Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fritos? It's Not What You Think

If your dog smells like corn chips, they might have a medical issue you'll need your vet's help with.

Published January 28, 2023
woman with her dog at home hugging

You detect a distinct corn chip aroma while lounging on the couch next to your dog. You scan the space around you but can't identify the source of the stench. Then, return to the couch to continue your favorite TV show. As the odor grows stronger, you realize it is coming from your dog's feet. Why do your dog's paws smell like Fritos? We'll examine the reasons, find out if you need to be concerned, and offer some preventative measures to keep your dog's paws safe and healthy.

This is Why Your Dog Smells Like Fritos

Your dog's paws smell like corn chips because of two types of bacteria; proteus and pseudomonas. These bacteria are responsible for keeping your pup's paws healthy. However, sometimes they get out of balance, and end up creating the odd corn chip smell you're detecting.

Normally, these bacteria live on your dog's skin and don't smell. Dogs carry these bacteria on their paws naturally as they're picked up throughout each day. It's kind of like the bacteria that live on your skin without causing problems, most of the time. Unlike humans, though, our dogs have little warm nooks in their paws that can cause the bacteria to multiply and give off an odd aroma. This is usually harmless.

When to See the Vet

Since these bacteria grow naturally on your dog's paws, this smell rarely warrants a trip to the vet. However, if you notice your dog with any of the following behaviors, you should give your vet a call:

  • Irritated or red paws
  • Fur loss on the paws
  • Limping
  • Excessive itching or chewing

Any of these signs could mean the bacteria have multiplied too much and your dog may need an antibiotic to help control the smell.

Make Your Dog's Feet Smell Better

If you have visited your veterinarian and confirmed the Fritos smell is harmless, you can take measures to make your dog's feet less smelly.

  • Trim your dog's nails regularly so they don't get too long, which can make it hard for them to walk. Use a nail clipper designed for dogs, because human nail clippers can be too large for small dogs' nails.
  • Clean your dog's paws regularly with warm water and mild soap or a pet-specific disinfectant spray.
  • Perform any necessary first aid. If there are any cuts or wounds on the pad of the foot, bandage them up with gauze or antibiotic ointment until they heal completely.

Consider Dog Booties

Protecting your dog's paws is part of your job as a responsible pet parent. If your dog will tolerate them, you may want to consider getting your dog some booties. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Help keep your dog's feet clean and dry as well as warm when it's cold outside.
  • Protect your dog's paws from ice and salt when you walk them outside in the winter.
  • Protect their paws from harmful chemicals on the ground at work sites, parks, and other locations where dogs are allowed outdoors.
  • Protect their paws from hot pavement in the summer months or sidewalks during cold snaps in spring or fall.
  • Give you peace of mind that your dog's feet won't get cut up on rocks, glass, or other sharp objects if they get out of the yard or run along a busy street while you're walking them.

The size of your dog's feet determines what size booties they will need, so measure your pup's paws before buying any type of footwear. You should also measure from their heel to the tip of their toes to ensure you get the correct size. If your dog is well-socialized, you may want to consider taking them to the pet store with you to find booties that your dog will fit into and tolerate.

Don't Worry, It's Probably Normal

If your dog's paws smell like Fritos, and there isn't any irritation, you may not have to worry about it. If you are concerned, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian and discuss what your dog is experiencing. Once you get the all-clear, you can begin taking measures to make your dog's feet smell better.

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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fritos? It's Not What You Think