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From Frito Feet to Healthy Paws – A Guide for Dog Owners

What’s Behind the Mystery of ‘Frito Feet’ in Dogs?

If you’ve ever nuzzled your face into your dog’s paws and noticed a smell reminiscent of corn chips or popcorn, you’re not alone. This common phenomenon, affectionately known as “Frito Feet,” perplexes and amuses many pet owners. But what exactly causes this peculiar scent?

Frito Feet is typically caused by bacteria and fungi (mostly yeast) that naturally reside on your dog’s skin. Just like humans, dogs have their own microbiome, a community of microorganisms living on the skin. When dogs sweat, the moisture trapped in their paws creates a perfect environment for these bacteria and yeast to thrive, particularly the bacteria Pseudomonas and Proteus. Despite the strange odor, this is generally normal and not something to worry about for most dogs.

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When Yeast Takes Over

While a mild corn chip odor is normal, a stronger, more pungent smell can indicate an overgrowth of yeast. This condition, known as yeast dermatitis, can make your dog’s paws, privates and ears itchy, red, and inflamed. Dogs with a yeast overgrowth may frequently lick or chew their feet, excessively lick their privates, kick at their ears and rub their faces on everything in sight, exacerbating the problem by introducing more moisture and spreading the yeast.

Tackling Yeast Issues

Yeast issues can be a common concern, but what causes these issues, and how can we address them effectively? By understanding the causes and symptoms of yeast overgrowth, such as diet, allergies, and hygiene, we can take proactive steps to prevent and treat these issues. Ensuring a balanced gut microbiome and maintaining proper grooming practices are essential in keeping your Dog comfortable and healthy. 

The Gut Microbiome: The Heart of Your Dog’s Health

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in your dog’s overall health. When balanced, your dog’s immune system functions optimally, keeping yeast levels in check. However, an imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to various issues, including yeast overgrowth. Factors such as diet, antibiotics, stress, and environmental changes can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, allowing yeast to thrive.

Recognizing Symptoms and Side Effects

Yeast overgrowth can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Itchy, red, or inflamed skin
  • Recurring ear infections
  • A musty odor, often referred to as Frito Feet
  • Excessive licking or chewing of paws
  • Rusty staining on the coat around the genitals, anus, mouth and paws
  • Hot spots
  • Hair loss or skin lesions

These symptoms can make your dog uncomfortable and can be challenging for you as an owner.

What Causes Yeast Overgrowth?

Several factors can contribute to yeast overgrowth:

  • Poor diet lacking essential nutrients
  • Overuse of antibiotics, which kill beneficial bacteria
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Allergies to food or environmental factors
  • Excessive moisture in ears or skin folds

Remedies: Starting from the Inside

Addressing yeast issues begins with restoring balance to the gut microbiome. Here are some effective strategies:

Diet: Feed your dog a high-quality, balanced raw diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics to support gut health. Avoid carbohydrates, which can feed yeast.

Probiotics: Incorporate a pre and probiotic supplement into your dog’s diet to boost beneficial bacteria in the gut.  There are pre and probiotic rich foods which you can feed, rather than using a supplement.

Regular Grooming: Keep your dog clean and dry, especially in areas prone to moisture like the ears and paws. Regular grooming ensures your dog is well-cared for, reducing the risk of yeast overgrowth.

Addressing Allergies: While there are allergy tests for dogs available though your vet, they are not very reliable when it comes to food allergies.  They may have some benefit in identifying environmental allergies, but if the test says that your dog is allergic to grass, are you really going to stop going outside?  Nutrition is the best defense against environmental allergies also.  Your dog’s entire immune system starts in his guts!  

The best way to work out food allergies in your dog, once you’ve addressed the gut microbiome, is to do an elimination diet.

How to do an elimination diet:  To start, choose a novel protein that your dog has not had previously, without any carbohydrates, such as kangaroo. Feed your dog this new diet exclusively for 8-12 weeks, avoiding all other foods, treats, and flavored medications. During this period, monitor your dog for any signs of improvement in symptoms like itching, ear infections, or digestive issues. If symptoms improve, gradually reintroduce old foods one at a time, observing for any allergic reactions. This method helps pinpoint specific food allergens, allowing you to create a diet that keeps your dog healthy and comfortable. Consult with a canine nutritionist before starting an elimination diet to ensure it’s done in a balanced and effective manner.

Natural Remedies: Consider trying these natural antifungals to assist you in managing your dog’s yeast overgrowth:

Coconut Oil contains antifungal properties that can help combat yeast infections.

Apple Cider Vinegar can be used both internally and externally to reduce yeast and balance pH levels.

Oregano Oil is known for its powerful antifungal properties.

Garlic has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties, though it should be used sparingly due to potential toxicity in large amounts.

Aloe Vera can soothe skin irritations and has antifungal properties.

Olive Leaf Extract contains oleuropein, which has natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

Pau D’Arco is an herb with antifungal properties that can help reduce yeast.

Caprylic Acid is a natural antifungal compound derived from coconut oil.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.

Yogurt/Kefir is rich in probiotics, these can help restore healthy gut flora.

Seaweed provides various prebiotic fibers that benefit gut health.

Managing Yeast Issues in Real Time

While addressing the root cause of yeast overgrowth is essential, managing the symptoms your dog is experiencing in real time is also important. Regular grooming and proper care can help keep your dog comfortable and reduce the risk of secondary infections.

At Big Rock Labradoodles, we believe in raising our puppies holistically, ensuring they start their lives healthy and strong. By focusing on gut health and providing top-notch care, you can help your Doodle live a happier life free from the discomfort of yeast issues.

Trust Big Rock Labradoodles to guide you through every step of your Doodle’s journey. For more information on caring for your Doodle and to learn about our available puppies, visit our website today.

All the best,



Alana Holst
Australian Labradoodle Breeder  at 

Since 2011, I've dedicated myself to breeding Standard Sized Australian Labradoodles, fueled by a passion for holistic practices and exceptional quality. My focus lies in fostering strong bonds between humans and dogs, crafting loyal companions for therapy, service, and family — spreading love, one precious puppy at a time.

Alana Holst

Alana Holst

Australian Labradoodle Breeder

We make a heartfelt promise to our cherished puppies and their new families, dedicating ourselves to the health, happiness, and lifelong well-being of every Labradoodle we raise and to fostering a supportive community among our adoptive families. Learn more about us.

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Australian Labradoodle Momma at Big Rock Labradoodles

Where Care Meets Excellence!

At Big Rock Labradoodles, we champion a comprehensive, science-based, and holistic approach in breeding and nurturing exceptional standard-sized genuine Multigenerational Australian Labradoodles. Our commitment to atypical rearing strategies ensures that we never settle for the ordinary — we strive for extraordinary dogs destined for prolonged and fulfilling lives. Learn more about our code of ethics and our adoption process. When you feel ready to welcome a new family member, we invite you to fill out our adoption application — the first step towards finding your new furry family member.