Why Do My Dog's Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

closeup of dog's paws. original asset, do not change

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

In This Article

It's no surprise that dogs are likely to walk or dig into some smelly things resulting in smelly feet. But some dogs also may have visibly clean feet that chronically smell like corn chips. This unique scent may be an indication of an infection, so it's wise for pet parents to know what to look for, or smell for with their dog's feet.

Why Do Dog Feet Smell?

Dogs may cut their paws, break nails or toes, get puncture wounds in their feet, burn their paw pads on hot pavement, and have other paw problems. But when feet smell, it is because there is bacteria or yeast growing in or on them or the dog stepped into something stinky. Injuries or allergies can cause these microorganisms to develop and if they aren't treated, infections can occur. Some odors are simply normal for dogs, so not every smell indicates an issue.

While many people may think that feet that smell like corn chips indicate a problem, this isn't always the case. Many dogs with feet that smell like corn chips have no infections in their paws. The small amounts of bacteria that are causing this distinct smell are very normal for dogs to harbor. Some dogs, however, can develop an overgrowth of bacteria or develop a combination of yeast and bacteria. If this occurs on your dog's feet, it is a problem called pododermatitis.


As bacteria or yeast invade a part of the body, they cause tissue to die off. This releases chemicals that cause the odor we smell, but the microorganisms also produce some chemicals themselves that create odors. This means that the odor that people smell from a wound or dirty surface is actually due to chemicals that are a direct result of the infectious organisms. Some types of bacteria and yeast have very distinct smells, and certain types of bacteria and yeast will actually cause a corn chip smell to come from the feet of dogs.


Most people know that dogs cool down by panting, but they also sweat through their feet to release heat. Sweat is released from glands and causes moisture between the paw pads and toes. When moisture combines with heat without being allowed to dry out regularly, bacteria or yeast can invade. This is very common in dogs since they have fur that likes to stay moist and, in addition to sweating, it may also occur in a dog that regularly licks their feet or spends time in the water.

What to Do If Your Dog's Feet Smell Like Corn Chips

An abundance of bacteria and yeast in a dog's feet will cause inflammation and irritation. Dogs will often lick or chew on their feet because of this irritation, so if your dog is doing this and its feet smell like corn chips, it's a good sign that an abnormal amount of yeast or bacteria are present. If this is the case, you should bring your dog in to see a veterinarian for assessment of the feet and treatment of the infection.

Occasionally, when people think their dog smells like corn chips, it isn't actually the feet but the rest of their dog's body, face, or ears instead. Bacterial and yeast infections can occur anywhere a dog has skin, especially if there are wrinkles and places for microorganisms to hide. If that corn chip smell never seems to go away or just keeps getting stronger, make sure you get your dog checked out for a bigger issue.

Treatment for Smelly Dog Feet

If your dog has feet that smell like corn chips due to an infection, your veterinarian will run a test to see if the pododermatitis is due to bacteria, yeast, or both. This will determine how the corn chip smell is treated. Medicated wipes, sprays, shampoos, mousse, and other topical treatments may be recommended but if the problem is reoccurring your veterinarian may recommend changing your dog's diet. Food allergies or sensitivities can contribute to pododermatitis, so special diets may be needed to prevent future issues.

How to Prevent Smelly Dog Feet

You can prevent foot infections by keeping your dog's paws clean and dry and checking them regularly for signs of injury or irritation. If allergies are the cause, then the allergies will need to be treated to help reduce the chance of infection. Your veterinarian can help you come up with a plan for this. Contact your vet at the first sign of paw issues so treatment can begin before the problem is serious. It's also important to keep up with recommended wellness check-ups as your vet may detect early signs or paw issues before they bother your dog.

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  1. Thongchamrat S. Canine Pododermatitis. World small animal veterinary association world congress proceedings, 2015. VIN.com.

  2. Bajwa J. Canine PododermatitisCan Vet J. 2016;57(9):991-993.