Is it a problem if a dog eats paper?

  "I was just trying to help"

"I was just trying to help"

Paper -  it’s all around us and aside from the notoriously ouchy ‘paper cut’, we mostly don’t think much about it.  While it does not pose a toxicity risk to your pet, it may surprise you to learn that there is an unexpected consequence of a dog chewing on paper – their mouths can become stuck together!

Paper comes in many forms and much of it comes through our letterbox; letters, envelopes, leaflets, flyers, newspapers, brochures and magazines.  As many of you know, your dog may show an interest in these mystery intruders that regularly make their way onto the doormat or sit tantalisingly in the letterbox.  Of course, some dogs are chewers and will make short work of such things, much to many an owner’s despair at the mess or loss of an expected letter (or bill!).

Why does this happen?

It is not clear why or how chewing paper glues the mouth shut but dogs don’t have strong muscles for opening the mouth, compared to their bite strength, so that may be a factor.  The mouth can be glued together after chewing or reportedly just holding in the mouth a variety of different types of paper including newspaper, glossy paper (leaflets or flyers) and envelopes.  This can happen in minutes and last several hours and may involve only a small quantity of paper.  If the mouth is glued shut for several hours, the dog will be unable to eat and drink and they may also be drooling or distressed with pawing at the mouth with the risk of injuring themselves.

What can be done?

If the mouth is glued shut, gently brushing the teeth to dislodge the paper pulp may help, although this could take some time.  If this is not working it is possible that veterinary dental treatment under sedation may be required.

See the following links for stories and photos of some unfortunate dogs:

http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/dog-s-jaws-glued-shut-in-post-mishap-1-201711

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284902/Post-chewing-dog-left-sticky-situation-envelope-glue-locks-jaws-together.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-38483373

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/dogs-jaw-glued-shut-dominoes-8293288

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/vets-gently-prise-open-chalky-13997452

Zoe Tizzard

Animal PoisonLine