Senior Dog Eating Paper: Reasons and Solutions


Why Is My Senior Dog Eating Paper


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Many pet owners are familiar with the frustrating and sometimes concerning behavior of a senior dog eating paper. This behavior may seem harmless at first, but it can lead to health issues and may indicate underlying problems. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior and finding effective solutions is crucial for the well-being of our furry friends.

Possible Reasons:

There are several reasons why senior dogs may develop a habit of eating paper. One possible reason is boredom. Just like humans, dogs can get bored and seek out unconventional ways to entertain themselves. Another reason could be anxiety or stress, which can lead dogs to engage in compulsive behaviors like eating paper. It is also possible that the dog is simply attracted to the texture and taste of paper. Additionally, some medical conditions, such as nutritional deficiencies or gastrointestinal problems, may contribute to this behavior.

Potential Health Risks:

While eating small amounts of paper may not be immediately harmful to a senior dog, it can lead to various health risks if the behavior persists. Consuming paper can cause gastrointestinal blockages or obstructions, which may require surgical intervention. Ingesting ink or harmful chemicals present in paper can also have negative effects on a dog’s health. Furthermore, repeated consumption of paper can lead to nutrient deficiencies if the dog is displacing normal food intake with paper. It is important to address this behavior promptly to avoid potential health complications.


To address a senior dog’s paper-eating behavior, it is essential to identify and address any underlying causes. Providing mental and physical stimulation through appropriate toys and regular exercise can help alleviate boredom and reduce the dog’s urge to eat paper. If anxiety or stress is the root cause, implementing calming techniques and creating a safe and comfortable environment for the dog can be beneficial. Ensuring the dog has a balanced diet and meeting any nutritional deficiencies can also help curb this behavior. If necessary, consult with a veterinarian who can provide guidance and explore further solutions tailored to the individual dog’s needs.

Health Issues

Eating paper can have various health implications for senior dogs. It is important to be aware of these issues and take appropriate measures to address them.

  • Obstruction: Paper may cause an obstruction in the dog’s digestive system, leading to discomfort, pain, and potential damage to the gastrointestinal tract. This can result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Intestinal blockage: The ingestion of paper can lead to an intestinal blockage, which is a more serious condition. This occurs when the paper forms a mass that obstructs the flow of food and liquids through the intestines. It may require surgical intervention to remove the blockage.
  • Ingesting harmful substances: Paper may be coated or contaminated with harmful substances like ink, chemicals, or pesticides. When a dog ingests paper with these substances, it can lead to poisoning and other health complications.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: If a dog regularly consumes paper instead of proper food, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. The dog may not be getting the essential nutrients it needs, which can affect its overall health and wellbeing.
  • Injury to the mouth and throat: Chewing and swallowing paper can cause injuries to the dog’s mouth and throat. Sharp pieces of paper or foreign objects attached to the paper may scratch or puncture the tissues, leading to pain, infection, or even breathing difficulties.

It is crucial to address the root cause of the paper-eating behavior and provide appropriate intervention to protect the senior dog’s health. Consulting with a veterinarian can help identify any underlying medical conditions or behavioral issues that may be contributing to this behavior. Additionally, pet owners should ensure the dog has a balanced and nutritious diet, plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and access to safe and appropriate chew toys to help redirect their chewing behavior.

Boredom and Lack of Mental Stimulation

One possible reason why a senior dog may eat paper is due to boredom and a lack of mental stimulation. Just like humans, dogs require mental exercise to keep their minds active and engaged. If a dog is not mentally stimulated, they may resort to finding ways to entertain themselves, such as tearing up paper.

A senior dog, in particular, may experience a decrease in physical activity and may not be able to engage in as much physical exercise as they used to. This can result in increased boredom, as they have excess energy that needs an outlet.

To address this issue, it is important to provide your senior dog with regular mental stimulation. This can be achieved through various activities, such as puzzle toys, scent games, and obedience training. Puzzle toys, in particular, can be a great way to challenge your dog’s mind and keep them entertained for extended periods of time.

You can also consider introducing your senior dog to new experiences and environments. Taking your dog on new walks or bringing them to new places can help stimulate their senses and provide mental enrichment. Additionally, spending quality time with your dog through interactive play and training sessions can help strengthen the bond between you and provide mental stimulation as well.

It is important to note that while mental stimulation can help alleviate boredom, it is also crucial to ensure that your senior dog is getting enough physical exercise suitable for their age and health condition. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate level of exercise for your senior dog.

Anxiety and Stress

Senior dogs eating paper can be a sign of anxiety and stress. Anxiety can be triggered by various factors, including:

  • Separation from their owner or caregiver
  • Changes in their environment
  • Medical conditions
  • Lack of mental and physical stimulation
  • Past traumas or negative experiences

When dogs experience anxiety, they may engage in destructive behaviors such as eating paper as a way to cope with their emotions. It can be a form of self-soothing or a way to release pent-up energy.

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Effects of Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress can have negative effects on a senior dog’s mental and physical well-being. Chronic stress can lead to health problems such as:

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  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Behavioral changes, including increased paper-eating
  • Aggression or fearfulness

Managing Anxiety and Stress

If your senior dog is eating paper due to anxiety and stress, it’s important to address the underlying causes and provide appropriate support. Here are some strategies to help manage anxiety:

  1. Establish a consistent routine to provide a sense of security and predictability for your dog.
  2. Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation through interactive toys, puzzles, and regular exercise.
  3. Consider using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or supplements recommended by your veterinarian.
  4. Ensure your dog has a comfortable and safe space to retreat to when they need privacy or relaxation.
  5. Engage in positive reinforcement training and reward your dog for calm behaviors.
  6. If the anxiety persists or worsens, consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist for additional assistance.

By addressing the underlying causes of anxiety and stress, you can help your senior dog overcome their paper-eating behavior and improve their overall well-being.

Lack of Proper Diet

One possible reason for a senior dog eating paper is a lack of proper diet. As dogs age, their nutritional needs may change, and they may require a different type of food. Senior dogs often have slower digestion and may need a diet that is easier to digest and provides them with the necessary nutrients.

It’s important to ensure that your senior dog’s diet is appropriate for their age and health condition. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your senior dog based on their specific needs. The veterinarian may recommend a senior dog food formula that is specifically designed for older dogs.

In addition to providing a balanced diet, you may also need to consider other dietary factors that can contribute to a senior dog eating paper. Some dogs may have food allergies or sensitivities, which can cause them to seek out other materials to satisfy their cravings. If you suspect that your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, talk to your veterinarian about conducting an allergy test or trying an elimination diet to identify the specific triggers.

Furthermore, it’s important to monitor your dog’s portion sizes and feeding schedule. Overfeeding can lead to digestive issues and cravings for non-food items like paper. Follow the feeding guidelines recommended by the dog food manufacturer and adjust the portions as needed based on your dog’s weight and activity level.

Lastly, make sure your senior dog always has access to fresh water. Dehydration can contribute to unusual cravings and behaviors, so make sure to provide clean water throughout the day.

In summary, addressing a lack of proper diet in senior dogs can help reduce the behavior of eating paper. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog, consider any food allergies or sensitivities they may have, monitor portion sizes and feeding schedule, and ensure they have access to fresh water.

Solutions and Prevention Tips

If your senior dog is eating paper, it is important to address the behavior to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some solutions and prevention tips to help stop your dog from eating paper:

  1. Supervision: Keep a close eye on your dog whenever they are around paper. This will allow you to intervene and redirect their attention if they show signs of wanting to eat it.
  2. Provide mental stimulation: Boredom can lead to destructive behaviors, including eating paper. Make sure to provide your senior dog with enough mental stimulation through interactive toys, puzzles, and regular exercise.
  3. Keep paper out of reach: Remove any accessible paper items from your dog’s environment. This includes keeping the trash cans securely closed and ensuring that any documents or paper products are stored in closed drawers or cabinets.
  4. Use deterrent sprays: There are several commercial deterrent sprays available that can be applied to paper to make it unappealing to dogs. These sprays usually have a bitter taste or a strong scent that discourage dogs from chewing or eating paper.
  5. Teach a “leave it” command: Train your senior dog to respond to a “leave it” command. This can be useful in redirecting their attention away from paper when necessary. Reward them with treats or praise when they obey the command.
  6. Consult with a veterinarian: If your senior dog’s paper eating behavior persists or is causing health issues, it is recommended to seek advice from a veterinarian. They can help identify any underlying medical conditions or behavioral problems that may be contributing to the behavior.

By implementing these solutions and prevention tips, you can help discourage your senior dog from eating paper and promote healthier and safer behaviors.


Why is my senior dog eating paper?

There can be several reasons why your senior dog is eating paper. One possible reason is that they might be experiencing pica, a condition characterized by the compulsive eating of non-food items. Other possible reasons include boredom, anxiety, or nutritional deficiencies. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues and to determine the best course of action.

What can I do to prevent my senior dog from eating paper?

To prevent your senior dog from eating paper, you can take several measures. First, ensure that your dog has plenty of appropriate chew toys to keep them occupied and satisfy their natural chewing instincts. Supervise your dog closely when they are around paper and promptly remove any paper objects from their reach. Keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated through regular exercise and training can also help reduce their desire to engage in inappropriate chewing behavior.

Can eating paper be harmful to my senior dog?

Eating paper can be harmful to dogs, especially if they consume large amounts or if the paper contains any toxic substances, such as ink or chemicals. Paper can cause blockages in the digestive system, leading to serious health complications. If your senior dog has been eating paper, it’s important to monitor their behavior and look out for any signs of discomfort, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite. If you notice any concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly.

Is it normal for senior dogs to exhibit pica behavior?

No, it is not normal for senior dogs to exhibit pica behavior. Pica is typically considered an abnormal behavior and may indicate underlying health or behavioral issues. If your senior dog starts eating paper or any other non-food items, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and develop an appropriate plan of action. They will be able to assess your dog’s overall health and provide guidance on managing or treating the behavior.

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