The Real Reason Your Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos 

If you’re sniffing your dog’s paws and they smell like Fritos, you might be wondering what’s going on. A vet explains where that corn-chip smell really comes from.

Jun 25, 2024·6 min read
The Real Reason Your Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos 

As devoted dog parents, we often encounter unique quirks and characteristics of our beloved canine companions. Among the many peculiarities, one that stands out to many pet parents is the unmistakable aroma of corn chips emanating from their dog’s paws. This distinctive smell can prompt curiosity and concern, with dog owners wondering: “Why do my dog’s paws smell like Fritos?” 

Rest assured, it’s a common occurrence in many dogs.  

In this article, we’ll delve into what causes the corn-chip smell, how to recognize it, and what steps pet parents can take to manage it effectively. 

Dog Corn Chip Smell: How to Recognize It 

Imagine catching a whiff of Fritos the next time you’re snuggling with your furry friend. Some pet parents have actually coined this corn-chip smell as “Frito feet.” Catchy, right?   

This distinct odor can also be likened to Doritos, popcorn, or even cheese, depending on individual perceptions. It tends to be more noticeable after certain activities like exercise or when a dog’s paws are warm and moist. 

Why Do My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Fritos?  

The primary culprit behind this Frito-like paw odor is yeast and bacteria that naturally inhabit the skin and fur of dogs. These organisms thrive in moist, warm environments making the paws a perfect place to grow. 

Other possible causes could be that your dog stepped on something that smells like corn chips, they have an infection of their paw(s), or they are eating a diet high in carbohydrates.  

Certain dog breeds, especially those with tightly packed paws or wrinkly skin such as English Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Pugs, and Shar Peis, or those with long hair on the paws such as Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, and Huskies, may be more susceptible to developing this smell.  

What to Do for Frito Feet in Dogs 

Closeup of a pile of yellow corn chips

If you notice your dog’s paws smelling like corn chips, Fritos, or Doritos, don’t panic. In many cases, this odor is normal and not necessarily a cause for concern. Although the odor is due to bacteria or yeast, these are part of your dog’s normal skin microbiome.  

Under certain circumstances, however, the balance of these organisms can shift resulting in an opportunistic yeast infection of the paws. Therefore, it’s essential to monitor for any accompanying signs of infection such as irritation, redness, hair loss, and/or signs of paw discomfort, and seek veterinary care if noted.  

Are There Home Remedies for Frito Feet in Dogs? 

Pet parents often inquire about home remedies to mitigate the corn-chip aroma. While regular cleaning and drying of the paws can help, it’s crucial to avoid overwashing, as this can disrupt the natural balance of your dog’s skin.  

It’s also wise to avoid overly hydrating the paws. This can happen from applying too much coconut oil or another type of paw moisturizer. Too much moisture can further encourage microorganisms to grow.   

Consulting with your veterinarian is the best course of action. They can provide personalized recommendations, including safe topical treatments or medicated wipes, if needed. 

How to Prevent Smelly Dog Paws 

While it’s not always possible to entirely prevent the classic Frito paw odor, there are some preventative measures that can be taken. Try these suggestions for preventing smelly dog paws: 

Keep your dog’s paws clean and dry. As previously mentioned, excess moisture on your dog’s paws can create an environment for yeast and bacteria overgrowth. This can cause paw infections and discomfort for your dog.  

Trim excess paw fur. If possible, trim the excess fur around your dog’s paw pads. This will also help keep your dog’s paws clean and make it easier for you to inspect them for any issues. 

Care for your dog’s nails. Yeast, bacteria, and fungal infections can occur around your dog’s nail beds, so it’s helpful to practice nail care and hygiene. Trim your dog’s nails regularly to help keep them clean and healthy.  

Feed the right food. Additionally, feeding a complete and balanced high quality diet rich in essential nutrients supports overall skin health, further minimizing the likelihood of yeast or bacterial overgrowth.   

What If My Whole Dog Smells Like Fritos? 

While Frito feet are the most common manifestation of this yeasty smell in dogs, some pet parents may notice a similar odor in other areas of their dog’s body, such as the ears or folds of skin. These areas are also prone to yeast overgrowth, particularly in breeds with wrinkles or excessive skin folds.  

Ensuring good grooming practices, including regular bathing and drying of these areas, can help prevent yeast from flourishing.   

If excessive redness, hair loss, scratching, crusting, or thickened skin are noted, don’t delay on seeking veterinary care. Your pet may need oral and/or topical medications to stop an infection before it becomes worse and more difficult to treat. 

The Bottom Line on that Dog Frito Smell 

In conclusion, while a Fritos-like odor on your dog’s paws may initially raise eyebrows, it’s often a benign and manageable condition.  

Regular grooming and hygiene practices play a crucial role in preventing excessive odors and maintaining overall skin health. Remember, if you notice any concerning changes in your dog’s odor or behavior, consulting with your veterinarian is always the best course of action. 

As dedicated pet parents, understanding these nuances of our dogs’ health enhances our ability to provide them with the care they deserve. Embrace the Frito feet phenomenon as yet another endearing trait of our canine companions and continue to nurture their well-being with informed veterinary guidance and loving attention. 

Sylvalyn Hammond, DVMS
WRITTEN BY

Sylvalyn Hammond, DVM

Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond is a 2018 graduate of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Hammond began her life in the rural desert of southern Arizona where her family owns and operates an Angus cattle ranch. She spent her entire adolescence working as her mother's unofficial veterinary assistant and helping her dad and brothers with ranch chores, mainly caring for the many different species of animals they raised. It was no surprise that she found herself pursuing a career in animal health and welfare. Dr. Hammond is passionate about client education and enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine, particularly nutrition, internal medicine, and dentistry. When she isn't at the clinic you can find her cuddling with her rescue pup, Frank, enjoying a meal with her husband, James or playing outside with her son, Charlie.

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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