Most dogs have a favorite toy, and at the top of the list seems to be age old tennis ball. Why do logs like tennis balls? And are they safe?
First, lets take a step back. As far as having an animal as part of the family, having a dog as a pet is a choice that many of us take, however we need to consider how the breed of our dog influences their behavior. Take for instance, are they more of a wild dog, or a house dog? This makes a difference because a wild dog, will have more predatory instincts – and therefore will love playing with toys such as tennis balls, because they see it as something they can hunt. On the other hand, if the breed of your pet is more of a house dog, then playing with tennis balls is likely more interesting because of the games that are taught during training. Either way, dogs love this behavior, and they can learn to get better at playing fetch if you spend time with them. Don’t forget, that it is your job to give your love to your best friend, and by playing fetch with your dog, you are helping their health – exercise is a very important part of your responsibility as a per owner! It’s true that dogs can become obsessive about playing fetch with tennis balls, but it is your job to make sure they are safe, and to understand the risks of Choking – so with all that said, here’s an overview of what we think:
- Tennis balls can be held comfortably in a dogs mouth, and they are the perfect size for most breeds.
- Because they are springy, when a dog bites down on the ball, it often will fall out of the mouth – and entertain your dog as they chase the falling ball.
- Dogs have been bred for years to hunt, and chase, and ball play for a dog draws from this instinct.
- We often reward dogs with treats or praise when playing fetch, which reinforces this behavior – and makes them love playing even more.
- And don’t forget, when you play with your dog using a tennis ball, you are conditioning them to want to get your attention over and over again, so the more you play, the more they will want to play!
Should I Let My Dog Play With a Tennis Ball?
If you have an active, ball-obsessed dog, you probably have no idea how safe a tennis ball is or whether it is safe to play with one. So let’s look at tennis balls and dog toys: are these balls made for dogs and are they really safe to take any old ball from the tennis court?
Most dogs can’t resist tennis balls and if you want to give your dog a toy that looks and feel like a tennis ball – but are worried about the safety of a real tennis ball, Kong tennis balls are much safer for your dog and are available on Amazon. Having said that, tennis balls are actually safe as chewing toys for dogs, however they can get dirty and be covered with germs – or they might be balls you want to play tennis with! Also keep in mind that if your is a power chewer – they might tear them up and break them into pieces. This is dangerous, because your dog may end up eating the small pieces of rubber – not something meant for a sensitive dogs stomach.
There are a few things to keep in mind though:
- If your dog cannot handle a tennis ball without being compulsively fidgety, you might want to consider an alternative toy.
- Try a rubber ball or a soft ball if you can, like a dog toy, if the dog is not playing catch.
- And if your dog can’t handle tennis balls without chomping and chewing obsessively, then you might want to consider alternative toys as well
So Are Tennis Balls Safe for Dogs?
For the most part, they are safe – however you should always supervise your dog. Keep in mind that vets have warned that if a compressed ball pops open in the back of the throat, it can cut off a dog’s air supply – and kill them. This is one of the reasons vets suggest never letting a dog play with a ball without supervision.
You should also keep in mind that chewing on hard rubber, like an old tennis ball, may result in dental wear. We all know how expensive veterinary treatment is, especially tending to our dogs dental needs, so we highly recommend limiting chewing time!
Finally, some tennis balls may contain harmful chemicals – try opening a new ball by cutting it in half and taking a big smell of the inside – it smells like there are a lot of chemicals working to make the ball better for tennis, but clearly not better for your dog.
The Final Word
Our advice is to get out and about with your dog, play catch with a tennis ball under supervisor, or with a Kong tennis ball. Your dog will love playing with you, you’ll both be getting exercise and fresh air, and your bond will grow stronger. Just don’t leave those balls around the yard for your dog to play with alone!