Have your ever gotten a whiff of your pet’s paws and thought to yourself, “corn chips?” That’s curious, right? Sure, dogs don’t always smell particularly wonderful, but why this recognizable scent? “Frito paws” is a common complaint from many dog owners and can usually be easily explained. 

If you’ve wondered why Fido’s paws smell like corn chips, then you have come to the right place. The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital can help uncover the reason behind this phenomenon and offer some suggestions for taking good care of those pet paws.

The Case of Corn Chips

Before you start to worry, most smells from your pet’s paws are generally nothing to be concerned about. That’s because bacteria, fungi, and other causes of odors are normal and present on pet skin. A pet’s feet are in touch with everything they encounter on the ground, including microbes and various icky substances. 

Then, to add to the toe-funk, dogs will frequently lick their feet and add more bacteria to the mix! Suffice it to say, your pet’s feet aren’t the cleanest. The bigger issue lies in how healthy the balance is between good and bad bacteria, and whether or not there is a condition at work that can create smelly feet and other problems.

When it comes to the corn chips smell, it is mostly likely caused by the bacteria Proteus or Pseudomonas. These create a “yeasty” smell. Another cause of the odor is sweat which gets lodged between your pet’s paw pads and fur. 

When the Funk Turns Foul

If your pet’s paws start smelling really bad, or if there is evidence of discharge, redness, of other things occuring, it may be bacterial overgrowth or an infection. It can also be caused by an injury to the feet that has become infected. 

Here are some common pet foot problems to alert to:

  • Bacterial or fungal overgrowth (causing odor, redness, scaling, etc.)
  • An abrasion that causes pus, odor, and possible infection
  • Something lodged in the paw pad or between them, such as grass awns, sticks, or rocks
  • Skin tumors (a lump or sore that doesn’t heal)
  • Toenail infection
  • Dryness can cause inflammation and scaling of the skin

Any of these issues need to be examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause and begin treatment to alleviate pain and ward off infection. 

Does Your Pet’s Paws Smell?

Once you know everything is fine, to prevent a smelly pet we recommend the following happy paws tips:

  • Wash your pet’s paws regularly, especially after hiking or walking in a natural area
  • Inspect your pet frequently looking for plant awns, burrs, ticks, etc.
  • Consider donning your pet’s tootsies with some doggie booties
  • Wipe your pet’s feet with cooling, soothing pet paw wipes or balm and moisturize them, if they are dry, with a good pet formulated moisturizer

While we can’t get the Fritos smell out of Fido, we can make sure they are in great health! Give us a call if your pet’s paws smell or if you have any questions about your precious pet.