Can Dogs Eat Cardboard

Dogs and Cardboard: Canine Curiosity or Health Hazard?

When it comes to their appetite, dogs can be quite adventurous. From table scraps to trash cans, they will try almost anything that smells or tastes interesting. However, some things that dogs eat can be harmful or even deadly. One common material that dogs may nibble on is cardboard. But can dogs eat cardboard safely? In this article, we will explore the risks and benefits of letting your dog snack on cardboard, and give you some tips on how to prevent or manage any problems.

Cardboard Characteristics

Before we delve into the dog-cardboard relationship, let’s examine what cardboard is made of and why it may attract dogs. Cardboard is a type of paper-based material that consists of layers of cellulose fibers glued together with starch or other adhesives. It is used for many purposes, such as packaging, shipping, storage, crafting, and insulation. Cardboard can vary in thickness, texture, color, and smell depending on its composition and age.

Some factors that may make cardboard appealing to dogs are:

– Texture: Cardboard has a fibrous and crunchy texture that dogs may enjoy chewing or tearing apart.
– Smell: Cardboard may have a distinctive odor that dogs find intriguing or comforting.
– Taste: Some cardboard may have traces of food or drink spilled on it, which can enhance its flavor for dogs.
– Availability: Cardboard is often found in homes and yards, where dogs can easily access it without much effort or supervision.

While these characteristics may explain why dogs may be attracted to cardboard, they do not necessarily indicate whether cardboard is safe or nutritious for them.

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Can Dogs Eat Cardboard?

The short answer is no, dogs should not eat cardboard as a regular part of their diet. Here are some reasons why:

– Digestibility: Cardboard is not easily digestible by dogs due to its high fiber content and low nutritional value. If dogs eat too much cardboard, it can cause digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or vomiting. In some cases, cardboard may even obstruct the dog’s intestines or stomach, requiring surgery to remove.
– Chemicals: Cardboard may contain chemicals or contaminants that are harmful to dogs if ingested. For example, some cardboard boxes may be treated with pesticides or fungicides to prevent insect or fungal damage. These chemicals can be toxic to dogs if they lick, chew, or swallow the cardboard. Also, ink or glue used on cardboard may contain substances that are not safe for dogs to consume.
– Choking hazard: Cardboard pieces can break off into small or sharp fragments that can get stuck in a dog’s throat or esophagus. This can cause choking, gagging, coughing, or difficulty breathing. Even if the dog manages to swallow the cardboard pieces, they may scratch or irritate the digestive tract.

Therefore, if you catch your dog eating cardboard or suspect that they have swallowed some, you should monitor their behavior and health closely and contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of distress.

Alternatives to Cardboard

To prevent your dog from eating cardboard in the first place, you can provide them with more appropriate chew toys and treats that satisfy their chewing needs without posing a risk to their health. Some examples of safe and durable materials for dog toys are:

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– Rubber: Rubber toys are flexible and bouncy, making them fun for dogs to play with. They come in different shapes and sizes and can be filled with treats for extra stimulation.
– Nylon: Nylon toys are hard and tough, making them suitable for aggressive chewers who tend to destroy softer toys quickly. They also come in various textures and flavors.
– Rope: Rope toys are made of twisted fibers that create a satisfying sensation for dogs who like to gnaw on things. They can also be used for tug-of-war games between dogs and humans.
– Bones: Natural bones or synthetic bones are popular choices for dogs who love to chew on something that resembles a prey item. However, you should avoid giving your dog cooked bones or small pieces that can break off and cause choking or intestinal damage.

You can also train your dog to leave cardboard alone by using positive reinforcement methods such as praise, treats, or toys. Whenever your dog shows interest in cardboard, redirect their attention to a more appropriate object and reward them for doing so. Consistency and patience are key to making this training successful.


While dogs may find cardboard fascinating and tempting, it is not a safe or nutritious food for them. Eating cardboard can cause digestive problems, chemical toxicity, and choking hazards that may harm your dog’s health. Therefore, as a responsible pet owner, you should keep cardboard out of your dog’s reach and provide them with alternative chew toys and treats that meet their needs. By doing so, you can ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy without sacrificing their curiosity and playfulness.