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Are Tennis Balls Dangerous for Dogs?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Tennis balls can be dangerous for dogs due to possible choking hazards, dental problems, and toxic materials.
  • Larger breeds with big jaws are more at risk for swallowing tennis balls.
  • Enamel abrasion is a concern for dogs who continually chew on tennis balls or other toys.
  • Tennis balls should be used in moderation and only for playing fetch, not as a chew toy.
  • If a dog ingests a tennis ball, take them to a vet immediately. Other toys to be vigilant about include bouncy rubber balls, marrow bones, little toys, and rawhide.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Monday 7 June 2021
Last updated on
Thursday 1 June 2023
are tennis balls dangerous for dogs
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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 it’s important to use them in moderation. They are best used for playing fetch rather than as a chew toy. This is because if your dog starts chewing on the ball, it could lead to choking or dental problems. If you catch your dog chewing on their tennis ball, it’s important to remove it and replace it with a suitable chew toy.

When playing fetch with your dog, it’s best to only bring out the tennis ball at the beginning of the game and to remove it once the game is over. You should then provide your dog with a toy that they can play with without supervision, such as a strong chew toy for larger dogs or a plush toy for puppies. It’s important to supervise your dog’s interaction with the ball and make sure they only retrieve it, as some dogs may try to pull at the fabric or suck on it, which could be harmful to their health. If your dog does this, it may be best to avoid giving them a tennis ball altogether.

tennis balls for dogs
Make sure to keep an eye on your dog when it is playing with a tennis ball.

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.

What’s the difference between dog tennis balls and regular tennis balls?

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!

What other dog toys are possibly dangerous?

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

What’s the best way to stop a dog from chewing on a tennis ball?

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.

What should I do if my dog eats a tennis ball?

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.

Why do dogs love to chew on balls like tennis balls?

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.

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