Why dog's paws pads sometimes smell like savoury popcorn!

For dog-owners all over the world, there is possibly no end to the reasons why our furry friends capture our hearts. But here’s a baffling phenomenon that not many people know about, but several dog parents are confounded by–the absolutely cute and adorable paw pads of our canine companions will sometimes start smelling like popcorn! But beneath the seeming addition to all the things we find cute about them, could lie something a lot grimmer, even puzzling experts, with lots of speculation going around.
So, to help clear those doubts and hopefully answer some of the most common questions, we detail here the three major possible causes for your pooch’s paw pads smelling weird:
1) Sweat and dirt on feet
2) Bacteria
3) Infection
The sweat glands around their paw pads help regulate their body temperature, and are of two kinds:
1) Apocrine glands
2) Eccrine glands

The distinctive canine odour is supposed to be caused by the apocrine gland secretions mixing with germs on the skin. The paw pads, on the other hand, are considered to have more eccrine glands. The dirt on the feet is linked to why the odour is higher than body odour despite fewer secretions from the apocrine glands. Walking around on the ground using bare paws and licking them aggravates the odour, which transforms into a savoury flavour similar to popcorn. Many owners have different reactions to the fragrance, and it's been described as smelling like cashews, almonds, or even corn chips.

Some believe that yeast and proteus bacteria gather near the paw pads of dogs, generating a strange odour. However, no matter how thoroughly you shampoo your dog, microorganisms will remain on his body. Even people who bathe every day have a plethora of microorganisms on their skin, and dogs, even more so.

Furthermore, dogs’ paw pads are relatively moist, which allows germs to grow easily and intensifies the odour. The bacteria in the rain, which gets on your dogs' feet when they step on wet ground, is also a factor. The bacteria they had before, mingle with the germs they pick up from the rain, resulting in a peculiar and pungent odour. If your dog has walked out in the rain or on wet ground, make sure to wipe him dry, gently cleaning his paws as well, with a towel.

Experts who link bacterial odours to diseases point out that a popcorn odour coming from the paw pads is unusual. The sagging skin near the dog's ears, not the paw pads, is frequently the source of the pungent odour. If the paw pads smell, it's most likely because the infection was spread by scratching pus near the ears or on loose skin. Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is the bacteria that causes the infection. When the dog's immunity is compromised, it multiplies in the body, producing otitis externa, cystitis, and other problems. Usually, just being there causes the bacteria to do nothing detrimental.

However, if the smell from your canine's paw cushions is really strong, he might have an otitis externa. Check for recognizable yellow ear wax and red bruises. Otitis externa is a condition wherein the epidermis, dermis, or apocrine perspiration organs are aggravated, bringing about expanded discharge like ear wax. It is bound to happen in canines with saggy ears, and a common symptom is them scratching their feet every now and again. And the more your pooch scratches behind his ears, the more the discharge will stick to his paw cushions, causing that terrible stench. Earwax doesn't naturally have a very strong smell, so it never sticks to the paw pads. But a harsh smell can possibly signal that the condition has become extreme, so it is important to check regularly.

A dog’s paws are the part of their body that is mostly in contact with the ground. The heat from the concrete and even the stimulation from stepping on stones can create issues. In the event that they get breaks or chaps, dry air from ACs could also make them worse. The smell can be worse if it turns into a bacterial infection. And, if the dog licks the contaminated paw and saliva mixes with it, it can lead to an awful stench along with an awful breath!
To prevent inflammation and dryness, apply specific creams and lotions to your dog's paw pads. To wipe the paw region, prepare a hot towel heated in the microwave. Steam the hardened paw pads to release them gradually. After cleansing the sole, gently massage it with a paw cream or lotion. Paw massage is a recommended approach of caring for older dogs' health. Acupoints that boost stamina and assist internal organ functions exist in animals, just as they do in humans, therefore stimulate them according to their conditions.

These are a few of the acupoints on the paws.

1. Forepaws (Relieves fatigue and increases stamina)
[The four paw pads on the forepaw]

-First (outermost) bulge: large intestine
-Second bulge: heart
-Third bulge: Internal organs
-Fourth (innermost) bulge: small intestine

When you use moderate strength to stimulate your dog's paw pads, he will appear captivated and relaxed. Your dog will not appreciate it if the pressure is too strong, 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 allow you and your dogs to spend quality time together. Given their physical condition, managing the pressure is critical. Ideally, you should be assisting them in feeling comfortable rather than stressed. After rubbing your dog's paw pads, put on socks to allow the cream you used to massage the paw pads to soak in. After a while, take off the socks since the paw pads will stink if they get too humid.

Also, some dogs dislike having their paw pads touched, so begin by softly caressing them to gain their trust. Start taking care of your dog's paw pads after he's comfortable with you handling them. This will show him that it's not something to be terrified of.

So, if your dog's paw pads smell terrible, be cautious! Also, keep an eye out for early indicators of your dog's foot problems, such as cracks and chaps, and contact your veterinarian at the earliest!

Written by Dr. Vinod Sharma, Head of Veterinary services at DCC Animal hospital

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