Dogs and tennis balls. Peanut butter and jelly. Movies and popcorn.

These things just seem like they go together, right? While dogs like tennis balls and they do provide some benefits, these seemingly innocent toys can also pose many risks for your sweet pup that you may not be aware of. Let’s take a closer look so we can know the best way to keep our fur babies safe.

The Benefits

Most dogs love playing fetch, and tennis balls are usually the go-to toy for playing it. Fetch is a great exercise for dogs, keeping them active, as well as physically and mentally engaged. Any exercise that helps your dog release pent-up energy will also reduce the likelihood of them engaging in destructive behaviors like digging and chewing.

The Risks

One of the main risks of dogs playing with tennis balls is choking. While the dangers of tennis balls apply to dog breeds of all types, larger dogs with powerful jaws can split tennis balls in half and it can then get lodged in the back of the dog’s throat, blocking their airway. Additionally, do not allow dogs to play with more than one tennis ball at a time as picking up multiple tennis balls could cause the tennis ball to get lodged in the back of the dog’s throat as well.

Some dogs may shred up tennis balls into fuzzy pieces causing a choking hazard as well but also posing a risk for intestinal blockage, which would require surgery.

Another risk associated with tennis balls is dental damage. The abrasiveness of tennis balls can grate on a dog’s teeth, acting as sandpaper eventually leading to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp.

Finally, there is the risk of chemical exposure. Some tennis balls are coated with chemicals that could be harmful to dogs if ingested. If a dog chews on a tennis ball, he or she may ingest some of those chemicals causing vomiting and diarrhea.

The Verdict

Dogs love tennis balls because they’re yellow, which is one of the only two colors they can see, and because of the bouncy movements of tennis balls that mimic rodents that they used to hunt.

Tennis balls are okay for dogs if played with in moderation while supervised. An occasional game of fetch is not likely to cause tooth problems; just don’t let your dog use the tennis ball as a regular chew toy.

It is important to make sure your dog knows the command “drop it” so that you can get the tennis ball away quickly if the situation becomes dangerous.

There are also alternatives to tennis balls on the market for dogs that can’t avoid obsessive chomping. Rubber balls made especially for powerful chewers are good alternatives without many of the risks.

What To Do If Your Dog Chokes on a Tennis Ball

It is important to know what to do in advance if your dog does choke on a tennis ball. Time is of the essence in situations like these, and you likely wouldn’t have time to search the internet to look up what to do. Working quickly is key as the faster the ball is removed, the more likely the dog is to survive. Learning how to do dog CPR as well as the dog heimlich maneuver is an important step you can take toward protecting your furry friend as well.

Are Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

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