We have all seen those adorable pictures of a dog will multiple balls in their mouth. Right?
After all most dogs love to run around chasing a ball or playing fetch with it. I know mine have.
In fact, all three of my dogs that I have had as an adult loved to play with balls.
We used to have a Golden Retriever who could hold two balls in his mouth at one time.
Our English Springer Spaniel was obsessed with balls and fetching.
Even our current pup, that does really like to play fetch that much, carries her favorite tennis ball with her everywhere she goes. Somehow, she knows the difference between her favorite one and the others we have laying around.
But are all balls safe for dogs? With baseball still a very popular sport in America and beyond, many households have baseballs laying around their yard or home.
It is safe for your dog to play with a baseball? Let’s start this discussion with an overview of baseballs.
What is a baseball?
Although the construction method of a baseball is similar across manufacturers, materials used in baseballs vary greatly depending on the intended use or level of play:
- Most T-ball leagues (kids under the age of 6) use “tee” baseballs; a tee ball typically contains a medium-density rubber foam ball covered in leather or synthetic materials
- Junior youth leagues (kids between 6-8) use “safety” baseballs; a safety baseball typically contains a large cork ball (chipped corks glued together under high pressure) covered in leather or synthetic materials
- Older youth leagues and schools use “regular” baseballs; these baseballs typically contain multiple layers of yarns with a cork or rubber “pill” in the center, all wrapped in leather
If you want to learn more about the different types of baseballs, you can find more information at Different Types of Baseballs at 99baseballs.com
Can Dogs Chew on a Baseball
Typically, baseballs are 9 inches in diameter so most small dogs will not be able to get them in their mouth to chew on them.
However, medium to large-sized dogs that are prone to chewing and destroying toys will be able to break the stitching and chew what’s inside a baseball.
If you allow your dog to play with a baseball, close supervision is required to prevent them from using the baseball as chew toys.
3 Reasons Why Dogs Should Not Play with Baseballs
Although a baseball may seem like a harmless toy for a dog, it has many drawbacks as a pet toy.
Here are three reasons why baseballs should NOT be used as a play toy for dogs:
- Choking/swallowing Hazard
- Physical Injury
Choking and Swallowing Hazards
There are four parts of the ball that can be choking and swallowing hazards:
- Baseball cover
- Baseball Core
- Yarn and strings
- Rubber or cork “pills”
Baseball covers are made of leather or a leather like synthetic material.
- Leather cover – Unlike rawhide chews designed for dogs, a genuine leather cover will not disintegrate in your dog’s stomach. Instead it can cause choking or intestinal blockage hazard.
- Synthetic leather covers break apart easier, but the petroleum-derivative material is not safe for consumption.
Both cover types will also have heavy glue-residue on the back side.
There are three types of baseball cores: foam, cork, and yarn+pill.
- Found in tee-balls used by kindergartners, foam balls are made from medium-density synthetic foam, which can easily chunk off in large pieces when dogs bite into them.
- Rubber “pills” inside baseballs are smaller than a golf-ball. Therefor it can be easily swallowed.
- Cork balls, are commonly found in baseballs used by 6 to 8-year-olds. They are formed by mixing large cork pieces with glue, and shaped into a ball under high pressure.
- These cork balls are initially hard to crack, but with persistent chewing, they can break off into large pieces with jagged edges.
- Since cork expands when exposed to moisture, swallowing a large piece may present a blockage in dog’s internal organs.
- Just like the rubber core, a cork “pill” is a smaller than golf-ball sized. Making it easier to swallow.
Yarns and Strings
- Did you know that yarns or strings used in a baseball exceed 1,000 feet in length?
- Swallowing a long piece of string can cause choking and a blockage.
Injuries often occur when dogs play with baseballs.
- Baseballs are hard (even the tee balls). If a dog is hit with one in the face or other sensitive areas, it can cause cuts, bruises, chipped teeth, or even broken bones.
- One of the most common injuries that can occur when a dog play with a baseball and a young child are injuries to the eyes.
- Since most young children tend to lack fine motor control, they can accidentally hit a dog in the eye. Again, causing cuts or bruises, and even temporary or permanent vision loss.
- Yet another common injury caused by a baseball to a dog is teeth damage. This can happen if the dog goes to catch a fast-moving ball.
- A dental injury can also occur when a dog chews on a baseball. If the dog reaches the baseball’s core the rough surface can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums. This can lead to bleeding gums and even receding gums.
Chewing on baseballs, especially on the leather cover, can pose a hygiene issue for dogs and humans
- The leather cover of a baseball can hold moisture (saliva) so it can promote the growth of various types of bacteria and germs, including those that can cause infections or illnesses in dogs.
- The leather cover of a baseball can also contain toxic chemicals and other harmful substances from the tanning process which can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
So, are baseballs safe for dogs to play with?
The short answer is no. If your dog accidental swallows’ part of the leather cover, strings, corks and pills, it can cause intestinal blockage.
Signs of intestinal blockage includes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and dehydration.
If left undetected or untreated, an intestinal blockage can lead to serious complications to your beloved dog, such as infection, tissue death, and even death.
It can also cause choking. Symptoms of choking in dogs include coughing, gagging, and difficulty breathing.
When a dog is choking, it is important to act quickly to remove the obstruction and clear the airway. If the dog is unconscious or unable to breathe, perform the Heimlich maneuver and take the dog to the vet immediately.
The same thing goes if you suspect that your dog has swallowed a part of baseball, seek immediate veterinary care!
Your veterinarian may need to perform ultrasound and other tests to determine the location of the blockage and remove it.
So, in the end you are better off sticking with balls that are meant for your dog to play with rather than giving then an old baseball you might have laying around.
Remember, baseballs are fun to throw and catch with another person, not with your dog!