While it’s not recommended to go around sniffing your dog’s feet, there is science to back up any claims that your pet’s little paw pads indeed smell like Fritos – or popcorn, depending on who you ask.
As it turns out that the aroma is due to the microorganisms living on the foot pads – specifically the bacteria called Pseudomonas and Proteus. Since the hair grows longer between your dog’s toes, it can create a safe haven for the bacteria and creates the perfect environment for them to grow – hence the smell. But there is no need to worry, it’s all completely natural.
Unlike humans – who sweat all over – dogs only sweat through the parts of their bodies that aren’t covered by fur. That means that the most sweat glands are located in your dog’s paws, with a few more in their nose. That is why if it’s a very warm day, you may notice little wet doggie paws on the floor – it’s their sweat!
This also explains why on a hot summer’s day, your dog will sit panting after a long walk in the park, because in general, the areas of skin on their feet and nose isn’t large enough to cool them down. As a result, they heavily rely on the evaporation of moisture from their tongue, as well as from the lining of their lungs, in order to lower body temperature.
But similar to people, the sweat that dogs produce doesn’t really have a scent on its own – it’s the microorganisms that produce the scent. But if you’re worried about the smell coming from your dog’s paws, there are a couple of things that you can try in order to keep the smell to a minimum.
The first trick is simple: just wash the soles of your dog’s feet. The second is to very carefully trim the hair between your dog’s paws.
However, there is a word of caution to keep in mind. While a little bit of a smell to your dog’s feet is perfectly normal, just keep an eye out for excessive smell, discharge, or swelling from their feet. Any of these could be a sign of an infection and should be given immediate medical attention at your local vet.