Why Is My Dog Eating Toilet Paper?

February 22, 2020
Dog Playing with Toilet Paper

​If you've had a dog for any length of time, you know that they're going to get into some weird stuff at some point.

​As soon as you turn you back, they'll dig through the trash, chase the cat through the house, pull the cushions off the couch, and on occasion head straight for the bathroom and chomp away on toilet paper! This got ​us thinking - why is my dog eating toilet paper? ​We decided to take dig in and do a bit of research to see why they do this.

​The Behavior Is Called Pica - Some Humans Do It Too!

​Pica is defined by the Mirriam-Webster dictionary as "An abnormal desire to eat substances (such as chalk or ashes) not normally eaten."

It's a bit of an odd eating disorder that also affects some humans. People that suffer from this ​disorder have been known to eat any number of odd things - including soap, paint, hair, and yes even paper. There are reports that pica is sometimes seen ​temporarily in women who are pregnant. After all, we've probably all heard stories of a pregnant woman that's displayed particularly odd cravings during her pregnancy.

Pica comes from the Latin word for magpie. These are birds that are well known for eating just about anything.

​What Causes Pica?

​According to the National Eating Disorders Association, pica is expected in children under the age of two as putting various objects into their mouth is part of normal development. However, once they are beyond this age, if it continues it can be a sign of a host of conditions such as malnutrition, iron-deficiency, or even mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia.

While we're currently exploring the specific issue of eating toilet paper in your dog, many of the underlying reasons for this behavior can also apply to other pica related issues as well.

​Chewing on Toilet Paper Can Relieve Teething Pain

​It's pretty common to see behavioral chewing in ​puppies. This type of chewing is just part of the natural teething process. Toilet paper would make sense as an option since it's soft, easy to bite, and they probably enjoy tearing it into pieces as well. Toilet paper may also allow a teething puppy to get relief from the itchy and often uncomfortable sensation that comes with teething.

If you find that your puppy is continually going for the toilet paper, try replacing it ​with an acceptable shew toy that's a bit softer for them to chew on. It's best to stop this behavior early before they develop a habit that will be hard to break later on.

​Chomping on Toilet Paper Out of Stress or Boredom

​Is your dog is going straight for the toilet paper the second you walk out of the house and leave them alone? If so, they may be doing it because they're stressed or just bored.

If you're dog has been ​displaying other signs that could be associated with stress, like being more temperamental, a decline in activity, or a fixation on behaviors like eating toilet paper, take a look around and see if there is anything new in your home that may be the cause of the stress. If you just can't figure it out, consider a trip to the vet to see if they may be able to help find the cause of your pup's stress.

If it turns out to be more boredom, make sure they have something to keep them occupied while you're gone. One option we recommend is the Furbo dog camera that can let you keep an eye on things at home, talk with your dog, and even give them a treat.

You should also think about whether your pooch is getting enough exercise. If you're not taking them on a regular walk, or walking far enough, this could provide an explanation for the behavior. Providing adequate exercise is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate poor behavior in a dog.

If think you're already getting in a good walk with your dog, try adding something new. Maybe pick up a Frisbee, or an iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher to get them running around a bit more. You can also consider hiring a dog walker to come in while you're at work to give your dog a bit more exercise.

​Eating Toilet Paper Because They're Just Hungry!

​This article over at Wag notes that your dog may be eating things like toilet paper simply due to hunger or malnutrition. Malnutrition can also explain why your dog is eating their poop too, also known as coprophagia.

Even if this is the case, it doesn't mean that you're a bad owner. But you do need to get to the root of the issue and address it. According to PetMD, some of the more common reasons for this behavior are:

  • Your dog may have worms. The best option ​in this case would be to deworm them and see if the problem stops.
  • Your dog may be malnourished and not getting the proper nutrition from their food. Speak with your vet about their diet, or try one of the foods from our list of high-fiber dog foods.
  • Your dog may be experiencing gastrointestinal issues. In this case, again we would recommend that you speak with your vet to determine an appropriate solution.

​Just Because It's Fun!

​We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but some dogs will chew through a roll of toilet paper just because they think it's something that's fun to do. In this case, the best option is to discourage the behavior and replace the toilet paper with something else they'll enjoy chewing on.

You should look for a chew toy that that they'll enjoy - maybe one that makes some noise! As we mentioned earlier, there are some treat-dispensing cameras that could provide you with another option and let you monitor the situation throughout the day.

​Eating Toilet Paper May Be Harmful to Your Dog

​Pica can prove to be harmful to your dog if it's allowed to continue. Dogs shouldn't be eating things like paper - their bodies simply weren't designed to digest it.

If you're unable to get your dog's bad eating habit under control, it could lead to their digestive system becoming "blocked". This will ultimately lead to a very expensive trip to see your vet. Depending on the severity of the situation, surgery may be required, which will create more stress than your or your dog will want to deal with.

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