Are Tennis Balls Bad For Dogs Teeth?

Tennis balls are not good for dogs’ teeth. The fuzz on the tennis ball has the potential to wear down dogs’ teeth, leading to numerous dental health issues. It’s ok to use a tennis ball as a fetch toy, but avoid letting your dog use it as a chew toy.

Tennis balls are one of the classic dog toys. They are bright and colorful, easy to throw, and readily available at many local stores. Out of all the classic fetch toys, tennis balls are probably the most iconic and recognizable. 

But should your dog be playing with tennis balls in the first place? Are they actually bad for your dog’s teeth? Dental issues can affect your pup’s quality of life and cause problems further down the road, so you don’t want to do anything that might harm your dog’s dental health.

In this article, we are going to go over why tennis balls are not the best for dogs teeth. However, the teeth aren’t the only thing to be concerned about. Continue reading to find out why chewing on tennis balls is bad for your dog’s overall health.

The Benefits to Tennis Balls

There’s a reason why tennis balls are such an iconic dog toy. For decades, they have been used to keep dogs active and entertained. Here are a few of the many benefits of allowing your dog to play with tennis balls.

Exercise and Activity

Tennis balls are easy to play fetch with. The small shape makes the ball easy to hold in one hand and throw long distances. Combine that with their bounce factor, and you have a toy that keeps your dog’s attention for as long as you’re willing to throw it. Playing fetch keeps your dog moving, which is great for their physical health. 

Easy to Find (And Track)

Tennis balls are not a difficult-to-locate specialty toy. You can find them at any sporting goods store, often in multipacks. 

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Tennis balls also have a very distinct color that makes them easy to see when playing fetch. Even when it gets dark, you will easily see where the ball has gone. 

Dogs may not see color well, but the unique smell that accompanies each tennis ball makes it easy to track for your pup.

Versatile Toy

Tennis balls can be thrown long distances with ease and also float in water.  This means they can be used in your yard, on the beach, in the pool, or at the park. 

Since all standard tennis balls are the same size, many dog toy companies have created tennis ball launchers. These will launch the ball far beyond your ability to throw it, as well as reduce arm soreness caused by throwing. 

Cons of Tennis Balls as Dog Toys

Now that we have examined the benefits of tennis balls as dog toys, let’s take a look at some of the possible problems tennis balls can create.

Although tennis balls are generally safe when used as fetch toys, problems arise when dogs chew on them over time.

Dental Problems

Let’s start with the main reason you’re reading this article. Tennis balls are designed for heavy use. They are tough, bouncy, and coated in a thick fuzz. When all these factors are combined, they pose a real threat to your dog’s dental health. 

The thick fuzz can wear down the enamel of your dog’s teeth, which leads to numerous health issues. Allowing your dog to chew on a tennis ball, especially if he or she is an extreme chewer, could result in tooth erosion. This will cause extreme discomfort for your dog and a costly medical bill for you. 

Choking Hazards

You only need to be concerned about this problem if your dog gets a little too enthusiastic about trying to eat its toys. 

Tennis balls might be a choking hazard, especially if there is more than one involved. Certain dog breeds (like Labrador retrievers) will often try to fit more than one tennis ball in their mouth, which pushes the rear ball against their throat. 

Long-term chewing can also damage tennis balls and cause rubber pieces to break off. These pieces also pose a serious choking hazard. If your dog likes to chew on their tennis ball, keep a very close eye on them. Get rid of the tennis ball as soon as you see the potential for pieces to break off.

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Toxic Ingredients

Tennis balls are made from a mixture of plastic and rubber specifically designed for tennis. While they may make a fun fetch toy, they were not created for that purpose, so tennis ball creators do not create their product with nontoxic materials. 

There isn’t a standard recipe for tennis balls, and different manufacturers make their products with whatever is cheapest for them. Dog health is not considered in the quality control of these materials.

Tummy Troubles

The fuzz on the outside of tennis balls is not only a problem for your dog’s teeth, but can also cause digestive issues. 

As discussed above, tennis balls are made with toxic chemicals, this includes the fuzz. Tennis ball fuzz is not food, so when it ends up in your dog’s stomach, it can pose a serious problem. 

Everything from stomach irritation to intestinal blockage could come from your dog eating too much tennis ball fuzz. 

As you can see, allowing your dog to chew on a tennis ball can cause a number of issues. If you see your dog has ingested any part of a tennis ball, take them to the vet as soon as possible. 

Keep in mind that the issues with tennis balls can be avoided relatively easily. Only use the ball for fetching. If your dog chews on their tennis ball, take it away from them. For this reason, make sure that your dog listens to the “drop it” command before you give them a tennis ball. 

Tennis Ball Alternatives

Tennis balls can be safely used as a fetch toy, but what if you are still concerned about the potential risks? Are there alternatives out there to replace tennis balls? 

Yes. Here are a few toys you can use instead of tennis balls to keep your dog healthy and happy during playtime.

Dog-Friendly Tennis Balls

Many companies make their own version of tennis balls that are specifically designed for dogs to play with. Look for these toys at your local pet supply store instead of sporting goods stores. Of course, if these tennis balls end up being eaten by your dog, take them to the vet immediately.

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Soft Frisbees

Soft, cloth-based Frisbees are another great option. They are easy to throw and store, much like tennis balls. 

If you still want to give your dog lots of exercise with fetching, soft Frisbees will get them moving and keep them entertained. There are also soft Frisbee options available that float in water, much like tennis balls.

Hard Rubber Toys

If your dog is a tough chewer, look into hard rubber toys. Brands like Kong have developed toys that are very difficult to damage, making them perfect for dogs that may destroy their tennis balls. These toys might be a bit more expensive than others, but you’ll get your money’s worth!

Tennis Balls Are Great Fetch Toys, But Bad Chew Toys

Tennis balls are a great toy if all your dog wants to do is fetch. But there are still some risks involved with giving your dog a tennis ball. Each dog is different, so make sure  your dog’s specific play needs are being met.

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