Are Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

are tennis balls safe for dogs

Are Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?


Most dogs can’t resist the rubbery chewiness and fuzzy texture of a tennis ball, but are tennis balls actually a safe chew toy for your dog? While opinions are mixed on the subject, our team at Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Loveland agree that better chew toys exist for the dental and overall health of your dog. Tennis balls are affordable and come in multipacks, making them a tempting option when toy shopping for your dog. The possible adverse effects of tennis balls on your dog’s health may make you want to keep shopping, however. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major concerns around tennis balls as chew toys.


Enamel Abrasion


Did you know that seemingly harmless neon yellow fuzz on the outer surface of a tennis ball can act as a fine sandpaper on your dog’s tooth enamel? It’s true! One of the major concerns about dogs and tennis balls is this abrasive effect on the surface of your dog’s teeth. With excessive tennis ball chewing, it is possible for the material to wear your dog’s teeth down in a way that will permanently affect her oral health.


Choking Hazard


Your dog’s super strong jaws make it possible to compress a tennis ball, making it a choking hazard. The tennis ball can split apart in the back of the throat, blocking your dog’s airway. This can be fatal for your dog. The tennis ball can also break down into pieces as the dog chews, which creates a high risk that your dog will ingest those pieces. Pieces of the rubber can become lodged in the intestinal tract—which is an emergency situation. Along with this, many dogs like to rip the yellow fuzz off of the tennis ball. Swallowing this fuzzy material can also lead to intestinal blockages that may require surgery.


Mystery Materials


Tennis balls are assembled in mass quantities on assembly lines—in factories all over the world. There are no standards for the materials used in making these tennis balls, and we know the components used are definitely not certified food-grade materials. Because the balls are designed specifically for the game of tennis, they are simply made to be cheap and effective for the game. There are, undoubtedly, chemicals in the various components of the tennis ball, from the actual rubber ball, to the neon yellow fuzz covering it and the glue that keeps it all together. Many people are rightfully concerned about lead in tennis balls—it is most likely true that a tennis ball contains lead along with myriad other toxic materials. When your dog is happily chewing on a tennis ball, there is no telling what kinds of chemicals she is ingesting.


Alternative Options


Although we can’t guarantee the safety of any specific toy, we would like to offer these possible alternatives to your dog’s beloved tennis ball:

  • Soft cloth frisbees are a classic fetch toy for your dog that will also incorporate exercise into her play.
  • Hard rubber toys like Nylabones and Kong products are specifically made for dogs and are a safer alternative to a tennis ball. Kongs can be stuffed with peanut butter or treats, which can keep your dog active and busy for some time.
  • Braided rope dog toys are also great active toys for your furry friend.
  • Busy-box feeder toys stimulate your dog’s mind and reward her for her efforts.
  • Soft stuffed toys can be very comforting for some dogs, and are a great option as long as you keep a close eye on the toy. Make sure to discard the toy as soon as notice it ripping or that its stuffing is coming out. The squeakers in these toys can also be a choking hazard.

Make sure to rotate your dog’s toys regularly to keep them in good shape and to keep your dog interested and excited about playtime.


Contact Us Today


Our team of veterinary dentists at Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Loveland encourages you to find fun toys for your fur baby that won’t adversely affect her dental or overall health and wellbeing. Call us today at 970-614-4307 or contact us online to schedule an appointment and talk more about toys and your dog’s health!