Many dogs eat tissues. Have you ever found your dog holding a tissue box with its paws and devouring the tissues stored inside? Or even worse, caught your dog eating used tissues from the trash can? 

Well, it is no secret that, when it comes to eating, dogs do not have particularly high standards, and given the opportunity, would eat just about anything.

Are tissues bad for dogs? Yes, if eaten in larger amounts tissues can cause serious health problems in dogs. The situation can be worse if the tissues have been used and are stained with food leftovers or chemicals.

Why Do Dogs Eat Tissues?

Although there are many reasons why dogs eat inedible items, when it comes to tissues, there are two main reasons: the tissue’s leasing texture and the smell retained on the tissue after it is being used.

Dogs are genetically wired to chew and there is nothing you can do to prevent this behavior. However, you can sustain the damage by providing objects that suitable for chewing.

Eating tissues in puppies and dogs is therefore common, but it is definitely not safe. In this article, we will briefly explain why dogs are prone to chewing tissues, what happens if they eat tissues, and what you should to contain the damage or ideally, prevent the tissue eating scenario.

 Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs chew or eat tissues in general.

Teething Pain

Obviously only puppies can use this excuse for their love of eating paper. When a puppy goes through teething, its gums are sore and chewing on tissues can be comforting. 

The chewing itself is soothing enough, not to mention, the fact that tissues are soft, and thus, adding to the overall soothing effect.

Curiosity

Dogs are curious creatures and they tend to experience the world through their mouths. Basically, dogs are willing to put inside their mouths anything that smells intriguing. 

The canine’s curiosity is more pronounced in puppies and younger dogs, but adults are not resistant either.

Anxiety

Dogs with any form of anxiety find comfort in destructive chewing. When feeling anxious they do not seek the actual destruction component, however, they do find comfort in repetitive activities and chewing is the perfect example.

Boredom

A bored dog is a creative dog and when we say creative we actually mean destructive. Boredom is a serious behavioral trigger. 

A dog that is not provided with proper entertainment will find ways of keeping itself busy on its own.

Pica or Allotriophagia

Pica is a medical term indicating abnormal appetite, basically, a tendency to eat non-edible items such as paper, dirt, rocks, wood, plastic, nylon, or fabric. There are many theories why some dogs develop pica, from nutritional deficiencies to intestinal parasites. However, the exact underlying issues cannot be pinpointed.

Taste

This reason applies to tissues used to wipe food plates or the pan after you cooked something taste.

 For example, if used the tissues to wipe the bacon grease your dog will definitely be tempted to feast on the greasy tissues, even if your shared your bacon (which is highly inadvisable).

IOften, puppies and young dogs eat tissues because they are curious or bored. 

IOften, puppies and young dogs eat tissues because they are curious or bored. 

Help, My Dog Ate Tissues, Are all Tissues Bad?

No, not all tissues are equally bad. Generally toilet paper is more troublesome than tissues because its material is denser and harder to digest. However, there are also some tissue factors that affect the severity of the situations.

Dog Eating Shredded Tissues vs. Whole

The tissue form matters too. For example, if the dog shreds the tissues before ingesting them they are more likely to pass without causing problems. On the other hand, if swallowed they pose bigger intestinal blockage risk.

Dog Eating Clean Tissues vs. Used Tissues

As disgusting as it may sound, dogs are also fond of eating dirty used tissues. Dirty tissues are more concerning especially if used to wipe something that can be dangerous for dogs like grease, gravies with garlic or onion, nail polish, or other household chemicals.

Dog Eating Dry Tissues vs. Wet Tissues (Wipes)

Although soaked in chemicals or alcohol the chemical component is not risky as its amounts are generally too low to cause troubles, However, wet tissues might be harder to digest and more likely to cause physical obstruction of the intestines.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Tissues?

As already emphasized, the biggest concern associated with eating wipes is intestinal blockage. Dogs can also develop digestive irritation, but this condition is usually self-limited and the clinical manifestation lasts only until the ingested tissues are fully digested or eliminated via the poop.

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On the other hand, intestinal blockage is a severe health problem warranting prompt and adequate veterinary attention. A dog with intestinal or bowel obstruction will show the following signs and symptoms:

  •  Repetitive vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to hold food down (if the appetite is unaltered)
  • Inability to hold water down
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
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In terms of diagnosis, the vet may use ultrasonography or contrast radiography. Sadly, tissues are not visible on regular dog x-rays, but a contrast study in dogs can be helpful to determine the obstruction point and whether it is complete or partial.

How is intestinal blockage treated in dogs? If the tissues cannot be eliminated, the vet will perform a surgical procedure under general anesthesia to remove the foreign object (tissues) and correct any damage caused to and around the blocked area.

For non-complicated cases where there is no local damage, the prognosis is good. However, the prognosis is guarded in cases of severe intestinal damage when the vet must remove the damaged portion and perform a resection of the intestines. The procedure itself is not as complicated as the following recovery process.

Given the opportunity, many dogs eat tissues and paper.  

Given the opportunity, many dogs eat tissues and paper.  

Can Dogs Digest Tissues?

The exact answer depends on the amount of ingested tissues. Generally speaking, if a dog eats a smaller amount it will probably be able to digest it, but if eats an entire box of tissues it is more likely to develop issues.

Can Dogs Die From Eating Tissues?

Sadly the answer is yes. Although not frequently, in some situations eating tissues can be lethal. 

This can occur if a smaller dog eats larger amounts of tissues or if it does not receive prompt treatment and the tissues cause intestinal blockage.

My Dog Ate Tissues, What Can I Do?

If you caught your dog eating tissues, you should stay calm and react properly. Panicking can make you do irrational decisions, so it is important to think with a clear head. In general, you should follow these steps

Step 1: Evaluate the Situation

First, you need to assess the situation and try to assume how much of the tissues your dog ate and whether they were clean or used. If eating directly from the tissue box, check if the box is eaten as well.

Step 2: Put Your Dog in a Safe Place

Next, you should put your dog in another room to prevent it from eating more tissues while you are calling the vet and waiting for his/her instructions.

Step 3: Call Your Trusted Vet

Once you call your vet, calmly explain what happened and provide all the information you gathered during step 1. Based on what you describe, the vet will either recommend to monitor your dog at home for the next few hours or to come at the office for a thorough checkup.

Step 4: Do as The Vet Instructs

If the vet recommends home monitoring, you will be provided with a short list of signs (vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite) indicating your dog is developing a problem. On the other hand, if instructed to visit the vet’s office organize transportation for your dog.

Step 5: Never Try to Self-Treat

Although listed as final, this step is particularly important. You might have heard of using hydrogen peroxide for vomiting induction – this is true, but when it comes to eating tissues, provoking vomiting episodes may do more harm than good.

Basically, do not do anything your vet has not clearly instructed. If you have any doubts do not hesitate to call the vet once again.

Concluding Thoughts

A dog eating tissues is not an improbable scenario, but it can have a dangerous outcome. While some dogs can safely devour many tissues, other dogs can develop gastrointestinal issues after eating only one or two tissues.

From tissue type to whether it was used or not to dog size – there are many factors affecting the consequences of your dog’s tissue eating quest.

However, being a responsible and loving dog parent means preventing potentially dangerous situations or at least minimizing the chances of their occurrence.

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Tissues

 Considering that, it is always better to be safe than sorry, keep your box of tissues out of reach and use dog-proof trash cans.

How do I get my dog to stop eating tissues? To successfully stop your dog’s tissue eating behavior, first you need to determine the underlying cause and eliminate it.

 Once you have eliminated the underlying cause you need to provide your dog with safe chewing options.

All dogs like to chew. Naturally inclined towards this behavior, the dog’s urge to chew on different objects is particularly strong. Today there is a plethora of teething toys for dogs on the market, but how to make the right choice?

Here is some help: What items are safe for dogs to chew?

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