If sitting next to your dog starts to make you feel unexpectedly snacky, he may have a case of Frito feet. It sounds odd, but Frito feet, sometimes called popcorn feet or Dorito feet, is a real thing that often mystifies dog owners. If a good whiff of your dog's paws makes you head for the snack food, you'll be happy to know that there is an easy solution.
What in the world are Frito paws?
If you're new to the Frito feet phenomenon, you're probably wondering how this is even a thing. The answer is bacteria. The world is full of microbes, yeasts, and bacteria — so full that it's impossible to completely avoid them. As such, a small number of them are always present on your dog. This is true of all dogs; there is no particularly smelly dog breed when it comes to Frito feet.
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Although these organisms can find their way onto any part of your dog, her paws are the most susceptible. It's easy for this bacteria to get caught in the nail beds of your dog's feet as well as the crevices between her toes and around her pads. Dogs sweat through their feet, and they sometimes walk through puddles or play in the water. When they do, this bacteria gets moist and damp, which leads to multiplying.
When enough bacteria are present, the feet start to smell. Given the fact that there is likely yeast in the bacterial mix, your dog's paws will develop an odor, and Frito feet are born. Fortunately, this is a natural process that doesn't hurt your dog. It's also easily fixed.
How to fix Frito feet
Fixing Frito feet is easy unless your dog decides he's feeling ornery today. If he's cooperating, fixing Frito feet is a simple matter of wiping your dog's feet with a baby wipe or with a damp rag dipped in soapy water. Remember to clean thoroughly, making sure you wash your dog's nail beds and the spaces in between his paw pads. When you're done, rinse his paws well and dry them completely.
If you have a breed that's finicky about the feet, such as pugs, or if your dog just isn't into the foot wash today, you can soak her feet instead. To do so, create your own homemade Frito feet spray. fill a tray with 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Have her stand in the mixture for five minutes. After her soak, rinse her feet and dry them well.
To minimize the risk of future Frito paws, trim your dog's nails frequently. If your dog has a few longer hairs protruding from her foot, trim them back so they don't pick up as much bacteria and dirt on walks. If you and your dog enjoy bath time, you may also wish to wash your dog's feet every time you come home from a nature hike or from a romp in a nearby lake. You can also purchase booties to put over your dog's feet and protect them on walks.
When to see the vet
Frito feet are weird but normal and simple to resolve yourself. Smelly feet can, however, indicate other more serious problems. Frito feet smell odd, but they don't smell bad. If the odor coming off your pet's paws makes you recoil, it's time to see the vet.
You should also schedule a vet visit if your dog's paws turn red or start losing hair. Lumps in between your pet's paw pads are cause for concern too, as are cuts and abrasions. If you notice flaky or crusty skin on your dog's paws or if they're looking rough and dry, call the vet for advice. Of course, your dog needs a vet if he starts limping or favoring one paw as well.