Are Toilet Rolls Safe for Pets? (to Play With!)

If you've ever owned a pet, you're probably familiar with their talent for turning ordinary household items into toys. Toilet rolls, bits of string, old socks - our furry companions can find the joy in the most basic household items.

We’re all animal lovers at Naked Sprout, and we’ve noticed our toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, and tissues - as well as the boxes they come in - are often targeted for play by our pets. Many of our customers have found the same thing, and get in touch to ask if our products are safe for the odd scratch and nibble.

So for this post it’s a game of paws, claws, and tissue-covered floors! Can pets safely play with tissue products and their packaging, why do they want to play with them in the first place, and when should we call time on play?

Why Do Cats and Dogs Love to Play with Tissue Products and Cardboard Boxes?

Okay, so your furry friend has spied a toilet roll from across the room. To you, it’s one of the most mundane products imaginable. To them, it’s the new must-have toy. What on earth are they thinking?

Toilet Rolls

Toilet paper rolls seem boring to us, but maybe we’re just not looking at them the right way! We regularly receive all sorts of lovely animal pictures from our customers, showing cats and dogs (and even the odd rabbit and gerbil!) playing with our rolls. The most popular game for cats, as far as we can tell, is The Big Unravel, where a cat bats the toilet roll on its holder until all the lovely neat sheets sit unravelled on the bathroom floor. It’s a bit of a shame for our lovely customers, but the cats seem to enjoy it!

So what are they getting out of it? We think the sound and texture of the paper provide sensory stimulation and mimic the rustling of prey, satisfying their natural hunting instincts. Added to that, the cylindrical shape and light weight means they roll well, keeping furry paws and legs occupied. 

Dogs also find toilet paper rolls appealing, although they don’t play in quite the same way. Some dogs enjoy chewing on the cardboard tube, while others may delight chewing through the paper itself, or chasing after the roll as it unravels. 

The other part of the typical Naked Sprout order that our customers' furry friends enjoy is the cardboard box

For cats, a nice big cardboard box can provide a sense of security and serve as a cozy hiding spot. Cats are also famously curious of course, and a cardboard box with a lid or holes in it provides plenty of opportunities for exploration. Dogs, too, enjoy the tactile experience of cardboard boxes and may use them as impromptu chew toys or retreats for relaxation.

Are Tissue Products and Cardboard Boxes Safe for Pets to Eat?

So toilet rolls (and other tissue products), along with the cardboard boxes they come in, can provide plenty of fun for our pets. But we know that lots of our customers are concerned about the safety of letting their pets play with (and, let’s face it, chew on) these products. Here’s what we know. 

Tissue Paper:

Tissue paper, like the kind that makes up toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, and facial tissues, is generally safe for pets to play with under supervision. However, a habit of ingesting large quantities of tissue paper may be a sign of stress, and it can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as blockages or obstructions. This is particularly true for cats, who may be prone to pica (the urge to eat non-food items) or curious kittens who explore the world through their mouths. Dogs, too, may inadvertently swallow bits of tissue paper during play, especially if they are enthusiastic chewers.

At Naked Sprout we are very proud of our tissue products but we wouldn't go as far as recommending them as a snack! Some shredded tissue here and there shouldn’t be a big deal, but if a pet seems to be swallowing you should pull them away. 

Cardboard:

Cardboard isn't normally inherently toxic but it’s worth being aware of any designs printed or dyed on them, and of the adhesives that are used to glue the boxes in shape. Once again, at Naked Sprout we try to keep things as simple as we can; our adhesives are derived from pine sap, and the dye we use to print our boxes comes from soy. So no worries there! 

But again, swallowing can pose more of a problem. Cardboard can be a choking hazard, or cause intestinal blockages if ingested in large amounts. Most pets will likely spit out small pieces of cardboard, but those with a penchant for chewing may be at higher risk of swallowing larger chunks. 

Plastic Packaging:

At Naked Sprout we never use plastic in any form, in any of our products. But as any stroll down the supermarket aisles will show you, this isn’t the case for most toilet roll brands. Most of the toilet rolls and kitchen rolls you buy in the shops, and a lot of our tissues, will come wrapped in plastic

Plastic wrapping, if ingested, can cause serious health issues for pets, including intestinal blockages or perforations. Signs that your pet may have ingested plastic packaging include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you suspect your pet has ingested plastic, you should get in touch with your vet right away. 

The same problem that applies to pets applies to the rest of the animal kingdom, and when plastic is thrown away it often ends up in landfill, so we would really recommend our fellow animal lovers avoid single-use plastic wherever possible. 

Signs of Possible Health Problems:

If you find your pet has been eating larger amounts of tissue or cardboard there are some signs of potential health problems to look out for. If you notice any of these, do get in touch with your vet as soon as possible: 

  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing

These symptoms could indicate a range of issues, including gastrointestinal blockages, ingestion of toxic substances, or other medical emergencies. Your vet will be able to give you the best guidance. 

Conclusion:

Tissue products and cardboard boxes can provide pets with entertainment and stimulation. It’s natural for our furry friends to seek out interesting experiences in the homes they share with us, and it’s natural for us to fret about them. 

For the safest play we recommend keeping an eye on your pet while they’re playing with tissue and boxes, pulling them away if they appear to be actually eating (rather than just shredding) and always be vigilant for signs of potential health problems. And for all of our customers who regularly discover their rolls unravelled on the bathroom floor, we can only apologise. We’ve been there ourselves! 

Does your pet need a new tissue toy?  

 

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