It can be puzzling, amusing or downright disturbing when your dog is seen eating paper. Most of the time, this strange behavior is nothing too serious and is at its heart it is just play. If your dog is doing this all the time however, it can be important to find out exactly why does your dog eat paper. Below we have some answers to help you to learn what is happening, what you can do and how serious eating paper can be.
Paper Eating Is Pica
Dogs eating paper is more common than you might imagine. It is a condition known as Pica. It happens for an assortment of reasons and the eating behavior may not just be confined to paper. Pica is an ailment where your dog desires to eat paper and consistently tries to seek it out. Pica is also common in humans, too especially in pregnancy, usually due to your body going through all of the strains of carrying a child and because all of the extra nutrients required. The brain can confuse paper with something much more nutritious. With dogs, the main cause of eating paper is usually them instinctively trying to achieve a nutrient balance.
The issue with Pica is that veterinary tests find it difficult to recognize a behavioral problem making it hard to diagnose. So, if you believe that your dog might be suffering from Pica, catch the paper eating on a camera, so your vet can see the behavior before and after the event. Luckily, any nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances can be discovered in a variety of tests. Unsurprisingly, the treatment is often a change in your dog’s diet to sustain a healthy balance of vitamins.
Side Effects When Your Dog Eats Paper
There are many side effects for your dog which may be fairly obvious such as frustration when there is a lack of paper and seeing them desperately searching for paper. But there can be more serious side effects which require advice from your vet. Some of these side effects consist of
- Diarrhea – concerning runny stools, exhaustion, dehydration, and usually leaving them feeling sorry for themselves
- Constipation – Alternatively a dog can become constipated and start whimpering when they go to the toilet, regularly needing to go outside and being sick.
- More severe obstruction of your dog’s digestive system. This could occur anywhere and necessitates surgery. The stomach and the intestines can quickly become tremendously painful for your dog and you will need to seek out emergency treatment. Your dog’s health will deteriorate quickly if this is happening and your dog will usually have life-threatening pain in the stomach area and bloating.
Why Your Dog Is Eating Paper
There are a few of main reasons why you have a dog that eats paper. Firstly, you need to check with your vet for any problems with their diet. Problems include malabsorption of nutrients from the food that they are eating, a lack of vitamins in the diet or your dog may be suffering from hormonal imbalances. When your dog needs medication, it is possible that they will need to take this life long but more typically the issue will be easily fixed over a short period of time. One of the things that your vet may suggest is to do is add an enzyme to your dog’s food, helping to break down the food better and absorb more minerals. It is usually recommended that owners swap big bowls of food for more frequent smaller meals throughout the day. Spaced-out feeding permits your dog’s digestive system to absorb the goodness from every meal better.
One of the main reason’s vets think that dogs commonly eat paper is due to the smell related to that item. A smell of paper may be appealing to your dog depending on where it has been. Dogs often hunt our cardboard boxes that have been used as food containers. An empty trash can will be a common sight where a dog is hunting out paper because the smell attracts them.
Another reason your dog might be eating paper is because of separation anxiety. There are a range of methods available to prevent this anxiety driven behavior. Gradual training, so that your dog learns grows more comfortable on their own and recognizes that you are not deserting them can help. By training your dog it assists them to understand that you will be coming home. Crate training can offer your dog a secure space that is entirely their own to help reduce their anxiety and need to eat paper. Also available are some medications for dogs that get nervous. Check out our guide on dog crates for more info.
Likewise, your dog could be eating paper simply because they are bored. It is important to try to keep your dog emotionally and physically stimulated to stop the paper eating behavior. All your dog’s energy needs refocusing by proving alternative activities. Ensure that you take your dog for lots of walks.
How to Stop Your Dog Eating Paper
The most instant way to deal with paper eating behaviors seems obvious, taking away any available paper. Ensure that you approach softly, without uproar or telling them off because no matter why they are eating lots of paper, they are not doing it with any malice. Just remove the paper from them while giving them the command to leave it.
It is good to know that some dogs do sooner or later grow out of eating paper- particularly when the motives for eating paper comprise of anxiety or boredom. You can help to achieve this quicker by giving them heaps of love, kindness, walks and consistent training. The more that you spend time training your dog, the sooner they will grow out of their paper eating ways.
Follow some of the guidance above and you might find that the paper eating behaviors will stop so you can enjoy a happy home life with each other. Obviously, if your dog’s behavior changes unexpectedly, do not think twice about contacting your vet.