Dogs are curious creatures notorious for getting into mischief they shouldn’t. On the other hand, Puppies tend to munch on anything they come across as they explore their world.
Nothing is off-limits to your canine companion. While on their exploits, it’s pretty normal for pups to gobble up things they shouldn’t. When it becomes a habit, this can indicate an underlying psychological or medical issue.
Canines can’t resist chewing on cardboard because of its soft, chewy consistency, especially if a tasty treat was wrapped in it and your dog gets a whiff of it. But is it safe for your dog to eat cardboard? What happens if your dog eats cardboard? Read on to find out if cardboard is harmful to your dog, what to do when your dog eats cardboard and how to prevent it from happening again.
Is Cardboard Poisonous to Dogs?
Whether or not cardboard will harm your canine depends on how much they have consumed and their size. Cardboard is not poisonous to dogs unless consumed in large quantities. If your furry companion only consumes a small amount of cardboard, they are unlikely to experience serious health issues. Even though canines can’t digest cardboard, they should be able to expel it from their system with no problems.
Larger pups have more extended intestinal tracts and can pass things easily. For instance, dogs of the Mastiff breed can have an easier time expelling cardboard than a Chihuahua.
However, when your pooch ingests a large quantity of cardboard, the large pieces could stick together and obstruct their digestive tract. The blockage will make your four-legged friend unwell; thus, it might require immediate veterinary attention. Your vet will evaluate your dog’s condition and determine the ideal course of action.
You should be aware of the contents in the cardboard since some packaging may contain products that are harmful to your pup. For instance, medication, chocolate, raisins, onion, and garlic are toxic to your dog. Knowing this will help your vet make the right diagnosis and administer proper treatment.
Why Do Dogs Eat Cardboard?
There are several reasons why your pup may be wolfing down cardboard while you’re not watching.
Of course, shredding and nibbling on the cardboard can also be fun for dogs. But if your pup lacks sufficient mental stimulation, it will start seeking exciting ways to alleviate boredom.
Although it sounds strange, ripping up and chewing cardboard is one way. Such a habit will warrant adverse reactions, and for a bored canine, this could satisfy their craving for attention.
2. Teething pain or curiosity
Pooches are innately curious about exploring the world, so they often use their mouths to chew and explore objects. So, when your puppy experiences tooth pain, they’ll chew on anything, including cardboard, to ease the discomfort.
You can consider buying them a chew toy to quench their teething urges, but they aren’t always available. So, your puppy will chew on anything they can get their jaws on around the house, including cardboard.
An anxious fur baby, perhaps struggling with neglect or separation anxiety, may act hostile or destructive. They could also chew on anything within their sight, including cardboard, to soothe themselves.
You can calm down your anxious pup in various ways, but first, you’ll need to determine the cause. Then consider physical contact, exercise, music therapy, aromatherapy, or a calming space.
4. Nutritional Deficiency
When your dog lacks sufficient caloric content or proper nutrition, they’ll tend to consume other substances to curb their appetites. For example, your pup may enjoy chewing on cardboard because they lack crucial minerals in their diet, such as iron.
A medical condition known as Pica is associated with humans and animals craving unusual things due to zinc deficiency or anemia. Pica can be caused by an underlying psychological or medical condition. For example, when your dog has diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, or worms, they turn to cardboard because of their condition.
Sometimes, your pup may be interested in cardboard because of what’s on it. For example, you just bought pizza, pork chops, or cake and tossed the packing box into the trash can. In this situation, your four-legged friend may eat cardboard because it tastes delicious.
But the downside is that your pup will likely suffer from secondary effects such as diarrhea and vomiting. In addition, if the cardboard contains a large amount of fat, your dog may be at risk of developing pancreatitis.
Related: My Dog Ate Plastic. What Should I Do?
What Happens if My Dog Eats Cardboard?
If your dog only consumes a small amount of cardboard, they may not show any symptoms apart from expelling some undigested cardboard in their stool.
However, if your dog wolfs down a large chunk of cardboard at a go, they risk intestinal blockage. If there’s a blockage, your dog will show the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal pain
You should rush your dog to the nearest animal clinic if you notice any of the mentioned symptoms.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Cardboard?
As we’ve mentioned, your dog eating cardboard isn’t a big deal unless they consume a large quantity, which can cause concern. Here are the steps to follow when you find your dog in the act.
1. Clear the surrounding
Remove all traces of cardboard from the surroundings and discard them in a dog-proof trash can. Next, remove your dog and place them in a different room while you clean up the mess to prevent them from ingesting more. Also, ensure you store away every other cardboard out of reach from your pup.
2. Don’t attempt to induce vomiting
It may be tempting to make your fur baby vomit after eating something they shouldn’t have, but this is a bad idea. Forcing your pup to vomit may cause them to inhale their vomit, leading to aspiration pneumonia, a life-threatening condition.
3. Monitor for behavior changes
In most cases, when your pup consumes small amounts of cardboard, there’s little to no harmful effect. But in large quantities, your pup may experience gastrointestinal problems. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and temporary unless there’s a blockage and your dog needs surgery.
4. Call your vet
You’ll need to contact your vet when your dog ingests cardboard. First, however, you can assess the risks. For example, if your dog is a large breed and has consumed a small amount of cardboard, there’s a high chance it will expel in 48-72 hours without any complications.
But if it’s a puppy from a small breed, call the vet right away. If your canine is lethargic or has severe diarrhea and vomiting, it may require immediate treatment from your vet. Also, you should call your veterinarian when your pup eats cardboard with toxic substances such as chocolate, raisins, or onions.
What will my vet do?
First, your vet will gather the necessary information about your dog from you to assess the level of risk. They will also carefully examine your fur baby and monitor it to see if the cardboard will pass through. If they are concerned about blockage, they will conduct further tests, including x-rays, blood work, and ultrasound.
If the cardboard is causing a blockage, your vet will recommend surgery to remove it. Ideally, a bowel blockage never goes away on its own.
When left untreated, the blockage can cause perforation of the gut and leaking of its contents into the stomach. This leads to a life-threatening condition known as septic peritonitis.
How do I Make My Dog Stop Eating Cardboard?
Prevention is essentially better than cure. Preventing your canine companion from having access to cardboard will curb the habit. Invest in a dog-proof trash can and ensure all cardboard in your home is out of sight and reach. You can also use dog crates or stair gates to break the habit of cardboard eating.
If you find your pooch gleefully chewing cardboard, avoid chasing it around since this can easily switch into a game they are eager to repeat. Instead, stay calm, try to ignore their behavior, and remove the cardboard.
Find sources of fulfillment or buy canine-safe toys for your pup, especially if you leave them alone at home. Also, you can consider special treat dispensers to alleviate boredom and anxiety.
Moreover, ensure your furry friend gets plenty of mental stimulation, positive interaction, a nutritious diet, and exercise to prevent destructive behavior.
1) What shows that my dog has Pica?
Pica is a condition whereby your dog often eats non-food items. Chewy might do it out of frustration, boredom, mental disturbance, or a medical condition affecting their appetite. All in all, if your dog is munching on non-food items, consult your veterinarian.
2) Is it harmful to dogs to eat cardboard?
It would be ideal if you discouraged your Fido from chewing cardboard. But if your pup does eat a tiny piece of cardboard, he probably won’t fall ill. However, if they consume a significant amount of cardboard, this can cause blockage.
3) What are the signs my dog has blockage?
If your dog has a blockage in its abdomen, it will experience difficulty digesting food and water. As a result, your furry friend will show signs of ill health such as constipation, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite. Some pups may also have a painful and bloated tummy.
4) What duration does it take my dog to expel an object?
The time from when your pup eats food to passing it out as feces is known as gut transit time, which varies in dogs. The dog’s size, nutrition, fluid intake, and exercise vary with gut transit time, but it’s about 8 to 10 hours. The object will pass through the gut alongside the digested food, but if there’s any obstruction, your pup will show signs of ill health.
Cardboard ingested in small amounts will most likely not harm your furry companion. However, it’s always good to seek your vet’s advice to be sure.
Your vet can quickly tell if the symptom your dog is displaying means that they have a blockage, and they can administer fast treatment to avoid any complications. In addition, ensure you put measures to discourage cardboard chewing, especially by young puppies.