Giving dogs tennis balls could pose serious health risk, vet warns

A police dog carries a tennis ball in his mouth at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon (AFP/Getty)
A police dog carries a tennis ball in his mouth at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon (AFP/Getty)

Giving your dog a tennis ball could pose a serious health risk, a popular TikTok vet has warned.

Dr Hunter Finn, who has over two million followers on the social media platform, said that the surface of the ball can become rough while being thrown about during a game of fetch, with saliva, dirt and sand combining to make it “like sandpaper” which could damage a dog’s mouth.

It could cause severe tooth and gum damage, according to the vet.

Speaking in the video, Dr Finn said: “Stop giving your dog tennis balls ... right now you’re probably thinking, ‘Dr. Finn, how does [a tennis ball] harm my dog?’ Well, when you’re playing fetch with your dog and throwing this thing, it’s getting caught in saliva and dirt and sand, and [it] just basically turns into sandpaper.”

“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”, he said, showing an image of damaged canines that can often require removal.

Dr Finn recommended that pet owners instead opt for a “smoother ball that’s not gonna pick up a bunch of sand and dirt and things”, such as a rubber ball.

The American vet previously recommended bananas as a “good treat” for dogs – but said owners of small dogs should try to limit their pet’s intake to about a quarter of the fruit.

In July, a dog was rushed to the vet where an X-ray revealed he had swallowed two tennis balls. PDSA vet Catherine Burke, who treated the pet called Loki, said the case was “life and death” and warned other pet owners about the dangers tennis balls could have for their pets.