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Why Do Dogs Paws Smell Like Fritos?

dog paw

The smell of a dog's paws is often a good indicator of their hygiene and health condition. Since they use their paws for basically everything, it’s only natural that it is one of their most scent-rich body parts. While dogs are not known for smelling like flowers, corn chips are not a scent you would expect to come from your pup. Yet, as bizarre as it sounds, it is surprisingly common for a dog's paws to develop such a “condition”. If you've ever noticed this unusual smell on your pup, you've probably wondered what is going on. So, to end your confusion, in this part of our dog grooming guide, we'll explain exactly why your pup's paws could smell like Fritos.

What are Frito Feet in Dogs?

So what exactly does it mean if a dog smells like Fritos? This unique corn chip smell is due to a particular type of bacteria naturally present on your pup's paws. Just like us humans, dogs have a small level of fungus and bacteria on them at all times, which is usually harmless. In this case, the specific bacteria's are Pseudomonas and Proteus. These naturally present germs give off a yeasty odor that resembles the smell of corn chips when mixed with moisture like sweat, saliva, or water. They are mostly present in a dog's feet and ears. So aside from feet smelling like corn chips, you may also notice this scent coming from their ears. The smell of these germs becomes more potent when your canine sweats (yes, dogs sweat!) So you're more likely to notice it when your pup is running and playing than when they are sleeping. Water can also activate the scent, so you might also smell it after they have been outside playing in puddles or when washing their paws.

What are Frito Paws a Symptom Of?

Now that you have the answer to "why does my dog smell like corn chips", you're probably wondering how concerned you should be about this funky bacteria. Like in humans, bacteria and fungi are always present in dogs' bodies and may not necessarily develop into a health issue.  However, this particular bacteria can cause infection, so in some cases, the foul smell can signify something is wrong. Be on the lookout for other symptoms alongside the scent, such as:
  • Inflammation
  • Redness 
  • Discharge
  • A cut that is not healing 
  • Obsessive paw chewing

If you suspect a paw infection, seek medical help from your vet. Avoid self-diagnosing/self-treating the issue, even if you have some leftover antibiotics in your home. Your dog will require a specific medication to tackle this particular bacteria, so a vet check is always required. In general, if there are no worrisome signs aside from the smell and the scent is not consistent or strong, Frito paws are not something to be too concerned about right away.

How to Maintain Healthy Dog Paws and Prevent Frito Feet

Although this Frito-smelling bacteria is often harmless to your pup, unattended cuts or other paw injuries can trigger an infection. To prevent this, you should regularly clean and maintain your dog's paws. Here are three essential parts of paw maintenance and grooming.

Dog Paw Cleaning

Most dog owners only clean their pup's paws when they get particularly grim. However, by this point, an infection may have already started. Therefore, we recommend cleaning their paws after every walk or after any extended time spent outside.  Regardless of whether you've taken them on a walk in a forest or a stroll around the neighborhood, it's best to clean their paws whenever they come indoors. Doing this also has the added benefit of keeping your floor clean. Cleaning dog paws doesn't take much time at all. First, wash the paws under a sink or shower to remove the excess dirt. Then, use a dog-safe antibacterial wipe to gently remove any mud or debris in between the paws. Pay special attention to the hairs between the paws as mud can easily stick here and become a harboring ground for bacteria. Lastly, make sure to thoroughly dry the paws with a towel.

Hair Trimming Around The Paws

Another way to prevent mud from sticking between the paws and keep bacteria at bay is to keep the hairs around this area short. This is particularly essential for long-haired dog breeds with thick tufts of hair between their toes.  Excess hair on the paws causes matting and increases the likelihood of infection. However, it can also create discomfort for your pup when walking. Therefore, we suggest incorporating trimming this hair into your pup’s grooming routine. As a rule of thumb, you should never let the hairs extend past the height of the paw pad. Small dog hair trimmers are the best tools for paw hair trimming.

Trimming The Nails

Along with excess hair, you should also keep your canine's nails short. Overgrown nails can dig into your pup's skin and cause a severe infection. However, be careful not to cut the nails too deep as that can cause pain and irritation, too. Regular dog nail trimming is the best way to keep your dog's nails healthy. Aim to trim their nails about once a month. However, some dogs do a good job keeping their claws short through running and paying, so they may not require a trim every time.  Don't worry if you've never trimmed your four-legged friend's nails before. A dog nail grinder or clippers make this task safe, easy, and stress-free, even for the most inexperienced at-home groomer.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, the Frito smell coming from your pup’s paws is natural and in most cases harmless. So if you ever notice your dog emitting this unusual odor, do not get scared and observe if the dog shows any other symptoms before taking action. Also, by following the dog paw care tips above, your pup won’t just smell better but will have healthier paws keeping the smell of corn chips way at bay.

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