Frito Feet: The Truth About Smelly Dog Paws

A woman holds her dog's paw.

Let’s face it, dogs aren’t known for their lovely smell. With their penchant for investigating garbage and other unappetizing items, it’s no wonder dogs don’t maintain that “fresh from the bath” scent for very long.

One smell that isn’t exactly horrible, and seems to be almost universal, is that strangely familiar corn chip smell emanating from their paws. Often referred to as “Frito feet,” this odd (yet not always unpleasant) smell can have dog owners wondering why their pets’ paws smell like a popular snack food!

Bacteria and Fungi are to Blame

With all the places your dog’s feet go in a day (the yard, on a walk, even around your home) it’s no surprise their paw pads are covered in bacteria and fungi. Combine this with the traces of saliva left over from when they groom their paws and the fact that they sweat through the paw pads and you have the perfect environment (warm and moist) for microorganisms to flourish. These harmless microbes are the reason behind your pet’s Frito feet.

Are Frito Feet A Problem?

The bacteria and yeast that cause Frito feet aren’t typically dangerous for your pet, but if the smell becomes overwhelming or foul there may be an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed. 

Yeast or bacterial overgrowth can cause significant problems for pets with allergies or compromised immune systems. Schedule your pet for a checkup if you notice any of the following:

  • Corn chip smell coming from the ears
  • Excessive licking/chewing of the paws or other parts of the body
  • Injury to the paws
  • Raw or red ears or skin
  • Hair loss

Practicing Proper Paw Care

A little extra TLC for your pet’s paws can go a long way towards keeping the corn chip smell to a minimum and should be a part of your regular pet care routine.

  • Bathe your dog regularly, either at home or with our professional groomers, including the feet. Make sure to thoroughly dry in between the toes afterwards.
  • Keep the fur in between the toes trimmed to minimize sweat and debris buildup.
  • Make sure your dog’s toenails are trimmed on a regular basis.
  • Wet or muddy paws should be wiped clean and dried thoroughly each time your pet comes in from outdoors.

Whether you love or hate Frito feet, keeping your dog’s tootsies clean and healthy is important. For more information, or to schedule an appointment for your pet, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital.