Does your dog have Popcorn Paws? or Frito Feet? or Dorito Digits???? If you’re a dog owner, you’ll instinctively know that smell of corn chips or cheesy Doritos, and for a lot of people it’s actually quite a comforting smell of just “being home with your dog”.
However, you may not be so keen to sniff Fido’s feet if you know what the smell actually is.
In a nutshell, that aroma is a combination of yeast, fungus and bacterial microbes (pseudomonas and proteus) that thrive in the cracks of the pads, the nail beds and between the toes. As I’m sure you know, dogs sweat through their feet. If you get sweaty and don’t bathe, I’m guessing you don’t exactly smell as sweet as a rose either. Add to that the fact that dogs are walking “bare-foot” through all types of substances, not all of them clean, and you start to see why their paws are so pungent.
It’s also thought to be contributed to by diet. As many people will tell you, you are what you eat, and this plays a part in the smells that emanate from his feet too. As a lot of the smell is due to yeast growth, if you feed your dog with a diet rich in carbohydrates, you are also actually feeding the yeast and therefore encouraging it to thrive. The more the yeast grows, the smellier the paws.
All of this is, of course, a natural processes and as such dogs have developed a natural immunity to the build up of yeast and mites and other occupants of their paws, which shouldn’t really cause them any trouble at all. But in some circumstances, it can get out of hand and become more than the dog can naturally deal with by a process of ordinary immunity and his daily cleaning regime. Often, in the summer when temperatures raise or in winter when you have the central heating on, we can see a rise in sweaty paws and if this is for any length of time, the Frito feet will get stronger. Added to this, the yeast/bacterial load can cause irritation and could be the root of the problem if your dog is frequently licking and nibbling his paws.
What to do?
Well, we can start with the obvious things such as general grooming. Dogs with longer coats and fur between the toes will generally hang on to the odour more so the first thing to do is to trim away any fur between the pads as much as possible. If you don’t feel confident enough to do this yourself, then have a word with your local groomer who will I’m sure be happy to help you with it.
Next, think about cleaning the feet. When you come in the house you either take off your shoes or usually at the very least wipe your feet to save bringing the bacteria on the soles of your feet indoors. A simple wash of the feet when they come in should cut down the build up of yeast but to start with, a wash a couple of times a day for a week or so should break down the smell for you so you can then just keep on top of it.
There are several methods you can use to wash the paws including Apple Cider Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, Epsom Salts, Hibiscrub and of course regular veterinary shampoos. Things like Epsom salts are actually great as a foot soak after a long walk or hard sporting activities such as agility and flyball (and not just for the dogs I might add 😉 )
The important thing is to soak the paws in the solution rather than merely clean off the paw with a wet cloth. The paws come into contact with all sorts of things including pesticides, bacteria, mites, toxins and as the feet sweat, this chemical load can be absorbed into the skin so a good soak of say 2-5 minutes is best to really get in there.
Once you have soaked the feet, dry them thoroughly, particularly between the toes and around the pads themselves so as not to leave a warm, moist environment for any nasties to grow. Remember if you are soaking each paw individually to dry the first one you soaked before moving on to number two so that the paw is in contact with the cleaning solution for the longest time possible before drying.
As a quick soothe or spruce up, I find using something like an aloe vera spray is great to have on hand – especially if you are away from home say travelling in a motorhome or camping environment. The one I use is this one by Forever Living which I’m sure you’d be able to find easy enough, but the lady I get mine from is: https://www.facebook.com/foreverlivingdonnac/
And there you have it, nice clean “popcorn-free” feet that even a hound’s nose is happy to sleep by.