So, you're spending a Sunday couching and marathoning your favorite show when you suddenly smell corn chips. The thing is, there's no chips in the house. Before you suspect a chip-eating ghost, sniff your dog's feet. Fritos, right? Fido's Frito feet are real, and your dog's feet smell like Fritos because of a build up of sweat, bacteria, and yeast. "All dog feet smell, some more than others, and this is largely due to the amount and type of microbes growing there. All dogs have microbes such as yeast and bacteria on their feet; it really is the perfect place to take up residence," Amelia White, DVM, DACVD, wrote for VETz Insight.
"The feet are the one place on the dog that have sweat glands. Have you heard the saying that dogs do not sweat, they pant? This is the exception. It's dark, warm, moist, and hairy." If your dog has an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast in its body, you might be smelling corn chips on the regular. My dogs is going through a Frito phase right now due a propensity for yeast infections and a hot muggy summer. I can attest that if you open a bag of corn chips and smell it and then smell a dog with Frito feet, you might not be able to tell the difference between dog feet and snack food.
According to Dr. Karen Becker on Healthy Pets, dogs with allergies or compromised immune systems are more prone to developing yeast infections. Because my dog has a lowered immune system as a result of a chronic disease, things get yeasty pretty often. "Most dogs with yeast infections have immune system imbalances that inhibit the body's ability to control the yeast overgrowth," Becker noted.
"I also see lots of yeast infections associated with allergies," she continued. "An allergy is an immune system over-reaction, and many veterinarians use immunosuppressive steroids like prednisone, dexamethasone, and cortisone to mute or turn off the immune response, making it incapable of managing normal flora levels. This can lead to yeast overgrowth." While some pet parents claim to like Fido's Frito smell, it's actually a sign that your dog might need to see the vet.
Most people report the corn chip smell coming from the feet, but if your dog is extra yeasty, Frito fumes can come from the ears, skin, and armpits, too. Another telltale sign that your pup is suffering from an overgrowth of yeast is biting its feet. I mean hey, who doesn't like Fritos?
"Almost all dogs with a yeast problem become extremely and chronically itchy at the site of the infection. If it's a problem with her paws, she won't be able to leave them alone," Becker said. "The same goes for her ears. A lot of butt scooting can also be a clue. The terrible itching leads to desperate scratching and chewing, which can result in significant self-induced trauma and pain."
If your dog has chronic allergies or yeast infections, your vet will likely ask you about Fido's food, and recommend an anti-yeast diet. The kind of food you feed your dog really does matter, and it can go a long way toward reducing allergies and instances of Frito feet. "I recommend an entirely grain-free and carb-free diet for patients who have yeast. This step is extremely important," Becker said. "It's impossible to effectively deal with a yeast problem without addressing your pet's diet, regardless of how many supplements or baths you give him."
Along with diet changes, there are some all-natural remedies I use to help reduce my dog's yeast, including adding vinegar and coconut oil to her food, and making a water and vinegar rinse to apply after she gets a bath. Additionally, pet-care writer Roseann Lahey recommended on Petful that a little paw hair trim can go a long way toward keeping Frito feet under control.
"Trimming the fur between the foot pads is important for keeping the stench down," she said. "Without trimming, the sweat goes into the fur and permeates there. Spread those pads apart."
Lahey recommended using your thumbs for that part, and then using pet hair clippers to very carefully clip fur from around the paw pads. "This will eliminate the buildup of all sweat and stink coming from the pads," she said. It's important to note that this should be done in tandem with monitoring your dog's diet.
If your dog's Frito feet persist despite your best efforts at paw trimming and diet change, it's time to get a professional opinion. Because, while Frito feet might smell good to you, they're pretty uncomfortable for your dog. Make everyone happy by getting your dog some relief and getting yourself some corn chips.