What Could Possibly Explain the Phenomenon of Corn Chip Paws?

What Could Possibly Explain the Phenomenon of Corn Chip Paws?
April 9, 2020

Being an owner of a dog can be downright confounding at times. Whether it’s their odd behaviors or questionable manners, dogs do some pretty weird stuff.

In the case of “Frito Feet”, some dogs emit an unmistakable corn chip odor from their paw pads that can be incredibly off-putting. Don’t worry: it’s perfectly normal, and combating the smell is within reach.

Smelly Dog, Smelly Dog

It’s true that many types of dogs like to get dirty and will stop at nothing when out and about. This could mean they roll around in poop, wade in murky water, or jump around in muddy puddles. And, generally speaking, the smells from their essential dog-ness are par for the course. 

Bacterial Beginnings

In other words, a smelly dog is a happy dog. They are out there living their best life, right? However, in the case of “Frito Feet”, dogs can grow a specific bacteria on their paw pads called Proteus or Pseudomonas. Responsible for a particularly yeasty smell, this bacteria is 100% normal and common.


When your dog licks their feet to clean them, their oral bacteria and microbes mix with the Proteus paw pad bacteria, and naturally occurring fungus. Also, the sweat produced by their paw pads adds to this specific cocktail, and whatever your dog just walked through during your last walk. It’s a jumble of stuff that makes for some pretty odoriferous scents!

Craving Nachos?

Depending on where you stand, this issue may be a non-starter. Frito feet may just be part of the package, and it’s no big deal to live with.

However, some dog smells can take a turn and it’s important to be on the lookout for any developments. 

Foul-smelling feet can indicate any of the following concerns:

  • Toenail infection
  • Overgrowth/imbalance of yeast or bacteria on skin that causes odor, redness, itching, etc.
  • Skin tumor
  • Open wound that isn’t healing 
  • Dry skin can cause inflammation, scaly skin, or secondary bacterial infections
  • Something lodged into the paw pad or foot like plant matter, glass, stone, etc.

In any of these cases, an examination is critical for a positive outcome. Rarely, funky smells resolve on their own and require treatment, monitoring and follow-up.

Cleaning Paw Pads

There are ways that dog owners can help their dog maintain excellent foot hygiene. For starters, keep the hair trimmed between the paw pads. Wash their feet in lukewarm water and mild shampoo. Dry thoroughly. You’ll have one pampered, good-smelling pup!

Also, after every hike inspect your pet’s feet for any injuries or items picked up from the trail. Consider moisturizing their paws with a pet-safe moisturizer. 

Love ‘Em Anyway

As long as their funky-smelling feet aren’t caused by an underlying health condition, owners can (hopefully) learn to accept the scent of their dog’s paw pads. You may not ever get your dog to smell super fresh, but that’s okay. 

If you have further questions about your dog’s health and wellness, Advantage Veterinary Center is always here for you!