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  • Three reasons why your dog’s paw pads have a sweet and savoury smell of popcorn!


Three reasons why your dog’s paw pads have a sweet and savoury smell of popcorn!

Have you ever wondered, "Why do my dog's paw pads smell so different?" The truth is that even the experts seem to be puzzled on this matter, and there is a lot of speculation going around this. In this article, we will introduce you to three major possible reasons, and answer some of the questions you may have.

Veterinary Speciality Hospital

Cause of popcorn smell on your dog’s paw pads, can be one of the three:

1. Sweat and dirt on feet
2. Bacteria
3. Infection

Dogs have sweat glands around their paw pads to regulate their body temperature.

There are two different types of sweat glands:

1. Apocrine glands
2. Eccrine glands.

It is said that the peculiar dog smell occurs when the secretions from the apocrine glands mix with the bacteria in the skin. However, it is said that there are more eccrine glands near the paw pads. The reason why the smell is stronger than body odour even with less secretions from the apocrine glands is associated with the dirt on the feet.

The smell is aggravated by walking around on the ground with bare feet and licking them, and turns into a savoury scent like that of popcorn. The scent is perceived differently by different owners. Some say it smells like cashews, almonds, or corn chips.

Some people believe that the reason why dogs’ paw pads smell like popcorn is that yeast and proteus bacteria collect near the paw pads, causing the peculiar smell. However, no matter how clean you shampoo your dog, the bacteria will never disappear from his body. Even humans who bathe every day have countless bacteria on the surface of their skin, and dogs even more so.

The paw pads are moderately moist, which makes it easy for bacteria to breed, and that makes the smell stronger. The bacteria in the rain is also partly responsible, as it gets on your dogs’ paws when they step on the wet ground. The bacteria they originally had mixes with the bacteria they get from the rain & that can cause an unusual and strong smell. So always wipe gently with a towel if your dog has stepped out in the rain or on moist ground.

Experts who relate bacterial smells to infections point out that it is unlikely that a popcorn smell would come from the paw pads. The fragrant smell usually comes from the sagging skin near the dog’s ears and not from the paw pads. If the smell comes from the paw pads, it is probably the result of the infection being spread by scratching pus near the ears or on slack skin. The infection is caused by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. It multiplies in the body when the dog’s immunity is weakened, causing otitis externa, cystitis, etc. Usually the bacteria itself doesn’t do anything harmful just by being there.

If the smell of your dog’s paw pads is too strong, he may have an otitis externa. Check for noticeable yellow ear wax and red sores. Otitis externa is a condition in which the epidermis, dermis, or apocrine sweat glands are inflamed, resulting in increased pus-like ear wax. It is more likely to occur in dogs with droopy ears, and you should be concerned if you see them scratching their feet frequently. The more often it scratches behind the ears, the more pus will stick to the paw pads resulting in a bad smell. Earwax does not have much smell when there is no trouble, so the smell will not transfer to the paw pads. A sour smell can occur if the condition becomes severe, so it is important to check regularly.

Dog’s paws are the part of the body that touches the ground. The heat from the concrete or the stimulation from stepping on pebbles can cause problems. If they get cracks or chaps, you should also be concerned about damage caused by dry air conditioning. The odour can be worse if the dog gets infected by bacteria. And if the dog licks the infected paw and saliva is mixed with it, it can lead to a bad smell combined with bad breath, so be careful!

Use special creams and lotions to take care of your dog’s paw pads to prevent irritation and dryness. Prepare a hot towel heated in the microwave to clean the paw area. Apply steam to the hardened paw pads and gradually loosen it. After cleaning the sole, apply a paw cream or lotion and massage gently. Paw massage is a recommended care method to manage the health of senior dogs. Just like in humans, there are acupoints that increase stamina and support internal organs functions, so stimulate them according to their conditions.

The following are some of the acupoints on the paws.

1. Forepaws (Relieves fatigue and increases stamina)

[The four paw pads on forepaw]
・First (outermost) bulge: large intestine
・Second bulge: heart
・Third bulge: Internal organs
・Fourth (innermost) bulge: small intestine

When you stimulate your dog’s paw pads with moderate strength, he will look enthralled and comfortable. If the pressure is too strong, your dog will not like it, so start with as little pressure as possible.

2. Back paws (Preventing obesity and promoting metabolism)

[The four paw pads on back paw]
・First (outermost) bulge: bladder
・Second bulge: gall bladder.
・Third bulge: stomach
・Fourth (innermost) bulge: liver and reproductive organs

This will also give you good bonding time with your pets. Managing the pressure is key given their physical condition. Should ideally be helping them feel relaxed and not stressed.

Also, when your dog’s paw pads are dry, put on socks after massaging the paw pads to allow the cream you applied for massage to soak in. Remove the socks after a while, as the paw pads will smell worse if they get too humid.

Some dogs don’t like to have their paw pads touched, so start by gently touching them to build trust. Once your dog is comfortable with you touching his paw pads, start taking care of them and show him that it is not something to be afraid of.


Watch out if your dog’s paw pads smell too bad! Also in case of your dog’s foot problems: cracks and chaps do watch out for early signs and keep in touch with your vet.

Don’t forget to take care of your dog’s paw pads for his good health!


Pet Health and Care

How as a pet parent can one keep a close check on this?

Check your dog’s scent to make sure he’s in good health! It is said that by checking your dog’s scent, you can also manage his physical condition. This is because in some cases, skin diseases, infections, and hormonal imbalances can cause sebum imbalance, and you may notice by sniffing their smell that they are not feeling well. If the savoury scent turns into a sour one, watch out for the pet’s physical condition and immediately connect with your vet.

Also, if you are with your dog all the time, you may not be able to recognize the scent of your dog’s paw pads, and you may only notice it when someone points it out to you. By being sensitive to even the slightest change and taking appropriate action, we can prevent serious illness!

What can I do to protect my dog during monsoons?

Keep your dog’s feet clean to prevent the growth of bacteria! If there is a place to wash your dog’s feet outside, you can clean them before bringing them inside so you don’t have to worry about the floor getting dirty. It is also a good idea to shampoo your dog’s entire body, as it will have bacteria from the rain all over it. Instead of using human shampoo, stock up on dog shampoo and clean your dog once or twice a month. After you finish shampooing, wipe off the water with a towel and dry it with a hair dryer. If you leave it wet, bacteria will grow again. Some dogs are not comfortable with a hair dryer, so practicing before shampooing is recommended. It is also a good idea to get them used to the hair dryer at a grooming shop and then switch to home care.

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