There are many things that dogs do that simply defy belief and common sense. Eating toilet rolls and toilet paper is one such odd thing they can do. I’ve certainly walked past our bathroom before to see a paper trail and a guilty looking dog… but why do dogs eat toilet paper, and is it bad for them? I decided to find out…
Why does my dog eat toilet paper? Dogs eat toilet paper and rolls for a number of reasons including stress, boredom, anxiety, fun, hunger, teething, hunting and prey instinct, or a condition called pica where dogs eat non-food items. Some toilet roll eating habits can be easily broken, others will require investigation from a vet.
Why your dog ate toilet paper
The reasons why your dog loves to eat toilet rolls are wide and varied. Read them all below and see if you can find one which might apply your toilet paper munching pup.
1. To have fun
I believe the top reason a dog eats toilet paper is because it’s fun and appeals to their instincts. Toilet paper also has a very strange consistency to it and can be ripped to shreds quite easily… all of which makes it very appealing to dogs!
Think about how dogs would hunt prey if they were wild. They would pin the prey to the ground then shred it with their claws.
Whilst nobody would ever suggest a toilet roll presents a particular difficult catch, when dogs are indoors, they look for fun things to keep themselves entertained with in the absence of any decent dog toys or owner playtime!
2. Boredom, separation anxiety, or stress
A bored or stressed dog will often exhibit attention seeking and destructive behaviors. This could be chewing up shoes, tearing into walls, or eating toilet rolls.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, and will often occur due to a change in your dog’s environment or even a one-off event such as fireworks.
Separation anxiety is one of the most common issues that leads to destructive behavior. When dogs are left alone for long periods of time, they will often chew and scratch things in the home. Given how easily accessible toilet rolls are, many times dogs eat toilet paper to get your attention.
3. Teething in puppies
Puppies will eat toilet paper when teething if they can get access to it. It’s not even the fact that toilet rolls are particularly fascinating as teething puppies will chew on anything for relief.
By eating things around the home, puppies can soothe their sore gums so keep things they keep chewing well out of reach… and invest in a teething toy like the ones on Amazon below!
4. Pica condition
Pica is a condition that’s hard to diagnose as it can be down to so many different things. It’s a condition that affect humans too, and if you’ve not heard of it before, the West Park Animal Hospital explain pica in dogs as:
“Pica is the consumption of non-food substances. The problem with pica is that the itmes consumed can cause serious blockage in the digestive tract. These items may either get tangled in the sensitive intestine, or be unable to pass, resulting in major illness followed by emergency surgery or endoscopy.” (view source)
From my own research into pica, it’s a very common reasons for dogs eating toilet rolls, and is said to be brought on by the following issues:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
- Change in environment.
- Illnesses including diabetes.
- Possible mental health conditions.
It can be hard to stop a dog eating toilet paper if you don’t know the root cause, and this is where a pica diagnosis can be hard. The Best Friends Animal Society also say that pica in dogs is caused by:
“Can include gastrointestinal disease, anemia, liver disease, pancreatic disease, diseases causing excess appetite such as diabetes, neurologic diseases, poor diet, being on medications such as prednisone, behavioral disorders such as anxiety, or a depraved home environment. Pica can even be a symptom of normal exploratory behavior.” (view source)
As you can see, there’s a lot of reasons why it could be happening, so is best checked over by your vet.
Your dog might be eating toilet paper just because he is hungry. For example, if your dog has eaten well during the day then gone on a big walk and expended lots of energy, he might need to find those extra calories once you get home.
Obviously, there are no calories in toilet paper, but once it chewed and eaten, it can clump in your dog’s stomach and give them the illusion that they are full.
Is it bad for dogs to eat toilet paper or toilet rolls?
Toilet paper breaks up very easily, so isn’t that bad for dogs to eat. As soon as moisture soaks in the toilet paper, it will reduce in size, break apart, and in most cases will pass naturally through your dog’s digestive system without causing any problems.
Toilet rolls and cardboard can be more serious, as larger pieces of card won’t break up as easily and could cause a blockage in smaller dogs.
However, in most cases you might see a little toilet paper in your dog’s poop, or your dog might develop an upset stomach with symptoms including diarrhea.
But that’s really if toilet paper eating is just a one off.
The bottom line is, much of it is down to size and regularity. For example, if you have a small dog who eats toilet paper on a daily basis, then yes, it’s most definitely bad.
Toilet paper could become blocked in your dog’s intestines if it’s eaten regularly.
If your dog has got something stuck, then they will need to be encouraged to vomit, or in very serious cases even undergo a surgical procedure.
Whether it was just a little toilet paper or a lot, you should always consult with a vet if you’re concerned and your dog starts to act out of character.
Possible side effects
I’ve already touched on some reasons why it’s bad for dogs to eat toilet rolls and paper, but here’s a run-down of all those possible side effects in full.
If you have come home to see shredded toilet tissue everywhere, it might be hard to figure how much of it your dog has eaten. The symptoms below are all things to monitor for.
- A lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- A severe sensitivity around the stomach area
- A rapid decline in health
- Throwing up
Of course, eating toilet paper is not the only reason for these kinds of symptoms to appear in dogs, but they are all indicative of intestinal blockage, which is always a medical emergency.
If you are in doubt at all, please go to your vet straight away.
How to stop your dog from eating toilet paper
Now we’ve established why your dog ate toilet paper, we now need to look at ways to stop it. In most cases, your dog has turned the act of eating toilet paper into a fun game and won’t stop unless trained to do so – or you put preventative measures in place.
Here are my top tips you can use to get your dog to stop eating toilet paper (making all that mess around your home)!
1. Keep the bathroom door closed!
The simplest answer is to make sure that your bathroom door is always shut. That brings an end to the game and will stop your pooch from getting to the toilet roll holder.
2. Distract your dog with something else
If you can commit to keeping the door shut, you should now focus your dog’s attention elsewhere. This is essential because there is one thing worse than chewed toilet paper… a toilet door that is getting scratched to pieces!
Some of the best toys for big chewers are things like the popular Kong (view on Amazon). We will often fill one with xylitol-free peanut butter or treats as it keeps our dog Claude occupied for ages – meaning he won’t have the inclination to tear up and eat toilet rolls!
An alternative could be a game that requires more mental dexterity, such as a puzzle. Here’s a puzzle toy on Amazon that dogs love. It’s said to keep them mentally active and distract them from destructive habits such as chewing things up.
If you do see your dog eating toilet paper, don’t chase or shout at them as this will amplify the behavior, and will make them think the game has started.
Instead redirect their attention towards one of their new toys, making what you’re doing with it look like the most exciting thing ever.
3. Keep your dog exercised
You can stop your dog from eating toilet paper and forming destructive habits by keeping them well exercised. We try to walk our own dog at least twice a day which helps to tire him out and keep his mind active.
4. Spend more time with your dog
If your dog is eating toilet rolls to get your attention, then you could give your dog what he or she wants… more of you!
4. Get a vet to check for an underlying issue
I mentioned earlier what the issues could be, and often it will take a vet examination to confirm what the exact problem is.
Your dog could be hungry which will be simple to spot, but for more complex things like nutrient deficiencies, pica, stress, and illness may need a professional diagnosis.
Dogs are simple creatures and often the most plausible and obvious thing will be the reason for a behavior… and this applies to toilet roll eating too where most dogs do it just because they can!
It’s fun, and if you look at the photos in this article, they are of my dog after I played with some toilet tissue in front of him. He wanted to get involved, it became a funny game, and he loved the attention.
But of course, this won’t always be the reason, so please do watch for any odd symptoms, and always consult with a vet if in any doubt over your dog’s behavior.
You might also like…
Dogs will eat the strangest things (such as human hair), and it’s up to owners to know what is ok and what’s not. Here are some guides I’ve published over the last few months on similar topics.