Dog Ate Paper: Causes, Risks, and Solutions

Dogs are curious creatures and are often found putting this in their mouths, and sometimes this can be dangerous. So you might be worried if your dog ate paper.

When dogs eat paper, they may simply be exploring or trying to alleviate boredom. While small amounts of paper usually pass through their digestive system without harm, large quantities may cause blockages. You can prevent this behavior by doing a few things.

Why do dogs eat paper?

From shredded tissues to chewed-up magazines, dogs seem to have a knack for finding and devouring paper. The reason for this can include simple boredom or potential health risks.


Just like humans, dogs can also get bored if they don’t have anything to do. “In dogs, excessive boredom may be associated with stereotypical behaviour for example pacing and displacement activities such as chewing or barking to relieve stress.“, says Kate Mallatratt, a canine behaviorist.

If you have a bunch of paper lying around, your bored dog might pick it up and eat it to amuse itself.


Curiosity has a strong presence in dogs, especially ones that are filled with energy. If your dog is curious about all the paper you have on your desk, it will approach and try to chew on some to satisfy its curiosity.


Dogs can get anxious for many reasons. Loud neighborhoods, a change in the household, or moving to another house can all be reasons. Separation anxiety is also a possible cause. The paper has a chewable texture and makes a sound that the dog can find comforting for its stress.

Nutritional deficiencies

If you find your dog eating paper, it may be due to its poor diet. Anemic dogs that lack iron in their diets will start chewing and eating anything they deem possible. This is called pica disorder and it can cause additional problems.

Veterinarians from the University of California, Davis, describe pica as such:

Some animals have developed unusual eating habits, such as rocks, wood, plastic, strings, rubber bands, and more. This problem, called pica, is defined as the persistent chewing and consumption of non-nutritional substances that provide no physical benefit to the animal. 
University of California, Davis


Diabetic dogs cannot produce enough insulin, so sugar builds up in their blood. This results in symptoms like polyphagia, which is an increased appetite. In this situation, you may find that the dog is eating something like paper to satisfy its hunger.


This is a medical condition where the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone. Dogs with this disease will eat a lot, yet lose weight with time. Because it will feel constantly hungry, a dog with this condition will even eat inedible things like paper.

What are the risks and potential problems?

If your dog ate small amounts of paper, it is more likely to pass it in its stool. But larger amounts can cause a few serious problems.

Choking hazards

Smaller and larger amounts of paper can be a big cause of choking. While chewing on the paper, dogs may get distracted and inhale a bit of it with it getting stuck in their windpipe. This becomes an immediate issue with the dog not being able to breathe and in need of urgent help.

Gastrointestinal blockages

Just like paper gets stuck in the windpipe, it can also cause a blockage in the intestines. This is more common in smaller dogs as their intestines are smaller in diameter. This blockage prevents food to pass through leading to constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, and bloating.

Ingestion of toxic substances

If there is ink on the paper, or if it’s specially made with some type of chemical, it could be toxic for your dog. For example, paper towels contain formaldehyde and chlorine. These chemicals are even toxic for humans if ingested. If intoxicated, your dog may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

How can you prevent dogs from eating paper?

In order to be sure that your dog will stop eating paper in the future, you need to do a combination of the following steps.

Keep paper out of reach

The first step in getting your dog to stop eating paper is to dog-proof your house. Make sure your trash cans have lids and your tables have no random paper lying around. Restrict your dog’s movement out of the bathroom and kitchen, which usually have paper. Buy a deterrent spray and use it on paper items you don’t want to be chewed by your dog.

Provide appropriate chew toys

The next step would be finding something that your dog can chew on besides paper. And chew toys are perfect for this. 

Just watch out for what kinds of chew toys you buy. Dogs can eat the string from a rope toy and it can cause intestinal blockages just like paper does. Instead, choose toys that are durable and dog-friendly. Rubber and nylon toys can be a good choice.

Mental stimulation and exercise

If you want to stop the dog from chewing paper, another thing you can do is provide mental stimulation. Activities that can stimulate a dog include games like hide and seek, scent games, and puzzle toys.

Dogs should also get enough exercise during the day so they don’t feel bored. Let the dog spend its energy by going on walks, hikes, runs, or taking it swimming.

Consistent positive reinforcement training

Training a dog can be tricky, especially if your dog is not listening to you. It requires persistence and a strong will from the dog owner. A good technique is redirection. If you see your dog planning to eat some paper, redirect its attention to a toy, activity, or treats instead.

Then, you can also teach your dog some commands like “leave it”. Once your dog associates those words with the fact that it needs to drop what it has in its mouth, it will be easier for you to control its behavior.

What should you do if your dog eats paper?

If you suspect that your dog has gotten its chompers on some paper or have seen it do that, then you will need to act.

Assess the situation

Firstly, observe the whole situation and try to get every information you get. You will need to know the type of paper your dog ate and how much so you can tell the vet. Then act fast to remove all excess paper from its reach so it doesn’t eat even more.

Monitor the dog

If the dog is showing immediate symptoms, it needs urgent help which you can provide. If not, your job is to observe for any changes you see it experiencing. You can also offer the dog some water that helps paper get through the intestines easier. A bulky meal can also be useful.

When should you seek veterinary assistance, and what information should you provide to the veterinarian?

Noticing that your dog has ingested high amounts of paper should be a sign to visit the vet. You need to tell your vet about your dog swallowing paper and the amount of it. If you have noticed symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains, make sure to inform them. If they feel like some procedure is needed, the vet will do anything to make the dog feel better.

What are prevalent misconceptions related to dogs eating paper?

There are people that think that dogs do this because they only want attention. But they don’t consider the fact that their dog can be seriously sick from something, and this is only a symptom.

Other people will think that this behavioral issue is harmless and they don’t have to stop their dogs from doing that. And some dogs don’t know when to stop eating, which leads to problems. But it only takes one accident for your dog to end up in a hospital.

So what should you do if your dog ate paper?

Dogs will sometimes do things that seem fine, but can actually harm them. Such is the situation where they would eat paper. Dogs will eat paper because they feel bored, curious, or anxious. They might also indulge in this behavior if they suffer from illnesses like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or pica.

Paper can be dangerous for dogs because it can cause a blockage in their windpipe or intestines. Some paper also contains toxic materials like ink that can harm a dog.

If you want to prevent this behavior in your dog, you will need to remove all paper from its vicinity. You will need to train it well and provide enough exercise and interactive dog toys to redirect its attention to something else. In time, your dog will stop eating paper and you can feel safer.


How long does it take for a dog to pass swallowed paper?

The time that passes from the moment your dog eats paper to the moment it poops it out can go up to 24 hours. If there are no symptoms, monitor your dog’s poop to make sure the paper is out.

Can dogs digest paper?

No, a dog’s stomach can not digest paper. If your dog ate paper in small amounts, you will notice it fully in its poop once it manages to poop it out.

Are certain dog breeds more prone to eating paper?

There is no specific dog breed that shows this behavior more than others. However, puppies and younger dogs are more likely to do this compared to their more mature counterparts.

More Dog Behavior Resources

Here are a few other resources talking about other unusual behavior in dogs and how to deal with them.

You can find a lot more information on weird dog behaviors on our site Dogisa!

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