Many dogs love to play with tennis balls, but are tennis balls safe for dogs? It depends on who you ask. Tennis balls can be choking hazards, can wear down teeth, and the fuzz can cause digestive issues.
At the very least dogs should be supervised when playing with tennis balls, and some heavy chewers should stay away from them entirely.
Are Tennis Balls Bad for Dog’s Teeth?
While it takes a long time, the outside covering of a tennis ball CAN be bad for a dog’s teeth.
The fabric is abrasive and it can wear down a dog’s teeth overtime if they chew on it a lot. This can eventually lead to teeth problems in your dog.
Help! My Dog Ate Tennis Ball Fuzz
Some dogs LOVE to shred and eat the green fuzz from a tennis ball. If your dog eats tennis ball felt then it’s important to watch for signs of digestive distress. Most of the time the fuzz will pass through naturally, but occasionally it can cause serious digestive issues and blockages.
If your dog eats tennis ball fuzz and then doesn’t poop like she regularly does, then make sure you take her to the vet. Not pooping is a bad sign.
What is a Good Tennis Ball Alternative for Dogs?
When looking for a tennis ball alternative for dogs, you want something that is less likely to get torn apart and that doesn’t have the fuzzy surface that causes dental problems. There are two great alternatives that I’ve found – Chuck It Balls and ZogoFlex Air Boz Balls (found on Amazon).
Chuck It Fetch Ball
These are incredibly durable balls for your dog to play with and even parents of heavy chewing breeds love them. They are even more fun when combined with a Chuck It Launcher.
Here’s what people are saying about the Chuck It Fetch Ball.
Will Never Buy a Cheap Ball Again
We have gone through cheap balls, tennis balls, and just about EVERY TYPE of ball you can think of. Maggie LOVES to play ball! But then they would fall apart or loose their covers. Then we found, literally found, a Chuckit ball and Maggie and I are happy to say that we LOVE it! We will NEVER buy a cheap ball again! She even chews on it when she’s teething…–MaggieMae
Don’t Come Completely Apart Easily
These balls are more expensive than tennis balls but it’s like comparing a disposable plastic water bottle to a nalgene or steel water bottle. They float, they’re durable even for super chewers like my dog and they float! I’ve had a couple pit bulls create a crack in the ball after using it daily for weeks but the balls still bounce high and don’t come completely apart easily-Shelly
They Bring It Back
The rubber version is great. We can throw it and they’ll bring it back for us to throw again. Whereas, with the fuzzy balls, they take off with it so they can “skin it & kill it” as we like to call it. The fuzzy ones don’t stand a chance with our dogs.-Missy1969
Where to Buy Chuck It Dog Toys?
West Paw Zogoflex Ball
This ball is extremely well rated on Amazon.com and is currently at 4.5 out of 5 stars. Because it’s made of durable rubber it floats. Like all dog toys, this one should be used with supervision at first. It is VERY sturdy, but some dogs can still shred it.
Here’s what people are saying about the Zogoflex ball:
Springs Back Immediately
This ball is just awesome. We have a playful lab pit mix and she typically goes through a tennis ball in less than an hour. This ball feels like a quality ball, this is tough and she absolutely adores it. Its got a great bounce to it, its thick and sort of spongy (though not really) she can get her teeth into it slightly but not enough to start shredding it and it springs back immediately without any indentations so far. Just a really nice ball. I came back to throw another one in my “save for later” items because I will definitely be buying this one again if we ever lose this one. This is a keeper, one of the tougher ones out there. I’m thrilled with the purchase (and so is she). Kudos to the manufacturer.-Another Amazon Customer
Floats in the Pool!
We got it because it floats in the pool! A Kong drops to the bottom of the pool. However, it is not “indestructible “. A determined German shepherd cannot tear it apart, but they can rough up the exterior. 3 dogs have preferred this ball to a Kong ball.-Pat Burke
Cane Corso Constantly Plays With It
I have a cane corso mastiff and he’s a very powerful chewer! He had the smaller version of this ball for a few months and the most he was able to destroy was to finally peel a tiny piece of the rubber up, which is still attached! He’s tried everything to destroy this, including leaving it in subzero temperatures overnight and bringing it back in. He tried to crush it, but all it did was begin to show some type of cracks around the ball. With the large one, he is much easier to play with (since our whole hand fits in his mouth!) and he constantly plays with it! I need more from West Paw in the line of XL/ Big dog toys!!-me
Are Kong Tennis Balls Safe for Dogs?
If you want the look and feel of a tennis ball, then you’ll find that Kong tennis balls (available from Amazon) are safe for dogs. The covering on these balls won’t wear dog’s teeth down and because they are made by Kong they are much more durable than regular tennis balls making them much safer than regular tennis balls.
Note: Although the Kong tennis balls are quite durable, they are don’t last as long as the Chuck It or ZogoFlex balls which are made of rubber.
What people are saying about Kong Tennis Balls for Dogs:
Not Torn Up
These are fantastic! My boxer went through I don’t know how many hard tennis 🎾 I don’t know what this is made of but not one has been torn apart!!!Michelle Storm Larson
I’ve had these for a while now best ball ever still all 6 are not torn up love these balls
Plays Fetch… All the Time
My german shepherd loves to play fetch…all the time. If you are just standing outside, she will go find something and drop it at your feet. These balls are amazing. They last a long time compared to regular tennis balls. They fit perfectly in the thrower. My dog loves to make the balls squeak. I will definitely be buying more of these squeaky balls.-JLaughlin
Determined Dog will “Peel” Yellow Cover
They bounce, they squeak, they supposedly aren’t harmful to teeth! The tenacious dog will however “peel” the yellow cover off the rubber ball.-Jimmy
The Bottom Line – Are Tennis Balls Dangerous for Dogs?
Tennis balls have covers that can damage dog’s teeth and will usually not hold up to aggressive chewers. They can also become a choking risk and cause digestive problems if the yellow fuzz is eaten.
It’s a good idea to get a more durable ball instead. One made of rubber usually works the best and will hold up. Or if you really want the tennis ball look and feel the Kong Tennis Balls are much safer for dogs.