There are many benefits to your dog in playing with the humble tennis ball; they are cheaper than other balls, easy to find and your dog just loves to chew on it after a quick game of fetch. If you have a ball-obsessed pup, you have probably played fetch with (and thrown out) some worn, chewed and soggy old balls. But did you know that his favourite toy could cause some damage to his teeth over time?
- Genuine tennis balls are made from elastic (rubber) combined with sand. As a dog chews on the ball, the combination of sand and rubber erodes the enamel on dogs teeth.
- Some experts believe that the ‘fuzz’ used to pelt a tennis ball can wear down a dog’s teeth. Ingesting the fuzz can also cause throat or digestive irritation.
- Other experts say that the sand and grit that can become stuck to a standard tennis ball, can cause abrasions to a dog’s teeth, with their risk increasing if they always have that fluro yellow ball in their mouth.
So what’s the big deal?
If your dog’s tooth enamel is compromised, their teeth become open to decay and future dental problems! Not only will a paw parent have to consider the cost of dental repairs, but just like for humans, dental issues can cause pain to your dog.
Is this an overstatement?
It’s true that not every dog will suffer dental damage from playing and chewing tennis balls. However, as responsible dog owners, we take the time to exercise, groom, worm, feed and wash our beloved pets. So it holds true that we should remove play items that could cause them harm, if we are able to provide safer alternatives.
The truth is that dogs love to chew; it is, in fact, a natural dog behaviour. According to Christine Dahl (200, p.187) “Chewing is a strong drive behaviour…your dog is rewarded by the soothing nature of chewing.”
So, be on the look out for good rubber chew alternatives like the ‘West Paw’ toys that we use in our play areas. They’re tried and tested and are almost indestructible. Available from the Doghouse, they have been a favourite of our four legged clients for years. For more information about chew toys, contact our team!
Dahl, C., (2007) ‘Good Dog 101’ Sasquatch Books, Seattle