The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Tennis balls have been used for years by dog owners all around the world. Dogs seem to love these balls, too, as they will chase them for hours at a time.
Dogs seem to love their chewiness and the yellow fuzz that coats the outside of the ball. But are tennis balls actually safe for dogs to play with?
Tennis balls are not safe for dogs to play with as they are a choking hazard. They damage the dog’s tooth enamel. They are made with unregulated, non-food-grade materials that can contain toxic chemicals that can cause various problems if ingested by your dog. Instead, give them a different toy.
What could happen to your dog if it swallowed the whole tennis ball or even pieces of the tennis ball? Why do tennis balls contain materials that are filled with chemicals? What are the best alternative toys you can buy your dog instead of tennis balls?
Let us find out!
Are Tennis Balls Safe for Dogs to Play With?
Tennis balls have been widely used as a toy for dogs all over the world for decades, but is this a suitable toy for your dog to be playing with? While this is a highly debated topic, and some people argue for both sides, we will look at what the experts say about this topic.
Many vets specialize in animal dental care and oral surgeries. These experts firmly believe that there are better chew toys on the market today that you can offer your dog as an alternative to a tennis ball, as these balls can cause some issues for your dog’s health.
Tennis balls are a tempting toy option to buy for your dog as they are inexpensive and generally come in multipack options. However, the possible adverse effects this “toy” could have on your dog’s health should make you reconsider it as an option for your dog.
Let us look at the issues around tennis balls if you give your dog one as a toy to keep them busy, as dogs can suffer quite tremendously due to these concerns.
Tennis Balls Are a Choking Hazard for Dogs
We all know dogs have an extremely strong jaw that can easily tear through the tennis ball making small pieces or even compress the ball, making the tennis ball a choking hazard for your dog.
The tennis ball is scary in the way it can choke your dog, as the ball can split apart at the back of a dog’s throat, which will block the dog’s airway. This can be fatal to your dog as the tennis ball will not be easy to remove from the dog’s throat, and the dog will die in minutes of this occurring.
As stated earlier, the tennis ball can also break down into small pieces when the dog is chewing the ball. These small pieces of the tennis ball have a high chance of being ingested by the dog, either accidentally or on purpose, as the dog does not know if it is safe or not.
Once ingested, these small pieces of rubber from the tennis ball can become lodged in the dog’s intestinal tract, which is constituted as an emergency. This is not the only part of the tennis ball that can cause this to happen.
Many dogs enjoy ripping off the yellow fuzz from the tennis balls, and they swallow this fuzz. The fuzz can also cause an intestinal blockage that will require surgery to rectify and save the dog’s life.
Teeth Enamel Abrasion from Tennis Balls
Not many people are aware that the yellow fuzz on tennis balls can do a lot of damage to your dog’s teeth. Essentially, the yellow fuzz on the surface of the tennis balls acts as very fine sandpaper on your dog’s tooth enamel when they are chewing the ball and ripping the fuzz off of it.
So, one primary concern dog dental care professionals have with tennis balls is the fact that they have an abrasive effect on the top layer of the dog’s teeth.
If your dog makes a habit of chewing the tennis balls or pulling off the yellow fuzz, then this fuzz can wear down your dog’s teeth in such a way that it will permanently affect your dog’s oral health.
Like humans, a dog’s oral health is an essential factor in their overall health because if the dog has a problem with its teeth, it can cause weight loss or an infection in the dog’s gums, causing the dog’s health to decline.
Unknown Ingredients in the Tennis Balls
Tennis balls are a product that is assembled in mass quantities in factories around the world. Unfortunately, there are no standards or regulations around the materials used to make the tennis balls.
But there is one factor we can be certain of the materials used to make these balls are not certified food-grade materials. These balls are specifically made to be used in sports; they are effective yet cheap for athletes to practice regularly without a high cost involved.
So, there are various chemical components used in the tennis balls; there will be chemicals in the yellow fuzz and the rubber of the ball itself. There will also be other components like glue and different types of dyes, which can all be toxic to dogs in ingested.
Alternatives to Tennis Balls for Dogs
So, tennis balls are probably not the best idea to give your dog as a toy, but what are some dog toys that are a safer option? Let us look at some alternative dog toy options that are safe for dogs to play with.
- Hard rubber toys are extremely difficult to break and made specifically for dogs, so they are chemical-free products. These include Nylabones and Kong products.
- Soft cloth frisbees are an excellent alternative for dogs that love to play fetch
- Braided ropes are an excellent option for a tug-of-war-session with your dog
- Treat balls are a great way to keep your dogs busy as you place treats inside them for the dog to get out. These balls are made from a hard rubber that is made specifically for dogs and are chemical-free
- Hard rubber balls on braided ropes are the best of both worlds for your dog, plus they are safer than tennis balls
Tennis balls are not a great toy option for your dog as they are choking hazards; they can damage your dogs’ teeth and are made from unregulated, questionable materials. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives available to you that your dog will love to play with. Remember that no matter the toy you give your dog, it is always a good idea to supervise them.