Can Dogs Eat Paper?

We know dogs love to try their teeth on several materials, and paper seems to be a favorite. Sometimes, they end up swallowing pieces of paper while tearing at them. But is this habit any reason for concern? Can dogs eat paper?

Dogs should not eat paper because doing so is potentially dangerous to their health. For example, paper products in the digestive tract can cause blockage. One of the ways to avoid this is by keeping paper out of your dog’s reach.

So, what do you do if your dog eats some pieces of paper? Besides, since most dogs tend to eat paper, you’re wondering, how do I make my Fido cease from this unhealthy habit?” Thankfully, this article responds to these questions and more. Keep reading to get your answers.

Can A Dog Digest Paper?

Image from Barkbox

Dogs cannot digest cellulose since they do not secrete cellulase, the enzyme required to digest cellulose.

Although your furry friend’s stomach acid is several times stronger than yours, it does not affect paper. Hence, the paper passes through a dog’s digestive tract unprocessed and along with their poop.

Why Does My Dog Like Eating Paper?

Dogs eat paper for diverse reasons, including boredom, medical conditions, lack of nutrition, anxiety, and sheer curiosity.

Boredom And Anxiety

Dogs are energetic animals, and when there is nothing to spend their energy on, they can get creative, including tearing at paper. While doing this, it is highly probable they chew some and swallow them.

Meanwhile, dogs suffering from separation anxiety have diverse ways of reacting, and eating paper isn’t alien to them.

Nutritional Deficiency

When dogs lack some nutrients, they may intuitively begin to crave non-food materials. Paper seems to be a readily available material to chew. Although there isn’t any nutrient in the paper, your dog doesn’t know this and would keep doing so.

Sheer Curiosity

Dogs are some of the most curious animals in the world. Your furry friend may just be fascinated with paper and want to have a taste of it. If the piece is scented, the probability increases that your dog would get its teeth into it.

Medical Conditions

Your dog may eat some paper if it is suffering from a condition known as pica.

Canines with this condition tend to be obsessed with eating different non-food materials like clothes, grass, and wood. Since paper is readily available around the house and environment, it could become part of their strange menu.

Meanwhile, only a qualified vet can diagnose this condition. You could easily pass it for any other reason.

What Happens If My Dog Ate Paper?

Image from Barkbox

When dogs eat paper, nothing may happen, and they can also experience health issues like constipation and bowel blockage.

What happens depends on the type and quantity of paper your dog ingests. A tiny piece may not affect your dog.

Also, the thicker the paper type your dog swallows, the more risk it poses. A few bits of toilet rolls may not count for much, but that much quantity of cardboard paper could cause unease.

Will Eating Paper Hurt A Dog?

Paper can have several undesirable effects on your dog, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.

Although the main component of paper is non-toxic cellulose, some types contain other ingredients unhealthy to dogs. Some include bleach, retention agents, and caustic soda, to mention a few.

Moreover, if a blockage occurs in the intestine, your dog may experience severe pains and bloat. Your four-legged canine friend may find it uneasy to poop, feel lethargic or suffer constipation. In the worst-case scenario, dogs may die due to complications.

Can A Dog Eating Paper Cause Diarrhea?

One of the common reasons for diarrhea for dogs is eating non-digestible materials, such as paper.

Besides knowing that dogs can’t digest paper, some chemicals used for processing paper could trigger such digestive problems.

Can Paper Bause Blockage in Dogs?

When dogs swallow paper, it can result in blockage of their digestive system.

Again, the likelihood of experiencing blockage depends on dog size, the type of paper, and the quantity eaten. Larger dogs tend to get away with it much easier than small dog breeds. Dissolvable papers would also pose a lesser threat to the dog than non-dissolvable ones, such as that of a magazine.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Paper?

If your dog has eaten much paper or a potentially toxic one, you should let your vet know immediately.

Thankfully, the paper would not move away from Fido’s belly for some hours. One of the ways your vet can help is to induce vomiting in your dog to remove the ingested paper. That’s much better than when it leaves the stomach, as it could block the intestines. If that happens, surgery is unavoidable.

However, if your dog ate only a little piece of dissolvable paper, such as a toilet roll, you may need to do nothing at all! Just keep watch and observe for unusual or erratic behavior afterward. And see if it poops without a strain and eats as it often would.

Image from DogTV

How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Pass Out Paper?

Dogs would naturally pass out ingesta in less than 12 hours but may take longer if it is paper.

In extreme cases, dogs may never pass out paper, especially when it has resulted in a blockage. If you notice your dog isn’t pooping all day, you must see a vet.

Will Dogs Poop Out Paper?

Dogs will poop out the paper if it is consumed in a small amount. However, if dogs eat a substantial quantity, it is much more likely to be unable to pass through the tract.

Unlike humans, our furry friend’s dentition would not allow them to chew paper to tiny bits that can successfully pass with their poop. Hence, if a dog swallows a large amount of paper, these bits could add up and form a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Paper?

If your dog is eating paper, some methods of stopping them include energy diversion and providing chewing alternatives. Other methods include keeping paper away, nutrition control, and obedience training. You can also see your pet doctor if you can’t still figure it out.

Here is how you should go about them.

Energy Diversion Method

Most dogs are inherently playful, probably because they have quite the energy to spend. To prevent them from chewing papers, you should ensure they have adequate playtime during the day. Some toys would come in handy to play with rather than papers.

Also, take them out for exercise regularly. If you do this, your four-legged furry friend would be content to lie and take some rest rather than seeking paper to chew.

Providing Chewing Alternatives

For dogs that love to chew, providing healthy alternatives to paper would be great. Shop for some firm rubber toys, durable stuffed toys, and perhaps a tennis ball. These items are diversions and would keep your Fido from eating paper. 

Nutrition Control

Make sure your dog has all the essential nutrients in the daily serving. The tendency for your dog to eat paper is higher when there is some nutritional deficiency.

Hence, you must ensure that your Fido’s diet is complete with great nutrients. If the need arises, you can add some supplements to your Fido’s water or food.

Obedience Training

Trained dogs find it easier to give up habits. Teach your dear Fido to take basic commands such as come, go, sit, drop it, and stop.

Meanwhile, you have to watch out for your furry friend and be ready to give the order to drop the paper when occasions arise. This technique shouldn’t go alone.

Try positive reinforcements whenever your canine friend obeys by rewarding it with delicious dog treats. Or, giving it its favorite toy to play with is fine.

Eliminating The Paper Presence

If everything else fails, this may be one of your last resorts. Where there is no paper in sight, your dog won’t go sniffing it out.

Keep all documents inside a lockable shelf and dispose of paper when you are ready to burn them.

Also, shut your toilet doors to prevent your canine friend from accessing toilet paper. Where that isn’t feasible, put the toilet paper holder at a height above their reach.

Make An Appointment With A Vet

If you can’t find a reason for your dog’s paper-eating behavior, you may need to have an appointment with a vet. Your vet would help you diagnose what is responsible for such behavior and proffer solutions.

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Pete Decker