Are Tennis Balls Bad for Dogs? How a Tennis Ball Could Cost You Thousands of Dollars….

Are tennis balls bad for dogs? This is an interesting question.

Tennis balls are the epitome of a dog balls are bad for dogs

They’re tons of fun to play with and easily accessible. At fairly low prices, most people can acquire them pretty easily.

Pet stores, local sporting goods stores, and even grocery stores tend to carry plenty of them in stock. 

However, tennis balls are best used only when you can keep a close eye on your pup. This is because, while they are undeniably one of the most beloved dog toys out there, tennis balls can pose health risks for dogs.

One of the major roles I play in writing articles for this blog is educating my readers. We also like to provide fun stories, tips and a peer group of people who are having the same questions or troubles. Recently, I was flipping through dog videos on YouTube.

What caught my eye over and over as I watched numerous videos was the use of regular felt tennis balls. I am definitely an advocate of using toys in your training program to build drive and also to add fun to regular dog training and you can read more about that here and here.



However, it has long been known in the dog training world that regular tennis balls are dangerous!

A large, strong dog with a powerful jaw can split a tennis ball in a matter of minutes if not seconds!  And those halves can be swallowed quiet effortlessly.  Even a whole tennis ball can be easily swallowed by large or giant dogs!

dog chewing tennis ball



Another concern is that when a pooch chomps down on a tennis ball his jaws are strong enough to compress the ball.

If for some reason the ball pops to the back of his throat when he releases his jaw, the ball can get caught in his throat and cut off his air supply. Whole tennis balls have been swallowed by dogs.

Plenty of dogs enjoy chewing on tennis balls until they pop.

Dogs with powerful jaws can easily break tennis balls in their mouths. This can lead to serious choking hazards. Sometimes, one-half of the tennis ball can get lodged in the back of their throats, blocking the airway. 

The ball itself is not the only choking risk.

Some dogs enjoy shredding the yellow-green fuzz that surrounds the tennis ball with shell removed

Eating this fuzz can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockages that could require surgery.

In fact, according to the AKC, Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Retriever, Gracie, choked to death on a tennis ball.


Dental Damage

Choking hazards aside, tennis balls pose another risk: dental wear and tear.

According to the experts, yes, the fuzz can wear down teeth (called "blunting"), but it would take a lot of use to actually impact your dog’s dental health.

Tony Woodward, a veterinary dental specialist, notes that "Rarely does this kind of blunting cause any problem, even among dogs that live many years and chew pretty regularly on tennis balls".

Unless your pooch is a ball fanatic and chews on one at all hours, you probably do not need to worry about dental issues.rubber dog toys are safer than tennis balls

This potential for abrasion is also true of other heavily used soft toys, like soft frisbees.

So, if your dog always has a toy in his mouth at all hours, especially if it’s often covered in grit or sand, you may want to switch to a toy with a solid surface.

This also benefits your dog as he won’t ingest as much of that grit or dirt during play (ingesting too much grit off of a toy has landed our dog Mort with some gastrointestinal upset and even at the vets once - we had to learn the hard and costly way). But what if the dog toy is more dangerous than the tennis ball?

According to the AKC, “That green fuzz might seem soft, but tennis balls are designed to withstand tennis courts and rackets. Dr. Thomas Chamberlain, a board-certified veterinary dental specialist, warns that the fuzz is actually quite abrasive, and accumulated dirt and sand increases the abrasive quality of the ball. As your dog chomps on a tennis ball, the fuzz acts like sandpaper, gradually wearing down her teeth in a process called “blunting.” This can eventually lead to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp and difficulty chewing.”

So let’s look into tennis balls, dog toys, and safety: is that ball made for your dog really safer than the kind you find on the courts?

The outer felt covering is what makes the tennis ball tough enough to stand up to the back and forth play on a tennis court.

The felt is abrasive to begin with, and over time dirt and grit build up on the felt making it even more abrasive.

tennis ball outer skin can cause dental decay in dogsThe outer covering of a tennis ball is like a scouring pad and can wear down your dog’s teeth if they are passionate chewers.

However, it would take a lot of gnawing even for excessive chewers to wear down their teeth.

One of the most common concerns about dogs and tennis balls (designed for humans) is damage to the teeth.

You can avoid this damage using balls specifically designed for dogs, which are said to be safer.

However, you need to be careful about which doggy products that you’re getting for your pup, because some “dog toys” can actually be just as harmful.

How to Play With Tennis Balls Safely

There are plenty of big risks involving playing with tennis balls, but they don’t all need to get tossed into the garbage.

Instead, make sure that your dog only has access to his tennis balls during supervised play sessions.

It’s extra critical for dogs that like to chew on tennis balls, due to the fact that they are the most at risk for choking and dental wear.

There are other methods and cautionary measures that you can take in order to make sure that your dog won’t get injured when playing with a tennis ball.

Work with your dog to make sure that tennis balls never become part of a game of “keep away.” 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 have in your arsenal in case your dog puts something else in his mouth, for example a bone or piece of dangerous trash.

It's a great idea to keep more than one tennis ball on hand, so that you can keep playing fetch you’re your dog and keep it moving. It’s a great form of cardio exercise for your dog that will keep it in tip-top shape. 

This way, if something happens to a tennis ball, the game of fetch doesn’t have to end.

However, you need to be careful about keeping only one ball active within the game of fetch at a time. Dogs that pick up multiple tennis balls could get the ball at the back of their throats lodged dangerously.

When it comes to ball launchers, you need to be careful.

You don’t want to use an automatic ball launcher to shoot dozens of balls around your yard or the park. The ball launcher could scatter the balls, or some of the balls could be unaccounted for if they’re not all fetched right away. 

In this case, you’re leaving a situation where your dog could try to fit multiple balls in its mouth at once, which could be with lots of tennis balls

If you launch thirteen, and only retrieve, say, eleven or twelve, then you have a couple balls laying around that your dog could also play with unsupervised, which could lead to an accident. 

If your dog can’t handle tennis balls without chomping obsessively, you may want to consider an alternative toy.

A rubber ball, especially one designed for powerful chewers, makes an excellent tennis ball substitute, without some of the risks.

All in all, tennis balls can be a fun part of your daily routine, as long as you are aware of the potential risks and take the necessary steps to prevent accidents.


Dog Toys Vs Tennis Balls

dog rubber balls

If you have an active, ball-obsessed dog, you may have concerns about how safe those tennis balls are. Are tennis balls safe for dogs, or are dog toys safer?

You might have heard stories about how tennis balls aren’t safe for dogs. These stories may include concerns about enamel abrasion, or perhaps something about what the tennis balls are made of.

You probably heard that you should stick to ones made for dogs, instead of the kind used on the tennis courts.

However, you might be surprised to learn about a potentially more serious safety concern at the pet store. That's right: just because that toy is made for a dog does not mean that it's safer.

This fact surprised me. It astounded me. Toys made for dogs could be worse for your dogs than the ones made for humans. It just didn’t make sense!

However, I did some digging, and I found out why some dog-specific tennis balls are more dangerous for your dog than one that wasn’t designed to be chewed on.

The materials used to make tennis balls for humans are subject to regulation, and toys made for dogs are balls can be filled with toxic chemicals

Dog toys are often made outside of the country and are sometimes full of toxic materials that could be more harmful than potentially abrasive tennis ball fuzz.

Especially when consumed.

Heading to the pet store for a dog-specific toy may therefore not be the immediate answer for finding something that’s “safe”, especially because your dog holds these toys in his mouth and may even ingest some pieces of it.

Why does it matter so much? Are toxic toys all that common?

Why should you be concerned? In a test of 400 pet products, 25% of all products were found to have lead present in the materials. The study also found that it was more likely for tennis balls intended for dogs to contain lead than ones made for humans. (source). This isn't to say all non-dog toys are OK, or all dog toys are unsafe, it's just that you need to check each product individually.


Check the Safety of Your Dog’s Toys

It’s not up to your puppy to determine whether or not the toy that you are encouraging it to play with is safe.

It’s our responsibility, as dog owners and dog trainers, to make sure that our dogs are in a safe, healthy environment, and that includes making sure that dog toys are safe.

Checking whether a product you give to your dog is toxic is particularly important for soft toys your dog may inadvertently ingest tiny pieces of.

If the item is not in the database, many companies will have information about the material used on their website (noting non-toxic or similar).

If not, contact their customer support for information on where and how the toys were created.

In general, Chuck It and Planet Dog are safe for dogs to play with. They are well-liked and positively reviewed, and their products tend to be both safe and tough. Planet Dog, in particular, is a great option for a wide variety of doggy goodies and toys.

It's also important to remember that most or all toys carry some amount of risk to your dog from chewing and the potential for consumption, which is dangerous whether or not the toy is toxic. A bored dog with a destructible toy can have disastrous results. For example, even very small pieces from a toy - or the fuzz pelt torn from a tennis ball - can become lodged in or damage the intestinal tract. I've even heard of large dogs swallowing tennis balls whole. So make sure that you either monitor your dog with toys or take reasonable precautions about what toys are left with your dog while unattended.



Exercise is great for providing both physical and mental stimulation for your dog. However, there is some level of risk for most dog toys that you’d play fetch with, especially tennis balls.

Always make sure that the toys you are training with are large enough and safe for your dog! use tear apart dog toys instead of tennis balls

Play comes with excitement and excitement sometimes comes with some abnormal chewing and sometimes grabbing and possessive behaviors. 

Make sure that your pooch does not choke when he runs around celebrating with his newly won toy!

The fuzz or felt from the regular tennis ball can also be ripped off and swallowed and like swallowing the whole ball, this can be a danger. The fuzz does not break down in your dog’s stomach or in his intestines and if he swallows enough or any other foreign body it can get stuck in his stomach.

Stomach and bowel obstruction surgery is not only painful for your dog it is also expensive and potentially deadly!

And, last but certainly not least, is the fact that the glue used to glue the felt to these balls can break down the enamel on your dog’s teeth.

You can imagine how acidic glue must be, and some dogs chew and chew and chew and chew on a tennis ball, this makes the glue wet and then, with the chewing motion, the abrasiveness of the felt damages your dog’s teeth.

Even when your dog releases his ball, the glue remains on your dog’s teeth slowly and steadily breaking down the enamel!

There are sooo many reasons not to use regular tennis balls! Instead find an adequately sized rubber ball!dogs love rubber balls

The “Chuck It” brand sells a rubber ball that is the same size as a regular tennis ball and only a bit heavier and it also floats! It’s perfect for a game of fetch at the park, or even a casual game of fetch at home.

My dogs would prefer a ball over a treat any day and the sight of their “Chuck It” will send their bodies into anticipation shivers! 

There is no reason not to use a ball, or a ball on a string, just make sure it is not your classic tennis ball or even the “doggy tennis balls” that you can get at your local pet retail store.

Just doing this simple task will make your dog healthier and happier!





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  1. Nancy says:

    I’m not sure what toys or balls to get. I have an 6 mon Aussie, and he chews up all toys and balls, loves to play with them, plays catch with all, takes the stuffing out and anything else thats in there.


    Minette Reply:

    There are bigger rubber balls or you can get a Kong!


    ann Reply:

    The bigger balls don’t work with the regular ball thrower that makes the ball just fly. I tried one that came with one ball that was bigger. It is hard to use, slow and heavy. I can’t just lob the ball it needs speed and distance.


    Minette Reply:

    That is why I use the chuck it balls specifically that are rubber. They can be chewed, but my dogs are too busy chasing them to chew them!

    I use the Jolly Balls and Eggs for different games!

    Jennifer Reply:

    My pit bull-beagle loves just plain old sticks. We have to strip the bark off first or he gets distracted and tries to chew it off, but he loves fetching his sticks and it is hilarious to watch him run with it


    Minette Reply:

    Be careful that they don’t splinter and abscess in his mouth. I have seen many of these surgeries as well as the stick that stabs through the mouth because the dog falls while running with it!


    Diane Behnke Reply:

    We had a dog that lived to fetch. He would fetch anything you threw for him. He caught a stick once and it stuck in his mouth! I thought he was ok but wound up with a large goiter in his throat and needed antibiotics. That was the last time he was allowed to fetch sticks.

    Minette Reply:

    Sticks splinter and yes can cause damage, i try never to let mine play with sticks or chew on sticks or wood!

    E.S. Reply:

    My dog bit and swallowed the tennis ball pictured. I had to pay 3200.00 and have the ball removed. These should be taken off the shelves.


    Caroline Reply:

    I’m really sorry about what happened, but that’s not a reason for something to be taken off the shelves. We’re missing out on a lot of things in this country for fear of lawsuits already—sounds like this was a supervision issue, not an issue with the way the toy was made.

    I don’t mean to be insensitive, but this kind of thing happens in the US far too often. It’s never the parent’s/owner’s fault—always the company.


    Lance Reply:

    My 75 lb dog got the chuck it ball lodged in his throat and died. The ball was removed intact but it was too late. The ball is simply too small.

    Chuck it balls are very dangerous. It infuriates me to read articles like this where people are saying they are safe.


    Minette Reply:

    I am sorry for your loss.

    The article states in numerous places only to use balls that are big enough and safe for your dog.

    The only reason stated for using a chuck it ball over a tennis ball is to avoid the felt and glue.


    Lance Reply:

    To quote the article…
    “There is no reason not to use a ball, or a ball on a string, just make sure it is not your classic tennis ball or even the “doggy tennis balls” that you can get at your local pet retail store.”

    My point is that the chuck it balls are not safe. My 75 lb dog died from a chuck it rated for large dogs. I was trying to assist him within seconds of the ball lodging in his throat. It lodged so deeply, so quickly, in his throat that I could neither see it nor reach it. He was at an emergency vet within 10 minutes and they could not save him.

    I think it is great that your warning people of the dangers of tennis balls and dogs is a great service. My point is that the chuck it product is not a safe alternative.

  2. Kathy says:

    My 10 mo old golden retriever chews up all toys and balls too. I have found Kong balls are worth the money, they do last. Our favorite ball is actually a yoga ball. I can keep it easily blown up enough he can not bite into it and when he is finished pushing it around with his nose, he leans on them with his front legs hanging over the other side until I catch up with him and am ready to kick it again, for him to chase.


  3. Judy says:

    My 6 mo old golden retriever chews up everything. He has already ingested 1/4 of a Kong ball before I caught him. I like the yoga ball idea. Any other good ideas out there?


  4. Jason says:

    I agree completely with what your saying. Our mini dachshund puppy loved the tennis ball on the rope toy but I then noticed how he would purposely try to chew the felt off. After noticing this, we made a donation to the landfill and found our pup some better choices….and he didn’t mind as long as he got to play with his toys.


  5. Judy says:

    I bought a couple “Chuck It” balls and found that my dogs could not destroy them like they do every other toy I get them – even the Kong balls. I ended up buying 6 more to keep around because inevitably the balls all end up under the couch or chairs so it’s handy to have several around the house. I also bought the big red ball with a handle – It’s called the Jolly Ball – 8″. They LOVE it! I have a Border Collie and a German Shepherd. The Border Collie is the one who plays with the Jolly Ball the most. It has lots and lots of teeth marks on it and they have chewed part of the handle off but it’s still intact after several months. I will probably purchase another one although they like to play tug of war with this one.


    Minette Reply:

    Try a Jolly Egg you can probably find it online, it’s my dog’s FAVORITE toy right now! She loves egg time!


  6. Laura says:

    My 6 month chocolate lab has chewed up every toy I have gotten him except his heavy twisted rope tug toy. Within a few hours of getting the new toy, it’s chewed up and destroyed. Even the Kong bones and balls, everything. I think I’ll try the Chuck It ball. Your right about the fuzz/felt on the toys too, he can pull it right off.


    Charlene Reply:

    My 7 mo. old Golden, love his twisted ropes! He eats the ends off! I am concerned that he is gonna have a blockage, but the poop seems to have red and white in it, so I guess it all comes out in the end!! He also eats his Kongs too. I havent tried the yoga ball yet..I have tried many other toys that I bought online and they were suppose to be almost indestructable …..NOT! I am a bit leary about buying toys online, I have been suckered into there ads to many times, I believe!


    Minette Reply:

    Rope toys are some of the worst for causing blockages. I have seen numerous rope toys surgically removed from dog stomachs and intestines since they do not degrade in the stomach and can get caught and wrap, tie, and kill the bowel.

    If I have rope toys I only allow my dogs to play with them in the room with me and never allow chewing or shredding!


    Nancy Reply:

    I have just lost a diamond stud earring, yeah dumb me left them on my nightstand, I think my 6mon old Aussie ate it, I have been checking his poop, yuck :(( every day, 4 days now, I can say he eats a lot of stuff, I was surprised with what I found and not my earring.

    Laura Reply:

    I did buy the ‘ultimate ring’ online and it arrived yesterday afternoon. So far, he has only been able to tear off a little fabric on the outside but hasn’t gotten into the core of the ring, hopefully he won’t. He carried it around like a trophy, with his nose poking through the center hole and likes to fetch it too. Hopefully it will work out. But the unstuffed toys don’t last long, he chews their tails and fee right off, so they don’t work for me.


    Carol Reply:

    Take the ropes & toys that he chews up away. My 7 mo. old Golden Retriever did the same and got very sick around Christmas. It looked like the red string were coming out of him but they weren’t. He was waking me up 3 times a night to go outside, he also did not have much energy. His poop was running out of him & he was throwing up. I was feeding him rice & chicken. We thought he might need surgery to remove what was bothering him. The day after Christmas he woke me up 3 a.m. & he would not even go outside. I thought he was dying then he threw-up in the house. What came out of him was 1 1/2 around 4 inches long clump of all the string that he ate and plastic frisbee’s & balls. He was a different dog almost immediately. It was terrible to see him go through this. I was very lucky that he didn’t die. If you could of seen him looking at me to help him his paw was reaching for me to help him. Please take them away don’t take any chances. He still likes to chew things up so we let him play with his toys for a short time then take it away. Good luck to you & your Golden. We love ours.


    Jim Reply:

    Try Hemp ropes.. they are “short fibered”.. they do not have long strands like cotton or other non natural ropes.


  7. Virginia says:

    I found out early how easily our girl Thunderhooves could destroy toys and get the felt off tennis balls. So for my girl, only no stuffing toys and rubber balls….she is half boston & half rat (Brat) Terrier and they can really chew things up. I have bought toys that she made into swiss cheese in as little as 15 minutes….so Kong is king. Seeing her play with her toys…prancing around in dog glory is worth the extra $ I pay….and keeping her safe by watching what she chews.


  8. Cheryl Goddard says:

    Thank you ever so much for this info. Our 7 mos old German shepherd Liberty (Lybee) loves playing with the tennis balls. Once she catches she struts around as this is a trophy to her. Keep up the good research; appreciate it so much. cheryl


  9. Ann says:

    Kong has a very resistant rubber ball(has a hole through it) which all my dogs love….not expensive either.Lasts & lasts and they can releive their chewing needs on it too ! Good luck !


  10. Julie says:

    My dog just does not like rubber balls! Somehow no matter what I do, he hates the smell of them. Sometimes, he cannot locate them by smell. He can find the tennis balls becasue they have his slobber all over them. I am going to get rid of the tennis balls anyhow. He will have to adjust or just start chasing his frisbee instead. 🙁 Good information — thank you!


  11. Mike says:

    My boston has two toys, both plush,she cares about. Pearle the squarel and Felesha the fox. She throws and retreves and gives them a bath. She does not share them. My Border brings Tennis balls to throw and brings them back to my hand. He does not chew them. Our sheltie chases tennis balls but does not care about them enough to hold on to them. We keep plenty of hide chewa( counted 9 on floor this morning) Glad to know about Tennis balls. We have over 40. Will start changing over to rubber ASAP.


  12. Basil says:

    Forget the fluff and the glue. -tennis balls are a red-hot choking hazard.

    By luck I found our German Shepherd with an old, fur-less, slippery tennis ball stuck in his throat. Just managed to get my fingers behind it in time.

    Please, please be aware of this hazard with larger dogs


  13. Ellen Hatch says:

    We had a friend whose dog choked to death on a tennis ball in front of his eyes. The ball was slimey so all he could do reaching into the dogs mouth was to turn it around and around. He was sisckend and horrified. We have never given our dogs a tennis ball since.
    Ellen Hatch


  14. Laurie says:

    Kong doesn’t last 15 minutes in my house. I have a Parsons Jack Russell and a Labradoodle who can chew through a Kong toy in minutes, tearing pieces off and leaving new toys in the garbage and my wallet empty. I’ve tried jolly balls (meant for horses) and the plastic egge. They’re aren’t interested if they can’t pick it up and bring it back. Any suggestions?


    Deborah Todd Reply:

    Hi Laurie,
    I have 2 18 month old JR Terrorists and have the same problem
    with even the “Extreme” kongs and every other toy that I have tried for “agressive” chewers. My past Rottweilers and Ridgebacks were pikers compared to these rascals. Any suggestions anyone?


  15. Lance says:

    My dogs love thier lacross balls – hard rubber, come in colors, easy to throw and virtually industructible, even for Border Collies!


  16. Betty says:

    What about the “dog” tennis balls sold in places like Petco and Petsmart? Are they dangerous too?


    Minette Reply:

    YES!!! They can be even easier to “pop” and still have glue that will break down your dog’s teeth!


  17. Ann says:

    I have 2 labradors . To exercise them we play fetch. To throw the ball far enough I use an extended thrower. They only fit tennis balls. The larger one is difficult to use and it only comes with one ball. It is heavy and slow. My labs are beside themselves it they seem me take it out. I don’t let them chew them but they do run with them in their mouths. It frightens me to think they could swallow them. Any ideas?? I can’t always walk them far enough to give them the exercise them love and need.


    Minette Reply:

    You may have to go with a bigger ball for safety, ask your vet if you are concerned only he/she knows your dog’s size and size of throat.

    One lab may be safe with a tennis ball and another bigger dog may be prone to a choking hazard!

    I would rather use a bigger slower ball than risk my dog choking! I also use Orbees since I can get them in many sizes and they come with a string I can lob the ball farther even when it is large!


  18. Nancy says:

    I have a 1 1/2 year old 1/2 pit/terrior mix. She is very athletic and I rescued her from the shelter at 4 months. Apples are a great alternative because they can play with them and eat them. I give her alot of raw soup bones for actually chewing and tatar cleaning. She doesn’t have a chew problem at all. She’s got lots of safe toys to play with. I don’t do tug with her and because of the bones she spends most all her chew time chewing the desired bones.


    Fran Reply:

    My dog is a beagle (hunter) and is never happier than when he finds anything to chew — bones, tennis balls, blankets and clothes (especially the zippers). He hasn’t been himself lately. Any ideas for specific toys that will replace those particular things? Please help. Which are better, raw bones or cooked bones?


    Minette Reply:

    It doesn’t sound like he is too discriminating so I would try several things.

    As far as bones goes… that has a couple of options. If you are cooking the meat item then cooked bones are bad, because they become brittle with cooking and can splinter and puncture the stomach and intestines.

    I am not a fan of raw, but raw bones are safer in general (but can still be dangerous)

    When I buy bones for my dogs to chew, I buy sterile bones from the pet supply store and these have been treated to make them last longer and be a little safer.


    Mary Galvin Reply:

    Appleseed’s have arsenic in them. Poisonous for dogs and humans.


  19. Teddy D. says:

    thanks for that great advice i just thrown out all tennis balls that were around the house .

    thanks again great job !!!


  20. Dinah says:

    We found the best chew toy for our pitbulls to be cow hooves. The dogs range in age from three months to 5 years and they all love them.


  21. Sandi says:

    I enjoy reading the messages people leave about their dogs because it’s another means of expanding my knowledge which can be helpful dealing with my own. Likewise, perhaps my experience with rawhide chews can be helpful to other dog owners and safe a life! Mike mentioned having them for his dogs “counted 9 on the floor this morning.” I used them, also, until my poodle nearly choked to death on one. Fortunately, I had left him with my parents while I was at work. They frantically worked with him to get it out of his throat because they knew he’d die before they could get him to the vet. They managed to save him and I have NEVER given one to any of my dogs since!!!


  22. Audrey says:

    I have a 7 lb Yourshire Terrier. He does not tear the ball apart and the ball is too big for him to swallow. With him, it’s stricktly throw and fetch. Still, this is something more to keep an eye on. If we don’t pay enough attention to our dogs they will find a way to get into trouble.


    Minette Reply:

    The glue will still deteriorate his teeth! Rubber is safer!


  23. Jennifer says:

    Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I’ll throw out the tennis balls too!


  24. Margaret says:

    My dog Pete loves frisbees (small 5″ is his favorite). He also loves stuffed toys with squeaks inside, but does not take long to reduce it to shell only, as the stuffing and the squeak get removed in record time and tossed all over the house, then the empty body of the frog, kangaroo, whale, whatever, is what he loves to have me throw for him to chase and catch. Have decided to just give him an old towel to romp with. I do not want hard rubber (have a Kong which he does not like), because he likes to catch, and I fear the breaking of a tooth.


    Minette Reply:

    The chuck it balls are hollow and easily catchable if the size is appropriate for him! But I understand!


  25. Andy Sanchez says:

    Being as how the pet care/dog training world has known about this why are these dangerous balls sold in pet stores? Why isn’t more done to get the word out?


  26. kasey says:

    Have small dog who likes smaller sized tennis balls – in fact she loves ’em. but she does chew the felt off and eventually rips the whole ball to shreds. She does eat the darn felt too.

    I’ve not found an adequate, soft, SQUEEKY replacement, but then again I’ve not really searched online. Anybody found one!


  27. Ed Ruoff says:

    We have another Safe ball to add to the Chukit. It’s called Visi-Ball by It fits the chukit thrower and has the added benefit of being colored in purple and white, which are colors easily spotted by dogs. It floats, bounces really well (even on sandy soil)and has little nubs. It is NOT a chew toy. Our 11 month old yellow lab has a great time retrieving this ball. I hope Walgreens keeps these in stock or the company starts to sell them online.


    Helle Moore Reply:

    I have a 1 year old pomeranian/terrier mix who chews up everything. She likes to play with baseball size whiffleballs. she can pick them up with her teeth and does not seem to chew them up, but I keep a close eye on the balls. They come six to a pack, so if they look beat up, I throw them out. She also loves to play with an old child size basketball in the back yard. I am sure an old soccer ball would due just as well.


  28. Carol says:

    I have a miniature poodle/fox terrier mix. I did buy the smaller tennis balls until I caught her cracking them apart and eating the rubber. She threw up rubber but was all right. I found the rubber racket balls are just the right size for her and do not break apart. I think the tennis balls should not be sold as pet toys in pet stores. Thanks for putting the warning out.


  29. Pamela Arnold says:

    What about racket balls. Are they safe. That is what we use for our dogs. So far they have not been able to chew through them, and we are large dogs. I think they also like the squeaking sound the rubber makes as the ball rubs against their teeth. And the balls float which is wonderful.


  30. Marie says:

    I have a mini schnauzer and two of his favorite toys are a empty plastic water bottle with the cap off – it makes all kinds of noise when he chews on it and an empty large vitamin bottle with the lid off – it rolls all over the place and with the lid off he can pick it up and carry it. with it being a large bottle it can’t roll under the couch. both toys were recycled items in my home and he loves them.

    Also growing up we had large dogs and we would take old milk jugs and crush them slightly, put some rocks inside for sound and use them as toys. The dogs loved them — with them crushed they could grab them and you could use the handle to throw them. Again a recycled item.


  31. Mark says:

    Try The Horseman’s Pride Jolly Ball Sold at Tractor Supply and Farm Stores


  32. Leslie says:

    I have a friend who is the son of a veterinarian and he told me to use a racket ball because dogs can’t destroy them.

    Obviously, this is only good if your dog is small enough to not choke on it, but I have had the same 3 racket balls for over a year and they are still intact.


  33. AnnRan says:

    A dog can choke on any ball if it’s the right size. I know of a dog (standard poodle) who choked and died on a Chuck-It ball recently. The owner could not get it out and the dog died in the car just minutes from the vet. I’m still not clear if it was the tennis-ball type or not. I just read a warning on Facebook from another person whose dog nearly choked on a Chuck-It Whistler Ball (a smooth ball).

    Be careful with all balls! Our border collie loves tennis balls and we play fetch with a t-ball and the Chuck-It daily (a couple of times each day!). Fortunately the t-balls are too big to fit in her throat. She doesn’t chew on them, she NEVER plays with them alone and they’re for outdoor, supervised play only. Even so, I’m watching her like a hawk to make sure the ball doesn’t get stuck. I cringe when I hear of people that leave tennis balls around for their dogs to play with unsupervised.


    AnnRan Reply:

    Update on my comment. I know now that the ball the standard poodle choked on was one of the orange (smooth) Chuck-it balls. The ones with the blue stripes. Tragic, just tragic.


  34. Gael says:

    My wonderful dog choked to death and suffocated on a Chuck It ball 4 weeks ago. It was not the “tennis type” ball, It was the orange ball with the blue stripe. It wasn’t chewed up. And I was right there with him – playing with him and supervising him. These balls are very dangerous. If I had known I would never have had this ball in my house. Please protect your dog from this horrific death.


  35. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for all these tips. We have two dogs, a German Shepherd mix who is 9 mos old and a Cattaholla, who is two years old. The older dog does not care for balls. She likes to run after them, but doesn’t pick them up. She destroys anything with a squeaker inside. Soft toys last minutes before they are toast. The big red ball with the handle is minus the handle within one day
    The younger dog, loves tennis balls that squeek. Her’s are the larger ones they sell in pet shops. She does fetch. She is our problem dog, eats anything she can get in her mouth, even chews on the igloo dog house. I’ve taken countless rocks from her and things she has found in our yard that some I don’t even know where they came from (like old pieces of carpet). I’m hoping she will grow out of some of this as she matures. I’m going to look for some of the balls mentioned here.


  36. Ed says:

    I wish I had read this site a day ago. Two months ago I rescued a Shepherd mix (40 lbs)–sweet well behaved female dog. I’ve spent 600 at vet for physical exam, shots, deworming, computer chip, collar and leashes, 150 on animal toys ( 10-20 dollars each, dog bed, etc., and today at Krogers I saw 2 PetCo tennis balls for 6 bucks and thought I’d see if she likes them. So far the only thing she chews on and can’t destroy are my now deceased Irish Wolfhouds giant nylabones. Anyway, while I was putting groceries away she was batting the new ball around the floor with paws (cute I thouhgt), then trapped it in baseboards of kitchen where they make a right angle. After getting everything put away in frig. I turned around and she was sitting there looking happily at me, but new ball was nowhere to be found (I had given her one and put the other in the cabinet). I then looked around kitchen everywhere, but no ball to be found. Last I saw of it she had it in her mouth trapped between the right angle baseboards and was squeezing it up and down with her jaws. I then started looking in other rooms of house although I felt sure she hadn’t left kitchen while I was putting away my 2 week supply of groceries. I then looked everywhere else in house, under beds, utility room, everywhere. Took her on half hour walk instead of usual one hour walk because of darkness. Came back and she was out in yard until pitch dark (looked out there too, no ball anywhere). Then fed her. She woofed food down as usual. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if anything unusual develops. So far she is acting normal. It’s 9PM and she had the ball in her mouth at 5:30 or so. I’ll never let her have the other PetCo tennis ball. My daughter thinks she hid it somewhere and would be acting ill or refusing to eat if she ate a tennis ball. This 40lb dog would have had to swallow it hole (hard to imagine) in 10 minutes, hardly time to chew it up which, I’d think, would have left some kind of residue on kitchen tile floor in that corner. Still, I’m worried. What do you think?


    Minette Reply:

    I would be worried too.

    Look for vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy and any acting abnormally.

    Problems have arisen weeks after a dog has swallowed a foreign body so even in 2 weeks if vomiting starts get her to the vet ASAP.

    Or take her now for piece of mind and they can do a barium study on x rays


  37. Gary says:

    What almost killed my dog and has caused a permanent lung issue was the fuzz from the balls. One day while playing he could not breathe and was rushed to our veterinarian and it was found he had accumulated a mass in his air ways and lungs causing a significant respiratory problem. After a stay in the hospital and a very expensive treatment he made it through but even today has a breathing problem. We now play with solid or thick plastic balls. A quick note one my Labs developed a back issue at a very young age and we were told not to allow him to play with a Frisbee and jump off the ground.
    I have learned many of the dogs we seen in competitions are put to sleep years younger than their peers because of jumping which destroys their backs and joints; that vets are aware of the issue with tennis balls but are scared of law suits and don’t inform their patients.


  38. cat says:

    I am glad Idecided to look up tennis balls for dogs, as it brought me here. I just bought a 4-pack of Chuckit felt-kind tennis balls for my recently adopted Black Lab. He came with a regular one and I had a new basic tennis ball for him too. No problems with those, but I’ve only hadd him for two months. Literally 2-days later, i decided to check his new Chuckit and found that it is already split- and man that is thick rubber if he were to swallow that it would be very bad. They’re going in the trash- he doesn’t mind chasing rubber toys to play fetch too, he’s OCD on fetch-lol, so I think i’m going to go with that- he’s a sweet old-boy and I would hate for him to be hurt by something that’s supposed to be fun.
    Just my 2-cents.
    Dogs Rule!!!


  39. Bob says:

    My dachshund bit into a Chuckit ball and it got stuck on his bottom teeth. He was in a lot of pain from it crushing his lips. $250 and a night at the emergency vet and they were able to get it off. Chuckits are definitely NOT indestructible.


    Minette Reply:

    pretty much nothing is indestructible!

    All toys and play need to be watched and monitored and of appropriate size


  40. Jack says:

    Thanks for the important info,had no idea tennis balls where bad for my 80lb Black Lab.Just threw them all in the garbage and gave him the Chuckit ball I had in the spare box.Will not not make that mistake again Thanks to You. Thanks,Jack


  41. irene ford says:

    I have used chuckit balls Now for a few years and never again will I use a ball without a rope, ball got wedged in her throat yesterday morning and I honestly thought I had lost her no way I was getting it out, she is a large GSD and I’m only 5ft 2in but I managed to get her upside down to help dislodged it slightly, we tried getting our fingers behind it but she panicked and bite down hard on both me and my friend was only after she passed out I was able to give her a few breaths of air down her nose dislodge the ball and continue mouth to nose till she started breathing again


  42. Carl says:

    I am heart broken, my samoyed who was 3 years old ate half a tennis ball which was not located until she was operated on yesterday. I have just come back from the hospital after putting here to sleep because her protein levels were too low to recover the operation. I am in tears at the moment thinking of only last week when she was jumping up and playing with me at the park. Please collect any broken tennis balls or and objects that your dog could ingest. RIP Alaska, you were the best dog I have ever had and I loved you so much I cannot express it in words.


  43. Bob says:

    Help! I have a large (very large) German Shepherd, and loves tennis balls more than life itself. Literally. After emergency surgery to remove an entire rope toy and tennis ball that he found in the woods and swallowed nearly whole, we got rid of every tennis ball in the house, yard, closet, everything we and he could find. His bite is so strong, we cant find any toys that last more than a few hours. The large Jolly Balls they make for horses only last a few hours before he tears them apart and eats the fragments, so we dont buy even those any more. Same for Kong Balls. With nothing to play with he’s gone back to digging in the woods or swamp to find old tennis balls that our previous dogs had abandoned or buried years ago, and he’s smart enough to know if we see him with one it’ll get taken away. He just went back for another emergency surgery to remove one of those. He’s a tank and bounces back from surgery like a champ, but at $2000 I dont bounce so quick. He’s bored and needs something to play with that wont kill him and my checking account. He has no concept of “indestructable” – as a puppy he bit through the off-road tires on my truck. What comes next after Kong Balls and Jolly Ball? What do I do when steel belted truck tires dont even slow him down??


    Minette Reply:

    He needs more exercise… he is providing his own exercise and mental stimulation, which is the problem… if you provide the exercise like swimming or running next to a bike… he will be too tired to do the naughty things.

    Also if I had to pay thousands of dollars for surgery, my dog would not be allowed outside without a fence or on a leash.


  44. Steve And Elizabeth says:

    Our two year old dog ate a tennis ball piece and it nearly killed her. We quit taking her to the dog park after that incident. We warned all the neighbors not to allow tennis balls to get in our yard.
    A year later she ate another one, no idea where it came from, and had to have another expensive surgery.
    We tell everyone we see playing with tennis balls not to allow their dogs to chew on them. As soon as they show an interest in chewing the ball up you should take it away.
    If they are chewing it and show protective instincts when you or another dog approaches you are in danger. As soon as they feel like they have to protect the pieces of their ball they will try to eat them.


    Minette Reply:

    That is why I teach my dogs to give up something good for something better.

    My dogs will spit anything out if they think I have liver 😉


  45. Mary says:

    My dogs just bit a tennis ball in half. Since they compete over the ball two of them ingested a white powder substance that was inside of it before I could get it away from them. I can’t find anything on line that says this substance should be in there. Has anyone else heard of or experienced this?


  46. Michael says:

    Mary my dog just did the same thing. There was a ton of white powder inside of it, and he started sneezing. Did you find anything about this?


    Patti Reply:

    I have a golden retriever who used to pass rope toys, stuffed animals, etc. until one day he didn’t pass a toy and it cost $5k and a terribly scary few days where we almost lost him when a ball became lodged in his intestines. I learned that the reason he was chewing up inappropriate items was that he needed something strong enough that he could chew on because he has an innate need to chew. Now I buy super strong bones for him to chew and no more toys being chewed up. The balls remain for ball time only under supervision. Throw out the tennis balls- there are too many other options out there intended for our canine family members.


    Minette Reply:

    Elk antlers can be a life saver for big chewers check these out and tell her Minette sent you


  47. nelda j says:

    I just learned dogs can get their tongues stuck in balls with only one hole when it creates a vacuum… be sure to research and carefully supervise with toys


  48. Shai says:

    Something called the Varsity ball is great and has been tested to withstand the bite of Rottweilers, Pitties (like my chewing baby) and even LIONS and TIGERS. although rather pricey they will never pop so they are worth it and they come with a 110% guarantee where if it does happen to pop they give you your money back plus 10% back. Nothing to loose right?


  49. Mo VT says:

    My 5 pound yorkie just had a 7k surgery because of the sqeaker of a giant kong tennis ball. My advice would be don’t leave your dog unsupervised with these kind of toys ever. It’s just not worth it – these companies are not held to the standards of companies providing products for human use.


  50. Bill Robertson says:

    I had a glow in the dark Chuck it ball that recently was lost when we were playing with it (it went over a fence into a closed pubic pool).
    I bought a new ball to replace the old one. But my dog is rejecting the replacement ball.
    My question is, can a dog differentiate one ball from another if they know which one is theirs, and if so, how do I make her understand the new one is hers too.
    My dog is an 8 year old Pug Beagle mix that we rescued a year ago. We recently discovered she likes to chase the ball, and that she is more obedient because of there ward of playing ball.


    Minette Reply:

    sure they have great sense of smell.

    But just like a child who accidentally loses or ruins a favorite toy or blanket… if there is nothing else to play with you will eventually revert to playing with something new.


  51. Wanda says:

    My 5 month old searches out pieces of tennis balls that have been cut up by lawn mowers, at a local park. I’m constantly taking these pieces out of his mouth! Very frustrating. I don’t know how much he may have ingested before I’ve gotten it from him.


    Minette Reply:

    Keep him on a leash and don’t allow the behavior. It could kill him


  52. Sherrie says:

    My 82lb put 11yrs old was chewing on her Kong tennis fabric squeaky ball. She, for the first time ever swallowed a price of felt! This was 2 nights ago. She’s acting fine and pooping good but I am concerned. I haven’t seen any of it in her poop and I pick it up after she goes so I would know. What should I look for if it gets stuck inside her? Will it deteriorate? Will it come out in her poop? Now I am a wreck. She has cushings so I already have high vet bills for her meds and tests so I can’t afford to bring her into vet. Help!


  53. Victoria says:

    My 11 month old spaniel does the same. He had an edoscopy yesterday to remove the rubber from his stomach before it caused an intestinal blockage (which he had a few months back). Luckier this time around. He won’t be going out the house without a basket muzzle on from now on. Yes it may be tough to begin with but it will be the best thing we ever do for him.


  54. Lauren J says:

    Our 5 year old Doberman is obsessed with tennis balls. She actually prefers the Chuck-it balls, so we have given her those exclusively. Her teeth are so worn down and one of her canine teeth actually had to be removed due to the tooth being so worn down that the root canal was exposed and became infected. This happened even though she cannot chew through the balls, there is no glue and no felt. 🙁 I’m afraid that taking her ball away will affect her quality of life. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    unless you use the balls with the glue, the ball should not be the cause of that. There is no way something soft could cause that kind of damage. However, tennis balls can be swallowed or choked on ending in death.


  55. william mcniff says:

    Dog at vets right now with parts of tennis balls in stomach and intestines. Sick all day. I think we should ban them at the dog bark.


  56. Ken Miller says:

    I am afraid that my large Dobermans will swallow the Chuckit ball and choke to death. Are my fears unfounded?


    Minette Reply:

    Not at all. Find a larger ball to play with!


  57. Gail Hampson says:

    Yesterday my 3 year old GSD swallowed a tennis ball size konga rubber ball, it got lodged in the back of his throat it was touch and go if he would survive. I have never been so stressed not knowing what to do to help him, so I got him straight to the vet and it took them nearly an hour to get the ball out as his throat just swelled up so much. I’m just so grateful to my vet who saved his life, and I would never want this to happen to anyone else.


  58. Charlotte Kennedy says:

    Thank you for your article
    You may have just saved my dog Zeus


  59. Macy says:

    I rescued a 3 year old German Shepherd! Super sweet and gentle. However she has no idea how to play. We have tried numerous toys and balls but she just looks at them and me like I’m crazy. Any suggestions on how to help her. The only play she does is wrestle. I would love for her to be able to play in the back yard.


    Minette Reply:

    look up my article on teaching your dog to play


  60. Laurie Higbee says:

    My Belgian Malinois tears the felt off the balls. She will not be getting anymore of them. She hasn’t wanted to eat today and did poop some of the fuzz . Should she go to the vets


    Minette Reply:

    not eating is not a good sign


  61. Kellie says:

    I just brought my dog home from surgery after they removed almost half a filleted chuck it ball that could not pass from his stomach into his intestines. Cost me 4K in vet surgery and care. Be careful with chuck it balls too


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