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Why Do Dogs Eat Toilet Paper?

What the heck is my dog doing eating toilet paper?

This might very likely be your first response when you notice your beloved dog chowing down on toilet paper from the bathroom.

It’s a weird behavior to say the least, and your reaction is certainly justified and completely understandable, but have you ever dug a little deeper into this disturbed behavior?

Have you ever wondered just why your dog seems to turn to toilet tissue for a midday snack?

These are the strange yet necessary questions we will explore in more detail in the following article.

Not only we will point out and explain the many possible reasons why dogs might eat toilet paper, we will also offer some easy-to-follow tips and tricks on how to curb this potentially expensive problem.

Why Do Dogs Eat Toilet Paper?  Some Potential Reasons

If your dog seems to enjoy munching down on part or all of your toilet paper roll, there actually could be any number of reasons driving this decision.

Some will say they do it out of sheer boredom or a gnawing hunger, and while both of these causes “could be” accurate, there might actually be a deeper and more concerning reason below the surface—a reason that demands your full attention, if not medical intervention.

Every dog is different in their own way, so trying to explain the exact reason for a certain behavior is not always the easiest and most straightforward task.

Nevertheless, to help you try to solve the mystery behind your toilet paper-eating pooch, below we have listed several possible causes that could explain his or her conduct.

Your Dog Is Hungry

While toilet paper is definitely not part of the four food groups, your dog is not necessarily privy to this type of information.

Therefore, if he gets hungry enough, he may just turn to toilet paper for a snack.

As you might imagine, eating toilet paper out of hunger is a behavior seen mostly in younger dogs, as the older and more experienced canines in your family are usually smart enough to steer clear of the product when hunger strikes.

Young dogs are very adventurous, and they will try almost anything once (or a few times) before recognizing the error of their ways.

If hungry enough, they may turn to this type of conduct, and although they will quickly realize the utter lack of taste when it comes to toilet tissue, they will get that “full” feeling they crave.

If you have a younger dog that is engaging in this behavior out of hunger, there are a few things you can do.

These include:

  • Ensure your dog is well-fed.  Although this is a no-brainer, you should always make sure that your pup is getting the adequate number of calories.  This number, which you can get from your vet, should be based on your dog’s size and breed, as well as its level of activity.
  • Discourage.  When you catch your dog eating toilet paper, you will need to immediately discourage the behavior with a very audible “no” while removing the toilet paper from the area.  Most dogs are people pleasers, and will eventually avoid a behavior once they understand it upsets their owner or handler.
  • Reward.  Once you have discouraged or disciplined your pet, take it back to the scene of the crime.  Continue to do this until he completely avoids the unwanted behavior, and then reward him with a treat for that avoidance.

Your Dog Is Suffering from Anxiety (Separation Anxiety)

If your dog is eating toilet paper, one possible explanation for the conduct is anxiety, particularly separation anxiety.

Dogs that are new to you or new to your home can rapidly become attached to you.

They view you as their protector, caretaker and companion.

You give them food when they are hungry, attention when they are playful, and walks when they need exercise.

Sometimes, this attachment or dependence can grow so strong that it actually becomes unhealthy:  when you are in the home, your dog follows you everywhere you go; and when you leave the home, the anxiety of having you gone can become overwhelming and therefore cause them to act out.

Separation anxiety is a common yet problematic condition that affects many dogs, young and old.

It can induce “acting out” symptoms, such as chewing on forbidden objects, pacing, digging holes, going potty in the house and more.

And yes, it can even cause your dog to destroy and/or eat your toilet paper rolls when it has access to that particular room in the house.

Solving separation anxiety can be a laborious undertaking but the results are definitely worth the effort.

Some of the steps you can take to help your pet cope with this problem include:

  • Behavior Modification.  “Behavior modification” is an umbrella term that involves a number of training steps—steps that can be very time-consuming for the average owner.  This is best done with a licensed trainer who can gradually “change your dog’s perception of what it means to be alone.”
  • Exercise.  Before you leave for work in the morning, make time to take your dog on a long walk, run or allow him to play at the dog park.  Exercise can help dogs relax and tire them out, making them less likely to engage in destructive behavior while you are gone.
  • Lots of toys.  Try giving your pooch some interactive toys to play with while you are out of the home.  These are a great way to help your dog pass the time.

These steps can all solve the problem regardless of the cause, but they are especially helpful with an anxious or nervous pup.

Your Dog Is Sick

Perhaps the most worrying (and thankfully the rarest) reason for a dog to chew on, and even eat toilet paper is that he/she is suffering from a medical condition known as “pica.”

Pica is defined as the eating of substances that are not food.

These objects can range from dirt to socks to toilet paper, and can collectively cause some very serious digestive symptoms, including intestinal pain and blockages.

And when blockages occur within the intestinal tract of dogs and puppies, they prevent the animal from eliminating waste—waste that must then be surgically removed or the results could be fatal.

Thankfully not very common, Pica, which can also affect humans, is usually a symptom of a much broader condition, including:

  • Stress.  Stress resulting from anxiety and/or separation anxiety can cause a lot of unwanted symptoms and conditions, including Pica in dogs.
  • Hormones.  The endocrine system of dogs produces vital hormones that carry out a variety of bodily and mental functions.  Pica can occur when one or more of these hormonal systems becomes unbalanced.
  • Depression.  Yes, dogs can get depressed, and mental conditions like depression can rarely result in the symptoms associated with pica.
  • Poor nutrition.  Ensuring your dog/puppy has a healthy diet, one that is chock-full of all the crucial vitamins and minerals he needs, is one of the best favors you can do for your pet.
  • Diabetes.  Dogs that develop diabetes can very rarely come down with pica as well.

Your Dog Is Teething

If you have a new puppy in the house, and that puppy is eating or chewing on your much-needed toilet paper, he may just be teething.

Just like their human baby counterparts, very young puppies can be very cranky and misbehaved when they are teething.

Teething—the act of adult teeth breaking through the gums—can cause very sore teeth and even sorer gums in young dogs, and although our pooches can’t tell us what ails them using words, they can relay the problem through the conduct they are exhibiting—and one of those behaviors is chewing on toilet paper.

The soft toilet paper feels soothing to the sore mouths of puppies.

They can begin to crave that softness as a way to ease their pain and suffering.

Pet owners can help their teething puppies by providing both soft and hard chew toys.

While the soft toys feel good to their ailing gums, toys such as rawhide bones and chews, plastic bones and toys, and dental chews help the adult teeth break through more easily and comfortably.

Also soothing are products called “fingertip toothbrushes”—dental aids that can be found at most pet supply stores.

Fingertip toothbrushes enable you to gently massage your pup’s teeth and gums.

Your Dog Is Bored or Playful

Let’s face it, sometimes dogs do inexplicable things sheerly out of boredom.

This happens a lot with dogs who are not given the attention they need.

As humans, we can easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day’s events, and we often forget that our pets are social animals that need plenty of attention.

And when they do not receive that required attention, they will often “make their own fun.”

Whether your dog is bored or he assumes that destroying your toilet paper is a playful activity, it might just stem from a lack of attention, love and exercise.

Pet owners should always schedule time each day to shower attention on their four-legged friends.

Otherwise, they should definitely get accustomed to cleaning up these types of messes.

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National Canine Research Association of America