Why Do Dog Feet Smell Like Fritos?

June 19, 2023
Amber LaRock - LVT & Vetted Vet Pro
skin and coat

Have you ever noticed that your dog's feet have a peculiar smell, reminiscent of the popular corn chips known as Fritos? Maybe you get a whiff of this scent when you are cuddling with your little one on the couch, or even when you are trimming their nails. 

You may be surprised to learn that you are not alone in this observation, and that it is actually quite common in our beloved companions! So why do dog paws smell like Fritos?

In this article, we'll explore the possible factors behind the Frito-like odor emanating from your pet’s paws, and whether or not you should be worried! 

If you have any questions about your dog’s paw health, you can always download the Vetted app or email our team directly at love@getvetted.io

1. Bacteria and Yeast

One of the primary factors contributing to the Frito-like smell on a dog’s paws is the presence of bacteria and yeast. Dogs naturally carry microorganisms on their skin, and when they come into contact with sweat and moisture, it creates an environment conducive to bacterial and yeast growth. These microorganisms produce certain compounds that can give off a corn chip odor. As long as your dog’s paws are not irritated or uncomfortable, this is often completely normal. 

2. Sweat Glands

Believe it or not, dogs have sweat glands in their paws. These sweat glands, known as eccrine glands, produce a watery sweat that helps to regulate their body temperature. When this sweat combines with the bacteria and yeast on the dog's paws, it can produce an aroma similar to that of Fritos.

3. Fatty Acid Breakdown

Another possible explanation for the Frito-like smell is the breakdown of fatty acids in a dog's sweat and oils. Fatty acids contain a compound called propionic acid, which has a pungent odor. When dogs sweat or release oils from their paw pads, the propionic acid can interact with the bacteria and yeast, resulting in the distinct corn chip scent.

4. Natural Secretions

Dogs have scent glands in various parts of their bodies, including their paws. These scent glands produce pheromones, which are chemical signals used for communication among animals. The combination of these natural secretions and the presence of microorganisms on a dog's paws may contribute to the familiar Frito-like smell.

5. Breed-Specific Factors

Interestingly, the Frito odor is more noticeable in certain breeds. It is believed that the structure and shape of a dog's paws can influence how sweat and secretions interact with bacteria and yeast. Breeds with tightly packed toes, such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, may be more prone to the Frito-like smell due to the increased moisture and bacteria retention between their paw pads.

6. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also play a role in intensifying the corn chip smell. Walking on certain surfaces, such as grass or damp areas, can increase the moisture content on a dog's paws. This, in turn, creates a favorable environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive, intensifying the Frito-like odor.

How To Maintain Your Dog’s Paw Health

While the Frito smell is generally harmless, it's essential to ensure that your dog's paws remain healthy. The Frito-like odor can point to underlying issues like bacteria and yeast infections of the paws, so you always want to keep a close eye out for any abnormalities. 

Some of the best ways to manage your dog’s frito paws include:

  • Regularly inspect and clean your dog's paws, looking for any signs of irritation, redness, or excessive odor. 
  • Consider using pet-safe wipes or mild soaps specifically designed for paw cleaning, especially if the odor is more pungent than usual.
  • Keep your dog's paws dry after outdoor activities, as this can help to reduce the chances of bacterial and yeast overgrowth.

The Frito-like smell coming from your dog's feet can be attributed to a combination of factors like  bacteria and yeast, sweat gland secretions, fatty acid breakdown, breed-specific traits, and environmental conditions. 

While the odor is generally harmless, practicing good paw hygiene and monitoring your dog's overall paw health is always advisable. Embrace your pup's unique scent, knowing that it's just one of the many fascinating characteristics that make them special!

If you have any questions about your dog’s paw health, you can always download the Vetted app or email our team directly at love@getvetted.io