Eating Paper in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 06/10/2017Updated: 10/29/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Why is my dog eating paper?

What is Eating Paper?

Dogs can eat many different things. They can either be playing with a foreign object and swallow it accidentally, or be seeking a particular substance out to actually ingest it. Some things they eat can be quite strange, such as paper. This atypical behavior in which dogs ingest non-food objects can affect the gastrointestinal system, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

Your dog may be eating other objects that are similar to paper, such as cardboard, or chewing on wood objects. He may also be eating other objects such as toys, socks and plastic. Be sure to note these behaviors so you can communicate them to your veterinarian. Reasons for dogs eating these items, such as paper, include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Polyphagia
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Diabetes 
  • Calorie-lacking diet
  • Curiosity, especially if dealing with a puppy or a dog that is bored or under-stimulated

Why Eating Paper Occurs in Dogs

Dogs may eat paper for a variety of reasons. Something as simple as an upset stomach or behavioral issue can trigger this habit. Other reasons include:

Nutritional Deficiencies

If your dog has nutritional deficiencies, he may crave non-food items, such as paper. The depletion of specific minerals, such as iron, can leave your dog craving paper or paper-like substances. If your dog is lacking iron in the blood, known as anemia, he may seek out this object to consume.


Polyphagia is a condition in dogs in which they want to eat all the time. If food is not readily available, they may sample non food items in the hope of curbing their appetite.


If your dog is overly stressed and anxious, he may find it calming to chew and ingest paper. If paper is readily available in his environment, he may seek it out and eat it because of the texture. He may also chew paper into shreds rather than actually eat it.

Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine disorders can cause your dog to feel more hungry than normal. Your dog may find things to eat that are non-food items in order to satisfy his hunger, especially if his dog bowl is empty. Cushing's Disease leads to polyphasic and can cause your dog to eat paper, such as tissues and toilet paper, or paper towels in addition to regular paper. 


Diabetes can make your dog hungrier due to his body not being able to utilise the sugar within the bloodstream. 

Calorie-lacking Diet

Dogs that do not get enough food in their diet, or if their food is not the right fit for the dog in terms of calorie content, will make them hungry. If there is not any food for him, or if he is just not getting enough, he may chew and ingest paper to satisfy his appetite.

What to do if your Dog is Eating Paper

If your dog is eating paper, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may be able to find the root cause of this behavior. Your veterinarian will begin with a consultation with you. They may ask you several types of questions pertaining to your dog’s health history and behavior. He may want to know how often your dog eats paper, if he is really eating or just chewing and playing with it, if he has any other symptoms. They will also discuss your dog's diet and eating schedule in detail. 

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination. He may palpate your dog's belly to check for any bloating, perform blood work, urinalysis, and a stool analysis. If your veterinarian suspects your dog has a gastrointestinal condition, he may perform imaging, such as an ultrasound, or endoscopy to take a closer look. 

If underlying health conditions are not found, your veterinarian may attribute your dog’s paper eating habits to behavior. If this is the case, he will give you advice on what you can do at home in order to stop the habit. If his behavior is severe or quite stubborn, and your dog continues to seek out paper objects to eat, he may recommend a behavioral therapist to help you help your dog.

Prevention of Eating Paper

In order to prevent your dog from eating paper, do your very best to keep paper out of his reach. This may include paper towels, toilet paper, loose leaf paper, envelopes with bills, and even cardboard. If your dog continues to seek out paper, you may need the help of a behavioral therapist or advice from your veterinarian.

You can try to distract your dog with various toys, namely, chew toys. Be sure to avoid unsafe rawhides and bones and always research your dog’s chew toys. You can ask your veterinarian for advice on safe chewing objects for your companion.

If your dog has an underlying health condition, being proactive and acquiring as much information as you can about the condition can help you better understand his pica habit. It is always wise to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on treatment for your pet.

Cost of Eating Paper

There are many conditions which can cause your dog to eat paper. If it is because of an endocrine disorder, the cost of treatment may be $1600 and their condition will require ongoing treatment and care. If it is due to pica, diagnosis and treatment can cost $2000, depending on the cause of the pica.

The conditions that cause a dog to eat paper can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today

. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Eating Paper Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


shi tzu




9 Months


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog chews paper but doesn't eat it, basically he shreds it everywhere and tears up my envelopes, letters, paper back books, toilet paper and paper towels. What can I do to correct this?

July 20, 2018

0 Recommendations

The article below says Husky but the principles may be applied to any breed; this seems like a behavioural problem more than a medical one so training and time outs are important to show this is an undesired behaviour. Also in the link below you may ask a follow up question to a certified dog trainer. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 21, 2018

I would like to get information on training by a trainer. Where is the best place to find a trainer?

July 23, 2018

Robby's Owner

My 18-month old 100lb. rescue puppy eats everything. Toilet paper, pbathroom towels, sticks, wood, his toys (which we no longer buy him), plastic, etc. Both dogs are on Science Diet and are with one or the other of us 24/7. We keep things put up but inevitably he finds something to eat. He has all shots, vetted regularly, never boarded. Help!!!!

Sept. 8, 2018

Brenda G.

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12 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog is eating newspaper and/or potty pads that they have urinated recently, so it is not dry. She only does it at night. She is home all day and uses the paper and doesn't bother it.

Feb. 15, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. If Dolce is eating newspaper and potty pads, you may need to lift them up after she uses them so that she isn't attracted to them. If you think that she is developing an odd behavior, it would be a good idea to have her seen so that she can be examined by your veterinarian, in case something else is going on.

Feb. 15, 2018

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