Among all the weird things dogs seem to find attractive, paper surely makes the top of the list.
There are many reasons why the paper is so alluring to dogs, but what you need to know is that ingesting paper, and especially paper towels, can be very dangerous.
Depending on the type of paper and the amount ingested, your dog may need a medical examination as soon as possible.
Why Do Dogs Eat Paper Towels?
It may seem strange and at the same time very unclear why a dog would eat paper towels in the first place. So, we made a list of the most common reasons for this behavior.
Most dogs will not touch a roll of paper towels, or maybe they will only do so while playing. In these cases, they will just tear the paper into pieces and enjoy the moment, but many of the dogs will not swallow any of it.
Obviously, paper towels become really attractive for dogs when they smell like food. We often use paper towels to wipe the table, clean various dropped food bits, or utilize them to wipe our mouths after eating. Therefore, it is not surprising that paper towels often end up having an enticing smell for dogs and other pets.
To prevent these paper towels from becoming a part of the menu of our pets, we must make sure that we throw them away immediately after use in a container the animals cannot open. Do not let these sit on the table after you finish your meal because dogs might just grab them when you are not looking. Avoid throwing these in trash cans that do not have a lid or that can be opened very easily. Dogs are very smart and if they smell food, they can find a way to open the trash bin.
Paper towels are made up of cellulose fiber and are biodegradable. Hence, if you have a garden, and you want to do a service to the environment you can add them to your composting bin instead of throwing them away.
In addition to consuming paper towels due to the smell and food debris on them, dogs can also eat these non-food products due to an eating disorder called “pica.”
Pica consists of the animals desire for chewing and eating stuff that has no nutritional value and which brings no real benefit to it. This condition is not particularly confined to paper towel consumption. An animal affected by this disorder can also have the tendency of swallowing things like rocks, wood, rubber, plastic, and about anything they can chew.
This unusual eating habit on dogs may be caused due to improper nutrition, as well as several psychological factors such as anxiety, stress, boredom, teething, or compulsive disorders.
Keep in mind that even if your canine friend has a tendency of chewing on various things, that doesnt necessarily mean that he suffers from this eating disorder. It is not uncommon for many young puppies and even for untrained adult dogs to chew on non-food things around them. As long as they are only chewing these items but dont swallow them, they should not be cataloged as having this disorder.
Dangers Of Dogs Eating Paper Towels
The consumption of paper towels and paper in general can cause mild to critical issues in your dogs health.
A dogs stomach produces gastric acid which is way stronger than the one of humans. This acid is so strong that can soften even bones. Therefore, most dogs will have no problem digesting a small amount of paper.
Things get complicated when the dog ingests a significant amount of paper in a short time. Also, the gravity of the situation can vary from one breed to another.
Some dog breeds have a much more problematic digestive system than others. In particular, small breeds of dogs, such as Chihuahua, Terriers, Shih Tzus, Bichonsand, French Bulldogs, and others that are generally prone to various digestive issues, may have major problems after paper consumption.
Even though swallowing one or two paper towels may not be enough to cause health issues to a german shepherd, that might be just sufficient to send a small French Bulldog straight to the vet.
Another factor that increases the risk is the age of the animal. Dogs of all ages are at risk, but young puppies are particularly vulnerable.
Gastrointestinal blockage or bowel obstruction is the most common issue caused by the ingestion of a substantial amount of paper towels or other foreign objects in dogs. This is a severe health condition that can quickly turn deadly for any animal if you do not rush to a veterinarian.
The blockage can occur in the stomach or at the intestinal level and can be either complete or partial. The solid mass will prevent food and fluids from passing through the gastrointestinal tract and lead to various complications and even to the animals death if not removed in time.
Your dog may experience one or more of the signs listed below. These are the most common symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs and when you notice their presence, you should take your dog urgently to a veterinarian.
Because the symptoms are common to many diseases, the veterinarian must first determine if it is a gastrointestinal blockage or other illness with similar manifestations.
The vet will ask you first of all if you saw the animal swallowing non-food items. A physical exam and an X-ray or ultrasound inspection are usually needed in order to detect the presence of a foreign object inside your dogs digestive system.
In some situations and depending on how severe the gastrointestinal blockage is, the veterinarian will try to induce a vomiting sensation in the canine.
To remove small objects, an endoscopy might be the quickest and most suitable solution. Though, if your dog has swallowed a good amount of paper towels, or anything significant and has a big blockage, surgery might be needed to save the animal.
Another possible problem when your dog swallows paper towels, newspaper, toilet paper, or other large pieces of paper is suffocation.
While most dogs will chew small chunks of paper at a time, there are also some more greedy and who will try to swallow large pieces of paper. The second approach can end quite badly if the paper type is hard to dissolve and not very pliable.
Thus, a blockage may create on your dogs throat and obstruct its airways, therefore, preventing the oxygen from reaching the lungs.
Observe if the dog coughs or has other breathing problems and contact a veterinarian immediately if this happens.
One of the least serious things that can happen if your dog eats paper towels is an upset stomach. This obviously isnt as worrisome as a gastrointestinal blockage. Yet, your dog might not feel very good and could develop diarrhea or abdominal cramps.
Keep in mind that an upset stomach may at the same time just be an incipient state of bowel obstruction, so youll have to closely monitor your pet in the next 24 hours and observe if its condition improves.
Otherwise, if you notice that the symptoms do not go away on their own, or if the dogs condition deteriorates, then take him to a vet immediately. That might be a sign of something more serious than an upset stomach.
What To Expect At The Vet
If you bring your canine friend to the vet for eating paper towels, there are a few things you can typically expect.
This will often vary based on your dog’s specific situation so let’s discuss a few possibilities.
Why would a dog eat paper towels?
What happens if a dog eats a towel?