Dogs are curious creatures. They like to explore their surroundings and take in everything that is going on around them. This can sometimes lead to them getting into things they shouldn’t, such as chewing on a tennis ball. So, are tennis balls safe for dogs? Let’s take a look.
Advocates say “yes”, but many veterinarians disagree. If you’re like me, your dog enjoys playing with tennis balls. Do you really know what’s inside them? Because of the chemical Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), most tennis balls are harmful to dogs if ingested.
Tennis balls can pose a risk if they are ingested by dogs, because the physical properties of the ball make it difficult for them to pass through their systems. This can lead to serious health concerns down the road, or an immediate need for surgery.
The balls may also cause choking if they are punctured and air is sucked inside, causing them to inflate in size. Additionally, the rubber can irritate the dog’s stomach lining.
If you must allow your dog to play with tennis balls, monitor them closely, don’t let them chew on or swallow them, and replace them if they are showing signs of wear. More importantly, make sure they are used appropriately, as intended – for playing tennis!
Is It Really That Bad?
Doctors and veterinarians agree that the chance your dog will quickly die from chewing on a tennis ball is unlikely — although, it has happened — but they also agree that such an occurrence would be attributed more to luck than anything else. Many veterinarians, however, do treat dogs who have suffered stomach irritation because of ingesting the latex in balls. Ingesting the material may cause an obstruction in the intestines, which can be fatal.
What About The Smell?
If you’re a tennis player, you’re familiar with that “new ball” smell. The rubbery smell emitted by the balls is one of the reasons dogs find them so appealing. However, that same odor is emitted from the oils in tennis balls. So when dogs chew on them, they’re also ingesting that oil — and inhaling it into their lungs. Most worryingly, some dogs will strip all the fuzz off of a ball and swallow it whole, thus exposing their digestive system to the entire inside of a ball including its chemicals-leaving nothing to pass through safely.
Is There An Alternative?
Veterinarians recommend a set of “indestructible” chew-proof balls. . Unlike regular tennis balls, they’re meant to be extremely difficult for dogs to destroy and ingest. They contain no chemicals that could harm your pet and are made with non-toxic polyethylene.
Why Tennis Balls Might Not Be Good For Your Dog
Might wear his teeth out
Unknown materials entering his system
Should dogs play with tennis balls?
How to Play With Tennis Balls Safely
These risks are serious, but you don’t have to throw out all of your dog’s tennis balls. Instead, make sure that your dog only has access to his tennis balls during supervised play sessions. This is especially important for dogs that like to chew on tennis balls, as they are the most at risk for choking and dental wear.
##How do I get my dog to stop eating tennis balls?
If your dog is constantly chewing on tennis balls, you need to teach it that this is not an acceptable behavior. The best way to do this is through training and rewards.
First, make sure that your dog has other toys around the house, as well as proper chew toys , so he doesn’t have a reason to play with a tennis ball. The next time your dog tries to play with a tennis ball, catch him in the act and give a verbal cue such as “leave it.” If he does not comply, gently remove the ball from his mouth. Then, show him that you have a treat or toy for him instead. When he does take the toy/treat, give him a lot of praise and encouragement.
Repeat this as needed to teach your dog that he should leave the ball alone, but that there are other fun things for him to chew on instead!
The only way to remove the risk of choking or intestinal blockage is not to use tennis balls at all.
Give him a suitable substitute, such as one of the hard rubber balls recommended by veterinarians.
What Can You Give Your Dog To Play With?
Is your dog getting a little antsy? Bored? Not sure what to do with them? Dogs need plenty of exercise and stimulation, and often just playing fetch or taking walks is not enough. Here are some fun ideas for things you can give your dog to play with!
A Frisbee is the perfect thing for throwing around in large open spaces. You can teach your dog to catch it or you can encourage him to run after it and chase it down. Make sure you are always in a safe area where your dog won’t run into the road or another dangerous place.
There are tons of rubber toys that can keep your dog engaged for hours, bouncing and chasing it as you play with him. Check out the ones below-good for heavy chewers, too!
Another good choice is a long skinny rope toy. This can either be tied around poles for tug-of-war, or you can just have your dog chase it as you toss it down the hallway or across a room. Make sure there are no small ends that he could accidentally swallow and choke on.
The braided style is the perfect combination of softness, flexibility, and strength. They are great for tug-of-war or squeaky toys!
Soft stuffed toys for dogs
Don’t like the idea of your dog ripping up that cute teddy bear you gave him? Try getting a soft stuffed animal that can either be used as a tug toy or for cuddling. So cute and functional!
This is the perfect solution for dogs that are easily bored, who can’t stand to be alone, or who love to nuzzle in between your legs while you’re cooking dinner. It’s a toy with one end open that has food inside it. Every time your dog plays with the toy, he gets a little bit of kibble out of it!
Note: This toy is NOT for dogs that are overzealous eaters, as they can quickly get the food out and gulp it down all at once.
You should always supervise your dog when he is playing with tennis balls. The risk of choking or intestinal blockage is so high, that dog owners should really consider finding a safer alternative to the traditional yellow ball. If you think your dog has eaten a tennis ball, speak to a veterinarian immediately.
If your dog no longer likes balls and prefers other toys, consider buying a safe alternative. You can also try replacing your dog’s favorite tennis ball toy with a suitable substitute he enjoys instead.