Can Dogs Eat Cardboard?


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Although a small amount of cardboard consumed by your dog is not something to worry about, though larger quantities could act as an obstruction, and you should consult your vet on what to do. 

The rest of this article will go over what to do if your dog has eaten too much cardboard and how much is safe.

Why Do Dogs Love To Eat Cardboard?

Dogs of all sizes and ages love to chew on things. From teething pain to straightening their jews, to teeth cleaning, there are many reasons for this!

That being said, there are some negative reasons some dogs may chew on things. This can include anxiety, boredom, and other issues that you should pay attention to.

One of the first things you may find your dog trying to do is eat cardboard. This is because it’s available virtually anywhere they look. From paper towel rolls to toilet paper rolls to cardboard boxes, your dog can easily find this product and can easily rip it to shreds!

This will provide your dog with mental stimulation and a sense of accomplishment, even if it does leave a big mess for you to clean up.

Taking a closer look at why this is happening, your dog processes information through their mouths. It is natural for your dog to chew on things they may be curious about. Dogs love chewing, no matter what it is. It’s one of their natural instincts.

Here are a couple of reasons your dog may be chewing cardboard:

Their Diet

If you find that your dog has been eating too much cardboard, you should look at the diet you are feeding them. Are there any nutrients missing from it?

It has been found that some chewing on cardboard has been linked to nutritional deficiency, so you should see about switching foods before your dog starts ripping apart anything they can!


Your dog could be eating cardboard simply for entertainment. However, if you find that they go after any paper towel rolls or the like, try buying your canine companion new chew toys or other objects that they can safely chew.


Dogs are natural hunters, and it has been found that some dogs have been known to shred paper and eat cardboard because it is similar to the feeling of feathers in their mouths.

Separation Anxiety

Many dogs exhibit behavioral issues such as eating cardboard, shredding paper, and tearing up household items because they suffer from separation anxiety.

If your dog is home alone a lot, they may become stressed and find themselves looking for a way to alleviate their tension.

Suppose you find that your dog has developed destructive behaviors, such as eating cardboard or other non-food items or even destroying bathroom doors. In that case, you should figure out if they have developed anxiety or if they are having some other health issues.

Can Dogs Eat Cardboard?

Although cardboard can be a great way to keep your dog entertained, it is not recommended that they eat cardboard boxes.

If your dog has consumed a small amount of cardboard, it should not be a problem, as it is non-toxic. However, if they have eaten a large amount, you should talk to your vet, as it can act as an obstruction to their digestive tract.

Is Cardboard Toxic?

Although cardboard is not toxic, it isn’t the easiest for your dog to digest. So if your dog has eaten a lot of cardboard, there is a chance they may end up with an intestinal blockage.

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms: vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, constipation, burping, and straining to poop.

If you find that your pet has these symptoms, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible, as it may require treatment.

Treatment really ranges depending on how much cardboard your dog has eaten. It can include stool softeners or, in severe cases, surgery.

You can also feed your dog unsweetened pumpkin in order to try to speed the process along, but you should watch their stools to make sure that they are passing the cardboard alright.

What is PICA?

Pica is a medical condition and term used for dogs that have become obsessed with eating things that they shouldn’t eat. Pica includes eating items like dirt, rocks, and plastic.

According to UC Davis of the Clinical Animal Behavior Service, pica is defined as “the persistent chewing and consumption of non-nutritional substances that provide no physical benefit to the animal.”

This includes toilet paper, paper towels, a toilet paper roll, and other cardboard items.

Health Problems

Though most dogs can snack on cardboard for long periods of time without having any ill effects, cardboard chewing can cause a couple of different health problems and medical conditions in the long term if they are eating a lot of it.

If you are worried about whether cardboard will be bad for your dog, the short answer is probably not. However, the longer answer is that although it is not toxic, most cardboard is not digestible and, in large quantities, very bad for your dog.

If you find that your dog has eaten a large amount of cardboard and is reacting adversely, you should get professional veterinarian advice on how to handle the situation. If your dog starts showing intestinal blockage symptoms, you should immediately take them to your local veterinarian.

If your pet really has a blockage, it can become deadly if left untreated.


One issue that could arise from your dog eating cardboard is that they start having digestive problems due to a blockage in their digestive system.

Nutritional Issues

Another issue that may stem from your dog eating cardboard is that they are not getting enough nutrition. This could also be the cause of them doing this.

If your dog shows signs of not getting enough nutrients in their diet, you should figure out what they are missing and try to replace it.

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What To Do if Your Dog Ate Cardboard

If your dog has accidentally eaten cardboard, there are a few steps that you should take to ensure that it is not going to hurt them.

Stop the Behavior and Secure your Dog

You should make sure that your dog cannot eat any more cardboard as you clean up the mess they likely left. In addition, you should make sure that your dog has been put in a secure location, such as a bathroom or dog crate. This will both stop the behavior from continuing and prevent them from eating more.

Find evidence

Throw away any remaining cardboard that you find while checking to see what it contains. You should make sure that your dog has not eaten any of the contents while also figuring out whether your dog has eaten a large quantity or if they have only eaten small quantities of that item.

This is important because if your dog has eaten a cardboard box that may have contained chocolate, you may have more significant issues to worry about, and a trip to the vet will be necessary.

Check on Your Pet

Check to make sure that your pet is not showing other signs of distress, such as restlessness or drooling. If this is more frequent than expected, you should contact your vet to make sure that they are not having any more significant issues that must be dealt with.

Your dog’s digestive tract may be blocked. In addition, if they have eaten a considerable amount of cardboard, it could pose potential health issues that are even bigger and need immediate veterinary care.

Contact Your Vet

Call your vet if you think that your dog has eaten a large amount of cardboard or if the cardboard contained any possible toxic contents. You should follow whatever advice your vet gives.

What Will Vets Do For A Blockage?

Vets will examine your dog to figure out if they are showing signs of dehydration or an upset stomach.

If they have found reasons to be concerned, vets will run additional tests, including blood tests, to make sure that their organs are functioning correctly.

In addition to this, your vet may try abdominal imaging like ultrasound scans, which will show if there is an obstruction.

Although this is common to do, cardboard doesn’t actually show up well on scans, so your vet will likely look for signs of increased gas, which would show that blockage may be present.

In extreme cases, exploratory surgery may be required in order to make sure there are no more blockages, and all are removed.

How to Stop Dogs From Eating Cardboard

Although many dogs will eat cardboard simply because they are bored, it can also depict a more significant issue.

You should keep these things from your dog whenever possible, but sometimes your dog will get ahold of and eat toilet paper rolls when they can. Dogs chew anything they can get their mouths on!

Secure Trash Cans

Consider getting trashcans that can be secured so that you can keep your cardboard and other paper products safe and away from your dog.

Avoid Playing with Cardboard

When you use cardboard as a plaything, your dog will be encouraged to use it as a toy by themselves. Try swapping cardboard for different interactive toys or treats that will not pose as a health risk for your dog.

Teach Commands

You should try to teach your pup commands like ‘leave’ and ‘drop it’ so that they learn to stop chewing on cardboard.

Introduce Other Forms of Mental Stimulation

Ensure that your dog gets plenty of mental stimulation, and make sure that they get plenty of exercise. You can do this by getting them interesting toys that keep them occupied and moving and taking them on plenty of walks that will help reduce destructive behaviors.

Final Thoughts- Can Dogs Eat Cardboard?

In most cases, dogs who ate cardboard will be okay as long as the cardboard was only a small amount and did not contain anything that was toxic. That being said, if they ate a large amount of cardboard, pet owners should make sure that they are not showing signs of blockage, as this is not good for your pet, and they might need veterinary care.

When possible, you should try to train your dog not to eat cardboard by teaching them commands and keeping the temptation away as much as you can. Puppies will always try to chew on whatever they can, and if you train them while they are young, healthy dogs should not have that much of an issue!