My Dog Ate Paper Towel! What to Do [11 Facts Answered]

Have you ever come back to your house to find your dog buried in a pile of shredded paper towels or toilet paper?

Your dog may think that the paper towels and toilet paper you use every day are fun toys because they tear apart so easily when they gnaw on them.

To what extent could it be harmful for a dog to eat paper towels, even if only in small amounts?

Why should you worry about your dog eating paper towels? We’ll explain the risks involved and why this is an important topic to cover.

Will Eating a Paper Towel Hurt My Dog?

Wood pulp is used to create paper goods like paper towels, toilet paper rolls, and Kleenex brand tissues. Paper towels are not digestible by canines.

Tissues and paper towels can cause a blockage in a dog’s digestive tract. The likelihood of this blockage developing is proportional to the amount eaten, the size of the pieces, and the size of your dog.

Depending on their previous use, paper towels may also contain chemicals that are harmful to dogs.

When ingested, common household items like bleach, nail polish remover, and rubbing alcohol can be fatal for dogs.

My Dog ate Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex! What Now?

Why Would A Dog Eat Paper Towels?

Our canine companions, alas, have peculiar quirks that baffle us. There are people who would try anything once, including non-food items like paper towels and toilet paper.

While it’s easy to see why a dog would pounce on something with a pleasant aroma, figuring out why a dog would eat paper towels can be more of a challenge.

Paper towels are a common item for dogs to shred and eat for a variety of reasons, including boredom, curiosity, relief from teething pain, and anxiety.

While we can never know for sure what motivates a dog to destroy a home, most cases can be categorized according to the reasons given here.

Coming home to find shreds of paper all over the place after being gone for the day may be an indication of this sort of behavior. Perhaps your dog pal is feeling lonely and anxious without you around.

Simply put, some canines get into things they shouldn’t because they enjoy doing so. These inquisitive organisms aren’t aware of the potential consequences of their actions, so it’s up to us to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible.

The Dangers Of Dogs Eating Paper Towels

As was previously mentioned, if a dog were to eat paper towels, it could lead to a number of health problems. We may not consider paper towels to be harmful on their own, but paper towels become extremely harmful once they pass through the digestive system.

Have you ever tried to clean up a big spill, only to have your paper towels expand as they soaked up the water?

It’s possible for paper towels to transform into a thick sludge if they come into contact with enough moisture in the digestive tract.

See how quickly a large wad of toilet paper dissolves into a sticky sludge when submerged in water. Many rolls of toilet paper are designed to break down in the toilet, but using too much of it can clog your digestive tract.

Paper towels, if consumed in large quantities, can form a thick blockage that prevents the passage of other digestive materials.

This may result in anything from a life-threatening obstruction that necessitates surgical removal to a mass of paper towels that makes it difficult for a dog to regularly pass stool.

Ingesting paper towels is dangerous for dogs because it can cause an obstruction and severe irritation in the digestive tract.

Abdominal pain may be experienced in some people due to the rubbing and clinging of this material to the intestines as the body attempts to digest it. This can cause severe discomfort for the puppy and even gastrointestinal distress like vomiting and diarrhea.

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My Dog Ate Paper Towel – What Do I Do?

1. Find Out What Your Dog Has Eaten

brown spanish dog opening her big mouth

First, you should determine what, and how much, your dog has eaten. Your dog’s treatment will change depending on whether or not you tell your vet that he or she ingested paper towels.

Is it a crumb-sized square of pristine, newly-rolled paper towel? Or is it a balled-up wad of paper towel used to clean the breakfast table of bacon grease?

What if it’s a few sheets of toilet paper that were used to mop up a bleach accident in the restroom? The paper towel itself may not have been consumed, but perhaps the cardboard roll was.

If you weren’t in the room when your dog ate, or if they eat quickly, it can be difficult to determine exactly what they ate.

This is a crucial step, especially if the paper towel was used to clean up grease, bleach, or nail polish remover, all of which can be fatal to dogs if ingested.

2. Find Out When It Was Eaten

In the event that your dog ate a paper towel, you hopefully witnessed the event as it occurred.

Some canines, however, like to eat in peace, so you might not discover an overturned bin or a mess by the kitchen counter until hours later when you return to the scene of the crime.

If you find out that your dog has consumed something it shouldn’t have, you should contact your vet immediately. Your veterinarian may choose between two time-sensitive treatments if they have ingested something potentially harmful.

The best way to get rid of certain types of towels, for instance, is to make the patient throw up, or use an endoscope, which is a long, flexible camera, to do it.

Within 2 hours, the contents of the stomach move into the intestines, so if you wait to call your vet, you may miss out on these simple and safe treatment options.

3. Check Your Dog

A dog’s reaction to using a paper towel can vary greatly depending on the dog and how much paper towel was used. Some may seem fine and go about their day as usual, even if they are having trouble eating or drinking.

Some people may feel sick to their stomachs after consuming paper towels, especially if they were soaked in grease or bleach.

They may not make any noise, appear tense and restless, and flat out refuse to consume anything. If they’ve been eating a lot of paper towels, they might feel tender all over because their bellies are swollen.

Paper towels can irritate the lining of the intestines, so your dog may have diarrhea several hours after ingesting one. They may have to strain while attempting to defecate, and some of the paper towel may end up in their feces.

If your dog is particularly stoic, the effects of an injury may not be immediately apparent, so it’s best to call your vet even if he or she seems fine right now.

4. Ring Your Veterinarian

Call your vet once you’ve done some investigating to determine what your dog ate, how much, when they ate it, and how they appear. If they are closed, find the closest veterinary clinic that is open, which may be an emergency clinic.

In order to give your dog the best care possible, they will ask you the questions listed above. You might not have to bring in that clean kitchen roll or toilet paper if it’s just a few sheets.

However, your veterinarian will likely want to see your dog right away if it has consumed a significant amount of paper towel, if it has consumed any amount of paper towel containing a harmful substance, or if it is acting ill, vomiting, or having diarrhea.

dog in dog bed

5. Follow Your Vet’s Instructions

Even if your dog seems interested in eating after eating the paper towel, you should not force feed it. There’s a chance they’ll throw up if the paper towel gets caught in their throat.

Your dog should not have eaten before going to the vet for an X-ray or surgery under anesthetic.

Unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian, we advise against intentionally making your pet sick at home. These are a few of the reasons why:

  • A clogged esophagus on the ascent could be caused by excessive paper towel consumption.
  • For example, if they ingest a toxic substance on paper towel and then vomit it up, they could be seriously harmed.
  • It’s possible they’ve started throwing up.
  • They might be too weak to throw up because of their extreme lethargy.
  • They risk additional complications if they breathe in their own vomit.
  • The chemicals you used may be toxic to your dog even if he doesn’t vomit.

If your veterinarian has requested that you visit the hospital, you should get there as soon as possible.

Be sure to bring the original container or packet with you to the vet if your dog ingested paper towels containing a cleaning product, nail varnish remover, or other chemicals. It’s best if your veterinarian has as much information as possible.

In extreme cases, they may contact a specialized poison unit that can provide advice on how to treat your dog after exposure to various chemicals.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Paper Towel?

In light of these considerations, your veterinarian may provide you with a range of recommendations. You and your vet may want to consider doing the following:

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1. Giving Your Dog an Injection to Make Them Sick

dog vet injection

If your dog has consumed the paper towel within the last two to three hours, your veterinarian can administer an injection to make them sick.

When compared to inducing vomiting in your dog at home, this injection is much safer because it has a higher success rate, is easier to administer, and your vet is there to monitor the process.

2. Putting Your Dog Under a General Anesthetic to Remove the Paper With an Endoscope

A veterinarian can remove foreign objects from your dog’s stomach by inserting a long, flexible tube called an endoscope into the animal’s body.

Some veterinarians may not have access to the necessary equipment, some dogs may be too big or too small, and some documents may be too fragile to be removed in this way.

However, this method is useless once the object has been in the stomach for more than a few hours, as the scope will be unable to view it.

3. Admitting Your Dog to Hospitalize and Monitor Them

In order to keep a close eye on your dog’s symptoms and be prepared to act if the paper towel starts to become a problem, your vet may recommend that you keep your dog in the hospital.

4. Taking a Blood Test to Check Organ Function and Hydration

Your veterinarian may want to check your dog’s blood for problems if cleaning products were on the paper or if your dog is already showing symptoms.

A blood sample is drawn from the patient and processed in a machine. The blood is analyzed for enzymes and chemicals that may indicate organ dysfunction.

5. Putting Your Dog on a Drip if They Are Dehydrated or if Toxins Need to Be Flushed Out

Your veterinarian may suggest putting your dog on a drip if they have been vomiting or if they have consumed something toxic.

Administering fluids intravenously involves inserting a needle into a vein. The ability to keep water down is especially crucial for dogs that are vomiting.

6. Sedating or Giving Your Dog a General Anesthetic to Take an X-ray Image of Their Stomach and Intestines and Check for a Blockage

a sick dog after surgery in vet clinic

If your dog has symptoms after eating a paper towel, your veterinarian will want to know how far along the intestines the paper is and if it appears to be stuck.

Getting an X-ray is a good idea. In contrast to the absence of paper towel on an X-ray, the accumulation of gas behind a blockage is clearly visible.

If the veterinarian is unsure after reviewing the X-rays whether or not a blockage exists, he or she may suggest putting the dog in the hospital and taking another look at it in a few hours to see if the gas is still flowing.

7. Performing Surgery to Remove the Paper Towel

Only surgical intervention can relieve a blockage in your dog’s digestive tract. No other method exists for getting a dog past an obstruction.

Many times, the paper is so firmly lodged that the guts are unable to expand any further, and as a result, blood flow is restricted, causing organs to starve or even tearing at the gut wall.

A veterinary surgeon can perform an exploratory laparotomy to remove the obstruction; some damaged intestinal tissue may also need to be removed.

Does It Matter How Many Paper Towels They Ate?

The severity of your dog’s symptoms after eating too many paper towels is comparable to that of other potentially harmful foods for dogs.

While a dog that has shredded just one sheet of paper towel might be able to pass it without any problems, a dog that has shredded an entire roll might experience serious health problems.

The gravity of the situation is affected by the number of paper towels they consumed, but it’s still important to do so.

When in doubt about whether or not your dog has ingested an unsafe amount of paper, call your vet immediately.

Symptoms Of A Dog Sick From Eating Paper Towels

When your dog’s health is in jeopardy as a result of eating paper towels, there are a few telltale signs that something is wrong.

In many cases, the onset of these complications is related to a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract, and the symptoms will reflect this.

Toxic reactions from eating paper towels typically include the following:

  • Constant and sometimes violent vomiting
  • An abnormal amount of saliva production
  • Anorexia
  • Being unable to keep anything down
  • Lethargy
  • Soreness or ache in the belly
  • An increase in belching
  • Typically associated with stomach pain, a hunched posture
  • Displaying restlessness when attempting sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Experiencing Difficulty Detoxing or Passing Stool
  • Discomfort in the stomach

If your dog develops any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. Signs like these may indicate a dog has an intestinal blockage, but they may also indicate something more serious is going on.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Paper Towels?

You might be confused about what to do if you discover your dog chewing on a roll of paper towels.

My Dog ate Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex! What Now?

Here is a checklist of things to do to give your dog the best chance of making a full recovery.

  1. The first step is to collect as much information as possible. Examining the roll can tell you how much they consumed, whether they chewed on the paper towels or just shredded them, and whether or not they were contaminated with potentially dangerous substances (like cleaning solutions, fruit pits, grease, etc.).
  2. The next step is to establish a timeline for when everything occurred. If you walked in on them munching on the paper towels, that’s useful information to give to the vet when trying to treat them. If you returned home to find shredded paper towels, try to give your veterinarian a rough time frame for when the incident may have occurred.
  3. Once you have a firm grasp of the situation, it’s time to get in touch with your vet. They will either give you specific instructions on what to do or suggest that you bring your dog in for an examination.
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What To Expect At The Vet

There are some constants if you take your dog to the vet because it has been eating paper towels.

Let’s go over a few options because this will vary greatly depending on your dog’s unique circumstances.

They just ate the paper towels

Your vet may be able to induce vomiting in a safe manner if your dog has consumed the paper towels within the past four hours.

An IV medication administered by your vet will quickly induce vomiting in your dog. All the paper towels should come up in your dog’s vomit if they ate any.

They ate the paper towels over 4 hours ago

Over a period of four hours, the paper towels may have passed through your dog’s digestive system and out of their bodies altogether. Your vet may now recommend x-rays to detect obstructive patterns or provide advice on how to keep an eye out for any changes.

Whether or not your dog’s x-rays show signs of intestinal blockage, the amount your dog ate, and the dog’s size are all major factors.

They are already experiencing GI symptoms

Your veterinarian will need to take a more forceful tack if your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal distress.

Radiographs of the abdomen will help vets decide whether or not your dog needs to be hospitalized, operated on, or treated at home. Your veterinarian should always be consulted because every situation is unique.

Treatment For A Dog Who Ate Paper Towels

In the same way that the gold standard for diagnosis will change depending on the specifics of your dog’s condition, so too will his or her treatment options.

Your veterinarian’s decision regarding your dog’s care will be based on a number of factors, but here are some of the most frequent options.

Inducing Vomiting

As we’ve already established, if your dog is lucky, the veterinarian will be able to retrieve the paper towels before they pass the stomach.

It’s possible, but only if you get your dog to the vet within 4 hours, and in most cases, that’s all that’s needed.

Monitoring In Hospital

Your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization and the use of intravenous fluids if it is too late to induce vomiting and they are concerned that the paper towels will not pass on their own.

In addition to giving your dog water to drink to help flush the material out of its system, the vet will take fresh x-rays of it every 12 hours to look for any new abnormalities.

It’s possible that your dog won’t need surgery if the paper towels start moving through his digestive system after starting this treatment.

If your dog is not showing severe symptoms, and there is no sign of a severe intestinal obstruction, this may be an option.

Endoscope Removal

Your veterinarian may be able to perform an endoscopy to remove any ingested paper towel material.

In order for this to work, the material must either be in the stomach or the esophagus. It’s possible that your dog will need to see a specialist, as general animal hospitals lack the necessary equipment.

Surgery To Remove The Paper Towel

Your dog may need surgery to remove the blockage caused by the paper towels if they are unable to pass the obstruction on their own.

An individual undergoing foreign body surgery may have to stay in the hospital for a short time after their procedure to recover from the anesthesia and have the obstruction removed or the damaged section of the intestines removed.

My Dog ate Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex! What Now?

Can Some Dogs Pass Paper Towels On Their Own?

All dogs that manage to get their paws on a roll of paper towels won’t need emergency medical treatment.

It’s possible that some dogs will shred the paper towels into tiny enough pieces that their digestive systems will easily pass them, while others will just be lucky and have no problems.

A dog may be able to independently pass paper towels, but you should never count on this.

Since we can’t predict if our dogs will have any problems, it’s best to take them to the vet just in case.

Just waiting it out and seeing what happens isn’t in the best interest of our dogs, as it gives the paper towels more time to cause a blockage.

Although your veterinarian may tell you it’s okay to keep an eye on your pet from home, it’s better to schedule an appointment just in case.

My Dog Ate Paper Towel – Will He Be Ok?

Thankfully, dogs rarely require surgery after ingesting a paper towel. When your pet consumes something it shouldn’t, it can be a terrifying and stressful experience for you.

If you find out your dog has eaten a paper towel, don’t panic; instead, call your vet right away so your pet can get the treatment it needs and get back to being a nuisance as soon as possible.

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