If you are a dog lover, chances are that someday while cozying up with your furry friend you might have smelled something unpleasant. Don’t get me wrong, dogs smell like all sorts of things, however, many pet owners report a specific smell- something like a bag of freshly opened fritos.
So what do you do after you fail to find a bag of corn chips and realize that the scent is actually coming from your dog’s feet? For starters, you shouldn’t worry too much, this phenomenon actually is very common. Many dogs go through something coined as ‘Frito feet’ and I’ll be discussing all about it in this article
Why do Dogs smell like Fritos?
The reason your dog smells like it was born in a Frito Lay factory is bacteria. The smell arises due to the duo Pseudomonas and Proteus, two bacterias that live on your dogs paw and give off a yeasty Frito like odor.
When you take your dog for a walk in the park or maybe play catch with it in the yard- it runs around on soil, dirt and pavements picking up an array of bacteria and fungi. Many types of bacteria and fungi mix together on the paws of your dogs and form the microbiome of the paw’s skin.
Since dogs are naturally active and constantly move around, they tend to sweat a lot. Dogs sweat is excreted through their paws and this is where it mixes with the microbiome of the skin and provides moisture to it. Wet surfaces encourage growth of bacteria and provide the perfect environment for the two bacterial culprits to “activate”.
Pseudomonas has been characterized to possess a very distinct smell which is described as sweet grape like or corn like. Whereas, Proteus is known to smell like rotten fish or corn tortillas. Combined together with sweat, these bacteria account for the signature Frito-like corn chip smell.
Why is this smell More Common in Summers?
Dogs generally have a knack of being messy and that in no way helps prevent bacterial growth. Fur coats of dogs easily trap debris, dirt and all kinds of bacteria. Along with that many crevices present on the dog are suitable grounds for the overgrowth of bacteria especially the area between toes is credited for massive out growth of bacteria due to its humid environment.
In summers, when temperatures are high dogs tend to keep licking their paws to keep them cool. The constant licking introduces salivary bacteria on the paw which along with all the bacteria of the skin mixes to produce a stingy frito smell. Also on humid days, yeast growth can spike on the dog’s body too. This and bacteria make your pet’s paws smell worse.
Do I need to Worry about the Frito Smell?
The fact that your pals’ paw pads smell like corn chips might be a sign of worry but usually that’s not the case. Most of the time dog owners don’t mind the smell of Fritos from their furry friend nor does it have any effects on his/her health.
So don’t worry. Even though your pooch might have Frito feet it shouldn’t stop you from snuggling up to your dog in your bed or have them jump over you on the couch. The smell doesn’t necessarily indicate an infection, it can be a healthy balance of natural bacterial biomes which keep the immune system in check.
When should I worry?
Although it’s quite normal that your dog’s feet smell like Fritos, sometimes the cause behind it may be concerning. The paws of a dog are a hot-bed for infections because of all that bacteria and this infection is more likely to happen if your dog has injured paws or poor health in general.
It’s important to get fiddo checked out in case there is an infection. Take your dog to the vet for any of the following:-
1. Sudden Smell
If your dog previously didn’t have any distinct odor and suddenly developed smelly feet, this can indicate an overgrowth of bacteria which means that something is wrong.
2. Behavioral Changes
Look for changes in your dog’s behavior. If you notice your pal is excessively licking his paws or chewing it continuously, these may be the symptoms of inflammation. Limping or holding their one foot off the ground are also one of the classic symptoms that present in case of infections or inflammation.
3. Wounds and Infections
Thoroughly examine your dog’s paws for any open wounds, redness, itching or infections. An overgrowth of bacteria or yeast increases the chances greatly of your dog getting an infection.
Research shows that most infections are caused by an increase of one bacteria over another in the normal flora and that’s when opportunistic diseases take over. If the dog’s skin barrier is compromised by any knicks, wounds or cuts caused by rocks or any sharp object, bacteria and fungi penetrate inside and cause infections.
4. Other Disorders
Skin barrier can also be weakened by allergies or autoimmune disorders which may lead some of the odor producing microbes to cause an infection. If you notice any redness, bumps or lesions, broken toenails, swelling or inflammation it might be time to call your vet as your dog might have pododermatitis.
How can I treat Frito feet?
If you are determined to get rid of Frito feet then, fret not. There’s many ways you can keep the scent at bay. The best way being, keeping pooch’s paws clean. Whenever you and your dog venture outside for adventure don’t forget to thoroughly clean the paws once you are all done spending time in the wilderness.
You might also wanna trim any outgrowing fur to prevent any bacteria outgrowth. Here’s a few quick tips to make sure you keep your dog clean and odor free.
1. Regularly Wash Your Dog
Use a gentle shampoo more often to bathe your dog but make sure to not over do this as it might end up over drying the skin and creating more problems. If normal shampoos aren’t working properly, a visit to the vet might be appropriate.
Your dog may need prescription shampoos to level out the overgrowth of bacteria. Shampoos containing ingredients such ketoconazole, salicylic acid, or phytosphingosine may prove to be effective against bacterial and fungal overgrowth.
2. Special Care
Dogs with skin folds such as a British bulldog require special fold care. In between the folds many infections and odors may emerge, and it’s tricky to manage them as these folds may be hard to clean.
If you have a dog with skin folds, aim to clean them every time after they eat, play or visit the park. Just use simple warm water and be sure to dry the spot after cleaning. You could also keep dog bath wipes to use whenever you are in a squeeze.
On the other hand, if you have a dog breed that has extra long fur, trim the fur around its paws.
3. Pet Booties
If your dog is comfortable wearing dog booties, then consider buying a pair for it. Dog booties help prevent injuries and picking up unnecessary bacteria, but if your dog doesn’t like the idea you might wanna get used to being cuddled by a bowl of corn chips.
4. Foot Soaks
In case of super smelly paws your best friend would be in need of foot soaks to entirely get rid of the stench. To completely remove any signs of odor fill up a vessel up to 2 to 3 inches with a temperature of about 100F and add in 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
Let your dog stand in the water for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Then, rinse and wash the bedding of your puppy’s paws thoroughly and then dry it. Make sure your pet’s feet dry properly, otherwise they may make for the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
What if my Dog STILL smells like Fritos?
If you meticulously maintain the hygiene of your dog and it stills smells like a freshly opened bag of corn chips, this warrants a visit to your nearest vet. Your vet might run tests for pododermatitis to see if it’s caused by yeast or bacteria.
Sometimes feet aren’t even the cause of the smell. Dogs’ bodies have many areas which are susceptible to infections and inflammation. In that case it may be helpful to clean up areas such as the groin and underarms because these areas are vulnerable to yeast and bacterial overgrowth.
Taking care of a dog is nothing less than a full time job but they aren’t called “man’s best friends” for nothing. The care, loyalty and love our dogs shower on us binds us to show them the same care and appreciation- and proper hygiene is where it starts.
Dog’s skin is populated with many bacteria and fungus and if not properly taken care of can lead to many diseases and shorten our time with our pals. Following the steps above can help your pooch not stench like Fritos and protect it from disorders like bacterial overgrowth, pododermatitis or cuts/wounds.
Apart from that, inculcating best practices like taking your pet for regular checkups at the vet and examining their paws may also extend the time your pooch spends living a healthy life with you.