Ah the simple tennis ball; a long time favorite for many dogs. All of my dogs have loved to either chase, retrieve or just play with a tennis ball. Yesterday I was at the park with Luke; I was trying to get him to play catch but he had just seen a lizard and was pretty much preoccupied. When we arrived at the park; we met one of his good friends there; a little submissive female who very much resembles a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog She decided to go and fetch the ball that Luke was not interested in. When she arrived at her destination.................... the tennis ball; she realized that it was someone else's ball. So she promptly threw herself on the ball and flailed around making it her own. I thought this behavior was very interesting; I know that Tilley will not pick up a ball that does not belong to her and does not make balls that are not hers; hers. This little gal then picked up the ball; realized it still wasn't completely hers; dropped it and commenced to smell it up some more. She got up; sniffed the ball and decided that it now smelled good enough to belong to her and brought it back to me. We continued on our walk with Luke out ahead scouting for lizards. And his little friend no longer wanted her own ball; she now wanted Luke's ball which she had made hers. Funny.
Tennis balls can be a lot of fun; the chuck it was made to toss them. They bounce, they float and are just great to toss around entertaining oneself. But with all the fun that they are there are dangers to be aware of. Choking; is the major danger of tennis balls. There are many stories of dogs who have gotten a tennis ball lodged in their throat; mostly the larger breeds where a ball would fit nicely into the mouth/throat transition. You must be very aware of tennis ball usage and make sure to supervise. Just yesterday when I had Tilley out doing her rehab; I kick the ball around the park so she can chase and retrieve it. On one kick she actually caught it; I hadn't meant for this but even with her handicap she caught it full speed, straight at her. It lodged in there pretty good; but luckily her mouth is just a bit small for it to have gotten stuck.
Dogs can also choke on pieces of tennis ball if they are the destructive type. Dogs that eat tennis balls should not have them. Pieces don't always pass and can become a real issue when they linger in the stomach or intestines. Just like with any toy; great care should be taken to removed anything that is in pieces and supervision is a must. I only allow a bit of mouthing on tennis balls; if these guys decide to give them a good chew I take them away. Always best to be safe than sorry.