Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paws for Thought: Tennis balls can be dangerous dog toys

Dennis Nevins introduces Sunny, left, and Shade, right, to Jerrylee Vanderhurst’s dog, Wolfie J. Nevins adopted Sunny and Shade from the City of Sacramento’s animal shelter when Vanderhurst told him of their plight.

What’s not to like about cheap, easily available tennis balls that dogs love to chase, catch and chew? Answer: chewing, choking and ingesting.
Chewing tennis balls damages teeth. According to Dogged Health,, tennis ball fibers are surprisingly abrasive as they are meant to withstand hard-court surfaces. Then there’s the tough glue that adheres the felt to the ball. Over time, enamel and dentin are worn down exposing the internal root canal system. This painful condition can lead to serious dental decay and other infections. At that point, you are facing big vet bills for dental work and your dog is facing loss of teeth.
Choking can occur when a tennis ball is either compressed and pops open at the back of the dog’s throat or the dog has two or more tennis balls in its mouth. In this situation, air supply is cut off and your beloved pet will die unless the ball is removed immediately.
Ingesting pieces of a tennis ball usually requires a trip to the vet and expensive surgery to remove the blockage. Large dogs can destroy a tennis ball in seconds and even swallow it whole. Smaller dogs may rip off the covering and eat it along with bits of the ball. Surgery to remove the debris is painful and potentially deadly for your dog as well as costly for you.
So what to do? First and foremost, monitor all ball activity. Play fetch not drop-and-chew. If possible, use rubber balls sold at pet supply stores that are too large to be swallowed and too tough to be chewed by your largest and strongest dog. If your dog must have a tennis ball, use one designed for dogs and limit its use. Additional information can be found online at Animal Care Clinic.

Happy Tails
It’s heartbreaking when you can’t keep beloved pets and even more so when they are a bonded pair. Back in March, Sunrise and Shade were tearfully relinquished to the city of Sacramento’s Front Street animal shelter because their owner could no longer care for them. Animal Care Services Manager, Gina Knepp, and her staff were determined to find a good home for these two senior dogs who were littermates.

And so the media outreach began. Featured on Front Street’s Facebook page and Fox 40, they attracted a huge following, but the March 16 offsite adoption event at the Pet Department Store proved to be their lucky day. Jerrylee Vanderhurst, an ardent follower of their situation on Facebook, arrived and announced, “I’ve got to adopt these two now!” Vanderhurst’s long-time partner, Dennis Nevins, had already agreed to take them into his home and care for them for their remaining years. And so these two senior dogs were adopted that very day.

“Sunny” aka Sunrise and Shade now live with Dennis enjoying the good life in Napa’s wine country. Sunny and Shade get along with Dennis’ three rescue cats as well as Angus, a senior Lab, who visits from time to time. They also spend quality time with Jerrylee, her dog Wolfie J and rescue cat Mixie in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Apparently Sunny is deaf. So when Dennis or Jerrylee wants Sunny to come they simply call, “Sunny and Shade” and both come bounding over knowing they are home again!

Ways to Help
Join the effort to reduce cat overpopulation. Help experienced volunteers with Woodland’s trap-neuter-release program. Contact Angela Kinn at for details.

— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at This column appears monthly.

Special to The Enterprise


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