Every dog owner has owned a tennis ball for their dog at some point. They are incredibly popular, cheap, and great toys for dogs. You can pick up a pack from your local pet store and get to playing immediately. These balls can offer a toy that your dog can play with alone, or with minimal interference from you, which is an added bonus for busy days. However, are tennis balls dangerous for dogs and if so, how?
With easy to rip fabric, material that can be torn and swallowed by dogs with big jaws, and even risks of choking, there are certainly some elements you should be aware of. Understanding the jaw strength of your dog, their size, and how heavy of a chewer they are are just three of the many concerns you should consider. Like with every toy, it is more suitable for some dogs than others. So let’s take a look at dogs and tennis balls.
Are Tennis Balls Dangerous for Dogs?
The health of our dogs is one of the most important things to us. Which is why knowing what we are providing to them and their safety level is so crucial. In regards to tennis balls, we will be evaluating the possible negative effects and how you can play with a tennis ball safely.
Possible Negative Effects of Tennis Balls on Dogs
Tennis balls hold three main worries of safety concerns: being a choking hazard, causing dental problems, and possibly having toxic materials. Let’s explore them.
For larger breeds of dog, there is a worry that your dog may swallow it when excitedly throwing it into their mouth or catching it in mid-air. This is not usually a worry for dogs with smaller mouths, but unfortunately is for large breeds or those with large mouths and jaws.
Another problem can relate to their teeth. Many owners wouldn’t think that your dog’s gums and teeth could be affected by a tennis ball so severely but they can cause major problems. The one of most concern is enamel abrasion. Experts define this as the outer layer of teeth gradually being worn away out to expose painful nerves, or lead to a break in the teeth. This depends on how strong the tennis ball is and is a risk with many chew toys. Especially for dogs who chew one toy in the same location for a long period of time.
Lastly is the concern of toxic materials, especially in cheaper brands. Purchasing dog-specific is always a good choice as sports-grade tennis balls may have traces of lead and other poisonous ingredients. Whereas dog-friendly tennis balls exist for your dog to chew with no worries.
How To Play With Tennis Balls Safely
Ultimately, tennis balls are a great toy for your dog, but in moderation. They are not a chew toy and are instead a toy for fetch. You need to make sure that your dog doesn’t take the toy and begin to chew on it because of concerns of choking, dental concerns, among other issues. If you find your dog chewing on their tennis ball be sure to remove it from them and give them a suitable chew toy.
The key is to bring your dog’s tennis ball out at the beginning of a game of fetch. When you are done, remove it from them. Then give them a toy they can have without supervision. Whether this is a strong chewy toy for large dogs or a plush toy for little puppies. A tennis ball is not a dog toy you can give without supervision. Furthermore, make sure that your dog’s interaction with the ball, even under your supervision, is only to retrieve it. Some dogs will take a break to pull at the fabric of the ball or to suck it and this is a health concern. If they do this, it may be worth not allowing them a tennis ball at all.
Are Tennis Balls Dangerous For Dogs: FAQ
To make sure that you feel comfortable with your knowledge about dogs and tennis balls, we have created a fully informative FAQ. This contains the most searched questions about the safety of tennis balls for dogs.
Dog specific tennis balls provide a safer alternative for your dog to play with. Tennis balls created for sports firstly have unsafe and even toxic materials on them, such as lead within the paint. If your dog is to chew on this then these toxic materials can be ingested and lead to illness and death. Furthermore, dog tennis balls are softer to try to avoid injury occurring or your dog’s teeth from being damaged easily. As an added bonus as well these balls may have a scent, flavor, or even squeaker!
Without supervision and proper understanding, it could be argued that any toy has the potential to be dangerous. However, here are the dog toys we would recommend being most vigilant about and why:
– Bouncy rubber balls: Concerns of the ball becoming suctioned onto your dog’s lips or teeth is one concern. Another is the rubber being chewed off into fragments and ingested, leading to choking hazards or intestinal blockages
– Marrow bones: Ensure these are fully cooked and you take out the fatty center of the bone as it can lead to negative health conditions
– Little toys: Small toys can be easily swallowed which can lead to a choking hazard or an intestinal blockage. This is a large concern for bigger breeds of dog
– Rawhide: You can allow your dog to chew on rawhide, but ensure to prevent your dog from ingesting any pieces
We recommend using clicker training alongside positive reinforcement and providing a proper selection of chew toys. Train your dog to come back and drop objects on command. If you can ensure your dog will follow proper commands then if you need to get them to drop a possibly unsafe toy you can.
Next, you can make sure they have proper chewing outlets and lots of exercise to minimize frustration. This means they have a way to get all their chewing needs out without the concern of their welfare being compromised. Longer walks and lots of playtime can help with this issue as well.
Take your dog immediately to the vet. Your dog could be choking or be susceptible to an intestinal blockage. From the Heimlich maneuver to an emergency surgery, a professional needs to help your dog as soon as possible.
These balls offer a unique texture and are small enough for them to wrap their jaws around completely. Furthermore, with a slight spring in the firmness of a tennis ball, your dog will have fun gnawing on this toy. Furthermore, dogs love to chew in general. It is a natural behavior and something which needs provisions, such as many appropriate chew toys.
So are tennis balls dangerous for dogs? They can be if your dog is not properly supervised and if they are not designed for dogs. Ensure that your dog is not gnawing or ingesting any parts of the tennis ball and that you are purely using it for fetch. Like any toy, you should supervise your dog while they are using it.