A common bad behavior in canines is eating objects such as paper towels. Dogs get into paper towels for many reasons; they are mainstays in the trash, might be easily accessible and they can provide entertainment. But eating paper products can carry serious health complications.
The most severe complication of your dog eating paper towels is blockage of either his stomach or intestinal tract. This can lead to pain and even death, as a result of his inability to pass the paper towel. Signs of blockage include weight loss, inability to eat, extreme sensitivity in the torso and bloating. Your veterinarian will run tests to determine where the blockage is and act accordingly, either with medication or surgery.
A less severe side effect is an upset tummy, as his system works to pass the foreign matter. In some cases your dog may throw up the paper towels. If you notice vomiting and diarrhea after a paper towel snack, feed him canned pumpkin. Pumpkin can settle his stomach and help him pass the paper towels. Skip his usual meal, and replace it with an equal amount of canned pumpkin mixed with cooked white rice.
Keep paper towels out of your dog’s access. If you have a large dog, this can mean putting towels on a high shelf or in a cabinet. Keep trash cans securely sealed and out of his reach. Consider keeping cans in another room with a closed door if your dog is an avid trash dumper. If your dog is munching on paper towels as a form of play, purchase some flavored chew toys, as this can help direct chewing behavior elsewhere.
If your dog has eaten paper towels, call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet may inform you to wait it out or bring the pooch in, but medical attention is imperative. If your dog continues to eat paper towels, despite your best efforts, visit your veterinarian to determine the root cause of the behavior. The vet also can recommend behavioral adjustments or specialists who can help.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Amy Davidson is a graduate from the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She also writes for local papers around Gainesville doing articles on local events and news.