early intervention can help prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

Now, let's move on to how you can prevent the corn chip smell from becoming a persistent issue.

Related Reading: How to Teach a Dog to Wipe Their Paws


generally it is nothing to worry about if dog paws smell like corn chips

The best way to prevent Frito Feet or any infection is to keep your pup’s feet as clean as possible. Bathe your dog regularly, paying special attention to their paws and between their paw pads. Remember not to bathe more than once per month unless directed by your vet, as over-bathing can dry the skin and remove protective oils. This can disturb the natural balance of your dog's skin, making them more susceptible to infections.

When bathing your dog, use a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo. Avoid using human shampoo as it can disrupt the pH balance of your dog's skin, leading to dryness, irritation, and, potentially, infections. Rinse thoroughly to ensure no soap residue is left behind, as this can also cause irritation.

Keep your pet's feet dry, especially after they've been in water or after a walk in the rain. Moisture can start a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, leading to that corn chip smell. Use a soft towel to thoroughly dry your dog's paws after they've been wet.

Trimming the fur between your dog's paw pads can also help keep their paws clean. Long fur can trap dirt, debris, and moisture, building a perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive. Use a pair of blunt-ended scissors or a pet hair trimmer to trim the fur carefully. Be careful not to cut too close to the skin to avoid injury.

Learn more about grooming your dog with our At Home Dog Grooming Course in Pupford Academy+.  

Regularly check your dog's paws for any signs of injury or irritation. Look for cuts, sores, swelling, redness, or foreign objects stuck in their paws. If you notice anything unusual, consult your vet.


In most cases, the corn chip smell is a normal part of being a dog.

It's a unique trait many pet parents have come to love and associate with their furry friends. As long as your dog's paws are healthy, there's no need to worry about the smell.

In the grand scheme of things, the corn chip smell is just a small part of what makes our dogs so endearing. It's a reminder of their unique biology and the fascinating ways in which their bodies work.

So, the next time you catch a whiff of that familiar corn chip scent, take a moment to appreciate the marvel that is your dog. And remember, a little corn chip smell is a small price to pay for the unconditional love and companionship our dogs provide us every day.


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