Dogs occasionally eat paper because of a condition known as pica. It causes dogs to consume items other than food and may be related to medical conditions, hunger, boredom, or simply because the dog enjoys the texture and flavor of paper products.
According to The Daily Puppy, pica sometimes begins during puppyhood and results from environmental exploration. When the puppy finds an item that is pleasing to it, either through texture or taste, the behavior often continues, despite the item's lack of nutrients. In an attempt to entertain itself or to stave off boredom, a puppy may eat paper to pass the time. Toilet paper and other non-food items occupy space in the dog's stomach, leaving less space for nutrient-dense food. Not only does this diminish the dog's appetite, it also raises the risk for an intestinal obstruction.
The ASPCA notes that providing dogs with chew toys and play opportunities helps curb inappropriate ingestion of non-food material. While new toys can help, a dog diagnosed with pica may be an overzealous chewer, raising the risk of choking when it bites off overly large pieces. If pica is related to a poor diet, gradually introducing higher-quality dog food may satisfy an afflicted dog's urge to eat paper. If new dog food is introduced too quickly, however, the dog may experience diarrhea and loss of appetite, further enhancing its desire for non-food items. To ensure proper treatment, the cause of pica needs to be determined by a veterinarian before an effective treatment plan can be implemented.