May 12, 2010  •  In Comang, Personal, Science

Let Me Sniff Your Stinky Paws

This post is dedicated to my sister, with whom I have had many conversations about how we love to sniff our dogs’ stinky paws.

I’m sure that all dog owners can agree: there is a certain (irresistible) aroma about our furry friends’ paws.

It’s not a bad scent, per se. The closest description I’ve heard is “corn chips.” Except you know how when you apply self-tanner and end up smelling like corn chips?…This smell is better than that. It’s more of a satisfying, settled smell.

Today, I learned that there may be an explanation for “Frito feet” (as the author affectionately calls the phenomenon):

Bacteria and yeast naturally reside on the skin of all animals, including cats and dogs. The feet of both species contain many folds and pockets, such as the areas between toes and the spaces between the foot pads. These areas have increased levels of moisture and decreased air circulation at the level of the skin.

The increased moisture and decreased air circulation in these environments enables the resident bacteria and yeast to proliferate exuberantly. These micro-organisms give off odors, and I suspect that they are the cause of Frito feet. Because cats groom themselves more thoroughly than dogs, they are less likely to have foot odor.

One bacteria in particular is famous for smelling like corn tortillas. That bacteria is called Pseudomonas. It is often associated with skin or ear infections, and I can’t promise that it has anything to do with causing Frito feet. But I am a bit suspicious.

See, not all stink-inducing bacteria is bad! And seeing as it only encourages me, along with other dog owners, to purposely position our heads near our napping friends’ paws in order to fully take in that calming scent, who is to judge our pets for being a bit dirty? (Or judge their owners for prolonging that bath one extra day?)

Let’s hear it, folks. Does anyone else love to sniff their dogs’ paws?

Via Boing Boing.

14 Responses to “Let Me Sniff Your Stinky Paws”

  1. I don’t have a dog, but I do have cats. My husband always tells me how he loves the smell of cats when they sleep (yes, particularly when they sleep!). He has asked me to sniff when he says he gets this pleasant smell, and I don’t find it pleasurable at all! It’s not bothersome, but it’s not anything I’d seek out the way he does.

  2. Please tell me you’ve read the Pioneer Woman talk about this phenomena. That’s where I first heard about it and laughed hysterically. She talks about it just about any time she brings up her dog, Charlie.

  3. Kristin:

    So true! I always tell my husband that our dog smells like Doritos. I love it. It definitely has a calming effect.

  4. Haha! I can’t wait to tell my husband about this post. Our dog’s feet definitely smell like corn chips.

  5. I’ve never really smelled my doggies’ feet before, but I do love kissing them! And for whatever reason, I catch myself smelling my little one’s ears all the time. No idea why.

  6. Vee:

    I’ve never actually sniffed my dogs’ paws, but you can bet I will when I get home tonight! I just have to know if they smell like Fritos. I do, however, frequently sniff their ears and tell them, "I can smell your brain! NOM NOM NOM!" And then sometimes I follow it with, "It smells like air, cuz you not have one!! Dummy!! Nom nom nom…"

  7. Guilty. Do it to my dogs and my cats.

  8. Mina:

    oh so good to hear i’m not the only one who likes to grab my dog’s paws and shove them towards my face. it is such a comforting smell. i also do it to their faces because they have so many wrinkles, and i guess there’s some stinky bacteria up there as well (although it’s more stinky then tortillas–i’m gross).

  9. Harvey’s feet smell like popcorn! Nummers!

  10. Geek in Heels:

    @LatteLove — unfortunately, I don’t read The Pioneer Woman but I really should! And I’m not surprised that I’m not the first blogger to come out and confess my love for sniffing my dog’s stinky paws!

  11. greenellephant:

    I am guilty of it! I LOOOVE to smell their feet! I like to tap their paws, when they are laying on their back, lightly on the tip of my nose as I take a quick whiff~ ahhh these are my puppies indeed <3

  12. Aya:

    OMG!! Yes, I used to do this all the time when I was younger lol people would never understand why I said my dog’s paws smelt like old popcorn. Yesterday he was chillin on the couch with me and I caught a whiff of the old popcorn smell again and wondered about it. Crazy that I just see this post now.

    At least I know I’m not crazy! Thank you!! Haha

  13. Lilly:

    hahahaha i find that there is a nice rice type of smell on my dogs neck when she’s sleeping or rolled into a ball. So cute~

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