Auburn CA dog with smelly paws

Depending on where you sit, the great debate concerning “Frito feet” could be either completely acceptable or annoyingly off-putting.  If you have no idea what we’re talking about, you probably don’t own a dog! 

Even the most well-groomed dogs are covered in fungi and bacteria, some of which can result in a conspicuous paw odor that slightly resembles corn chips. Frito feet can be a real drag, but usually isn’t a cause for concern.

It Sounds Corny, But…

Dog owners are fairly used to some funky dog smells. Whether they’re gassy or just plain dirty, dogs can get pretty stinky. But why do their lower extremities often smell like corn chips, tortillas or other previously delicious scents?

Dogs have loads of bacteria and fungi living on their skin. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, but it depends largely on a delicate balance. Proteus or Pseudomonas bacteria occur naturally in the environment. The combination of these bacteria with dog saliva and sweat, and all sorts of other microbes causes an unmistakable chemical reaction: Frito feet.

Mmmm… Moist and Yeasty

Since (most) dogs don’t wear shoes, their paw pads are exposed to the environment all day, every day. Soaking them in lukewarm water and wiping with a towel after a walk or outdoor playtime is an easy way to keep those adorable paws fresh. You can also trim the hair that grows between their digits to minimize how much environmental bacteria and fungi their feet pick up.

To a Point

There is a point when a dog’s delicate balance gets upended. A bacterial or fungal infection can create a strong, yeasty odor and should be addressed without quickly. Off-putting smells can sometimes be explained by other serious health problems like a tumor, growth, or injury. 

Paw Health

The health and wellness of your dog can be directly related to their paws. They rely on their feet to get them anywhere they want to go (and they want to go everywhere!). Paw troubles make for an unhappy pooch, which is why taking extra care of their feet is incredibly important.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, your dog’s feet could need some help:

  • Excessive licking of the paws and feet
  • Flaky or crusty skin around the paw pads
  • Hair loss on the lower extremities
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Redness or swelling
  • Limping
  • Toenail problems, like broken nails 
  • Slow-healing wounds

Get Used to Frito Feet

If your dog’s health is otherwise in tip-top shape, you might just have to get used to their Frito feet. Now that you know it’s perfectly normal and common, you may even grow to like it (maybe!).

As always, please inform our team if you have concerns about Frito feet or your dog’s overall health. We’re always here for you at Bowman Veterinary Hospital.