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Are Tennis Balls Safe for Great Danes?

great dane chasing tennis ball

Dogs need toys to keep them busy and stimulated. Whether they help to fill their time or simply enjoy themselves, it certainly spares some havoc inside your home! Great Danes are not high energy dogs, so they may fall into the “chewing” category. A popular ball for dogs to play with is a tennis ball. 

Are tennis balls safe for Great Danes? While tennis balls are convenient and your dog may enjoy playing with them, tennis balls are not the best toy for your Great Dane. The large size of the dog can lead to tennis balls breaking and becoming lodged in their throat, blockages in their airways and digestive tracts, and dental problems. 

Many Great Danes play with tennis balls and never have any problem, but the risks associated with them make it best to choose another ball for them.

There are balls of similar size to tennis balls that are much safer for dogs to play with, and they are designed specifically for chewing. This can prevent dangerous injuries from occurring that can be easily avoided. 

The Dangers of Tennis Balls For Great Danes 

The dangers associated with letting a Great Dane play with a tennis ball outweigh the benefits that they offer for play.

We recommend that larger dogs, and especially giant breeds, do not play with tennis balls because of their great strength and ability to chomp on a tennis ball can have negative consequences.

This is especially true if your Great Dane is a big chewer! 

Some of the issues that can arise with a tennis ball include: 

  • Split tennis ball in half: With the strong jaws that Great Danes have, a tennis ball can split in half. This makes it much easier to swallow or ingest. This presents a danger as the tennis ball can become lodged in their throat or create blockages that cut off their airways. If left unsupervised, they could suffocate in a very short time period. 

  • Ingesting tennis ball fuzz: Swallowing any foreign object is not good for a dog and will likely have to be removed as it can impact the dog’s internal organs, but the fuzz can be particularly troublesome because its texture is rough and it can get easily caught on its way down the digestive tract. Intestinal blockages will require surgery for removal. 

  • Ball ricochets in mouth: If the ball is bitten down on hard enough but does not break, it could easily injure the dog when the high pressure off the ball is released. This can lead to complete blockage in their throat and airway, damage to teeth or mouth. 

  • Dental abrasion: The tough outer coating on the tennis ball is meant to keep the ball intact with continued use. This can be rough on the Great Dane’s teeth if they are a massive chewer. This fuzz becomes more abrasive to the teeth with continued contact with the ground and with the accumulation of sand and dirt. This would require significant chewing to lead to serious dental problems but is a risk. 

Choking hazards are the most likely problem associated with tennis balls.

Whether this is swallowing an entire ball, parts of the ball, or the fuzz, this can lead to immediate issues with breathing and in severe situations can be fatal.

Swallowing balls and blockages are not only scary, but their removal at an emergency hospital will drive up your vet bills considerably. 

How to Make Tennis Ball Use Safe 

While these are the risks associated with letting a Great Dane play with a tennis ball, this doesn’t mean that they should be banned in your home.

There are just some additional precautions you should take and tips to ensure that their playtime is safe. 

To keep tennis ball playing safe for a Great Dane, you should: 

  • Maintain supervision: Reserve tennis ball playing for times that you are with the dog. You can monitor their behavior and stop excessive chewing when it occurs. In the event that an accident does occur, you are right there to prevent it or stop it from becoming a major danger. 

  • Don’t let it become a chew toy: Tennis balls should be reserved for fetch and light playing. The best way to prevent the risks mentioned above is to not allow the tennis ball to become a chew toy. Keep other toys that are safer for chewing activities. You will have to be careful with Great Danes that have a greater tendency to chew. 

  • Avoid playing with multiple tennis balls: If a Great Dane has multiple tennis balls in its mouth, its chances of swallowing one is increased. If you are using multiple tennis balls, they should be used as a distraction so that the dog diverts its attention from chewing on one to chasing after another. 

  • Throw away old balls: Because of the outer layer of the tennis ball that can become rougher and more abrasive to the dog’s mouth, replace old tennis balls once they have worn down. 

If you keep these notes in mind, let a Great Dane play with a tennis ball and can be a safe and enjoyable activity for both the dog and the time you spend with them. 

Safe Alternatives to Tennis Balls 

If you are worried about the risks associated with tennis balls or have a dog that is a big chewer and don’t want to take the risk, there are other balls that can be good alternatives to a tennis ball.

There tennis balls that are specifically designed for dogs, which will act and behave the same way as the traditional ball but eliminate the risks. 

These are some safe alternatives that are still as fun and exciting as a traditional tennis ball:

  1. ChuckIt! Ultra Balls: These are made of tough rubber and are much more durable as they will not bust open when the dog bites down on them. These are also designed for dogs of all sizes, so the large Great Dane can play with it too! These are also great for fetch thanks to their bouncy nature. You can find them here on Amazon.

  2. West Paw Jive: If your Great Dane is a big chewer, this ball can handle their strong bite. After playing catch or just laying around with the ball, the dog will be able to play without fear of breaking. You can find it here on Amazon.

  3. Sodapup Crazy Bounce Ball: This is another fun and durable ball that is a little bit different from the others in that it will bounce unpredictably once it hits the ground. Its shape allows it to bounce differently and is made of rubber so that it won’t bust when chewed on. You can find it here on Amazon.

Try checking out one of these alternatives to a tennis ball so that your Great Dane can still play but avoid the risks associated with using a traditional tennis ball.

All of these balls come in different sizes for varying dog sizes, so you should get the largest ball to avoid choking and match the size of this larger dog breed. 

Tennis Balls for Great Danes: Final Verdict 

Great Danes should only play with tennis balls if they are supervised, and these balls should not be used for chewing purposes.

Because of the risks associated with breaking, tennis balls should be used specifically for playing fetch and running. Investing in an alternative ball can be a better option than the costs and dangers that can be associated with medical care and vet visits. 

We recommend looking at other balls for overall safety that gives a Great Dane and you the freedom for them to play unsupervised! 

2 thoughts on “Are Tennis Balls Safe for Great Danes?”

  1. I’ve used the Kong brand toys for my big dogs – Great Dane crosses & pure bred Great Danes – for over 10 years. I’ve still got an original Kong toy that’s over 10 years old & hasn’t got any real damage. One of my dogs, Boof who was a Great Dane x Bull Mastiff x Bull Arab had a huge Bull Mastiff style head, who could fit a whole soccer ball in his mouth & then roll it around to get a good bite to pop them, let alone popping tennis balls. He chewed on the rubber Kong toys & balls but couldn’t damage them. The only Kong toys that I haven’t still got are those that dogs have dropped into deep creeks & have disappeared – unfortunately they don’t float. Anything with rope or cloth like the Wubba toys can be chewed up & pulled apart but they take years sometimes, even those with squeaky balls inside!

    Just make sure you choose the XX-large, big chew toys that are classics or extreme ratings – not puppy or small animal. My two boys, an 8-year old Harlequin Dane x Bull Mastiff & an 8-month old purebred Merle, are currently enjoying chewing & tug-o-war on a large Kong Ogee Stick.


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