Eating Paper Is Bad for Dog’s Health

Keep paper out your dog's reach to stop this dangerous habit.


Q. We have a 3-year-old Golden Retriever mix who started eating toilet paper, napkins and paper towels about six months ago. He’s absolutely obsessed with eating them. We have scolded him, sprayed paper with the bitter products, and tried tough love. While I was in another room for five minutes today, he got on the table and ate about 100 napkins from the napkin holder. Why is he so hooked on paper? Is it just obsessive behavior? What can we do to stop him? Is this excessive paper eating harmful to him?

A. Unless you can cure your dog of his paper-eating ways, he may be headed toward intestinal surgery at a great financial expense to you. As much as I like the idea of you keeping the economy going and partly subsidizing the veterinary profession, you need to address this issue more directly.
Of special concern is bathroom trash: sanitary napkins and paper towels are notorious for getting lodged in dogs’ intestines, causing a blockage that requires surgery to correct. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the 100 napkins he ate will have successfully passed through his digestive tract.
From a practical standpoint, deny your dog access to any paper products. This will be inconvenient for you since all napkins and toilet paper will have to be kept behind doors or up higher than he can reach. (I assume he goes up on counters and tables to get his goods.) Unless you are willing to monitor your dog 100 percent of the time, this is your only choice. You may need to keep him kenneled or confined to certain areas of the house at times to keep paper products away from him.
Keep in mind, dogs like attention, even if it’s not all positive. You said you are giving your dog tough love; some dogs cannot sort out tough love from other kinds of love, any more than they cannot help but love their owners no matter what they do to them. If your dog does happen to get hold of some paper product, very casually take it away from him, reprimand him sternly if you catch him in the act, and don’t indulge him with any excessive attention.
Once you have denied him access for several months, and the issue has gone away, you can very gradually try reintroducing paper products back into the real world. Hopefully, by then, he will have other priorities.


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Donna   Aurora, Colorado

9/23/2013 9:53:56 AM

What if they've already eaten bathroom trash. Most of the paper was gone so she ate that. There was dental floss but that seems to be about all she wouldn't eat although that doesn't mean she didn't get a piece

This happened last night and she seems to be okay today. I fed her just a pound of cooked ground chicken today so the meat would maybe push whatever through her system faster but I'm still concerned about the possibility of a piece of dental floss. How long will it take till I know she is safe.

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Jewel   Livingston Manor, New York

9/3/2013 1:47:23 PM

My German Shepherd will "sneak" and snatch any tissue, or paper napkin that is laying around. Just a few mins. ago he suddenly jumped on my bed snatched a tissue and ran. He runs because he knows I'll take it out of his mouth. Oddly enough if I catch him in time, I will get it out of his mouth although when I do that he pushes it as far back in his mouth as he can making it even more difficult but it can be done.

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Guste   London, International

5/18/2013 4:54:22 AM

Hi, I have a golden terrier puppy, 3 months old by the name of

We lay down some newspaper for him as that's where he poops, But lately I've noticed that when he's sniffing around, he's not looking for a comfortable place to poop, but where it's possible to bite the newspaper. Also when I put down some new newspapers he looks at me like I'm giving him a toy and sticks out his mouth as he usually does when he's getting a chew toy. And yes, he does swallow

And no, we can't bring him to the garden to poop as instead of grass we have little stones, and Cookie wants to eat those aswell.. Please help as this is his first week here and I don't want to lose him so fast!! And we can't afford that type of vet bill!!

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Leslie - 233329   Lakeside, AZ

4/17/2013 1:56:18 PM

Very interesting problem and helpful advice. thanks

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