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Are Tennis Balls Safe for Dogs?

Renuka Savant Mar 19, 2020
There cannot possibly be a dog in this world who doesn't enjoy playing fetch. However, what is a fun-filled exercise for your pet may prove detrimental to his health, all thanks to the tennis ball that is so commonly used while playing fetch.
If you'd ask your dog, it'll tell you that it can happily spend the rest of his life playing fetch. Scores of dog owners have amusing stories of how their pet canines drool at the very sight of a bright yellow tennis ball.
Speaking of tennis balls, most owners think of them as perfect play things for their dogs, as they are nice and springy, and they come in really cheap for a toy that engages their pet for hours on end.
The thing with tennis balls is that, as with other pet toys, these can prove dangerous, maybe not alarmingly so, but you need to watch out the next time you toss a tennis ball for your pet.
Discussions like these may send some of the paranoid dog owners into a tizzy, but there is no need to completely fly off the handle and ban the game that your dog so dearly loves. Instead of depriving them of their favorite pastime, just acquaint yourself with the dangers first, before heading on to knowing a few things you can do to make it safe.

Hazards of Chewing a Tennis Ball

◾ Although this may not happen frequently, your dog can swallow the ball while playing fetch. Yes, there have been incidents when even older dogs accustomed to the game have also swallowed it accidentally, while trying to catch it mid-air.
◾ If the ball gets lodged in the dog's throat, it's natural reaction is to swallow it. As it attempts to do so, it gets choked. Several dog deaths have resulted due to this seemingly innocent game, as medical assistance is inexplicably delayed.
◾ What could be worse than one tennis ball? Two tennis balls, of course, and they fit easily into the big jaws of large breeds like golden retrievers or german shepherds leading to choking.
◾ Other than that, dogs being dogs, they simply cannot resist ripping the felt layer off the ball. There is a possibility that the felt remains in their stomachs, which is obviously a bad sign.
◾ Beneath the layer of felt, tennis balls are made of rubber, and that makes it irresistibly chewy for all dogs. Eventually, they tear it to fragments and as mentioned before, these can be swallowed, which is a serious health hazard. Removing these fragments requires surgery.
◾ About the felt, it was earlier reported that the dye used to color it could mix with saliva and possibly make your dog susceptible to cancer. This happened in the 1980s, so this should be no serious reason to worry, instead it should be a reason to choose a dog-friendly ball to play with.
◾ The layer of felt may seem extremely soft to your hands, but it can be abrasive to your pet pooch's teeth. It has been observed that the excessive chewing of tennis balls can wear down the enamel coating on your dog's teeth, eventually blunting them.

Keep the Game Going

◾ Your dog is under your supervision when you play fetch, but make sure that the ball is out of your dog's reach when it is at home, especially in case of puppies.
◾ Make it a point to discourage biting or even licking tennis balls, and never let it keep two in its mouth at a time. In fact, make sure that you do not have tennis balls lying around the house for easy access.
◾ Keep a watch on the quality of the tennis balls. If they seem grizzly and worn out, this should be your cue to discard them immediately.

◾ Good quality tennis balls are safe for your dogs. It would be a good idea to spend more on these, rather than subjecting your pet to any of the health hazards mentioned here.
As a dog owner, you needn't be told that a playful pet is a happy pet. Besides being a complete thrill for your dog, a good game of fetch is also a fantastic form of exercise for your pooch; as long as your dog doesn't only use it to exercise his jaw muscles, that is!