Why is my Dog Eating Paper All of a Sudden, and is it Bad?


As a dog owner, you already know that dogs will try to eat pretty much anything that they can get their mouths on. They are curious animals by nature, and they are also incredibly greedy. As a dog owner, if you had a cent for every time you’ve asked your family ‘What’s the dog eating now?’, you’d probably be a millionaire. So, the chances are that your dog has probably eaten paper at some point. 

When your dog attempts to eat strange things, it usually isn’t that much of a cause for concern. However, if your dog has begun eating paper regularly, then you might be a little worried. In this guide, we’re taking a look at why dogs can suddenly start eating paper, and whether, or not, it is bad for them. So with no further ado, let’s get started. 

Why do Dogs eat paper?

There are lots of things that dogs attempt to eat, that you can kind of understand the appeal of, like human foods that they aren’t really allowed. But there are some other things that are truly puzzling. So why do dogs eat paper and paper towels?

Stress

One of the main reasons why dogs will eat something that they aren’t supposed to is stress or anxiety. There are a number of things that can make dogs experience great amounts of stress, and when they do experience this, dogs will often become destructive. 

Think about the way that you deal with stress, and you will probably realize that a lot of your habits aren’t healthy or don’t make sense. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that dogs too can often act out of character when they are struggling mentally. 

For some dogs, ripping things apart is a way to calm the stress that they are experiencing, having a soothing effect. So, your dog might begin to tear paper apart when they are in turmoil. This act of tearing paper apart, could also lead to your dog eating a small amount of the paper that they are destroying. 

Entertainment

Another reason why your dog might begin eating paper is because of boredom. Dogs always seek fun activities, and can generally find something to keep them occupied when there is nothing else to do. But, unfortunately, these fun things can sometimes be destructive to your home. 

If you are a dog owner, there is probably some point in your dog’s life where they have ripped up an important document, or torn up a whole roll of paper towels. A dog’s destructive behavior when bored isn’t limited to paper, you probably will have found a whole host of precious items chewed to bits if your dog has been left alone for just a moment too long. 

So, if your dog is bored, and cannot find a toy to entertain their brain. There is always the possibility that your dog might turn to ripping up paper or paper towels as a form of entertainment. This may also lead to them eating it.  

Hunger

Alternatively, your dog might turn to eating paper towels, or just paper, simply because they are hungry. This is probably the most obvious reason for why your dog might eat paper towels, but you might still be puzzled as to why your dog would begin to eat something that is clearly inedible. 

Eating paper or paper towels is especially common in larger breeds of dogs. This is because larger breeds need to eat more calories throughout the day, and a lot of owners unknowingly underfeed their dogs. As dogs are scavengers, they will then begin to search around the home for something that they could eat, which might lead them to paper towels. 

As a dog owner, you will already know that dogs really aren’t fussy about what they eat. So, is it really a surprise that your dog might turn to something that seems totally appealing when they are hungry? You only need to think about it for a moment before you realize that it really isn’t. 

Nutrient Deficiency 

The next reason that your dog might eat paper is closely linked to hunger, and that is a nutrient deficiency. If your dog is not getting all the nutrients that they require from their diet, then they might turn to eating strange things to try to balance these things.

As human beings, we believe that we are very in tune with our bodies, but our knowledge of what is going on inside us is far more limited than that of a dog. If a dog knows that they are not getting enough of something in their diet, then they will go out of their way to try to correct this imbalance. 

Some studies have found that dogs will seek paper to eat when they realize that they have an iron deficiency. It is thought that dogs get a craving for paper when they are low on iron, so an iron deficiency could be what is causing your dog to eat paper. 

It Smells of You!

The final reason that you might find your dog eating paper is a lot sweeter than the other options that we have looked at. And that is that your dog could be eating paper because it reminds them of you. 

Of course, whether this is the reason that your dog is eating paper, or not, will depend heavily on the type of paper that they are eating. If your dog is eating paper towels, then this probably isn’t the reason for their behavior. But, if your dog is eating a newspaper that you had previously been reading, then this could be why. 

Dog’s have a much stronger sense of smell than humans. So, if your dog is missing you they might hunt down anything that has your scent in the home. Hunting the scent could then lead to your dog eating the paper, which is why your dog could be exhibiting this behavior. 

Why has my dog Suddenly started eating paper?

So, we’ve just looked at the general reasons that your dog might be chewing (and eating) paper. But, none of these reasons really explain why your dog might begin eating paper completely out of the blue. 

If your dog has always eaten paper, or at least ripped it apart, since they were young, then this behavior might not be as much of a concern. You might find that your dog always turns to tearing paper apart when you have to leave them at home alone, in which case there is a clear explanation for this destructive behavior. 

But, if your dog has never exhibited this bad behavior before, then your dog suddenly eating paper might be alarming. The reasons that we looked at above could still explain why your dog has suddenly started eating behavior, but it also may not. 

Diagnosing why a dog eats paper is very difficult, but if you are concerned then it is worth consulting your vet. Other possible reasons for your dog eating paper include:

  • Pica
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Change in Environment
  • Mental Health Conditions
  • Other Illnesses (i.e., diabetes)

All of these reasons could possibly explain why your dog has suddenly started eating paper. 

Why is it Unsafe for Dogs to Eat paper?

As you can probably expect, eating paper really isn’t the best thing for your dog. There are lots of reasons for this, including the fact that paper has no nutritional benefits, and it just isn’t something that should be eaten. However, whether eating paper will be unsafe for your dog will depend on the context that they are eating it in, and the amount that they have eaten at any one time. 

But, the biggest thing that will impact how dangerous eating paper is for your dog, will be the size of your dog. Larger dogs have larger bodies, giving them space in their stomachs to store paper that they really shouldn’t have eaten. This paper will then blend with food that they were supposed to eat, and it will be digested.

However, smaller breeds of dogs have much smaller stomachs, and this can really impact their digestion. So, if a smaller dog were to eat a lot of paper or paper towels then this could seriously affect their digestion, and so their health. So eating paper isn’t necessarily always unsafe, but it definitely isn’t recommended. 

Side Effects of Eating Paper

Often you will only be able to tell that your dog has been eating paper due to the path of destruction that they have left through your home. But, if this path is missing, then it can be very difficult to assess how much they have eaten. If your dog doesn’t appear off color, then you might not want to rush them to the vets immediately, and this is understandable. Vet visits are expensive, so you may not want to rush there too prematurely. 

So, if you aren’t sure how much paper your dog has eaten, or if the amount that they have eaten requires a vet’s visit, then keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Dramatic Change in Appetite
  • Severe/Painful Sensitivity around the Stomach
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden Decline in Health

Obviously, the majority of these symptoms could also be a sign that something else is wrong with your dog (other than them eating paper). So, if your dog exhibits any of these signs then it is best to consult with your vet, especially if you are concerned that they have eaten any excessive amount of paper. 

Ways to Stop your Dog Eating Paper

We mentioned earlier that some dogs may just have a predisposition to eating paper. This could be something that they have always done, ever since they were a little puppy.

In which case, your dog eating paper probably isn’t as much of a cause for concern, but it can still be an annoyance. So, if you want to try to stop your dog from eating paper, check out the following methods. 

Buy Chew Toys

One of the easiest and most effective ways to stop your dog eating paper is to buy them something else to chew instead. A lot of the time, dogs chew paper out of boredom, so if you give them plenty of toys to chew instead, your dog should stop eating paper. Of course, this will only work if your dog is chewing paper because of a behavioral issue, and not a health issue. 

If you suspect that your dog might be chewing paper out of hunger, then it is also a good idea to invest in some dog chews which they can eat. There are lots of dog chews that will take your dog a lot of time to chew and eat, so this should distract them from their boredom, and also ease their hunger. So, one of the best ways to stop your dog eating paper is to give them chew toys or dog chews to destroy instead.

Consult with your Vet

If you are worried about the amount of paper that your dog is chewing, or the frequency at which they are chewing paper, then it is probably best to consult with your vet. As we said earlier, your dog could be chewing paper because of an underlying health condition or a nutrient deficiency. So, if your dog has randomly started chewing (and eating) paper, it is best to speak to a vet to try to diagnose why.

We also said earlier, that diagnosing the reason your dog is eating paper really isn’t an easy task. And this is still true. However, diagnosing a medical reason why your dog might be eating paper is far easier than diagnosing a behavioral issue. So, if you really are concerned, it is best to speak with your vet about possible reasons why your dog might be eating paper, and this could help you find out whether it is behavioral or medical. 

Hide the Paper

Perhaps the easiest way to prevent your dog from chewing paper when they are left on their own is to hide all the paper in your home. This is the easiest way, but it can quickly become an inconvenience, especially if you need to pop out of your house fairly regularly. But, you have to admit that the theory behind this reason is pretty simple: if there is no paper around your home, then your dog won’t be able to chew it. 

Of course, this is a clear example of solving the problem, not the cause. So, hiding paper will stop your dog chewing and eating it. But, it won’t solve the reason they are doing this. This means that if your dog was eating paper because of a medical reason, then you still won’t have solved their medical issue. 

Training

The final way to stop your dog eating paper, and perhaps the most effective way, is to train them not to do it. Training your dog isn’t simple, especially when your dog is no longer a puppy. However, the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a load of rubbish, because even elderly dogs will learn new behaviors when they are trained properly. 

It will take a lot of persistence, and it will take a lot of time. But, if you can train your dog to stop eating paper, then it will make your life a lot easier. This means that you will no longer need to hide all the paper in your home every time that you leave the house. Instead, you can simply go out, safe in the knowledge that your dog has been trained not to eat it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it dangerous for my dog to eat paper?

It definitely isn’t good for your dog to eat paper, however, it isn’t necessarily always dangerous. How dangerous this action will be, depends on a lot of factors. This includes the amount of paper your dog has eaten, the size of your dog, and any underlying health conditions your dog might have.

But, if you are concerned about your dog eating paper, it is best to consult your vet. 

Is wax paper bad for dogs?

No paper is good for dogs, but you might expect wax paper to be even more dangerous. However, this isn’t the case. Most wax paper only contains a small amount of wax, so this should pass through your dog’s digestive system fine.

However, if your dog begins to show any unusual behavior after eating wax paper, you should speak to a professional. 

Summary

In short, there are lots of reasons why your dog might be eating paper. These include boredom, hunger, and nutrient deficiencies, just to name a few.

So, if your dog suddenly begins to eat paper, there is no need to become too concerned unless this becomes a habit. In which case, you should consult your veterinarian.

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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