It was an easy sell when Hannah Lipman, The Bethel Grapevine’s founder and managing editor, asked me to write a veterinary blog.. I’ve known Hannah since I was a young child, as our families have been intertwined and have now spanned three generations of deep friendships. After meandering here, there, and everywhere around the world, often pursuing ventures with animals and veterinary medicine, the decision to move back to my hometown of Bethel, Connecticut after graduating from veterinary school came easily. And so, I bring to you all, an avenue to ask some fun questions and engage in conversation with a vet who is humbled to share some words of wisdom. I happily write from my home in the woods of Bethel, surrounded by various critters. Thank you for continuing to make me proud to be from and live in our wonderful little town.


Dr. Emily

Question: Why do dog paws smell like corn chips (e.g. Fritos)?

Many pleasantly associate corn chips with their furry friends’ paws. In fact, the microbiome—that hot-topic word in health—is what explains that familiar scent. The microbiome consists of a diverse group of living organisms all over the body (for humans too - not just dogs!) and is vitally important for health. Suffice it to say, a whole gang of bacterial and fungal friends normally live on your healthy dogs’ paws, as sweat glands make for a perfectly cozy, moist place for a microbiome to call home in between those toes. Specific bacteria have been implicated for this chip-like fragrance.

Therapies, such as fecal transplants, to help revitalize an injured microbiome have long been amainstay of veterinary medicine. As knowledge of this rapidly growing field continues to grow, we increasingly understand the immense role that these microscopic creatures have in not only gut health, but mental health, skin health, and virtually every body system (even paws!). Beyond the scope of this post, there is immense research and knowledge about diet and supplements to help maintain or regain this healthy growth of microbiome dwellers.

Photo Credit: Dr. Emily Andersen

This question also leads me to applaud those paw-sniffers as thorough investigators of their furry family member’s health. Please continue to use all of your senses to check-in with how your critters are doing. Foul smells can be an indication of a variety of diseases and paws can be an easily overlooked area needing medical attention. Gettingin the habit of looking (and smelling!) over your dogs and other animal family members is important to help catch any diseases needing medical attention promptly.

So, continue to smell those paws and cater to that microbiome! And, as always, when in doubt, ask your veterinarian any questions you may have to keep your beloved family members happy and healthy.

Photo credit: Dr. Emily Andersen

Disclaimer: The content of The Bethel Grapevine’s Ask the Vet blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. If you have a medical question about your pet, call or visit your veterinarian or a veterinary hospital.

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