Frustrated by Frito Feet
The weird odor of Frito feet in dogs arises when microscopic organisms multiply due to diet, environmental conditions and irregular hygiene.
Natural Bacteria, the Root Cause
Most of your dogs sweat glands are concentrated at the pas of their feet; these pads are surrounded by fur and create damp breeding grounds for all kinds of bacterial growth. All the reproduction brings a plethora of smells, most related to the bacterial byproducts. Yeast bacteria is the main culprit of the smell; it thrives in warm and wet environments. The bacteria called Pseudomonas emits an odor that many interpret as popcorn. Proteus is the bacteria that gives off the corn chip smell, which intensifies after your dog sleeps as the body heat generated encourages bacterial activity.
Don’t let the bacteria talk scare you, it is completely natural. The same microorganisms that give your dog the corn chip smell is the same that give humans their body odor. The average human body contains 30 trillion cells, topped by skin covered by 40 trillion bacteria, which is greater for dogs. In particular the nooks and crannies of dog paws that pickup actinobacteria from soil, where the bacteria lives and multiplies.
You are What You Eat?
It’s assumed that a dog who has gotten into an open bag of Fritos, tortilla chips, or popcorn may simply be projecting the aromas native to these human food treats. Such conspicuous eating is not the root cause of foot odor in dogs, but it may have a decided part to play. Too many foods rich in carbohydrates or sugars can contribute to the right dietary conditions that foster the true sources of Frito feet or smelly feet. Cutting back on these kinds of treats can help but will not strike at the real causes.
Others conjecture that Frito feet simply reflect the way a dog’s feet smell. Some refer to the odor as “natural” or even “endearing.” The causes of Frito feet are natural enough, but as in strong or acrid human bodily odors, particularly where the feet are concerned, there is little that’s endearing about them. You may enjoy the scent of corn chips, but among the causes of Frito feet in dogs is a yeast infestation. Admit it, “yeast infestation” has nowhere near the cute factor of “Frito feet.”
If you’re worried about the smell or don’t love the fact that your dog’s feet smell like Fritos, there are a number of things you can do. Regularly washing your dog’s feet will eliminate any sweat and debris that may be contributing to smelly feet. The easiest thing to do if your dog is afflicted with Frito feet is to disinfect them with a dog-safe, non-toxic solution. With a tub, basin, or other vessel that your dog can stand in comfortably, common household cleaners such as hydrogen peroxide or vinegar can be combined with warm water to form an effective short-term approach. You only need to pour in enough to immerse your dog’s feet. Encourage her to remain still with soothing words, a favorite toy, or a healthy treat, so that the hydrogen peroxide or vinegar can act on the microbial infestation, then thoroughly dry the feet, including between the toes, with a clean cloth. Make sure to gently spread the toes apart by pressing on the pads. Regularly trim any long hairs between the toes, which can harbor bacteria and yeast, resulting in odor.
Allergies and Yeast
If the smell of your dog’s Frito feet doesn’t bother you, there’s no need to worry. However, if the smell becomes overwhelming, it might be an indication that something more serious is going on. Yeast overgrowth is a potential problem that can sometimes lead to infection. Yeast infections commonly affect dogs with compromised immune systems or allergies, so if your dog falls into one of those categories, be especially vigilant. Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Itchy paws, ears, and/or skin
- Frito smell coming from the ears, as well as the feet
- Biting of the feet
- Excessive licking around the feet or other areas of the body
If you observe any of these behaviors, please make an appointment to have your dog examined.
Even if you're not a fan of "Frito feet" your health may benefit from exposure to doggy bacteria. Studies have shown that pregnant women who own dogs have babies with a more diverse microbiome, and that children who grow up around pets aren't as prone to suffer from allergies. Most researchers agree that exposure to a greater number of microbes enhances immune system functions.