Smell My Feet

October 17, 2018
2 mins read

Dear Davi,

I don’t always go around smelling my mutt’s tootsies, but when I do, the odor wafting into my nasal cavities reminds me of something familiar and … crunchy. Why do some dogs’ feet smell like corn chips?

Perplexed Dog Dad Pierre


Dear Pierre,

My immediate response: “Who the heck goes around smelling their pup’s paws?” I might do some crazy things, but I sure don’t make a habit of sniffing my human’s feet. Still, a question from a Dog Dad (or Mom) deserves a decent answer, so I’ll try to answer. Here goes.

One common theory I’ve heard in my travels across this great land is that the corn-chip smell on a canine’s feet is caused by excess corn in their diet. Pshaw—that’s simply not true. The smell doesn’t speak to the quality of the grub you’re feeding your pet. And though providing a healthy diet is always important, it’s not the root cause of foot odor in dogs.

Why a dog’s feet smell like snack food is due to a presence of certain bacteria—particularly Proteus or Pseudomonas. That yeasty odor emanting from his dogs (couldn’t resisit) is natural and normal and it’s fairly common, too.

Dogs sweat through their four foot pads. Just as people’s feet sweat—and more often than not have an odor—so do canine paws. The sweat becomes trapped in the fur between the foot pads and can become, shall we say, malodorous.

Even the cleanest dogs have trillions of bacteria living on their skin. But dog’s feet, trampling through the grass and dirt, being licked, with folds of fur and skin, are breeding grounds for germs.

As with humans, regular and proper hygiene will certainly help keep the stench down, or at least lessen it a tad. Since no one has invented Odor Eaters for pets yet, the ball is in your court. Keeping the fur between your dog’s toes trimmed and neat can help to reduce this odor. After you do the tricky trimming, it’s a good idea to give your dog’s paws a thorough cleaning with warm water and pet shampoo. That should be enough to remove the pooch pong.

If you’re still overwhelmed by it, you can try scrubbing your doggy’s paws more often. Really, though, Frito feet are better than stinky feet, so give your pooch a break—and a treat for good measure.

The good news? The corny smelling bacteria are totally harmless, so you may keep sniffing your dog’s paws in good health. Whatever makes you happy. However, if your best friend’s foot odor is particularly funky, something else may be at play.

Keep your eyes peeled for symptoms like lumps or bumps between the toes, crusty skin on paw pads and broken toenails. And if your pooch is licking his feet excessively or there’s inflammation between his toes, you might want to take him to the vet. By the way, it’s normal for dogs to lick their paws—it’s an important part of a dog’s self-cleaning routine. Excessively is the keyword.

Dogs can be smelly animals. When we sniff out something stinky, we often roll in it, eat it or rub its essence into our fur. You may have a tough time controlling this behavior, but you can keep those busy paws clean to reduce odor—unless, of course, you like the smell of corn chips.


Davi the dachshund is rethinking his Lifetime movie snacks. Maybe kale chips next time.

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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