You have probably heard the phrase “the dog ate my homework,” standing for a silly excuse for unfinished work. But the fact is that many pups do have an affinity for paper and will love munching on it if given a chance. Whether your playful puppy loves pulling the toilet paper from the roll, or your dog shreds and gobbles up any piece of tissue or any other similar item it gets its paws on, you may be wondering what you should do if your dog ate paper.
Playing with tissue is a favorite pastime, especially for younger and more active pups, and swallowing small bits is usually harmless. But, when the dog has consumed more significant quantities, it can become a problem and may need emergency veterinary care.
Here is a quick guide for taking action if your four-legged friend has consumed paper. We have also included the potential dangers of canines eating different paper-based products. We have also added some tips for training your pet to stop this behavior and the main reasons why tissues, toilet paper, and similar items are so attractive for some dogs.
Your Dog Ate Paper – What Should You Do?
Here are the steps to take if you come home to find out that your furry friend has eaten paper. In case the puppy or dog has consumed a considerable amount of tissue, toilet paper, or other, you should call your vet as soon as possible for further instructions.
To get the best possible advice and veterinary care, make sure that you perform the following:
Step #1 – Determine What Type And How Much Paper Has Been Consumed
Determine the quantity of tissue or paper the dog has eaten. Check on any leftover tissues or toilet paper to estimate the amount ingested. Also, check whether the tissue had something in or on it that could pose a danger for your pup.
Step #2 – Secure The Pup
To calmly react to the situation, make sure to remove any remaining paper and secure your pet in its crate or in a room away from any other items it can munch on.
Then you can move on to the next step.
Step #3 – Contact Your Vet
Call your veterinarian or contact a veterinary surgeon for immediate advice. Inform them of the size, age, and health of your pup, the type of paper product, and the quantity you think it has eaten.
The vet may ask you to take the pup to the clinic for a checkup or give you guidelines for what symptoms to watch for at home.
Even if you are not particularly worried about harmful consequences, calling your vet will give you peace of mind.
Step #4 – Follow The Instructions Of Your Veterinarian
If your vet asks you to take the dog to the clinic for a checkup, then make sure you get there are soon as possible. This may be required, especially if the dog is small and has eaten large quantities of toilet paper or paper towels.
Your veterinarian may ask you to bring the dog to the clinic if it is showing worrying symptoms as well. Common symptoms that may need immediate veterinary care include lack of appetite or vomiting, or if your pet starts feeling unwell.
Step #5 – Avoid Applying Home Remedies
Self-treatment is not a good idea if your dog has eaten some paper. Often, consuming some paper towels, tissue, or toilet paper is not dangerous for the dog. But attempting to induce vomiting at home can lead to more dire consequences for the pup.
Proceed to induce vomiting only if your vet has asked you to and has given you detailed instructions about the procedure.
If your pup needs treatment, then you should take it to the veterinarian, where the professionals will induce the vomiting and perform other procedures safely.
Toilet Paper vs. Kleenex vs. Paper towels – How They Can Affect Dogs
Since paper towels are the densest and usually the largest of all, they are the ones that can be the most dangerous if ingested by dogs.
Kleenex and other paper tissues and toilet paper are less dense, smaller, and thinner, so the chances are that your dog can digest and pass them without a problem.
The three types of paper are usually made of similar components and ingredients, but the harm can come from the quantity and whether the paper was shredded first and then ingested.
Thankfully, most pups will shred the paper before swallowing it.
As mentioned earlier, of all three, the paper towels pose the most significant danger for canines due to their size, thickness, and higher density. They can lead to an obstruction that requires immediate veterinary care and, in some cases, surgery.
How your dog will be affected depends on its size, health, and the quantity and density of the paper consumed.
In any case, we recommend that you follow the steps mentioned above, no matter the size of your dog or the type and amount of paper it has ingested.
Can Eating Paper Harm Your Dog?
Although, in most cases, ingesting small bits and shreds of tissue, Kleenex, or other paper should not pose a problem for healthy dogs. Usually, dogs like playing with paper, shredding it up, and making a mess without ingesting it. But even though it may have swallowed several shreds, this should not be a problem for most healthy dogs.
But in some cases, eating paper can harm your pet.
How much harm can be done depends on the type of paper products, their density, the quantity consumed, and the size of your pup.
Problems may arise when a large amount of toilet tissue, paper towels, or Kleenex has been ingested.
This is especially true if your dog is small-sized.
In some cases, large quantities of paper can cause a blockage in the dog’s digestive tract. Such an obstruction can be a very serious issue requiring immediate veterinary care. In some cases, your vet will need to perform surgery to remove the paper and resolve the blockage.
The common symptoms of digestive obstruction include vomiting and lethargy.
Another potential danger for canines is when the paper has been used and has potentially toxic chemicals on it, such as nail polish remover, detergent, and others. Many cleaning products contain hydrogen peroxide, which can cause severe side effects in your dog. Some of them include profuse vomiting and drooling, an esophagus, or stomach irritation or inflammation.
The Six Main Reasons Why Pups Love Playing With And Eating Paper
If you are wondering what makes toilet tissue, Kleenex, and other paper products so attractive for your dog, then read on for the six most common reasons for this obsession.
Curiosity Or Teething
Young puppies are naturally curious and will love playing and chewing on anything new presented to them. They get introduced to the world and will explore the various items by chewing the different objects, including paper products.
Also, when they are teething, the puppies will chew on just about anything to help relieve the pain and irritation of their new teeth growing. Even if you have provided your puppy with a suitable teething chew toy, you may find that it will still try to chew on just about anything else it has access to. This includes any tissue paper, paper towels, toilet paper, and other similar items.
Out Of Sheer Boredom Or Attention-Seeking
Puppies and older dogs require physical and mental activities and stimulation to stay happy and well. Some dogs can become destructive or seek other ways to alleviate their boredom when left without mental stimulation. This can include getting hold of and destroying a roll of toilet paper or a box of tissues or shredding any other paper item.
The negative reaction to such behavior is a way for the dog to receive the attention it has been seeking.
Separation Or Other Anxiety
Unfortunately, separation anxiety is pretty common among canines. This has become especially evident these days when people gradually return to their offices after a few years of working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety can become loud and destructive. Some will resort to howling, barking, and scratching, and others may start chewing on and destroying anything they can lay their paws on. This includes any paper which is easy to access.
The problem is that while shredding the paper, the pup can also ingest some or all of it.
Pica is the term for the condition in dogs that leads to eating non-food items. Usually, pica in canines is exhibited in the urge to eat their own feces or grass, but it can also be ingesting Kleenex, toilet paper, and even cardboard.
The causes of pica can be either medical or behavioral. This means that you should discuss your concerns with your veterinarian if you notice such behavior in your pup.
If the dog lives on an inadequate diet, this can lead to nutritional deficiency. In this case, the pup may look for any potential source of nutrients and food it can reach. This includes tissues and other paper products, commonly found and easy to access in our homes.
What Is On The Paper
Your dog may be attracted not by the actual tissue but by what is on it. Many dogs won’t think twice about gobbling up a paper towel or tissue used for wiping up grease, soaking off the bacon grease, or other cooking needs.
In case the paper has been infused with a lot of fat or grease, the chances are that your pup may start experiencing diarrhea or vomiting after its feast. Consuming excessive quantities of fat can lead to more serious health conditions, including the inflammation of the pancreas and painful and dangerous pancreatitis.
Other human foods that are toxic to dogs can also cause mild to severe problems. So, ensure that you safely discard such soiled tissues and paper towels in a well-sealed trash can or bin.
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Paper
You should use proper, consistent positive reinforcement training to teach your pup to quit shredding and eating paper.
This training will help prevent potentially dangerous incidents in the future.
It is also advisable to ensure that your dog does not have access to any tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls, and other similar paper products, especially when you leave your pet alone at home.
Discard any used paper towels and tissues in a tightly closed or sealed bin or where they are out of reach for your dog. There are some excellent canine-proof trash bins offered on the market which will do an excellent job of keeping your pup out of the garbage and away from the paper.
You can shut the bathroom door, use dog or stair gates, or crate the dog when you leave home for peace of mind. But remember to minimize the crating time to avoid traumatizing your pup.
In case you catch your cheeky pet playing with and shredding paper, make sure to avoid chasing it. The reason is that your behavior may look like a game for your puppy, and it will happily repeat it over and over again to get that same attention and response from you. Instead, remove the tissue, and ignore the pup.
If your dog is a regular paper-eater, you should take the time for some behavioral training.
Reinforce the dog with treats, a favorite toy, or verbal praise every time it responds to your command to leave the paper.
As for dogs suffering from attention-seeking or separation anxiety, you should spend as much time providing the pet with physical and mental stimulation and exercise when possible. Provide it with some toys to keep it entertained instead when you leave home. Some excellent treat dispenser toys will help keep the dog occupied and less anxious when it is left alone. Before leaving the house, remember to close the dog gates or any doors and remove any paper tissue and towels within the pup’s reach.
If you still have questions regarding the habit of canines shredding and eating tissues and other paper products or are worried about your dog consuming certain types of paper, read through our frequently asked questions section.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we have received through the years in regard to dogs eating paper.
Do Dogs Pass The Tissues Or Other Paper Items Easily?
Since tissue is usually thin and soft, and dogs often shred it first before ingesting pieces, it can likely pass through the animal’s digestive tract without any problems.
You may even notice pieces of undigested tissues in the dog’s feces later on.
But, denser and larger quantities of paper towels, tissues, or others can cause serious problems and issues such as an obstruction in the dog’s digestive system. The large bulk of ingested tissues can swell up and block the stomach or intestines, which is a condition requiring urgent veterinary attention, and in many cases, surgery.
My Dog Eats Toilet Paper – How Bad Is It?
Small shreds of ingested toilet paper will hardly hurt your dog, but since it has no nutritional value for the pup, it is not beneficial for it either.
As mentioned earlier, problems can arise if the dog consumes a large quantity of toilet paper or if your dog is very small-sized and eats it.
The most significant risk is a potentially dangerous bowel obstruction.
My Dog Shreds The Toilet Paper Before Eating It – Why?
In most cases, the pup will steal and shred the toilet paper or tissue up as a form of play or because it is bored. Anxious dogs and those suffering from separation anxiety can resort to destructive behavior, including shredding toilet paper and just about anything else in the house.
Young puppies are curious and want to explore and play, so it is very common for them to chew on and try to shred anything they can get access to. This behavior is widespread when the puppies are teething and need to chew something to alleviate the discomfort and pain.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Bowel Obstruction In Dogs?
A large bulk of paper towels or any other foreign objects swallowed by canines can lead to a bowel obstruction. This is a blockage in the digestive tract, which requires immediate emergency veterinary attention.
The blockage can cause the dog to start vomiting, have diarrhea, excessive drooling, or straining when trying to go to the toilet. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pup has a bowel obstruction!
Eating small pieces of tissue, toilet, or other paper should not pose a health problem for most dogs. But swallowing denser paper items and larger quantities of tissues can obstruct the canine’s digestive system.
For peace of mind, it is best to call your vet if you suspect or know that your dog has eaten some paper. Your doctor will give you the best advice and instructions on how to proceed.
Remember to follow the above-listed steps if your four-legged companion has just destroyed another roll of toilet paper or eaten up a box of tissues, or any time it swallows paper.