The Lowdown On Tennis Balls
Tennis balls are great for playing fetch with your dog. They’re cheap, can stand up to a dog’s teeth, have a good bounce, are easy to catch. They are quick and easy to find in the grass also. Most if not all dogs love playing with tennis balls. But are they safe for them? Generally, yes…but there are a few things to be aware of.
Saber loves playing fetch with tennis balls and chewing on them. Only I never leave him to chew on them when he is alone. They can easily be pulled apart by dogs. Then you can have the problem of wondering if your dog has swallowed some of it. Therefore never leave your dog alone with one.
Tennis balls are consist of two half halves of rubber that are moulded. Then pressed together and glued to form a ball. The middle part is filled with a specific amount of pressurised air to produce just the right bounce on a tennis court. Each ball is then dipped in glue and two bright yellow pieces of felt are wrapped around the ball. At this point, the ball is complete. The last step is a heating cycle that causes the glue to form a seal and bind the two pieces of felt together.
One issue with tennis balls is that large dogs can simply chew hard enough on a tennis ball to break it back into two halves. One of which could easily become lodged in the dog’s throat. Swallowing part or all of a tennis ball can create a life-threatening blockage. You certainly don’t want to let your dog eat any part of the ball, including the felt.
One main concern is that when a dog chews on a tennis ball his jaws are easily strong enough to compress the ball. If for some reason the ball pops to the back of his throat when he releases his jaw. it can then get caught in his throat and cut off his air supply. Whole tennis balls have been swallowed by dogs.
The outer felt covering is what makes the tennis ball tough enough to stand up to the harsh hitting back and forth on a tennis court. The felt is abrasive to begin with. Over time dirt and grit build up on the felt making it even more abrasive. The coating of a tennis ball is like a scouring pad and can easily, over time, wear down your dog’s teeth. However, it would take a lot of gnawing even for excessive chewers to wear down their teeth.
Which Is Safer Tennis Balls Or Toys Made For Dogs
Interestingly, soft toys made specially for dogs can also cause blunting of the teeth over time. Because there are no government standards for pet toys and many are produced outside of the UK, toys can contain toxic substances. Tennis balls used for the sport are regulated and contain no lead. But tennis balls made for dogs aren’t regulated and are more likely to contain lead.
Studies have been done on over 400 products tested for toxic chemicals that included mercury, lead, chlorine, arsenic, cadmium and bromine. Half of the tennis balls made for pets had detectable lead levels. Nearly half of all products contained one or more toxic chemicals. It’s up to pet owners to check the labels on toys to try and determine if it is safe or not.
The bottom line on tennis balls is that as long as you take precautions – i.e., never let your dog use a tennis ball as a chew toy or play with one unsupervised – there’s no reason why you and your pet can’t enjoy a fun game of fetch with a tennis ball.
Avoid letting your dog carry more than one ball in his mouth at a time to prevent him from getting one lodged in his throat. Throw away worn out and dirty tennis balls that have been well used. Swallowing even small amounts of toys can lead to gastrointestinal issues that can be life-threatening and expensive visits to vet ensue.
Fetch is a great activity to play with your dog, but most dogs need a little help to learn how to play. A tennis ball is safe for dogs as long as you are in charge of when and how your dog plays with it.
An article here covers the subject and some alternatives
Razor-laced tennis balls are being left in parks to ‘target dogs’ Read this article in the Mirror Online and keep your dog safe.
Had a bad experience with a tennis ball, comment below and tell us what happened.