It’s something that happens to all of us who have dogs. You’re sitting on the couch with your furry family member, and a familiar smell starts to take over. The smell? Corn chips. You know the smell is coming from your dog’s feet and always wondered why this strange phenomenon occurs, but have never researched to get an answer. This week’s blog is here to address this very important question!

Before we get started, there is one thing to keep in mind. While many smells are normal odors that come from your dog, some can be an indication of infection. It’s always good to know what to look for and smell for when it comes to your dog’s feet in case they need to be checked out.

First, what is causing this smell on my dog’s feet? 

The primary method for a dog to sweat is through their feet. When sweat is released, it causes moisture between the paw pads and toes. If you combine this moisture with the usual daytime heat, bacteria can find their way in between your dog’s toes especially if they don’t dry out regularly. Keep in mind that this is very common in dogs as they love to lick their feet. This mixture of bacteria and yeast can then cause that corn chip smell that we have grown to recognize.

Bacteria and yeast on my dog’s paws – is that a problem?

Before you pick up the phone to call your veterinarian, let us tell you that the smell isn’t always an indication something is wrong. Most dogs with the corn chip smell have no infections on their paws. Usually, it is caused by a small number of bacteria and is normal for dogs to carry. However, some dogs do run into an issue where there is an overabundance of bacteria or have a combination of yeast and bacteria. This in turn could cause inflammation and irritation which will make dogs lick or chew on their feet. If this is the case and it’s partnered with the corn chip smell, it could be a sign that there is a problem. These behavioral cues will signal when you should contact your veterinarian to have your pup checked out.

If the smell is normal and isn’t an indication of an infection, is there anything I can do to get rid of it?

Smelly paws are perfectly normal but there are things you can do to help control it. Soak your dog’s feet in lukewarm water and wash the paw pads with hypoallergenic soap. The key to all of this is to make sure that you thoroughly dry their feet afterward and trim any long hair between the paw pads.

The key thing to remember is that smelly corn chip paws are normal, but it’s always good to check on them to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary. Dr. Lindsey Gapstur, supervising veterinarian for Larimer Humane Society, reminds you to check your pet’s paws regularly for signs of burns, injuries, or other problems, particularly after exercising or hiking. Identifying problems quickly can help ensure they’re cleared up quickly as well.