Why Does My Dog Eat Paper?
The ingestion of non-food items such as paper in dogs is called pica. This may be a result of several medical conditions like diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders, high blood sugar, as well as starvation. However, physical problems are not the only culprits. Pica may emanate from mental disorders like polyphagia or anxiety – a psychological condition that leaves a pup perpetually hungry, making it resort to any chewable item within reach. Read on to get a plethora of reasons why dogs ingest paper, including possible ways of preventing the habit.
When a dog eats paper, boredom might be the reason. Pups that find themselves with excess time often land into trouble. Both physical and mental activities should be part of every dog’s daily routine, however, when you allow your furry friend enough time to get bored, it may likely find other activities to keep itself entertained. Chewing away on paper is certainly one of them.
To Get Attention
This goes hand in hand with boredom; once a dog observes that the parent’s attention has shifted to other things, it may decide to work on getting the lost attention back. Once it learns that your attention can be gained by grabbing non-food items like paper, the dog will not hesitate to do it. And of course, it might get the unintentional reward of chasing, scolding, or any other form of punishment. You may feel that your punishment will make it desist from the action, but that could serve as a reinforcement for your furry friend, as it got exactly what it wanted.
This is especially true when a dog eats toilet paper. They find a lot of fun in holding onto the end of the roll and breaking out on a run through the whole house. In fact, it is a real treat to stand and watch the spinning movement of the tissue paper holder – this carefree gusto over mundane things is among the reasons we adore our fur buddies.
When paper towels and napkins come into contact with food, your pup is likely to find it delicious because of the clinging aroma. Even without touching food, we are aware that the raw material for making several paper products are tree pulps, and canines cannot resist sticks and wood!
More often than not, pica is carried over from a dog’s early stage. Puppies that were exposed to objects as play toys may retain the habit through adulthood.
Exploring with their mouths is a habit with every dog. Occasionally, a dog will associate eating with exploring, which may make it ingest some of the items it originally intended to just explore and let go.
A pup eating toilet paper is not a strange sight. However, if you observe that your canine friend has become obsessive with ingesting paper alongside other odd eating habits, the vet’s attention is needed. Your vet may recommend blood work runs and discuss possible medical conditions.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
When some vital vitamins and minerals like iron are depleted from a pup’s diet, your dog may be left with cravings for paper-like substances. Anemia, which is known as the lack of iron in the blood, may make your canine friend seek alternative ways of supplementing the deficiency. Again, when a dog’s diet lacks sufficient calories, the pup will be perpetually hungry. And chewing paper will become more attractive.
This is cultivated behavior in canines, and it leaves a dog with a constant craving for something to eat. The condition is more psychological and the dog is always hungry for normal kibble as well as non-nutritive items like paper.
Stress is the culprit here, and when the pup becomes over anxious, it may find a calming therapy in chewing paper. Dogs also take to eating paper because they love the texture; some may not even ingest it at the end; they only love to chew it into tiny shreds.
- Endocrine Disorders
Some dogs are constantly hungry because of an endocrine disorder, and when it finds the dog bowl empty, the pup may resort to ingesting non-food items like paper to satisfy the perpetual hunger. It may be a case of Hyperthyroidism or any other endocrine abnormality.
- High blood pressure or diabetes
These health conditions can increase hunger in a dog since its body system is not producing enough insulin. Excessive sugar in a pup’s body can also lead to overeating and drinking too much water.
Dog Eating Paper: Prevention
Here are a few tips to prevent your dog from eating paper
- Keep all paper out of reach; All paper and paper-like material should be kept out of your dog’s reach. This includes the likes of toilet paper, paper towels, envelopes with bills, loose-leaf paper, and cardboard. If the craving for paper continues, then it is time to call on the vet or a behavioral therapist.
- Distract the dog’s attention; This can be achieved with toys such as chew toys. Constantly research your furry friend’s chew toys and avoid risky bones and rawhides. The vet can proffer advice on harmless chew toys. If the reason for chewing paper happens to be a health problem, you should be proactive in getting enough info about the health issue, which will give you a better understanding of your pup’s pica habit. However, the best option is to follow the vet’s recommendations on possible treatment.
- Increase the dog’s playtime; If boredom is the underlying reason for ingesting paper, then, the time has come to up your dog’s playtime, exercise session as well as mental activities. You might be thinking that you are giving your dog enough mental stimulation, but it might be thinking otherwise. In such cases, you can decide to get rid of your dog’s food bowl allow it to have its food through games. Hide some hollow toys after stuffing them with kibble; reduce monotony by changing the food toys around and finding new hideouts.
Your dog needs new and fresh games all the time and if you observe that it is not getting enough at home, go the extra mile of enrolling it in some tricks canine training class. You can also leverage the internet to teach your pup some new behaviors and tricks. The training sessions need to be brief to avoid boredom, 5 to 10 minutes intermittently is enough.