Why Do My Dog's Feet Smell Like Fritos (and Should I Do Something About It)?

We’re not saying we get our noses up in our dog’s paws on the reg—oh, who are we kidding, we totally do, they’re so cute and Grinch-like with those tufts of fur. So why do they sometimes smell uncannily like corn chips? Are we just imagining the whiff of Frito in their feet?

As it turns out, we’re not imagining it: Frito feet (um, not really a technical term) is a pretty common occurrence among pooches, but luckily, it’s pretty harmless too. Here’s what you should know, including when to call the vet.

Why do my dog’s feet smell like Fritos?

According to veterinarians, the reason your pup’s paws smell like corn chips comes down to two types of bacteria, proteus and pseudomonas. They’re completely normal and found on all dogs’ feet, since they’re picked up from walking around throughout the day. (Think of it like the bacteria that hangs out on your skin all the time.) But the anatomy of a dog’s foot (crevices and all that fur) makes it an especially habitable environment for those bacteria to multiple and get stinky. Plus, some dogs like to lick their feet, which can exacerbate the situation.

Do Frito feet warrant a trip to the vet?

Most of the time, vets will tell you, Frito feet aren’t cause for concern. But if your fur-buddy is licking or chewing more frequently, limping, itching, or if you see any redness or swelling on their paws, give your vet a call—these could be indications of an infection, allergies, irritation, injury or ticks, all of which should be looked at by a professional. The same goes if your dog’s paws never used to smell and all of a sudden give corn-chip vibes.

How can I treat Frito feet at home?

If you’ve already confirmed that the Frito smell is nothing more than a harmless form of doggy B.O., there are a few ways you can keep the scent at bay. Keep your pup’s paws clean and wash them regularly, especially after spending a lot of time outside. Trim any fur that’s growing out of control, and consider dog booties if your pet will tolerate wearing them. Otherwise, embrace those stinky toes for what they are—after all, your dog would do the same for you.

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