Why does my dog ​​smell like Fritos — and other canine olfactory abnormalities? (2023)

  • Dogs smell like corn chips because of the bacteria and yeast that make up their microbiomes.
  • Owners can mitigate the odor by bathing dogs more regularly and practicing wrinkle care.
  • A strong, unusual odor could be from an infection or other condition that requires veterinary attention.

On any given day, your dog is likely picking up an odor, and it may not exactly smell fresh.

Maybe they smell like a garbage can after rolling around in something decaying in your yard. Maybe they just ran through your sprinkler and brought that familiar wet dog smell into your home.

But it's not just your dog's fur that can smell. Have you ever smelled their paws?

If your dog's paws smell like Fritos or another version of their favorite type of corn chip, then your dog may have something called Frito's paws.

Don't worry, this isn't a sign your dog just ate some Fritos. Here's what Frito's feet really mean, plus other common dog odors and how to keep the bad smell at bay.

Why does my dog ​​smell like Fritos — and other canine olfactory abnormalities? (1)

Libby Kane/Insider

Is it normal for your dog to smell like Fritos?

The phenomenon of Frito's feet is due to the mix of bacteria, fungi and yeast that tend to live harmoniously on your dog's skin, also known as the skin microbiome.

Sometimes certain smelly microbes grow and outgrow others, which can cause your dog to smell bad. For example, an abundance of Pseudomonas bacteria has been linked to smelly but healthy dogs in a small contextStudy 2018.

Although it was the dog's skin, not its paws, that was tested for bacteria, Pseudomonas could be a player in Frito's feet, according to PseudomonasDra. Aline Rodrigues Hoffmann, a veterinary anatomical pathologist who was one of the investigators on the study.

Pseudomonas has a distinct odor described astwelve grape, zCorn Tortilla-Typ.

Dogs can catch Pseudomonaswhere bacteria livein the natural environment such as soil and water. So if you play with your dog in the park or swim in the pond, chances are he will get Pseudomonas and could have Frito's feet soon after.

But Pseudomonas isn't the only organism that could be causing your dog's smelly paws. Other microbes at play may include:

  • the Proteus bacteria, which some people say it smells likerotten fishas well as - you guessed it -More-Tortillas. ratherwetlandssuch as soil and sewage.
  • Yeast or Malassezia, it can also ward off a yeasty smell that can mix with those other bacterial smells.

when to worry

Normally, your dog's immune system keeps microbes and pathogens in check in healthy numbers.

But sometimes, "when you have an overgrowth of one over the other, they become opportunistic and cause an infection," he says.Dr. Joya Greif, Veterinärdermatologe an der Animal Dermatology Clinic - Louisville.

Some of the microbes that cause odor can also cause infections if your dog's skin barrier is compromised due to allergies or autoimmune diseases, or if the bacteria get onto the skin through a scratch or wound.

It might be time to take them to a vet if your dog is smelly and exhibiting any of the following symptoms:

  • Itchy or chewing skin or paws
  • redness and inflammation
  • Lumps, lesions, or sores filled with pus
  • hair loss or dandruff

"Most importantly, if it doesn't smell right or doesn't look good it's always a good idea to check with your GP first. Or, if it's something more stubborn and it's not improving, have it checked out by a dermatologist," says Griffin.

Why does my dog ​​smell like Fritos — and other canine olfactory abnormalities? (2)

Frank Massaro/Insider

Why do some dogs stink more?

Some dogs smell more than others. This is due to several factors that may be related to their breed, such as: B. Coat type and thickness, physique, toe closeness and number of skin folds.

Between the toes is a particularly ideal area for bacteria.

"Dogs' toes are very close together, they have a lot of hair and that allows for a lot of moisture to collect in those areas. Once you have a lot of moisture, you let the smelly bacteria overgrow, and then you smell your feet a bit," says Hoffmann.

Skin folds are another area where bacteria like to accumulate.

"Anytime you have a creased area, there's going to be more moisture and heat and moisture in those areas, which encourages bacteria and yeast to grow, and often those creases smell like corn chips because they're areas where there's a lot of bacterial and yeast growth," says Griffin.

Why does my dog ​​smell like Fritos — and other canine olfactory abnormalities? (3)

Meryl Gottlieb/Insider

To reduce odor, wash your feet and body more frequently

If your dog's smell bothers you, try giving him a bath more oftenGentle shampoo for dogs🇧🇷 Just make sure you don't wash them so often that it dries out the skin.

"Some people bathe their dogs once or twice a week," says Griffin. "And if they start to have skin problems, you need to bathe them more often because it helps restore the skin's barrier function, increase skin hydration, and remove allergens and bacterial and yeast overgrowths on the skin..."

If over-the-counter dog shampoos don't seem to work, see your veterinarian. They may prescribe a medicinal product with more potent active ingredients, such as ketoconazole, salicylic acid, or phytosphingosine, which can help balance microbial growth and repair the skin.

If you have a wrinkled dog, like an English Bulldog, Pug, or Shar-Pei, you should practice tending to the wrinkles, says Griffin. Wrinkle care is essentially cleaning between the creases, where odors arise and annoying infections can thrive.

How to practice wrinkle care on your dog:

1. Prepare a cleaning solution.Griffin says you can dilute the medicated shampoo with water or use baby wipes.

2. Start at the creases of the face.Wipe between facial creases with a cotton ball, cotton swab, or handkerchief.

3. Move to the feet.Clean between the toes and around the pads of the paws.

4. Clean groin and armpits.Some dogs will also require you to clean the groin and underarms. Griffin says this is a common area for small, stocky dogs like basset hounds and dachshunds to get dermatitis in the folds, orIntertrigo.

Overall, any area of ​​your dog that gets hot and wet should receive a little extra attention when grooming.

If you've bathed your dog regularly but find you can't get rid of the smell, see your GP to make sure there aren't any underlying conditions, such as dental problems or yeast infection, related to the smell.

Why does my dog ​​smell like Fritos — and other canine olfactory abnormalities? (4)

Jaime Fallon / Insider

What does this mean for dog owners?

Both Pseudomonas and Proteus cancause infectionsin immunocompromised people, especiallyhospital settings🇧🇷 However, Hoffmann says this is nothing for healthy people to worry about.

In fact, sharing some bacteria and fungi with your dog can be a good thing. ONEStudy 2013found that adults who lived with dogs had a more diverse skin microbiome — thanks to sharing microbes with their dogs — than people without dogs.

And researchers have found that when you expose healthy people to a greater variety of microorganisms, you can boost the human immune system, help the body better respond to harmful pathogens, and reduce the likelihoodoverreactions of the immune systemto harmless microbes.

“So in general, you want diversity in your microbiome. And dogs bring that with them, they increase the diversity of the human microbiome whenever they share a home,” says Hoffmann.

Other dog smells and what they mean

Certain dog smells can be a telltale sign that something is wrong with your dog's health.

Here are some common dog odors and how to treat them:

  • fish smell:This smell usually indicates that your anal glands or anal sacs are affected or infected. You may also have other symptoms, such aspull the ass🇧🇷 In this case, you need to take your dog to the vet to have their anal glands removed and examined.
  • foul breath:You may have dental problems such as plaque build-up, gingivitis, or ulcers. This smell can also migrate: “If theylickand then they have halitosis or halitosis from dental disease, so sometimes their body also starts to smell,” says Griffin. If you think this is the case, take them to the vet for an examination and cleaning of their teeth.
  • rancid smell:A rancid, yeasty smell is usually associated with aMalassezia Yeast Overgrowth🇧🇷 If this is the case, your dog will show other symptoms including scaly, crusty skin, hair loss and itching. Your vet will prescribe a topical shampoo to treat the condition.
  • Strong odor in the ear:According to Griffin, a strong odor along with a change in appearance is often the first sign of an ear infection in dogs. Your dog may also start shaking his head or scratching his ear. Your veterinarian will usually amedical ear cleaningand may prescribe a topical treatment. If the infection is bad enough, oral antibiotics may be needed.
  • Breath smelling of urine or ammonia:If your dog's breath is really bad and smells like urine, that could be a signkidney disease🇧🇷 This condition would be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting and weight loss. If you suspect your dog may have this condition, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Nasser Dog:There isn't much you can do here except dry the dog thoroughly with a towel. This extremely common odor is due to volatile compounds from theMicroorganisms in your dog's coat, which evaporate together with the water.
  • skunk smell:If your dog has been in contact with a skunk, you can get rid of the smell by washing him with a mixture of baking soda, mild detergent, and hydrogen peroxide, according to theAmerican Kennel Club.

Griffin says it's important to find the focal point of any smell that isn't normal for your dog. That way you can examine it to see if it's red, inflamed, itchy, or painful.

Prato do Insider

In general, body odor is a normal part of dog life.

Dog skin is colonized by bacteria, yeast and fungi that can cause strange odors but are usually harmless and can even make your dog healthier.

However, if your dog is experiencing discomfort and symptoms such as inflammation, lesions, and itching, you should probably take him to the GP. Bacteria or yeast may have overgrown your dog's skin, causing irritation. Your vet can prescribe medicated shampoos to treat the overgrowth.

Other dog odors to look out for include a strong ear odor, foul breath, or a stale yeast smell. This could indicate other conditions, such as dental disease or ear infections, that need veterinary attention.

Zoë McDonald

Editorial Production Fellow, reference

Zoe McDonald is an Editorial Production Fellow at Insider's Reference Desk, where her primary work is maintaining the growing archive of useful explainers in the healthcare industry. Zoe previously worked as an Associate Producer at Meredith Corp. and created videos for brands like Health, Southern Living and Real Simple. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi and currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, where she enjoys experiencing the city's wealth of good food and walking her dog.

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