Most dogs love playing with tennis balls almost as much as they love a good pat or a full bowl of food. But a Texas-based veterinarian has warned dog owners that tennis balls could become a risk to their health.
Dr. Finn Hunter has become a viral sensation through his Tiktok videos where he gives pet advice to his now 2.1 million person strong following.
In a recent post, he revealed that tennis balls can potentially cause tooth and gum damage to dogs over time.
“Stop giving your dog tennis balls. Right now you’re probably thinking, ‘Dr. Finn, how does that [a tennis ball] harm my dog?’,” he told his followers.
“Well, when you’re playing fetch with your dog and throwing this thing, it’s getting caught in saliva and dirt and sand, and just basically turns into sandpaper.”
Hunter went on to explain that the fabric surface of a tennis ball tends to become abrasive over time when used and can grind against the teeth of a dog as they play with it. This is what results in potential tooth and gum damage.
“As that ball turns in your dog’s mouth as it’s playing with it, and you’re grabbing it, and it’s being thrown and picked up multiple times, your dog’s mouth will start to look like this”, Hunter said before showing a photo of a dog’s teeth that were damaged due to repeated play with a tennis ball.
He stated that damaged teeth don’t always have to be removed but they may potentially have to be depending on the degree of harm. Hunter then recommends that dog owners should instead opt for a ball made of a smoother material that does not “pick up a bunch of sand and dirt and things”, such as a rubber ball.
Hunter is not the first vet to warn owners about the potential risks of tennis balls. Arkansas-based vet Lee Pickett previously warned owners of the same risks in an earlier column for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Hunter’s followers were quick to react to the video. Some of his viewers were already aware of the risks, having been advised by vets previously to change the type of ball their dog played with.
Other viewers were surprised by Hunter’s warning and wondered how their tennis ball-obsessed dogs could be stopped from playing with them. Some viewers recommended the use of racquet balls or balls from the Chuck-It brand, which have been designed to be dog-safe.