Tennis balls are one of the most loved dog toys of all time. Just one throw and dogs immediately run after it with pure joy. To your canine companion, it’s a toy that feeds their natural instinct to chase prey. It also provides quality bonding time with you (their other favorite thing in the world).
While dogs and tennis balls have been a match for decades, have you ever heard someone say they aren’t the safest toy out there? While tennis balls can make a great addition to your dog’s toy collection, a lot depends on your pup’s size and play style.
A Potential Choking Hazard
Let me start by saying this: An intact tennis ball in great condition is unlikely to pose a choking risk to small and medium-size dogs who are light chewers. But, it’s a different story for large dogs with very powerful jaws.
There have been instances of large dogs biting down so hard that the tennis ball has popped. If this happens, pieces can quickly lodge into your dog’s throat, leading to choking. Also, if a tennis ball is ripped to pieces, you run that risk that your dog will grab and swallow a piece, leading to a serious intestinal blockage.
Here’s another thing to consider: The green fuzz on the outside of a tennis ball can also pose a potential choking hazard. Over time, if the fibers start coming loose, your dog can bite them off and they can wad up in your pup’s mouth/throat.
Dental Wear and Tear
The green fuzz on tennis balls is pretty tough and abrasive. As dogs gnaw away, it can act like sandpaper and gradually wear down the outer layer of your pup’s teeth. Normal play isn’t likely to do much harm, but if you have an aggressive chewer on your hands who likes to gnaw on tennis balls all day long then it could become an issue over time (it’s a process called blunting).
Tennis Ball Safety
- If your dog chews up tennis balls every time he plays then opt for a different type of ball, like a hard rubber version made from 100% natural rubber that’s designed for intense chewers.
- Supervise your dog when they play with tennis balls.
- Pick tennis balls up when your dog is finished playing.
- Teach your dog the “Drop It” command!
- Toss old, tattered up balls in the trash.
More Dog Toy Safety Tips
Dogs love toys. And our canine kids love to chew, shake, fetch, and carry them. Before you swing by your pet store or scour the internet looking for new playthings for your precious pup, check out this list of 7 things to consider before buying new dog toys.