Why Do Dogs Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

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Strong smells are nothing new for dog parents and their fur kids. Not only do our canine friends have a strong sense of smell, but they also can be quite stinky themselves, and one of those smells could be similar to opening a bag of salty snacks. No, it's not your imagination. If you were just thinking that your dog smells like corn chips, you're not alone!

But, how can a dog or a dog's feet smell like corn chips? If you noticed this with your pet, you may be wondering why it's happening and if there is anything you can do to lessen that chippy smell. More importantly, is this distinctive scent something to worry about?

Orange dog paw and human hand shaking

Why Do Dogs' Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

In a video for National Geographic, veterinarian Dr. Courtney Campbell explains that dogs have what are called eccrine glands on their paw pads and noses. "They secrete a little bit of fluid just to keep the skin moist and supple. And sometimes, if there's bacteria that grows in there, or debris, it can smell like...corn chips."

Which means, if your dog smells a bit off, there's no need to be alarmed. This is a completely normal occurrence, and most likely there is no reason to bring him to the vet.


Bacteria is one of the biggest culprits that can lead to smelly feet. Think about all the different things your dog's paws touch on a daily basis, from the kitchen floor that needs mopping, to the dirty driveway to who knows what in the yard or on sidewalks. There are many ways that bacteria gets onto your pet's paws or the hair surrounding them. When it thrives there, your pet's paws may start to stink.


Let's think about how dogs sweat. Unlike humans, your furry friends release heat through their paws as well as when they're panting. Dogs do sweat a small amount, but it's mainly though their paws and is less efficient than human sweating for cooling down, says the American Kennel Club. Because the areas surrounding the paws are covered with fur, that fur gets damp and becomes a spot where bacteria can breed.

Maltese dog covered in mud waiting to get inside.


Did your dog step on some food, waste, or anything else? Debris alone has the potential to create its own funky smell, but if something is embedded into your dog's hair or paws and the eccrine glands are secreting fluid, expect a smell to come from that area.

Is It Just His Feet That Smell?

Most people who admit that their furry friend smells like corn chips believe the issue comes from his feet. The face is also often a culprit, however, especially if your pet has deep folds in his skin where bacteria can hide. Some people even claim that their dog's entire body smells, but if that's the case, it's best to speak to a vet to make sure there aren't any other underlying medical issues amplifying the smell.

Get Your Pet to the Vet

Just wondering "Why do dogs smell like corn chips?" doesn't mean you need to rush your pet to the vet after the first sniff, but you may want to consider making an appointment if the smell is overwhelming or you need help planning a course of treatment. There are other conditions that may be exacerbating the issue, such as a significant yeast or fungal infection, an overgrown toenail or a foreign body like a stick or stone irritating your pup's paw pads. These would all require treatment from a trained professional to fix the problem and treat the smell.

Most of the time the corn chips smell is nothing to worry about, but if you're concerned, a trip to the vet will help ease your fears.


Erin Ollila