My Dog Ate Toilet Paper. What do I do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • When dogs eat a lot of toilet paper it can cause an obstruction.
  • If your dog eats toilet paper, call your veterinarian and report the behavior.
  • Take your dog to the vet if you observe vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, depression, or signs of a painful abdomen after your dog eats toilet paper.

Dogs and puppies can get into anything, and some have a fetish for toilet paper. If you notice your pooch grabbing the end of the toilet paper and racing through the house with it, should you be concerned?

Usually, eating a few squares of toilet paper is harmless for your pooch, but if he continually chows on tissues, the material could collect in his gut and cause an upset stomach, or worse, a blockage. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how much toilet paper is dangerous for dogs, what it can do to your pooch, and when it’s time to call the vet.

Let’s get started.

How Much Toilet Paper Is Dangerous for Dogs?

If your dog occasionally snarfs a facial tissue or a few squares of toilet tissue, it’s probably no big deal. But, continually eating the material can be problematic. The behavior is most common with puppies but sometimes continues into adulthood. When a dog eats toilet paper, it may be caused by:

  • Curiosity or boredom
  • To soothe teething pain
  • Attempt to satisfy a nutritional deficiency
  • Attraction to the tissue’s scent
  • Self-soothing for anxiety

If your dog shreds and eats a roll of toilet paper or a pile of squares, your pooch may have problems. The tissue can irritate the stomach lining and cause ulcers or diarrhea. If a bolus of material enters the intestines, he may also have an obstruction. 

When you catch your dog eating toilet paper, you should call your veterinarian and let him know about the behavior. The doctor may want to examine your pooch and make sure there’s not an underlying condition that’s causing the behavior.

If your dog eats a few squares of toilet paper, you probably don’t have to worry. However, when Fido keeps eating tissue, or if he ingests all or a large part of a roll, there could be problems. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Toilet Paper?

If you catch your dog playing with toilet paper, you don’t need to panic. They may not eat it or might only ingest a few bites accidentally. However, if your dog is chewing and swallowing chunks of tissue, try to remove as much of the paper as possible and determine how much he ingested. Then, call your vet and let him know what happened. He’ll probably want to examine your dog and see if there are any reasons for the behavior.

Meanwhile, you can try some things to help your pooch. If you have a dog-safe laxative like Metamucil, give some to your pooch. The medicine coats the paper so it can pass through the digestive tract safely. Copious amounts of water are a suitable substitute if you don’t have a laxative. The liquid helps propel the paper through the gastrointestinal tract. 

Monitor your pooch to see if the paper comes out. If you notice any signs of distress or discomfort in your dog, contact the vet immediately. 

If you see your dog eating toilet paper, remove any remaining pieces and let your vet know what happened. At home, you can try giving your dog a laxative or lots of water to help move the paper through the system. Observe your dog closely to see if the paper comes out. 

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Toilet Paper

The first thing to do if your dog eats toilet paper is to assess the situation and remove any excess paper. Then you should call your veterinarian and let him know what happened and approximately how much your pooch ingested. If your pup is showing any signs of distress or discomfort, take your dog to the clinic immediately. Rapid treatment may be the difference between life and death.

If you think your dog ate toilet paper, assess how much he ingested and report the incident to your vet. If your dog has signs of distress or discomfort, bring your pooch to the clinic as soon as possible.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Toilet Paper But Is Acting Normal?

Even if your dog is acting normal after eating a few rolls of toilet paper, he may not be out of the woods. Signs won’t always show within a few minutes of ingestion. 

Once toilet tissue reaches the stomach, the foreign material can irritate the gut lining. You may notice vomiting or diarrhea in a few hours to a day. If a bolus of paper enters the intestines, it can cause a blockage. The signs of obstruction may not appear for a few days after your dog eats toilet paper. You should observe your pooch for any signs of digestive upset or obstruction and take your pup to the vet immediately if you notice:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy and depression

Your dog may not show signs of trouble immediately after eating a bunch of toilet paper. It may take a few hours for a digestive upset to manifest. Intestinal obstructions usually show up within a few days of eating toilet paper.

Signs to Watch Out For if Your Dog Eats Toilet Paper

When dogs eat toilet paper, it may pass through without any issues. But sometimes, large quantities of tissue can cause trouble. If your pooch ingests a large bolus of toilet paper, watch for signs of digestive upset or intestinal obstruction.

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea and drooling
  • Diarrhea in early stages, constipation after a day or two
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy and depression

Some dogs eat toilet paper without any trouble. However, when a pooch ingests lots of toilet paper, it may cause obstruction. Signs to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and depression.

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Toilet Paper?

Small pieces of toilet paper usually aren’t a problem for dogs because enzymes in their saliva and stomach will break down the material. But when larger quantities are consumed, the system can’t always keep up. The foreign substance gathers in the stomach and upsets your pup’s digestive balance. This can cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Flatulence
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

If a bolus of paper collects in the intestines, it can block the passageway, causing an emergency. In addition to the symptoms listed above, dogs with obstruction may be depressed, have a painful abdomen, and develop constipation.

When dogs eat too much toilet paper, their digestive system may not be able to break down the materials. They can gather in the stomach and irritate the lining or collect in the intestines causing an obstruction.

Why Is Toilet Paper Dangerous For Dogs?

Dogs will find just about anything to play with when they’re bored. So, if they have unfettered access to toilet paper, they may pull at the paper and yank off a chunk. Before you know it, they gobble a pile of tissue. If the material lingers in the stomach, it can rub against the lining or clump together and block the gastrointestinal tract. This happens because your pup’s system is overwhelmed and can’t digest large quantities of the paper.

There are some things you can do to discourage your pooch from eating toilet paper. 

  • Provide your dog with chew or puzzle toys to avoid boredom
  • Keep the bathroom door closed
  • Crate your dog when you can’t supervise her in the house
  • Hide or lock up extra toilet paper rolls
  • Teach basic obedience including “leave it” and “give”

Toilet paper is convenient when dogs are bored. But if they eat tissue, it can clump together and cause an obstruction. To prevent problems, provide toys for your dog and restrict access to any toilet paper in the house. You can also teach your pooch basic obedience commands like “leave it” and “give”.

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog if He Ate Toilet Paper?

If you need to take your dog to the veterinarian after eating toilet paper, the doctor will start with a physical exam. Depending on your pup’s symptoms, your vet may take an ultrasound or x-rays to locate the bolus of paper. 

Once the vet has a diagnosis, he’ll start appropriate treatment. If your pooch has had lots of diarrhea and vomiting, he may provide IV fluids to prevent hydration. In the case of obstruction, the doctor will perform surgery to remove the paper bolus. 

When you take your dog to the vet, he will examine your pup and take diagnostic tests. Treatment may include supportive care such as IV fluids. Surgery is the treatment of choice for obstructions.

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover After Eating a Lot of Toilet Paper?

The recovery period for dogs that eat a lot of toilet paper depends on the effects of the tissues. If your dog has mild digestive upset, the materials should pass through his system in a few days. Make sure he has plenty of water to help encourage healthy gut motility. You can also try feeding a bland diet to soothe the irritated gut lining. Dogs that require surgery usually recover in a few weeks. Once the muscle tissue heals and scar tissue forms, your pooch should be good to go.

The time that it takes your dog to recover depends on how the foreign material affects your dog. Mild upsets usually take a few days to resolve, but obstructions will require a few weeks or more.

The Final Woof

Small amounts of toilet paper are usually not a problem if your dog eats them, but large quantities are a different story. If your dog eats toilet paper, let your vet know and watch for symptoms of trouble. If you notice any signs of distress, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, or other concerning symptoms, take your pooch to the clinic for treatment.

The biggest risk your dog faces when he chows down lots of toilet paper is obstruction. The canine digestive system may not break down the tissue material, and it can conglomerate and block the intestines. This is an emergency requiring surgery. To avoid issues, try some preventative measures such as restricting your dog’s access to toilet paper and teaching basic obedience.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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