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What is Eating Paper?

Dogs can eat many different things. They can either be playing with a foreign object or seeking a particular substance out to actually ingest. 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 altogether. 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 or high blood sugar
  • Calorie-lacking diet

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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 learned behavior in dogs in which dogs want to eat all the time. It is a psychological condition, and dogs feel very hungry and want to eat and chew regular dog food as well as different non-food items, such as paper.


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. Hyperthyroidism or other endocrine disorder can cause your dog to eat paper, such as tissues and toilet paper, or paper towels in addition to regular paper. 

Diabetes or High Blood Sugar

Diabetes can make your dog hungrier due to his body not being able to produce insulin. Too much sugar in the body can also make him overeat and drink large amounts of water.

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. You 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, and what type of regular dog he eats, how much, and how often.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination. He may palpate his belly to check for any bloating, perform blood work, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. He may also check his blood for electrolyte levels and any elevated levels of glucose. If your veterinarian suspects your dog has a gastrointestinal condition, he may perform imaging, ultrasound, or endoscopy to take a closer look. Your medical professional will perform any other tests, such as a neurological evaluation, in which he feels are necessary in order to come to a diagnosis. 

If underlying health conditions are 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 for 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 habits. 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. If it is due to pica, diagnosis and treatment can cost $2000, depending on the cause of the pica.