What Happens if a Dog Eats a Paper Towel? Risks & Symptoms

Dogs, especially puppies, love to explore things with their mouths. This intense curiosity and oral exploration can lead them to sallow odd items like paper towels. But what happens if your dog eats a paper towel?

This article explores what happens when dogs eat paper towels, the potential risks, what to do if it happens, and how to prevent future incidents.


Dogs use their mouths to explore the objects around them, similar to how human babies put objects in their mouths. So when they find something interesting, their first instinct is to pick it up and start chewing.

Unfortunately, a paper towel is not a safe chew toy. The fibers could cause choking or blockages in your dog’s digestive system. Let’s explore those risks further.

Towels in woven basket

Risks of Dogs Eating Paper Towels

Even though paper towels aren’t poisonous, they can cause big problems in a dog’s tummy. Here’s why:

1. Digestive Issues:

Paper towels are not digestible. They can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. In severe cases, they can even lead to intestinal blockages, which require immediate veterinary attention.

2. Choking Hazard:

Large pieces of paper towels can get stuck in your dog’s throat, making it hard for them to breathe. This can be dangerous. Be extra careful if your dog likes to swallow their food or anything else too quickly.

3. Internal Damage:

The rough edges of paper towels can hurt your dog’s tummy inside. This can make them bleed or get sick.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Paper Towel?

It depends on the amount they consumed:

Small Amount:

If your dog only ate a small piece of paper towel, they’ll probably just poop it out without any problems. Keep an eye on their behavior for any signs of discomfort, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.

Large Amount:

Eating a large amount of paper towels is a cause for concern. It increases the risk of intestinal blockages and other serious complications. If you suspect your dog has eaten a significant quantity, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Laziness
  • Coughing
Veterinarian examining a dog

Actions to Take

Don’t panic. Here’s what you should do:

1. Stay Calm:

Panicking won’t help the situation. Take a deep breath and think clearly about what’s happening. Looking at things calmly will help you figure out the best way to deal with it.

2. Determine the Amount:

Try to estimate how much paper towel your dog ate. This information will be crucial for your veterinarian.

3. Contact Your Veterinarian:

If your dog swallowed a lot of paper towels, or if they seem unwell, call your veterinarian right away. They will tell you what to do next, which may include inducing vomiting, giving them medicine, or even an operation to remove a blockage.

4. Induce Vomiting (Only if Instructed):

In some cases, your vet may recommend inducing vomiting to remove the paper towel before it can cause further problems. But remember, don’t try this yourself! It can be dangerous if not done the right way, and serious problems could happen.

5. Monitor Closely:

If your vet says it’s okay to watch your dog at home, keep an eye on how they’re doing. See if they’re eating as usual, if they have the energy to play, and if their poop looks normal.

Preventing Future Incidents

While accidents happen, it’s essential to take some preventive measures:

  • Keep Unwanted Objects Away: Keep all small objects like coins, buttons, batteries, and children’s toys out of reach.
  • Supervise Your Dog: Keep an eye on your dog when they are playing or exploring. This is extra important if they like to chew things.
  • Cover Food: Hide any food items like chocolate, grapes, or sugar-free gum which can be toxic for dogs.
  • Train Your Dog: Teach your dog basic commands like “leave it” and “drop it” to control their chewing behavior.

What If Your Dog Has a Habit of Eating Weird Things?

If your dog likes to eat strange things, you might want to take some extra steps to stop them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep them where you can see them. Use baby gates or other barriers to limit their access to areas where they might find strange things to eat.
  • Talk to your veterinarian. They can check for any health problems that make your dog eat weird things.
  • If your dog is bored, they might explore with their mouths. Give them more playtime to keep them busy.
  • If you’ve tried everything else and your dog is still swallowing things, your vet might recommend medicine to help control the behavior.

Remember, the sooner you act, the less likely your dog is to get sick from something they shouldn’t eat.

person playing with dog


Even though a paper towel may look like a safe snack for your dog, it can cause problems. By understanding the risks and taking steps to avoid them you can keep your pet healthy.

Remember, a little awareness and care can make a big difference in keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Additional Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Will paper dissolve in a dog’s stomach?

No, the paper does not dissolve in a dog’s stomach. Dogs cannot digest paper, and swallowing it can lead to digestive issues, including stomach upset, vomiting, and constipation.

Will paper pass through a dog?

Dogs can sometimes eat small pieces of paper without any problems. It will just come out in their poop, like normal. But if they eat a lot of paper, it can be bad! It can get stuck inside their tummy and cause big problems. If that happens, they need to see the vet right away.

Is it OK for my dog to chew paper towel rolls?

No, it is not okay for dogs to chew paper towel rolls. The fibers in paper towels can be a choking hazard, cause digestive problems, and lead to internal damage. Provide safe chew toys for your dog instead.

Is paper towels toxic to eat?

While paper towel itself is not toxic, eating it can cause significant health issues for dogs. It can result in stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, lead to choking or intestinal blockages. It’s crucial to prevent dogs from ingesting paper towels.


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