Does Your Dog Have Frito Feet or Popcorn Paws?

When I open a bag of Fritos I get a nice junk food high from the pungent aroma and start craving mango salsa and guacamole dip. But today, I smelled Fritos and thought about white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. You’re probably wondering how I can go from tropical toppings one minute to cleaning fluids the next. Let me explain.

I had just come home from work dead tired. As I walked past Maru my senses were awakened by the tangy smell of Fritos. How could this be? Did she have a secret stash somewhere? I bent down and sure enough it was coming from her. But it wasn't her breath. So I started sniffing her. Somehow this was getting weird but I was determined to find out why. Sure enough, it was her feet that smelled like my favorite snack. 

After all these years, why now? I got busy and found out that most all dogs feet smell like corn chips. In fact, even the cleanest dogs have trillions of bacteria living on their skin. But dog’s feet - trampling through the grass and dirt, being licked, with moist folds of skin and fur between the toe pads - are breeding grounds for bacteria and yeast.



Bacteria & Yeast

All these micro-organisms give off their own distinct odors and the popcorn/corn chip smell could be the fault of yeast or the bacterium Proteus, which are both known for their sweet, corn tortilla smell. Or it could be the bacterium Pseudomonas, which smells a little fruitier, but pretty close to popcorn to most noses. The more moisture, usually the more pronounced the odor. 

We just had a blizzard and Maru had to walk through mounds of snow for a week. It all makes sense. It’s a medical condition caused by genetics and lifestyle and most all dogs have it. 

For those of you who want a little more in-depth explanation, here’s what Dr. Karen Becker, a DVM says about yeast.  A dog’s immune system needs to be balanced. An under-active system can lead to yeast overgrowth because it can’t control the balance. With allergies, there is an overactive immune response whereby steroids are prescribed to shut off the immune response. That leads to an increase in yeast levels because your dog can’t balance its normal flora levels. Dogs that have both allergies and secondary skin infections are given antibiotics that destroy not just the bad bacteria but the good - and that makes a bad situation worse. Some dogs even develop an allergic response to its own yeast. In some cases the allergic responses affect the whole body and dogs become red from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. 

A definitive diagnosis of a yeast infection can be done by a vet taking a culture (Petri dish) or by cytology (microscope). But as a pet owner, all you have to do is smell. Another sign a dog is yeasty is scratching. If it’s the paws, they won’t be able to leave them alone. The same goes for ears. A lot of butt scooting can also be a clue.  Whatever the signal, your dog needs your help to solve the problem.


Is there a remedy for stinky feet? There are several home remedies and medical treatments but the condition is not curable. Dr. Becker recommends an anti-yeast diet and bath. 


Yeast needs sugar as a source of energy.  Carbohydrates break down into sugar so getting rid of sugar is a key factor.  And, it’s not just the white sugar found in food and treats, but secret sugars like honey, high fructose corn syrup, and even white/sweet potatoes.  

Also recommended is adding some natural anti-fungal foods to the diet such as small amounts of garlic or oregano. They will help reduce the yeast levels in your dog’s body.


Yeast thrives in a moist environment and in crevices like between your dog’s foot pads. Disinfecting this area is really important. Just spraying or wiping down its paws won’t get the job done. Yeast lives under the nail beds and in all the creases you can’t get to if the paws aren’t submerged in a foot soak. Recommended is a gallon of water, a cup of hydrogen peroxide, and 1-4 cups of white vinegar. Soak your dog’s feet in the solution. There’s no need to rinse. Just pat the paws dry. Leaving the solution on the paws serves as an anti-fungal and should reduce licking and digging at the paws.

Other Remedies:

Here are some other remedies people have suggested:

  • Put your dog in a bathtub filled with enough water to cover his paws and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  Then wash each paw with vinegar. Soak for several minutes and then rinse. This helps eliminate the smell. 
  • Wash your dog with pet shampoo or Tea Tree Oil shampoo. Try to bathe twice a week.
  • Clip the fur around the paw pads using pet trimming clippers. This will help remove sweat accumulation. 
  • Feed your dog yogurt – a half cup of Activia Brand per day.  No junk yogurt.  Try this every day for the first two weeks, then just 3 days per week.
  • Wash paws with a gentle soap, dry them, and then rub coconut oil on them.  Do it twice a day and there should be noticeable improvement within a few days. This remedy was used by someone with a fungal toenail and it worked. 

Nutrition for Dogs

Hawaiian Duck

Every month we try to research healthy and nutritious ingredients for your pup. We also happen to love experimenting, so for January we chose Duck. Duck meat is highly nutritious. It’s a good source of high quality protein, vitamins A, B3 and C. Minerals include iron, calcium and selenium which help protect cells from free radicals that cause heart disease and cancer. The meat itself with fat removed is lower in fat than chicken meat!


We started with Chick Pea flour, made from garbanzo beans, as the base. It offers a natural source of protein and fiber for your pup. The beans also contain lecithin, potassium, and vitamins A, B and C. We added our own dehydrated pineapple for a little sweetness, a sprinkle of asiago cheese, and packed in tons of handmade Duck Jerky. 

Fun Duck Fact

Through our research we found out ducks have their own research facility. The Cornell University Duck Research Laboratory, located on New York’s Long Island and established in 1949, is considered an international resource on ducks, diseases, nutritious human food supply, vaccine production, diagnostics, and the development of new and improved duck biologics.

Watch out pork! Duck may be the new “other” meat.


Mucinosis – Why Some Dogs Wrinkle


Shar Peis originated in China about 2,000 years ago during the Han dynasty and were originally bred as fighting dogs and palace guard dogs. When Mao Tse-tung came to power in 1947, he ordered all dogs in the country to be slaughtered and fed to the poor.  It’s said that two men from Hong Kong smuggled six pairs out of the country in the early 1970’s and the breed was rejuvenated in the United States.

These dogs are a rare breed with only 15,000 known to exist worldwide today and valued between $1000 and $2500 dollars. What makes them so valuable? It’s their wrinkles. Suddenly, a genetic mutation becomes a cute factor, and much sought after feature for those looking for something different.   

Unlike people, Shar Peis are born with wrinkles and lose them as they get older because they literally grow into their skin. The obvious question is what makes them wrinkled?

Genetic Condition

It’s a condition called mucinosis. In 2008 researchers from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona determined that their thickened and wrinkled skin was caused by the excessive production of hyaluronic acid by the hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) gene located on chromosome 13.  Hyaluronan lubricates the animals’ joints.

Of course, I knew that!  

They also have a high prevalence of a periodic fever disorder similar to human inherited auto inflammatory periodic fever syndromes.  Hyaluronan may create a “danger” signal to the immune system, analogous to the effects a pathogen may have.   

Say what?

In other words, dogs with multiple mutations of the HAS2 gene seem to be predisposed to short (12-36 hrs), but intense fevers (104-106 degrees) that cause inflammation similarly associated with auto immune diseases in human beings – like Familial Mediterranean Fever. This disorder causes inflammation of the abdomen and chest in people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent.  

Shar Pies respond quickly to anti-inflammatory drugs, but the prolonged fevers can injure their kidneys.  Human periodic fever disorders are very similar in nature.  

Human Disorders & Aging Process

Finding that hyaluronan is a major trigger of fever opens a new research field in canine and human inflammatory disease,” said senior author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, a professor in comparative genomics at Uppsala University in Sweden. Knowing this, breeders can now design reproduction programs aimed at improving the health of these animals without mutant duplications.  

Most Wrinkled Dog Breeds

Other wrinkled dog breeds include:  English Bulldog, Dogue de Bordeaux, Mastiff, and Pug. Most of these are brachycephalic (short head and flat face) breeds.

Other animals include the Meishan pig. Originating in China, they are a small farm pig known for their wrinkled faces and long droopy ears. The genetic basis for their look is unknown and is not a deliberately produced trait. Researchers are now investigating breeding Meishans with regular pigs used in large commercial farms because of the advantage that they can breed at a younger age and produce bigger litters.  

In Merino sheep breed called “A Type”, they carry extra wool because of extra skin that produces deep wrinkles, especially around the neck.  

Side Effects

While wrinkling can contribute to the appeal of a breed of domestic animal - when taken to the extreme it tends to lead to disease and infectious risks and be detrimental to the welfare of the animal. So, when choosing designer type breeds, it’s important to know the conditional side-effects.   

  • Infection-causing bacteria and dermatitis.

  • Entropion – a condition whereby the heavy skin on a Shar Pei’s head forces its eyelids to turn in causing their eyelashes to scratch their cornea, leading to blindness.  

  • Some owners are dumping these animals at alarming rates when they discover they have to fork out at least $2000 for corrective surgery.   Amazingly, a retired Melbourne grandmother Amanda Booth is using her life savings to pay $15,000 a year to rescue and re-home as many of these dumped dogs as possible.

  • People are petitioning new laws to breed out dogs whose litters require entropion surgery.

  • In Australia, Shar Peis are forced to have plastic surgery to save their sight.  

  • Psychological

Kermit the Frog said “it’s not easy being green” and Shar Peis being so different can’t always relate to other dogs.  That’s why Tracie Castellanos of Miami, Florida took her Shar-Pei Kuantai to a canine beauty pageant where every dog in the show had wrinkles.  “We’re searching for a wrinkly mate for him.  He’s so happy to see other dogs with wrinkles,” she said. “  

Why didn’t I ever think of that.  It’s for dogs.  I might have to try that.

Plastic Surgery

Sometimes it takes more than just face cream to fix a problem. Today, it’s not uncommon for roly-poly designer dogs to undergo radical facelifts to remove their deliberately bred folds of floppy flesh.  In this case, it’s not for vanity – it’s a life saving measure.  

That’s a little scary but medical science is pretty amazing.