Tostitos Toes

Tostitos Toes: Why Your Pup’s Paws Smell Like Corn Chips

We love our pets, but, let’s face it – despite keeping up with regular grooming, our dogs can get a little smelly (they are animals, afterall!). And, along with their fur trapping in some unwelcome scents, you may have noticed their paws have a unique scent as well. 

Maybe you’ve even noticed that scent is a bit reminiscent of … corn chips? You’re not alone! Many dog owners have reported their pup’s paws smelling like popcorn or corn chips, and there is a reason. But is it dangerous? Read on as we explain.

Why Do Dogs Paws Get Smelly?

Frito feet; pup-corn paws; tostitos toes – vets have heard it all! And while it’s a bit of a strange smell (and a little gross), it usually doesn’t indicate anything is wrong with your dog. In fact, it can be just the opposite. 

Just like human toes harvest bacteria that causes a slightly stinky smell (especially after a long day in our shoes!), the same goes for your dog. In fact, some levels of bacteria and fungi are always present in dog’s toes, known to vets as Pseudomonas and Proteus

Pup’s paws can harvest this yeasty bacteria that smells similar to corn chips. And, because dogs sweat through their paws (just like humans sweat through the bottoms of our feet), that sweat activates the corn chip scent of said bacteria. 

When a Corn Chip Smell Should be a Cause for Concern 

While the corn chip scent is typically not dangerous to your dog, you should contact your vet if you notice the smell becoming overwhelming or foul, as this can be an indication of an  underlying health issue.

Because Pseudomonas and Proteus bacteria are a type of yeast, any kind of overgrowth can  indicate a yeast or bacterial infection, which can lead to health and immune system problems for your pup. Indications of an infection include

  • A Corn chip smell in your dog’s ears 
  • Excessive licking or biting at the paws
  • Paw cuts or injuries 
  • Raw or red ears or skin
  • Hair loss

Stop the Smell with Proper Paw Care

When humans shower and practice proper hygiene, we can mitigate body odor – and the same goes for your pup! By practicing proper paw care, you can help keep the corn chip smell at bay, while minimizing the opportunity for bacteria to grow.

As we mentioned, the bacteria that causes the corn chip smell is caused when dogs sweat, which is why you may notice it more after a walk or intense play session. To reduce the bacterial smell, wipe off your pup’s paws with warm soapy water and a cloth (or a baby wipe!) after exercise when the smell is more likely to be activated. You’ll also want to be sure to thoroughly dry their paws to reduce the risk of bacteria growth, which thrives in wet and humid environments.

It’s also important to ensure the hair that grows between your pup’s paw pads are trimmed of excess fur. This helps reduce the amount of dirt and bacteria that can get trapped between their toes, and eliminates the risk of infection. You can either ask your groomer to do this for you, or do so on your own at home with a pair of scissors or grooming blades. 

While the bacteria that causes the corn chip-like scent emanating from your pup’s paws can sound a bit gross, it’s (usually) completely harmless. With proper paw care and cleaning, you can help keep the scent at bay, while keeping your dog’s hygiene in check.

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