A dog just died choking on a tennis ball. I’ve heard this way too many times and this time from a colleague of mine who was called to help. From the phone, before she could make it to the dog, she gave CPR instructions. It was too late.
The dog walker tried to dislodge the ball which was stuck at the back of the throat and in the process was bitten so badly, because the dog was panicking and their wrist was broken, while trying. It’s tragic on all fronts but we can do something about this.
One: Throw balls that are size appropriate and by this I mean, choose balls that are too big for the dog. Above, are two balls. One is bigger than the other, just enough so that it can’t get lodged in my dogs throat. I have a small dog, too; so I throw a different size ball for her and I ALWAYS put the balls away.
Balls of any kind are an interactive toy. They should never be left out for dogs to chew on, NEVER! Bring them out for fetch time and put them securely away when play time is over.
Two: Learn the Heimlich maneuver. Being prepared is one step further to saving a dogs life.
Three: If you have a dog who destroys tennis balls, don’t get tennis balls any more. When they chew off the felt of a tennis ball, next is to break the ball and broken tennis balls are more likely to be swallowed and the broken edges are sharp enough to tear the lining of the internal organs. Kong makes balls of all sizes and shapes. I prefer the ones that have a hole on both sides making it even more difficult for a dog to choke on.
Keep safe while having fun with your dog. This goes for all toys, not just tennis balls.
About the author: Jill Breitner, is a professional dog trainer and dog body language expert loving and living her life on the west coast of the USA. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language recommended and used by veterinarians, shelters, trainers, educators and guardians worldwide. It’s available in iTunes and Google play. Jill has been teaching gentle handling/basic husbandry skills to clients and their dogs for 40 years, to be your pets advocate for a happier and stress free life. She also does online dog training, worldwide. Join Jill on her Dog Decoder Facebook page