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What Do Dog Paws Really Smell Like

A few weeks back, reader K.S. in Atlanta offered her personal view that dogs’ paws smell like Fritos which sparked an onslaught of email, and other comments directed to my Facebook page. In all, I received around 100 comments, and still the controversy rages on. K.S. said she thinks dog paws smell like Fritos, and wondered why? Some readers were shocked that veterinary dermatologist Dr. Karen Campbell, the esteemed head of specialty medicine at the University of Illinois Collage of Veterinary medicine said she never noticed the snack food odor, but did explain that K.S. was likely smelling sweat off the dogs’ paws or maybe the oil gland secretions from their paws – or a combination of both.

Perhaps Campbell never noticed, but you sure have. Here are a few of your comments:

“I am rolling on the floor. I have been saying this for years, referring to my Springer (Spaniel) and now with our Maltipoo- I call them ‘Frito feet.’ I have a pretty good sensory sense so I know we're not all wacky. I have a PhD in Food Science plus 26 years in the food industry. I don't know what to do with this information, but I did get a chuckle and found it affirming. Thanks for having the courage to publish this! (I wonder how many of us smell our dog's paws?). L.K., Saint Paul, MN

“Your article struck my funny bone. We have nicknamed our Boxer named Geep ‘Frito Feet.’ It was enjoyable to know that other pet owners share the same ‘stinky dilemma.’ I wonder what my feet would smell like if I walked around with no socks, never washing them and walking on all sorts of terrain. I think Fritos would not come to mind. Thanks for the chuckle.” C.G., Smithfield, Va.

“I was surprised to hear anyone else say it, but I always joked that my lovely dog’s feet smelled like Fritos! What's with Dr. Campbell? Horse sense always told me the odor is intrinsic to dog feets (I love calling them that). I enjoy your column a lot.” L.B., Las Vegas, NV

“I had a dachshund mix that lived to be 16, and a Doxie purebred that lived to be over 18, and both of the dogs definitely had Frito paws. My last one passed away a little over two years ago and because of circumstances in my life I haven't been able to replace him yet. To this day the smell of Fritos still almost makes me cry!” J.H.B., Williamsburg, Virginia

“Or maybe Frito's (has) engineered their chips to smell like dog paws. Hmmm?” D. H., Greensboro, NC (via Facebook)

“Yes, they DO smell like Fritos! Perhaps we can turn it into a diet thing. When you get hungry and want to snack, just smell your dog's feet! You get some of the enjoyment of the Fritos without those nasty calories!” D. P., via Facebook

“I always thought they (dogs’ paws) smelled like popcorn.” K. N., Portland, ME (via Facebook)

“I've always thought (dogs’ paws smell like) tortilla chips.” D. G. S., via Facebook

“LIsa (one dog) smells like Italian pillow cookies, the ones with the sesame seeds. Maggie's (another dog) feet smell like popcorn, but the rest of her smells like a nice expensive cheese. My gals are totally delicious.” M. B., New York, NY

“This is a hysterical subject. I’m cracking up. I always thought dogs’ paws smell like caramel corn!! Their mouths smell like parmesan cheese,” J. G., Plainfield, IL. (via Facebook)

“I thought I was the only one who smelled their dogs’ feet. It sounds like we all like it and do it often. Well, I thought at first when Fritos was mentioned it brought that smell up from memory, but I just went and smelled both of my dogs feet and I think more like a musky grass. (I wonder if) anyone likes the smell of horse hooves? I also love to smell my dog’s muzzles, my last Doberman had an especially wonderful scent.” J. K. Sarasota, FL (via Facebook)

“Just wanted you to know that there is one more person who has thought for years that dogs' feet smell like Fritos. Glad to see there are at least two more of us. “ J.S. Grove, OK

“Okey dokey... despite how much I absolutely adore my dog and that she sleeps on my bed, sometimes right up by my pillow, I have to say that I have never smelled her feet. And I'm not planning to.” C.H.V., Chicago, IL (via Facebook)

“Sniffing dog’s paws – and writing about it in the paper – you’re crazy. Get a life!” 
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