Why do dogs paws smell like Fritos?
Source: Getty Images

Stinky Dog Paws: The Secret Significance Behind That Corn Chip Smell

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May. 3 2021, Updated 4:01 p.m. ET

This may seem odd, but we suspect that most of our dedicated pet parents reading this have smelled their dog’s feet. It may have been an accident, or it might have been incidental — perhaps in a moment of puppy cuddles. Whatever the reason, you probably thought to yourself, why do dog’s paws smell like Fritos? Well, keep reading and we’ll tell you why.

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why dogs paws smell like fritos
Source: Getty Images

Why do dog paws smell like Fritos?

Surprise – it’s bacteria! Well, bacteria, fungi, and other odor-causing compounds that your pup encounters walking around barefoot all day long. According to Androscoggin Animal Hospital, the specific bacterial culprits are bacteria Proteus or Pseudomonas. These little buggers are what cause that yeasty, corn chip smell.

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We'll level with you — dogs are gross. Their bathroom habits are far from hygienic by our definitions, as are their self-grooming habits. You’d think that considering the kind of stuff that’s out there, they might pay some attention, but most dogs don’t really care about what they step in. If their paws get dirty, they just lick them clean, which apparently only makes things worse — bacterially speaking. 

When dogs lick and groom their feet, they add a new assortment of bacteria to the already potent mix of microbes already funking up their toe beans. And yet, stinky or not, this Frito funk is actually pretty normal for most dogs.

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why dogs paws smell like fritos
Source: Getty Images

Is it bad that my dog’s feet smell?

If you ask the folks over at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, they’ll tell you there’s really nothing to be alarmed about. A dog having smelly or dirty paws on the outside is fine — it’s only when their paws are injured that you should worry. Dogs with poor health conditions, or those that are immunocompromised, also might have to be a bit more careful about where they trod as well. 

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If you notice any signs of inflammation, discharge, or if they have cuts on their paws that don’t seem to want to heal, it might be time to call the vet. In terms of smell, you’ll likely know the difference between a normal Frito-ey scent and the typical foul smelling odor of a fungal or bacterial infection. These types of infections can be caused by dangerous bacteria and can result in amputations or fatalities if left untreated. 

why dogs paws smell like fritos
Source: Getty Images
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What to do if your dog’s feet smell?:


There are a few easy ways to keep the corn chips at bay... for a time, anyway. First, try and wash them regularly, paying special attention to the paws and between the toes. Once the bath is done, dry their feet off completely. Dry feet are happy feet, and the same is true if their paws get wet or dirty outside while walking through mud, grass, or garden beds. Make sure they are perfectly dry once you’ve got them inside again.

If your dog has particularly hairy paws, carefully trim any over-long fur down there. This will prevent bacteria from getting too comfortable in there. Above all, don’t sweat it too much. For the most part, you don’t want to do anything. Unless your dog is excessively licking or walking in a lot of very questionable materials, they can probably keep their own paws clean. 

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