Why Do Dogs Eat Paper? | Understanding The Reasons

Dogs have long been known for their peculiar habits, and one of the most common is their tendency to eat paper.

From tissues and paper towels to books and cardboard boxes, dogs seem to have a voracious appetite for anything made of paper.

This behavior can be frustrating and even dangerous for pet owners, as it can lead to digestive issues and even blockages.

So why do dogs eat paper in the first place?

Is it a sign of an underlying health issue or simply a quirk of their personality?

In this article, we will explore the various reasons why dogs engage in this behavior, and provide tips for preventing it from becoming a recurring problem.

By understanding the motivations behind this behavior, pet owners can take steps to keep their dogs safe and healthy while also satisfying their natural curiosity and love of exploration.

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper? – The Reasons


Some dogs are naturally curious creatures and like to explore their environment.

This can include sniffing, licking, and even eating things that are not meant for consumption, such as paper.

Puppies, in particular, maybe more prone to this behavior as they are still learning about their surroundings.


Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time or who do not receive enough mental or physical stimulation may turn to paper eating as a form of entertainment.

This behavior can also be seen in dogs who are confined to a crate or small space for extended periods.

Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can manifest in many ways, including destructive behavior such as paper eating.

Dogs who experience separation anxiety, fear, or other forms of stress may turn to paper as a coping mechanism.


Pica is a condition characterized by the consumption of non-food items, such as paper.

This behavior can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders, or other medical conditions.

Dogs with pica may also eat other non-food items, such as dirt or rocks.

Eating paper can be harmful to a dog’s health, as it can cause blockages in the digestive tract and lead to constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the blockage.

Additionally, the paper may contain chemicals or other substances that can be harmful if ingested.

To prevent dogs from eating paper, it is important to provide them with mental and physical stimulation, such as toys and exercise.

Training can also be helpful, such as teaching the “leave it” command to discourage paper shredding.

If a dog continues to eat paper despite prevention efforts, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to discuss potential treatments or diets.

Health Risks Associated With Eating Paper

Blockages And Obstruction

Dogs who eat paper are at risk of developing blockages and obstructions in their digestive tract.

This is especially true if the paper is not easily digestible, such as paper towels or toilet paper.

When the paper gets stuck in the stomach or intestines, it can cause a blockage that prevents food and other materials from passing through.

This can lead to constipation, pain, vomiting, and even surgery in severe cases.

Digestive Tract Injuries

In addition to blockages, eating paper can also cause injuries to a dog’s digestive tract.

The sharp edges of shredded paper can scratch or tear the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to bleeding and other complications.

This can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Chemical Exposure

Some types of paper may contain chemicals that are harmful to dogs.

For example, a paper that has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals may be toxic if ingested.

Additionally, a paper that has been used to clean up spills or other messes may contain harmful substances that can make a dog sick.

To prevent these health risks, it is important to keep paper products out of reach of dogs.

This may involve securing trash cans, keeping bathroom doors closed, and providing appropriate toys and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and anxiety.

If a dog does ingest paper, it is important to monitor them closely for symptoms of blockages or other complications.

If symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Prevention and Treatment of Paper Eating

Training and Behavioral Modification

One of the most effective ways to prevent paper eating in dogs is through training and behavioral modification.

Dogs can be trained to stop eating paper by teaching them the “leave it” command.

This command can be used to redirect their attention away from the paper and toward an appropriate toy or treat.

Consistency is key in training, so it’s important to reinforce the “leave it” command every time the dog tries to eat paper.

If the dog is eating paper out of boredom, providing mental and physical stimulation can help reduce the behavior.

Interactive toys and games, regular exercise, and obedience training can all provide mental and physical stimulation that can prevent boredom and reduce the likelihood of paper eating.

Environmental Changes

Another way to prevent paper eating is by making environmental changes.

This can include securing the trash can, keeping paper products out of reach, and closing doors to rooms where paper products are stored.

Providing appropriate chew toys and treats can also redirect the dog’s attention away from paper products.

Medical Treatment

If the dog is eating paper due to a medical condition, such as pica or anemia, medical treatment may be necessary.

A veterinarian can diagnose and treat any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the behavior.

In some cases, medication or dietary changes may be necessary to treat the condition and prevent paper eating.

In cases where the dog has already ingested paper and is experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Ingested paper can cause blockages in the digestive tract, which can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgery to correct.

Overall, preventing paper eating in dogs requires a combination of training, environmental changes, and medical treatment when necessary.

By providing appropriate mental and physical stimulation, securing paper products, and seeking veterinary care when necessary, pet owners can help their canine companions avoid the harmful side effects of eating paper.

Before You Go…

Now you know why dogs eat paper.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.