Back

Get started

Customized by You

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds.

Don’t let dog chew bones or tennis balls

Q: Baxter, my 5-year-old retriever mix, broke a tooth while gnawing on a bone. The veterinarian extracted the fractured tooth and remarked that Baxter’s enamel was badly worn, probably from chewing on tennis balls. Can you suggest some safe chew toys?

A: The nylon fuzz on tennis balls damages enamel in two ways: it’s abrasive even when clean, and it picks up dirt that acts like sandpaper on teeth.

For that reason, I gave our golden retriever ball-hound Sam smooth racquetball balls, but he chewed them to bits and swallowed the pieces. Fortunately, he threw them up, so I didn’t have to surgically remove them. But that was the end of his racquetball fun—and a lesson for us all.

You learned an expensive lesson about rigid chew toys: Anything harder than teeth breaks teeth. The list includes natural and nylon bones, antlers, cow hooves, dried pig ears, hard plastic chew toys and even ice cubes.

Safe chew toys have some “give.” Most dogs can safely chew firm rubber toys, which are available in a variety of shapes. Kong black toys are good for power chewers, but if Baxter destroys one, you’ll need to ask your veterinarian to order the nearly indestructible Kong blue toys.

Make the toy more fun by hiding a treat or some peanut butter or frozen canned dog food inside. In addition, offer Baxter a twisted rope toy and some dental chews. Also, increase Baxter’s physical activity to tire him out before he settles down with his chew toys.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

Whether it’s through sound or behavior...

Q: Taylor, my 9-year-...

Q: What do I do if my...

More From Figo Blog

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

If you have extra time these days, perhaps...

Pet Professionals: Interview With Kristen Levine Pet Blogger | Figo Pet Insurance

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Pet given as gift for the holiday sitting under the tree

The mental image is a familiar one—a giddy...