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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fritos? 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

smelly dog

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you have a dog, you are likely no stranger to all the smells that come along with sharing your life with our beloved canine friends. A question that pops up in the mind of many dog owners is “why do my dog’s feet smell like Fritos corn chips?”

The root cause of this smell is bacteria known as Pseudomonas and Proteus, but there are a few common reasons why your pup’s feet smell like you just opened up a bag of Fritos. Keep reading to learn more.

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The 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons Why Your Dog Smells Like Fritos

1. Excess Bacteria

It’s completely normal for bacteria and fungi to be present on the body. As mentioned above, the bacteria responsible for the Frito smell coming off a dog’s feet are Pseudomonas and Proteus. These bacteria are naturally present in the environment and are often no cause for concern.

Since bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments it’s not unusual for the yeasty corn chip smell to radiate from the feet. In certain circumstances, bacterial overgrowth can occur and cause a much stronger odor. The smell is not just limited to the feet; any areas with skin folds can house excess bacteria.

Certain dog breeds may be more likely to emit the corn chip odor than others, especially those with heavier coats that trap moisture and more skin folds such as Bulldogs, Shar Pei, Pugs, and Boxers.

clean dog paw after cutting hair and pedicure
Image Credit: PixieMe, Shutterstock

2. Sweaty Paws

For the most part, dogs use panting to help regulate their temperature and cool themselves down, but they also have merocrine sweat glands in their paws for the same reason. These sweat glands function similarly to those of humans and are activated when the dog’s body temperature rises.

Sweating from the paws may even result in wet paw prints when it’s particularly hot outside but it can also lead to that Frito smell from the paws. The moisture from the sweat can activate the smell of the bacteria.

For this reason, you may notice smellier paws after your dog has been outside playing. This is completely normal and there is no cause for concern if there is no trauma, signs of infection, or any other signs that would indicate an underlying health issue.

3. Underlying Medical Condition

Frito paws are often normal, but if you notice that the smell is incredibly strong and foul, this could be an indication of an underlying medical condition, such as a bacterial infection, yeast overgrowth, trauma, or inflammation, and it may even be related to allergies or compromised immunity.

Yeast overgrowth typically affects dogs that suffer from allergies or compromised immune systems and is often associated with the Frito smell. Many times, there are more clinical signs present that indicate a yeast infection including:

  • Frito smell coming from both the paws and the ears
  • Excessive licking of the paws, legs, and other parts of the body
  • Biting or chewing at the feet
  • Red, inflamed, or raw paw pads and/or ears
Close up Man Looking at red and itching dog paw at home
Image Credit: Tienuskin, Shutterstock

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When to Call Your Veterinarian

More often than not, smelly Frito feet are completely normal, but there are circumstances where you will need to reach out to your veterinarian to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions causing the smell.

It’s no secret that those precious paws are coming into contact with all kinds of dirt, debris, bacteria, and more, but this can be problematic if there is an open wound to the area or the immune system is already compromised. This can easily lead to an infection, which should never be left untreated.

Additionally, if your dog is suffering from allergies you will want to seek treatment to make your dog more comfortable by managing the signs. If your dog is exhibiting any of the following, it’s time to reach out to your vet for an examination:

Dog licking paw
Image Credit: KPhrom, Shutterstock
  • Excessive paw licking
  • Excessive itching
  • Flaky or crusty skin on the paw pads
  • Broken, cracked, or flaky toenails
  • Hair loss around the feet and/or paw pads
  • Unusual lumps or bumps
  • Redness, swelling, or inflammation
  • Strong, foul odor from the paws and/or ears
  • Large, open wound
  • Pus or drainage from a wound
  • Limping or difficulty walking

Keeping Your Dog’s Feet Clean and Odor-Free

You don’t necessarily need to wash your dog’s feet unless they’ve gotten extremely dirty from digging or have stepped in mud, urine, feces, or any other substance that warrants a good wash. If you are wanting to keep those puppy feet as clean and as odor free as possible, you can do the following:

groomer cleaning dog paw at the grooming salon
Image Credit: BY-_-BY, Shutterstock
  • Wipe down the paws with unscented baby wipes to remove dirt and bacteria after walks or outdoor time.
  • Wash their feet with a dog-friendly antiseptic shampoo.
  • Spread out their toes during the bath and clean in between each one.
  • Wash the underneath of the paws by getting into the nook and crannies.
  • Dry their feet thoroughly following the bath to prevent excess moisture.
  • Safely trim any excess fur between their toes using the proper tools.

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The Frito smell coming from a dog’s feet is the result of normal bacteria and is often no cause for concern. It can be noticeable due to excess bacteria, sweaty paw pads that activate the bacteria’s smell, or can be the result of an underlying medical condition. If you have any concerns over your dog’s Frito foot smell, or they are showing signs of infection or any other potential medical condition, you should contact your veterinarian right away to have them examined.

Featured Image Credit: UfaBizPhoto, Shutterstock

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