american bulldog puppy with tennis ball

In modern times, tennis balls are the classic dog toy. Dogs love chasing tennis balls in wide-open fields, and they can be sniffed out of roadside ditches. However, tennis balls are a special toy and should be used only for supervised play. Despite being one of the most popular dog toys out there, tennis balls can pose health risks for dogs. However, if you are aware of the potential risks and take precautions to prevent accidents, tennis balls can be a rewarding part of your daily activities.


Often, dogs love chomping on tennis balls until they pop. With powerful jaws, dogs can easily break tennis balls in their mouths, leading to serious choking hazards. One half of the tennis ball can become lodged at the back of their throats, blocking their airways. It has been reported that Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Retriever, Gracie, choked to death after eating a plastic ball.

Tennis balls themselves are not the only choking hazards. Some dogs relish tearing the yellow-green fuzzy covering that surrounds them. Ingesting this material can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockages that require surgery.

Tennis balls may appear soft, but they are made to withstand tennis courts and rackets. In addition to choking hazards, tennis balls can also cause dental wear and tear. The fuzz is very abrasive, and dirt and sand can worsen its abrasiveness. The fuzz on your dog’s tennis ball wears down her teeth as they chew. As a consequence, tooth problems, such as pulp exposure and chewing difficulties, may arise.

White German Shepherd chasing a tennis ball
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Tennis Ball Safety Tips

The risks are serious, but you don’t have to throw out all of your dog’s tennis balls. In order to reduce the chances of choking and dental wear, it is especially important that your dog has access to their tennis balls during supervised play sessions. This is especially important for dogs that like to chew on tennis balls.

To make sure that your dog plays with tennis balls as safely as possible, you can do a number of other things. Make sure the tennis ball never becomes a game of “keep away” with your dog. You need to know that you can get the tennis ball away from your dog quickly if it becomes dangerous, and the “drop it” command is also a useful command to keep handy in case your dog puts something else in his mouth, such as a bone or piece of dangerous trash.

Dogs should not be allowed access to more than one tennis ball at a time. Keeping more than one tennis ball on hand can help your dog stay in shape. The ball could become lodged dangerously at the back of a dog’s throat if he picks up multiple balls.

A rubber ball, particularly one designed to withstand aggressive chewers, makes an excellent tennis ball substitute for a dog that can’t handle tennis balls without chomping obsessively.


In conclusion, tennis balls are not bad for dogs. However, it is important to be careful with them. Tennis balls can be a choking hazard for dogs, so always be sure to keep an eye on your pup when they’re playing with one. Additionally, make sure to take the ball away from your dog when it starts to wear down so they don’t swallow any pieces.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay