Why Do Dogs Eat Paper? By Dancun Kingori |Last Updated 09/24/2019
Dogs sometimes have funny cravings. It’s puzzling really; this particular craving for paper and tissues.
If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering what you’re doing wrong to have your dog digging so relentlessly into the trash to get out a piece of tissue or paper, then sit up. This article is just for you.
To be honest, one too many a dog is super intrigued by paper, tissues, napkins, toilet rolls and pet parents are used to coming home to meet their paper products shredded all over the floor. Kinda annoying, especially if that piece of paper was important to you.
But why are dogs so accustomed to chewing paper? What’s so fascinating about this particular practice? Scott Sheaffer, a certified animal behavior consultant, says it comes down to odor, and that when you’ve used tissue paper to wipe your mouth/nose, there is an appealing scent on that piece of paper, which in turn, fascinates the dog.
Quite amusing theory for why do dogs eat paper.
There are also other notable theories on the practice of shredding paper by dogs; some attribute it to boredom, anxiety or pica.
However, when a dog begins to compulsively devour paper products, you might have to start considering if it is a behavioral issue and not appetite-based.
Another certified dog behaviorist, Erin Jones, attributes it to dogs simply wanting to have fun, shredding everything made of paper within sight because they enjoy the shredding sensation. Maybe it reminds the dog of a grooming scenario where you make use of a dog shedding brush on her? Perhaps.
Whatever the case, we will get juicier information on these different perspectives in a bit!
Pica, is defined as the ‘persistent craving and compulsive eating of non-food substances’ occurs in both humans and animals, and the cravings can range from dirt to ice, to literally anything! A common subsection of humans who commonly experience strange and odd cravings are pregnant women.
Now, Pica, according to the New York Times, is caused by anything from anemia to zinc deficiency and even behavioral issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If your dog is suffering from pica due to some form of micronutrient deficiency- and subsequently, is stuffing up toilet rolls and papers discarded in the bin or stored anywhere else in your house, then you need to consider seeing a veterinarian.
Show of hands if you’ve ever had any issues with your teeth!
Quite a number of us know the excruciating pain associated with a toothache and would do anything to relieve it.
This could be what your dog or puppy is experiencing, and as such, your small dog might want something soft to stuff in her mouth. Pretty straight-forward, right?
One thing you can do here if you notice that your dog might be having teething problems is that you place something acceptable to chew on, perhaps a teething toy, within your dog’s reach.
Your dog may be so bored, the only thing that looks interesting within reach is playing with paper rolls and shredding them into bits.
Do you find that when you go out and leave your dog home all day, you come back to piles and piles of disrupted paper? It just might be because your dog is bored, or it could be that your dog is under severe stress. If your dog is stressed, he might play less or repeatedly engage in certain behaviors.
Before you make that needed trip to the vet to find out what’s causing your pet stress, reduce the level of boredom by ensuring these dogs have lots of things around them to play with, such as puzzle toys.
Your dog might also not be getting enough exercise, resulting in boredom. Try taking your dog on longer walks allowing her to be involved in more aerobic activities. These activities will also improve her fitness.
One simple reason your dog is chewing paper and tissues is hunger. Yeah, basic hunger. This does not in any way mean you’re a terrible pet parent or anything, and PetMD talks about some background situations that could lead to this.
Intestinal worms: this could cause your dog to eat and poop within a short time interval. The best option would be to deworm your dog at this stage or visit the vet.
Your dog may not be getting adequately nourished from the food being eaten: Again, the food may not be providing him with adequate nutrients, for which you might need to try healthier food options
When considering this puzzling scenario, also remember that your dog could simply be goofing around. This habit of chewing on toilet paper or tissues might just be the fun thing to do for your pet. There are other options for items to chew on, such as treat-dispensing toys.
As a pet parent, you might have an instinctual response to this habit of chewing paper that makes you feel like your dog could get hurt.
Who wouldn’t, knowing that paper wasn’t meant to be digested by the body? And with repeated episodes to this otherwise non-edible material, and lots of irreparable damage might be done, right?
You do have a problem; excessive chewing of paper or tissues can get your small dog’s intestines blocked up, causing digestive issues; and it might also increase the risk of the dog being lethargic.
According to a prominent Veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Coates, small amounts of paper would easily pass through a dog’s digestive tract, but when large quantities are ingested, some parts of it can get stuck along the gastrointestinal tract, requiring corrective surgery.
As well, when a dog eats tissue paper or paper towels that are coated with a cleaning product or any other possibly toxic substance, the dog is exposed to a lot of harm.
One thing you can do as a pet parent is to ensure that paper towels coated with any toxic substance or chemical are completely out of reach of your dog, having established paper-ripping behavior. While trying to stop the act, it is important to keep them away from harmful triggers.
It can be very exhausting to deal with a dog that aptly reminds you of teenage behavior always doing what you instruct him or her not to do and in this case, ripping up shreds of paper despite express instructions not to.
The first thing to do is to keep these papers out of your dog’s reach; the key to any form of training here is to manage the environment.
If your dog has been frequenting the trash can, use one with a secure, automatically closing the lid. Of course, a proper training process still has to be carried out because of the risk of tearing out the paper from a toilet roll.
An implicit rule can be one such as a “drop it” cue for your dog to follow. Then reward your dog for listening to the prompt- if a dog associates obeying you to getting a reward, it becomes easier to obey you because guess what’s coming next? A sweet reward!
Another practical step to try when all others have failed is to restrict your dog movement when you’re not around to properly monitor his movement. You could use baby gates to wall off certain areas of your home, and keep it safe from being accessed by your dog.
One other creative means of going about this is to put treats into a paper box that’s within reach, and allow your dog to tear the paper box apart.
This serves as an outlet for the behavior, and see how far that can go. This could even be your treat for obeying you by refusing to tear apart a toilet roll you told your poochie to stay away from.
Dogs will always be dogs; don’t sweat it out too much when a dog simply wants to have some fun!
The whole point of having a dog companion is to make your home lively: what’s a little dog without a bit of mischief here and there?
However, if this habit of chewing paper is getting out of hand, make use of the advice in this blog post, and of course, you can thank me later!
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