Corn Chip Feet
By Patricia Thomblison, DVM, MS
If you have a dog, you’re probably already familiar with a variety of odors you can encounter. Almost everyone loves the smell of puppy breath. But what about the smell of corn chips emanating from your dog’s feet? What’s that all about? Do you need to get mad because they got into your stash of treats? Not likely, but there are several culprits that might be contributing to those funky feet.
Remember that your dog walks around barefoot most of the time. This means they encounter all sorts of dirt, debris, and pathogens. While these don’t typically cause a problem, under certain circumstances they can. It is also possible that things such as sticks, grass awns, or glass can assault the feet walking inside and outside causing problems.
You probably know that dogs don’t sweat but use panting as a way to cool off. An exception to the rule is that dog’s feet sweat a little. It is not a very efficient way to cool, but a small amount of moisture in an area covered in fur creates a damp spot where organisms love to grow. Bacteria and yeast thrive in this environment which can be made worse if itchiness causes the dog to lick and chew at the feet adding more bacteria and moisture to the mix.
BACTERIA AND YEAST
Yeast and bacteria can all contribute to smelly feet, but the most likely culprit for the corn chip smell is the bacteria Proteus or Pseudomonas. These organisms are naturally occurring and can be found on normal skin and feet, but if they grow out of control, they can cause problems. Added to these bacteria, fungi (yeast) can contribute to the smell. If you have an athlete like a runner or a dancer in the family, you are probably familiar with the smells that can assault you when they take their shoes off. The smell of corn chips is mild in comparison.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Paw hygiene should be part of your normal routine with your dog. It’s best to get your dog used to you touching their feet during puppyhood or to train the older dog with the use of treats. While not all dog odors are controllable, following these steps should help with “corn chip feet” and keep your dog’s feet feeling and looking good.
- Keep the nails trimmed.
- Inspect paws looking for ticks, plant awns, cuts, etc.
- Wash and dry paws regularly. This is good practice after walking or playing outside. Pay attention to the paw pads and between the toes.
- Avoid walking your dog on hot or very cold ground, especially if ice melt has been used.
WHAT PRODUCTS YOU CAN USE
Keeping your dog’s feet clean and dry is one of the best practices for all dogs and particularly for dogs with smelly paws. The ZYMOX® Shampoo is a good product to have on hand. It is veterinarian-recommended for gentle cleansing and managing problems associated with bacteria, such as Proteus or Pseudomonas. All ZYMOX products feature the patented LP3 Enzyme System to eliminate microorganisms and get their effectiveness from enzymes, not antibiotics or harsh ingredients. The shampoo is also free of chlorines, detergents, and parabens and can be confidently used on any age of pet. Additionally, the ZYMOX family includes a Leave-On Conditioner that has proven to be a hidden gem. With skin-hydrating benefits plus antimicrobial properties, the conditioner can be used throughout the day as a lotion for soothing relief without concern of toxicity if your pet licks his paws.
To learn more about the patented LP3 Enzyme System, watch this short video.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Patricia Thomblison is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science. She has devoted her career to keeping pets healthy and happy. She has served many roles in this endeavor to educate veterinary professionals and pet parents on many topics of animal health. She has worn several hats in the areas of clinical pathology, nutrition, and parasitology. She is a well-respected medical editor, veterinary consultant, and lecturer. She enjoys the company of her two cats, Miles Davis and Stewart, as well as a rambunctious dog named Barnibus and her children’s dogs.