It would be comical if it weren’t such a hassle to clean up, as well as a threat to your dog’s health. But it may help to know that shredding and eating toilet paper is not an uncommon behavioral issue for dogs. The key to correcting this behavior is understanding why it’s happening and just what you need to do to spare your TP stash.
Top Reasons Why Dogs Eat Toilet Paper
Dogs eat toilet paper (as well as other inedible objects) for a variety of reasons. Following are some of the most common reasons behind this behavior:
Instinct – Latching onto a soft roll of toilet paper may be driven by instinct. Dog expert Stanley Coren wrote an article in Psychology Today detailing how instinctual touch sensations like the feel of fur or feathers prompt dogs to want to tear, shred and mouth objects that evoke that same sensation. Your dog may be attracted to TP because of its texture, and may find it satisfying to shred and pull the roll apart much as he’d handle prey.
Your dog may be attracted to TP because of its texture, and may find it satisfying to shred and pull the roll apart much as he’d handle prey.
Teething – A puppy that's teething might find that chewing on toilet paper can help to relieve pain from teething. You might notice that your puppy starts seeking out toilet paper when he starts teething, and that behavior might end once his teething ends.
Stress and Boredom – A stressed dog may become destructive or work to get your attention, and might shred or eat toilet paper as a result. Many different factors can contribute to your dog’s stress, including events like fireworks, your leaving the house for work each day or major changes in the household, like the addition of a new pet. A stressed dog might shred toilet paper in an effort to comfort himself.
Bored dogs often adopt destructive behaviors and may chew on things they shouldn’t, like shoes and toilet paper. If your dog is bored, he may see toilet paper as a source of entertainment, and playing with it can help him to burn off extra energy.
Pica – It’s possible that a toilet-paper-chomping dog might have pica, a condition that makes him desire and eat non-edible items. As explained in an editorial in Pet MD, pica can prompt dogs to eat all sorts of items, including rocks, magazines and toys.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Toilet Paper
If your dog eats a little TP, there probably isn’t significant cause for concern. Toilet paper tends to break down easily, so he should be able to pass it without issue. However, if he ingests the cardboard roll, that could pose health issues. It’s always best to call your vet for instructions on how to handle such an incident.
While many dogs will be just fine if they ingest the occasional bit of toilet paper, eating TP regularly can become much more serious. Your dog could suffer an impaction from the paper and might have other symptoms like bloating, lack of appetite and constipation. Regularly digesting toilet paper is a serious health risk and you’ll need to address the behavior right away.
The right strategy to stop your dog from eating toilet paper will depend on the factors behind the behavior. Try the following:
Secure toilet paper away. To immediately keep your dog from eating toilet paper, start keeping your bathroom doors closed. Make sure that spare rolls are secured away in a closet or cupboard out of your dog’s reach. While keeping bathroom doors closed can be an inconvenience, it’s an important step that can help to keep your dog safe while you address the underlying causes of his TP obsession.
Keep your dog active. If your dog is seeking out toilet paper because he’s bored and burning off energy, then increasing his activity level may help. Focus on getting hiim out for multiple walks per day, and consider a doggy daycare option or hiring a pet sitter if you don’t have time to keep your dog active during the day.
Occupying your dog’s attention with toys can also help to keep him entertained and away from the TP. Look for stimulating toys that provide ongoing entertainment, like puzzle treat toys and chew toys designed for ongoing use.
If your puppy is teething, introduce some toys that can help to relieve his discomfort. Softer toys that he can bite into can help. Consider using toys that can be frozen, since the cold can help to relieve gum pain as your puppy chews.
Even if you can’t identify the root cause of your dog’s stress, you may be able to support a calm, balanced demeanor with CBD.
Address stress. When stress is prompting your dog to eat TP, it’s best if you can figure out what is prompting the stress. Consider recent lifestyle or household changes, and think about when your dog displays signs of being stressed. Can you identify factors contributing to that stress and take steps to minimize them, like giving your dog some extra space from a pet that recently joined the home?
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Take your dog to the vet. If you suspect that your dog has pica or another underlying health condition, take him to the vet for a checkup. Your vet will be able to evaluate your dog’s overall health and may have additional strategies to help you keep him from eating toilet paper.
Correcting your dog’s TP fixation might take perseverance, but in the end it will save you time on cleanup as well as money spent on TP and vet bills — not to mention the inconvenience of being out of TP when you need it most! 🥴