Rescue Group Says One Brand of Tennis Balls Caused ‘Chemical Burns’ and Mouth Injuries in Dogs


An animal rescue group is warning dog lovers about possible dangers of playing with tennis balls after four dogs in their care had serious reactions.

The Humane Animal Rescue Project in Hempstead, Texas, says the four dogs appear to have been chewing on Penn tennis balls and had symptoms that included “swollen tongue, white ulcerations, heavy drooling, difficulty in drinking, eating or breathing.”

The Humane Animal Project posted:

These tennis balls may be causing serious injury to your dogs !!!
3 of our dogs and one boarder appear to have had reactions in their mouths, throats, tongues , esophagus and gums after playing with this brand of Penn balls.

Humane Animal Rescue Project

Symptoms are swollen tongue, white ulcerations, heavy drooling, difficulty in drinking, eating or breathing. Several of the dogs required IV’s because of the pain caused while drinking and eating.
Several vets have described the ulcers as ‘chemical burns’.
The balls here were purchased at Costco.
But similar balls are sold at many retailers.

If anyone knows a dog, has a dog or heard a similar story please share it here. We can’t be the only ones with this issue.

The company who manufactures the balls says it’s investigating, but has not heard of any similar reports. Allison Barnett, a brand manager for Head Penn Racquet Sports, told PEOPLE, “Tennis balls are made for tennis; they are not marketed or sold as pet toys, but we want to assure our customers that no toxic materials are added to our tennis balls, and we would never knowingly market a product that harms animals or humans.”

Humane Animal Rescue Project

They checked with their manufacturing department and were told that they don’t believe anything has changed in the manufacturing process, but they are continuing to investigate.

Dr. John de Jong, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said that he has never heard of dogs having these kind of complications after coming in contact with a tennis ball and that typically they are “very, very safe and very loved by dogs”.

Humane Animal Rescue Project

But, as with any toy or object, he and other vets recommend to always supervise play as dogs might chew and destroy balls and swallow them, which could cause blockages and intestinal obstructions.

Many dog owners commented on the Facebook warning, pointing out it’s safer to get balls from the pet store that are intended for animal use and are pet safe.

Some people also pointed out that the “fuzz” is too abrasive and “can wear down a dog’s teeth if you have a dog who really aggressively chews them.”

Others suggested that the balls likely have a chemical coating treatment and recommend putting them through the washing machine a few times, rather than give them to a dog straight out of the can.

The dogs with Humane Animal Rescue Project who suffered from the “chemical burns” are all doing better and are expected to make a full recovery.


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