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Why Does Your Dog Have Smelly Paws?

Dogs aren’t exactly known for being aromatic. You’re probably used to your fur baby bringing in some funky smells and getting offended when you bathe them. Some smells are universal. Ask most dog owners and there are some things we’ve all been subjected to. Anal gland smell, egg farts, and…corn chips?

We’ve all had that moment where we’ve been playing with our dog’s cute little paws, and we’ve caught the distinct scent of corn chips. This is so common that it even has a name: Frito Feet.

Why does this happen? Is it something you should worry about or just another dog thing? Let’s get to the bottom of Frito Feet and talk about how to help your pup keep sweet healthy feet.

What Is That Corn Chip Smell On Your Dog’s Feet?

Bodies are filled with bacteria. Dog bodies, human bodies, we all have natural bacteria that call our bodies home. Bacteria thrive in a warm, moist environment. Since dogs sweat through their feet, paws make an excellent hangout for bacteria.

The culprit of the corn chip smell is usually a bacteria called Pseudomonas. The Frito effect is just the natural odor this bacteria releases. On a hot day, or after a long walk, you might notice the smell is a little more noticeable. Moisture gives the bacteria’s scent a little boost, making wet paws smellier.

dog paws what does it mean when they're smelly

These bacteria are usually harmless, so if all you notice is the occasional whiff of stale chips from your pup’s paws, there’s no need to worry. Unless your dog is immunocompromised, bacteria keep a healthy balance and don’t cause any problems.

In fact, bacteria can be found anywhere on your dog. Since dogs don’t have sweat glands on the rest of their body, they shouldn’t have any strange odors. If you notice your pup’s ears smell like her feet or her body is smelling kind of yeasty, this is a sign that there may be a problem. Keep an eye open for irritation or discharge, cuts or scrapes that won’t heal, or a very strong odor from her ears or skin. If you notice any of these things, it’s time for a vet check.

Dog Paw Pad and Foot Care

Dog paws aren’t just for walking. They help dogs regulate their body temperature. They act as shock absorbers, protecting their joints. Paw pads contain delicate nerve fibers that help your dog know what type of surface they are walking on.

Foot care isn’t just about reducing the funky smell coming from your dog’s feet. Good foot care maintains the health and integrity of your dog’s paw pads and prevents injury and irritation. Injured paws can cause bacterial overgrowth, leading to infections.

Get to know your dog’s paws. You need to have an idea of what normal looks like so you can tell if any problems arise. Get to know the normal color and shape of the paw pads. Look for any marks that are unique to your dog so you can tell if there are any changes. Enjoy the time playing with your pup's cute feet.

Take a few minutes during bath time to pay special attention to your dog’s paws. Clean between the toes, and make sure to rinse them thoroughly. Washing your dog’s feet during her regular bath time is enough to keep any odors down. Washing too frequently can lead to dry, cracked paw pads.

Keep the fur on your dogs paws trimmed. Fuzzy feet are adorable, but if things get too hairy the fur can trap odors and harbor more bacteria than is healthy. If your dog has long silky locks covering her paw pads, it’s definitely time for a trim.

Helping your dog practice good doggy hygiene is not only important for their well being. It’s also a great way to practice self-care and spend some bonding time together.

Protect Your Dog’s Feet From The Environment

Dogs’ feet are tough, but they aren’t indestructible. They need to be protected in extreme weather. The summer sun can make the temperature of cement soar. This can cause painful burns on your dog’s feet. On very hot days either place your dog in protective footgear or keep any walks in the grass.

dog in snow with dog boots

Cold temperatures can also injure your dog’s paws. If your dog will be walking through snow and ice, or on cold pavement, it’s a good idea to have your dog wear booties to protect her feet. Don’t forget to protect your pup’s paws from the salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice. Exposure to these can lead to chemical burns.

Instead of heading out into the icy tundra, consider finding ways to entertain your active dog while indoors. We’ve rounded up some indoor activities for dogs that we’ve tried and loved!

Seasonal allergies often affect your dog’s feet. They can cause irritation, which will lead to itchy feet. If you catch your dog excessively licking at her paws, check for signs of allergies. The constant licking can lead to yeast infections, bacterial overgrowth, and increase inflammation.

Sometimes the cause of your dog’s allergies can be hard to pin down. Use this handy blog post to help you determine what’s going on with your pup.

Always check your pup's paws for ticks after walks. Ticks can easily hitch a ride between the toes. If you find a tick, check the area carefully for rashes or any skin changes. Save the tick so you can get it to your dog’s vet for testing.

If you notice your dog has paw pads that are cracked and dry, treat your fur baby to a pedicure. Give her feet a moisture boost with a paw balm. There’s no need to splurge on anything fancy. Coconut oil does a great job of hydrating and relieving dry, cracked paws.

There you have it! Your dog will never be completely free of Frito Feet, but that’s just part of their charm. Have you noticed your pup’s feet have a unique scent? Have you ever had to manage foot problems in your dog? Tell us about it in the comments!


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