There are some things our four-legged best friends indulge in that defy common sense. One odd, notorious behavior is eating weird things from grass to playdough, poop, and even toilet paper.
If you’ve walked past the bathroom or hallway only to find a messy toilet paper trail and a guilty-looking dog, this article is for you.
We look into this odd behavior, its root cause when you should be worried, and proven tips to curb this destructive and expensive behavior.
Reasons Why Your Dog Loves Toilet Paper?
Is your dog gobbling or tearing toilet paper into pieces and scattering them across the bathroom? Then it’s a cry for help. We start by stating the obvious. If your furry friend consumes a paper product, you should call your vet immediately. Foreign objects can cause painful bowel obstruction.
Most dogs will outgrow this behavior by age 2 with some maturity and training, but if they don’t, you should be concerned. They might be suffering from a variety of medical or behavioral issues. Your dog may be munching on toilet paper out of excitement, a gnawing hunger, or sheer boredom.
But there can be other more profound reasons for this habit that demand your attention and possibly medical intervention.
Here’s why your dog has an irresistible urge to devour your toilet paper.
Puppies are curious, and you cannot fault them, considering their age. They tend to explore the environment using their paws and jaws. Adult dogs may also eat tissue paper out of curiosity, as tasting different things helps them understand their environment.
It’s Super Fun
Your dog will devour toilet paper for the sheer fun of it. Canines find it exciting and have a feel-good emotion when they tear and chew on toilet paper. It’s soft, fluffy, fun to tug, and can be ripped into hundreds of shreds easily.
Picture how dogs hunt and feed on their prey, especially in the wild. They would pin it to the ground in amusement and shred it with their jaws and paws. They borrow this scavenging and hunting behavior when playing with their balls, squeaky toys, or frisbee, which simulate their predatory instinct.
Although your toilet roll is not a difficult catch, it feels like fur or feather in their mouth and activates your pup’s innate urge to rip and tear into it. If your pup is mostly indoors, it’ll look for fun things to stay entertained, especially in the absence of playtime and dog toys.
Relief From Teething Pain
Puppies and small dogs often chew on anything in their path, including less than tasty snacks like rolls of toilet paper. It is a natural phase of their teething process, and toilet paper is one of the go-to options for your pups because it is squishy, soft, and fun to bite.
Biting, eating, or chewing tissue paper can signify that your puppy is seeking relief from its itchy, uncomfortable teething pain. So if your puppy is reaching out for toilet paper when teething, consider replacing it with a more acceptable chewing aid that can soothe and numb their gums and teeth like a puppy teething toy.
Their Diet Is Whack
If your dog isn’t getting their daily recommended calories, they often supplement by consuming other substances like toilet paper and poop to give them the illusion of fullness.
Consider de-worming your dog, talking to your vet about changing Fido’s diet, and addressing any gastrointestinal issue causing this behavior.
Lack of activity or excitement can lead to frustration and cause your dog to act out in naughty ways and create a mess. Dogs can also munch on tissue paper to pass the time if bored and lonely when they don’t get the attention they crave.
To your canine companion, even an adverse reaction from you counts as attention. It’s as if you are participating in and praising your pup for his actions. Reinforced behavior tends to be rooted, so your dog will likely grab that toilet paper roll again.
Stress Or Anxiety
A stressed dog will munch on anything, including chew toys, shoes, and toilet rolls, to stay calm. Stress can be caused by changes in your pup’s environment or a traumatic one-off event like fireworks.
Separation anxiety is linked to destructive canine behavior and affects young and senior dogs. Your dog could act out by digging holes, pacing, chewing on non-edible objects like toilet paper, or pooping in the house.
Canines are emotionally dependent on their human companions, especially if they are new to you. When dogs are abandoned or left alone for long periods, they often bite, scratch, and chew at things in the home. Consult a canine behavior specialist to help you solve the root cause of their anxiety.
Pica is the insatiable craving and eating of non-food items. Like humans with this eating disorder, pets crave several non-edible substances like dirt, ice, cardboard, or toilet paper. Although most cases of pica are seen in kids, women can also experience odd cravings during pregnancy.
The causes of canine pica could range from zinc deficiency to anemia, hormones, neurological diseases, diabetes, or behavioral issues like stress and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Pica in dogs can be a normal exploratory behavior that will run its course with time.
Can Eating Toilet Paper Hurt My Dog?
Yes. Eating toilet paper can cause severe digestive issues for your dog if not addressed. Dogs cannot digest toilet paper since they lack the enzyme cellulase to break down cellulose which is the main component in the paper.
Nonetheless, toilet paper is thin, soft, and breaks up easily in your dog’s mouth and, in most cases, will pass through their digestive system without causing any trouble. You might only realize it when you find evidence (paper remnants) in their stool.
But, the same cannot be said for puppies, as they are still growing and can have difficulty passing out toilet paper. Also, regardless of your dog’s size, if they overeat toilet paper, they’ll experience health problems.
Your pup can choke and have difficulty breathing or suffer from a stomach upset, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, drooling, dehydration, and constipation. Toilet paper can also cause intestinal obstruction, which is a great deal of pain for your pup and requires an emergency trip to the animal clinic.
There’s also the likelihood of surgery, which can be expensive and traumatic for you and your furry friend. Signs of intestinal blockage include abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, and inappetence.
My Dog Ate Toilet Paper. What Now?
Although swallowing small bits of paper may not harm your dog, large amounts can. In most cases, canines rip toilet paper rather than chew on it. But, if your pup ate toilet paper, we advise you to take the following steps:
1. Estimate How Much Toilet Paper Your Dog Might Have Eaten.
It could be challenging if there are hundreds of paper shreds. Also, check if anything toxic was on the toilet roll, like nail polish or hydrogen peroxide (used in most cleaning products). These can inflame or irritate your dog’s esophagus and stomach.
2. Secure Your Dog
Place your furry friend in a different room while you clean up the shreds of toilet paper. This way, you can keep calm and prevent them from consuming more.
3. Phone Your Vet
Based on the information shared, your vet will decide if you should bring your dog to the clinic for monitoring. If the root cause is a health problem, your vet will recommend a special diet, medication, or guidance. But if it’s a behavioral issue, the vet will advise on behavioral solutions to help you tackle the habit at home.
4. Do Not Attempt To Self-Treat
It’s natural to panic, especially if your dog wolfed an entire toilet paper roll. Don’t attempt to induce vomiting; you’ll only end up making your already sick dog more ill. Let your vet induce vomiting if needed. However, if your dog is choking, your vet will guide you on what to do.
How To Stop My Dog From Eating Toilet Paper
Keep It Out Of Sight And Reach
A proven way of eliminating this annoying and risky habit is by keeping your toilet paper out of reach. You can stash them away in a baby-lock cabinet or raised toilet paper holder and ensure the bathroom door is closed.
Since puppies are excited by toilet paper rolls because they spin, it would be best if you invest in a toilet paper dispenser to prevent your furry friend from accessing the tissue paper.
You can also set up stair gates to prevent access to the bathroom.
Seal The Garbage
If your pup pulls out toilet paper from the garbage, it can be disgusting and dangerous for their health. To prevent this, keep it securely sealed. Ensure it’s out of reach, preferably behind a closed door or cabinet, or get a canine-proof trash can.
Provide A Variety Of Physical And Mental Stimulation
A tired dog is a happy dog. Rest assured, if your dog is bored, they’ll run into mischief. Provide plenty of playtime and various exercises to burn off that extra energy. You can play tug-of-war together or take long walks.
How about a frisbee fetch session? Dog sports are also great for keeping your furry friend physically and mentally stimulated. Popular dog sports such as agility, disc dog, tracking, and dock jumping can challenge your canine companion’s mind and body while strengthening your bond.
Is your dog the busy kind? The type that is always getting into everything and moving around. Well, you can get him some toys to keep him engaged and boost his IQ.
Here are the toys that are great for easily bored dogs. They engage and work your dog’s brain.
- Puzzle toys
- De-stuffing toys
- Rip apart toys like Rip’ N Tug from pet safe
Reinforce Basic Obedience Skills
To stop your dog’s toilet paper eating behavior, start him on diligent obedience training using basic obedience commands like “give,” “stop,” or “leave it.” The training is crucial to teach your canine that although they can access an item, they shouldn’t do so.
Your dog needs to listen to your words and understand that eating toilet paper is considered deviant behavior. Fortify their training with positive reinforcement, such as rewarding them with tasty treats and pampering them with comforting words. This will help stop their toilet paper chomping to a great extent.
Provide Teething And Chew Toys
Puppies bite and chew at anything within arm’s length as they grow. Providing your puppy with teething toys gives them something safe and soothing for their teeth and gums during this awkward transition phase. There are a variety of chew toys for teething puppies, including:
- KONG puppy toy
- Nylabone puppy chew
- Aspasiri chew (best for aggressive chewers)
You can also alleviate Fido’s boredom by ensuring he has various things to keep him busy. We suggest you get special treat dispensers or stuff kongs with wet dog food or peanut butter and freeze them overnight. Your pup will enjoy licking on this tasty popsicle all day long.
If your pup suffers from mental issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), consider therapy sessions to relieve their buildup of anxiety and stress.
If an imbalanced diet is the cause of your dog eating toilet paper, consider working on their diet. Introduce a wide variety of foods, including bone broth, meat, dog-safe vegetables, and fruits, to provide the needed nutrients and seek your vet’s intervention for any underlying health condition.
Your dog’s habits and preferences can signal a lot of things. Their insistence on consuming certain non-edible substances can be their way of expressing a problem.
If you notice your furry friend gleefully ripping apart toilet paper rolls across the room, although destructive, never scold or punish them. Most behaviorists often frown upon verbal scolding and punishment; your dog may develop other behavioral problems and mistrust you. As a loving pet parent, identify the root cause so that you can successfully tone down their distasteful appetite.
Also, don’t chase after them to get the roll-out of their mouth since they’ll think it’s a game. Focus on providing a variety of toys, stimulating exercises, and proper nutrition. You can also keep the toilet paper out of their reach.
Remember, no amount of toys can replace you. Make time to play with your Fido. Spending time with your pup will boost his physical and mental health.