Why Does My Dog Eat Tissue Paper?

It is well established that pet dogs chew up numerous household pieces of stuff and, this particular habit is one of the considerable concerns of the pet owner. One of the standard non food items that dogs usually eat up are tissue papers. Consumption of tissue papers can be dangerous for dogs. The succeeding points are the side effects of eating tissue paper:

  1. Sour stomach – The less critical case of vomiting, diarrhoea or food poisoning; which involves passing of loose tools, dehydration and lethargy.
  2. Intestinal Blockage – The intestinal passage or stomach may get blocked and cause immense pain or even death in severe cases where the dog is unable to pass stools. 
  3. Constipation – when the dog is unable to pass stools due to blockage in their intestines they may keep whimpering or yelp for going out.

Reasons for Eating Tissue Paper

There are many theories about dogs eating up tissue papers nevertheless, the following are the reasons owing to which your dog might be eating tissue papers:

1. Merely for Entertainment

One of the reasons that your dog might be eating up tissues is that they are solely goofing around and satisfying their need to have fun around. When they reach their canine stage they generally go around biting, chewing, eating and pawing. Since tissues are readily available in the house, so, that might look fun to fiddle with for the dogs.

The way to discourage this behaviour is to either replace tissue with a chewable toy or just keep the tissues out of their sight. Out of sight, out of mind strategy generally works here so keep the bathroom door closed and distract him something or the other.

2. Teething Stage

The teething stage is the time when, just in the same way as it happens with humans, the puppies start to grow new teeth during their developmental stage. Puppies begin with their teething phase at the age of three months and their deciduous teeth erupt. After some more weeks, even the deciduous teeth start to fall out, and the permanent teeth erupt. This process, normally, begins when the puppy turns six months old, wherein all deciduous teeth have fallen out while the complete set of permanent teeth have started to erupt.

During this stage, dogs usually chew up things that are readily available in the house, such as clothes, footwears are anything in the household. This behaviour is because of the ache or itching caused by the emergence of new teeth from their gum; so they chew up things to relieve this pain. In the process of alleviating such throb, the well-known option that puppies see to chew up are tissues as they are fun to bite and tear up. If your puppy is always reaching up for chewing tissue paper, then one way to stop this thing is to replace the toilet paper with something to chew up.

Teething stages in dogs are as follows:

  1. Their first teeth start to come out after weaning from milk. First teeth usually come out after 5 to 6 weeks of age. Initially, they have baby teeth or milk teeth, in humans. The initial stage of teething can be painful to puppies as they are small to bear with the pain. During this stage, you might observe that they start chewing the shoes of the owner and some of the other household items that are in their reach. They chew such things to relieve the pain of the emergence of teeth. Puppies start to lose their baby teeth once they are at three months of age. By this age, they lose their first set of teeth which, usually begins with the incisors.
  2. After losing their first set of teeth, a puppy’s molars start to emerge when they are around four months old. And gradually over some years, their complete set of adult teeth will be out. During this whole teething process, dogs tend to chew things that are not edible and which may cause harm to their internal organs and affect them physically as well.
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3. Due to Stress/Anxiety or any medical condition

Some dogs might take on this chewing habit due to the stress after being left alone in the house. They do this relieve stress they are going through. Dogs, sometimes, also show some other signs of stress like the decline in their playfulness then you should consult the vet. To alleviate their stressful mood, the pet owner can buy the dog some dogs or treats, increase the number of hour of playtime or walking time. You can even take your dog to hike if it’s nearby or plays Frisbee with the dog.

There can be another reason for eating tissue paper, that is, separation anxiety. Some dogs are scared of being alone when they are left by themselves in the house. When they are left alone, the dog is unable to deal with the horror of being left alone. This causes the dog to go on the spree of destructing the household items. Low levels of separation anxiety might not be seen as dangerous as dogs with moderate to severe levels of anxiety. So, you should take him to the vet and take good care of the pet.

4. Pica

Pica, in humans, is a condition where they feel compelled to eat non-food items. In the case of children, they eat grass or mud or toys. Whereas, in dogs, this disorder is the same as in humans where the dogs eat up non-food items, such as metal, cloth, plastic, dirt, garbage, rocks, paper items. Usually, Pica is a psychological disorder characterises compulsive behaviour in dogs. Eliminating such problems is necessary to protect your dog from resulting medical conditions to take a toll on the dog. If pica disorder is not eliminated shortly, then the dog might ingest objects which can lead to intestinal track blockage, choking, sour stomach or food poisoning or other problems.

You should consult a vet if the abovementioned observations persist. Eating non-food items can cause a lot of problems, such as:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Sour stomach
  4. Blockages
  5. Choking
  6. Ulcers  
  7. Bad breath
  8. Inability to defecate
  9. Burping
  10. Abdominal pain
  11. Gastrointestinal blockage
  12. Coughing (if items’ blocks the respiratory tract)

The causes of Pica in dogs can be divided into two categories – one, psychological issues and second, medical issues. Many pica cases in dogs fall into the category of psychological problems. They need to have a behaviour modification. Then are the cases which fall into the category of a medical issue which require vet attention and treatment.

Following are the psychological causes of the dogs suffering from Pica:

Stress – Stress is a psychological condition where there are feelings of emotional strain and pressure. It is a type of psychological pain.

Separation anxiety is one of the types that fall into the category of such psychological conditions. Anxiety is a psychological condition which is characterized by feelings of tension and worrying thoughts.

  1. Depression
  2. Lack of socialization
  3. Frustration
  4. Boredom
  5. Behaviour that they have learnt through observation
  6. Following are the medical issues due to which the dog might be suffering from Pica:
  7. Teething (in puppies) – the stage wherein the teeth are erupted by the ages of 3 to 6 months.
  8. Inflammatory bowel disease – it is the disorder that involves chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.
  9. Diabetes
  10. Infection caused by some insects or parasites.
  11. Anaemia
  12. Neurological diseases
  13. Unbalanced diet
  14. Hyperthyroidism
  15. Exposure to wrong medications
  16. Thyroid
  17. Hormonal imbalances

If you observe any such kind of behaviour in your dog then check with the symptoms as soon as possible and following treatments can be provided to prevent pica from worsening and it’s succeeding behavioural issues:

Ensure that your pet is getting plenty of exercises like walking, running or playing and mental stimulation. More the physical and mental stimulation, the better it will help your dog.

Keep away certain things that you chew up and keep the non-edible items out of its reach. Keeping them away would help.

Cover the face of the dog while taking him out for a walk to avoid the dog devouring any item.

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5. Simply Craving for Food

One of the most uncomplicated theories about your dog eating tissue paper is that the dog is hungry for food. And the dog owner should feed the pet dog with proper nutritious food.

But there are reasons due to which the dog is feeling hungry:

First is intestinal worms might be present and are causing the dog to eat and then pass stools within a short duration of time just after eating their meals. To treat the issue, where, the pet dog is invariably hungry, the best option is to deworm your dog and visit the vet to avoid further complications.

The second reason can be that the dog is not getting complete nourishment from the food that is being served to the dog. So, try choosing the meals which are filling and provides complete nutrition to the dog so that their stomachs are full.

6. Out of habit or due to boredom

Another reason could be that the dog is in the need of physical and mental stimulation. When the dogs don’t get to play with toys or get the opportunity to go on a regular walk or playtime, they might be soon out of energy and start to get bored. This boredom might cause the dog to fulfil this need and go and eat up tissue papers. If the dog owner is not able to give their pet the required time then they might feel left alone and bored. This, again, encourages the dog to eat tissue paper rolls.

It can also be due to their learnt behaviour or compulsive habits. Just like humans have a habit of nail-biting, in a similar means, the dogs might take upon the custom of chewing up tissue papers. They might want to stuff their stomach with tissues out of their compulsive behaviour. This particular behaviour seems like a normal thing to many owners but this might be mistaken as a positive reinforcement to dogs and they might keep continuing. So to avoid this, start giving your dog assured commands to drop down whatever they have stuffed in their mouth or find ways to distract them.

How to prevent your dog from eating tissue papers?

One most effective way of preventing your dogs from eating tissue papers is to keep tissue papers in a place where the dog can neither see it and nor reach it. This is, also, one form of a training milestone. If your dog is frequently going to the bathroom and tearing up the toilet roll, then keep the door closed. If the dog is habitually going near the trash can, then keep the trash can which can automatically close its lid after use.

You can also give a “drop it” command to signal the dog that they need to leave the particular non-edible stuff. Instead, positively command the dog so that it feels more like positive reinforcement. Also, the owner should not lose his cool while training your dogs. Give them treats when they are right and performing well.

If you see any symptoms of Pica then keep in mind about the treatments that can be given to the dog. Pica is one kind of problem which cannot be overlooked on so make sure that you take good care of your dog and take him or her on long walks and play with them.

Conclusion

If you see your dog eating up tissue papers then it can be a serious issue which you should take into consideration. Look for the abovementioned symptoms to be sure if your dog is suffering from any severe conditions, be it psychological or medical. Consult with your veterinarian to stop your dog from eating tissues if you’re not able to stop these odd eating habits. Your vet can look for medical issues at the root of the problem, prescribe anxiety medication, or refer you to a trainer or specialist that can help change its behaviour.