Tennis Balls and Your Dog’s Teeth

Lots of dogs love to play with tennis balls and, while most pet guardians are aware of the potential choking hazard tennis balls pose to large dogs, tennis balls also pose another more subtle danger to pets. The outer covering of a tennis ball is designed to be tough to withstand hard use on a tennis court, and is very abrasive. As dirt and grit become embedded into a tennis ball over time, the ball becomes even more abrasive. Some dogs are excessive chewers and tend to chew on tennis balls for long periods, resulting in gradual wear to the dog’s teeth from repeated contact with the tennis ball covering. This gradual wearing down of the tooth enamel is referred to as “blunting.”

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, “Dogs that chew on tennis balls or other abrasive toys (think of a tennis ball as a scoring pad), will often wear their smaller front cheek teeth (premolars), and the back aspect of the canines.” Veterinary opinions vary about the degree of danger tennis balls pose to a dog’s dental health. If your dog is a serious tennis-ball chewer, you may notice the tooth wear as the tips of your dog’s teeth become less sharp and more blunted over time. Some safety tips for tennis ball play with your dog:

  • Discard tennis balls with that have excessive wear, embedded dirt, or that look “fuzzy.”
  • Don’t let your dog play with tennis balls unsupervised, and don’t allow prolonged chewing of tennis balls.
  • Consider replacing tennis balls with safer dog toys such as a smooth ball or Kong toy.

Tennis balls are fun, plentiful and inexpensive toys. If your dog isn’t a hard-core chewer, he or she will probably never have the problem of excessive tooth wear, and of course, teeth do tend to naturally wear down over time anyway. If you have a dedicated chewer, be sure to periodically monitor your dog’s teeth for signs of wear.

About author

Abby Rosenberg

Abby Rosenberg is a PetMeds employee and long-time cat lover. She was a volunteer for several years at a local no-kill cats only rescue shelter. This has prepared her for her most challenging role to date: secretary, photographer, social coordinator and treat dispenser for Daisy, and Daisy’s sidekick Harley. Daisy is a dilute calico Devon Rex cat, and Harley is a “cow-cat” who was adopted from the shelter where Abby volunteered. You can also find Abby on Google+

There are 2 comments

  • Ellen says:

    I have a dog that looks exactly the same as the dog in the above picture! Is that your dog? And do you know what breed it is? We rescued our dog and we’d love to know.

  • Phil Thomas says:

    If you type “Dog DNA test” into Amazon website search you can buy a kit to find out your dog’s lineage. It’s fascinating to do and not too expensive either.

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