My Dog Ate Paper Towel – What To Do And What Happens Next…

My dog ate paper towel

Dogs are highly curious animals. Although their curiosity doesn’t measure up to that of cats, dogs are just curious enough to check out anything in the house that looks incredibly attractive. And that includes paper towels.

In the process of checking out paper towels, your pooch might end up eating them. As a caring pet parent, it’s natural to be worried if you realize that your dog accidentally ate paper towel. But what happens if a dog eats a paper towel?

Well, a number of things could go wrong. For starters, the risks depend on the amount of paper towel that your canine friend has swallowed. Small bits of paper towel may cause mild abdominal discomfort or pass through the dog’s digestive system without causing any issues at all. However, large amounts of paper towel might induce intestinal obstruction. In such cases, you can expect symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

As a responsible dog owner, it’s important to keep all paper towels out of your dog’s reach. That’s the only way to prevent medical emergencies that could arise from eating paper towels. It’s also important to know what to do if your dog accidentally ate paper towel.

This post shall offer more insights on everything there is to know about dogs and paper towels.

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper Towels?

One of the questions that will immediately spring to your mind if you realize that your dog ate a piece of a paper towel is, ‘are dogs attracted to paper towels?’

First off, paper towels are not food. So, if your dog happens to be attracted to them so much as to eat them, there could be certain underlying triggers.

The primary reason dogs tend to eat paper towels is that they find these towels attractive. Paper towels represent an ideal plaything for most dogs. And one way dogs play with their toys is by biting and chewing them.

In the process of biting the paper towels, your pooch may end up swallowing them. Note that paper towels are quite soft and could get stuck in a dog’s teeth or gums. As the dog tries to spit the paper towel, he might end up accidentally swallowing it.

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper Towels?

The following are other possible reasons dogs eat paper towels.

1. Paper towels are highly accessible

Paper towels are some of the most common household items. It’s almost impossible to miss these items on a regular kitchen shelf or in the trash can.

Dogs also tend to have a love affair with paper products. So, coupled with their widespread availability, it’s not unusual to find your dog rummaging through your kitchen shelf or garbage looking for paper towels to play with.

2. Investigative behavior

Unlike humans, dogs mostly explore the world around them using their nose and mouth. If your dog is coming into contact with paper towels for the first time in his life, he may want to investigate what this item is all about.

Your pooch may be interested in finding out whether this soft, shiny thing is a toy, treat, or even a small animal that he can play with.

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3. Paper towels smell nice

We mainly use paper towels to wipe food morsels off the table, wipe our mouths after eating, or to clean various food bits from the floor. One way or the other, paper towels end up soaked in the smells of foods.

To most dogs, paper towels smell like a treat regardless of whether the towels are clean or dirty. This is especially true for paper towels that are soaked in food aromas that dogs naturally love, such as beef, bacon, or seafood.

So, if your dog ate paper towels from the garbage, the chances are that the towels contained a smell or taste that the dog is naturally attracted to.

Can a dog die from eating paper towels?

4. You inadvertently encouraged the behavior

Can you remember how you reacted the first time you found your dog rummaging through your kitchen counter or trash can looking for paper towels!

Did you run to stop him? Did you lure him away using a treat? Or perhaps you yelled at the animal!

Unknown to you, you may have inadvertently encouraged the behavior.

Remember that dogs interpret any of the above reactions as an encouragement to continue with a particular line of action.

5. Medical condition

Certain medical conditions could predispose your dog to eating paper towels. These are mostly eating disorders, such as pica.

Pica is a medical condition that causes animals to eat non-edible items, such as dirt, rocks, plastics, rubber, furniture, clothing, and even paper towels. The condition mostly results from a deficiency in the animal’s diet, leading them to crave for things that have no nutritional value.

Certain psychological factors like stress, anxiety, boredom, and other compulsive disorders could also trigger pica in dogs. The same is true for teething puppies.

So, if you ever come home one day and realize that your puppy ate a paper towel, there’s a likelihood that the dog might be teething. Like most mammals, teething induces some pain and itchiness in puppies, making them want to chew anything they can get their mouths on.

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Will Paper Towels Hurt Your Dog?

Having highlighted some of the reasons why dogs eat paper towels, you’re probably now wondering what to do if your dog swallowed paper towel.

But first, will eating a paper towel hurt a dog?

As we already indicated, the side effects of eating paper towels primarily depend on the quantity of paper towels that a dog has eaten.

If your dog ate a small piece of paper towel, the item might pass through his digestive system and come out on the other end without causing him any issues at all. However, the situation is the complete opposite if the dog happens to have swallowed large amounts of paper towel.

Now, the first thing to note is that paper towel is indigestible. Theoretically, the item should pass through a dog’s digestive system and come out via his anus the same way it was ingested. To make that process easier, the paper towel would dissolve in the dog’s stomach and be forced out of his system as part of the animal’s regular bowel activity.

You may have wondered, will paper dissolve in a dog’s stomach?

Well, as we’ve just pointed out, most paper towels will break down upon exposure to a dog’s gastric juices.

But if a dog swallows large amounts of paper towel, the towels might end up blocking his intestines. It’s even worse if the animal has ingested industrial-strength paper towels, which are essentially cloth.

dog on a toilet seat playing with toilet paper

Unlike regular paper towels which tend to be much softer, heavy-duty paper towels cannot be broken down by the fluids in a dog’s stomach.

So, instead of bulking up stool, these commercial-strength paper towels simply end up blocking the animal’s intestines. When that happens, you should expect a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, dehydration may set in.

Besides gastrointestinal complications, other common symptoms of eating paper towels include restlessness, fever, irregular heart rate, and labored breathing. Plus, the resultant obstruction takes away a dog’s appetite, leading to acute weight loss and fatigue.

In addition to the obvious challenges that paper towels present on their own, there are also concerns regarding the kinds of chemical residues in these products.

It may be okay if your dog ate a paper towel with bacon grease. After all, small amounts of bacon present no immediate danger to dogs. But the same cannot be said about cleaning products like Windex. If your dog ate paper towel with Windex on it, expect symptoms of stomach irritation like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

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Maybe you’ve always been wondering, ‘should I be worried if my dog ate a paper towel with bleach on it?’

Yes, you have all the reasons to be concerned if your dog happens to have swallowed paper towels used for wiping various home cleaning products like bleach. Bleach contains many chemicals that can irritate your dog’s stomach and trigger severe gastrointestinal complications.

Certain human foods might also complicate the situation. For instance, dogs shouldn’t eat mushrooms, chocolate, grapes, or spicy products like garlic and onions. Which means that there’s a double chance of toxicity if your dog eats paper towels containing traces of any of these foods.

Can a dog die from eating paper towels?

Your dog may not die immediately from eating paper towels. However, death might eventually occur if the side effects of eating paper towels go unresolved.

For instance, the diarrhea that results from eating paper towels could lead to acute dehydration and the eventual death of your pooch. Death might come even quicker in the case of obstruction. That’s because obstruction makes the dog unable to eat or drink.

The saving grace, however, is that dogs are likely to just play with paper towels and not eat them. Even if they end up biting some pieces, they’ll usually spit most of them out. That’s especially if the towels aren’t dowsed in any food aromas. What’s more, there are numerous tips you can implement to stop paper towels from causing significant harm to your dog.

Two dogs made a mess of paper towels

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Paper Towel?

It’s not unusual to come across a dog owner wondering, ‘my dog ate 3 paper towels, what should I do?’

The first thing to do upon learning that your dog has eaten paper towels is to establish the amounts of paper towels that the animal has swallowed. A few small bits of paper towels shouldn’t be a problem. But huge chunks may trigger a medical emergency.

After establishing the amount of paper towel that your canine friend has consumed, assess the age and size of your dog. Usually, things that generally harm dogs tend to be more toxic to puppies and smaller breeds.

It’s also important to understand the exact breed that your dog is. Certain dog breeds are more prone to digestive issues than others, regardless of the dog’s relative size. Examples include terriers, Chihuahua, Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, and Bichonsands. Such dogs may develop severe complications after eating paper towels.

Once you’re armed with this information, you can proceed to administer the following remedies to prevent paper towels from wreaking havoc in your dog’s system;

1. Manage vomiting and diarrhea

You could be wondering to yourself, ‘my dog ate paper towel and now has diarrhea, what should I do?’

First, understand that vomiting and diarrhea can kill your dog sooner than you could imagine. Either of these symptoms leads to direct fluid loss from the animal’s body, resulting in acute weight loss, fatigue, and eventual death. That underscores the significance of taking immediate remedial measures.

The best solution to vomiting and diarrhea would be rehydration. But since your dog might also have lost his appetite, he may refuse to eat his regular food or drink plain water. To entice him to eat, consider giving the dog special and more digestible treats like beef broth.

Broth is easier to digest than solid food, and can go a long way in keeping the dog energized during periods of paper towels-induced sickness.

Another way you can mediate vomiting and diarrhea is by giving the dog activated charcoal.

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2. Take the dog to the vet

If any of the above interventions doesn’t yield any desirable results, your best bet would be to take the dog to the vet.

Remember to supply the vet with all the information regarding the amount of paper towel that your dog has eaten as well as any potential residues in these towels. That way, the vet will be able to establish the real cause of the complications.

Generally, diagnosis involves performing a physical exam, an X-ray, or an ultrasound. After that, the vet will recommend the right treatment course depending on the severity of the symptoms.

They may induce vomiting or diarrhea, especially in case of gastrointestinal blockage. If the dog is too dehydrated, he may be placed onto a drip.

The vet may also perform an endoscopy or surgery, depending on the amount of paper towel that needs to be removed from your dog’s intestines.

Beagle dog being checked by vet


If you’re a dog owner, you may find yourself wondering what to do if your dog ate a wet paper towel. As we’ve highlighted throughout the post, paper towel (dry or wet) presents no immediate danger to dogs if consumed in small amounts. But if your pooch happens to have swallowed huge chunks of paper towels, the best thing to do is to monitor the dog for any side effects.

In case of vomiting and diarrhea, try to rehydrate the dog to prevent acute weight loss. And if the dog’s condition doesn’t improve despite your best efforts, take the animal for a professional checkup immediately.

As a pet parent, it’s also advisable to be proactive enough to avoid having to deal with medical emergencies necessitated by ingesting paper towels. One way to do that is to keep paper towels out of your dog’s reach. Store all unused paper towels on kitchen shelves that are too high for your dog to access. Similarly, remember to tuck all used paper towels in sealable trash cans.

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Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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