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Dry Hop Creep, Over-Carbonation and Diacetyl in Beer

Dry Hop Creep, Over-Carbonation and Diacetyl in Beer

This week I take a close look at the effects of Dry Hop Creep in highly hopped beer styles like IPAs and what can be done to limit the problem.

For some time now, brewers of IPAs using very high levels of dry hopping have been aware of stability issues with their finished beer including diacetyl, over attenuation and even carbonation issues.

However not until 2018 were researchers able to explain the problem in some detail. Oregon State University published a paper in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and also presentations were made by Caolan Vaughan at Brewcon 2018 in Sydney and another was done at the Oregon Beer Summit.

The term “Hop Creep” or “Dry Hop Creep” was coined to describe the problem which occurs when high levels of dry hops are used. Ironically, the problem was described by Brown and Morris way back in 1893 including the cause, but that knowledge was largely lost over the last 126 years.

What is Hop Creep

At its core, hop creep is continued fermentation in the bottle or keg after the finished beer has been packaged for distribution. Symptoms include overcarbonation of bottles and kegs, over-attenuation of packaged beer, and diacetyl off flavors. It can occur in any unpasteurized or unfiltered packaged beer. Warm storage of the packaged beer can make the situation worse.

The root cause of hop creep is high levels of dry hopping. Hops actually contain trace amounts of both alpha and beta amylase as well as limit dextrinase enzymes. After dry hopping these enzymes can continue to convert a small amount of starch into sugars even at room temperature. If yeast is still present the sugars will ferment, lowering the final gravity of the beer and also creating carbonation.

The net effect can be as much as a 1-2 Plato drop in final gravity over a period of 40 days, which leads to a 5% increase in carbonation levels and 1.3% increase in alcohol (Kirkpatrick and Shellhammer). There tests were done at 20 C, and higher storage temperatures can result in even more attenuation. This means the bottles and kegs will be overcarbonated, and the increased attenuation can also affect the malt-hop balance and body of the finished beer – big problems for commercial breweries.

In addition the fermentation will raise the diacetyl levels of the beer, and there will likely not be enough yeast to clean that diacetyl up resulting in a buttery off flavor in the finished beer.

Preventing Hop Creep

There are a variety of techniques that may reduce the effects of hop creep though they may not completely eliminate it. Some of these also have limited hard experimental data behind them:

  • Filter or Pasteurize the Finished Beer – Really the only way to completely eliminate hop creep, filtering or pasteurizing will remove live yeast from the equation, stopping further fermentation.
  • Reduce Dry Hop Levels – Shift some dry hops to the whirlpool (before fermentation) where they are less likely to create enzyme problems.
  • Cold Store you Beer – Hop creep is temperature dependent, and if you can ensure that the finished beer is stored cold, it will significantly reduce the enzyme and fermentation activity.
  • Design “Creep” into the Recipe/Process – Some brewers purposely under-attenuate and also under-carbonate their beers, assuming hop creep will occur in finished bottles/kegs. While this won’t solve potential diacetyl issues, it can help with over-carbonated/over-attenuated beers. It can be difficult to determine how much “creep” to expect however.
  • Dry Hop Earlier – Though not much reasearch has been done on this, some brewers believe dry hopping closer to fermentation will give the hop enzymes and yeast time to act before the beer is packaged, reducing the scope of the hop creep problem.
  • Use Sulfites/Sulfates to Reduce Yeast Activity – While not an option for naturally conditioned bottles, you can consider adding potassium metabisulfite (and possibly potassium sorbate) to kegs to inhibit further fermentation. These additives are widely used in the wine/mead industry as a preservative and also to inhibit further fermentation.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article on hop creep. Thank you for joining me this week on the BeersSmith blog – please subscribe to the newsletter or listen to my video podcast for more great material on homebrewing.

What Dog Treats Are Dangerous For My Dog?

What Dog Treats Are Dangerous For My Dog?

***Looking for dog treats that are guaranteed safe AND delicious for your pup? Check out BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

No one expects the things they buy at the pet store to be unsafe. After all, that’s what the Food and Drug Administration is for. But it often takes thousands of complaints before the FDA demands a recall for a product. Until then, harmful items remain on the shelves for unsuspecting dog owners. Here are some dog treats with a history of consumer complaints that you should avoid the next time you’re at the pet store.

Dynamic Pet Real Ham Bone

k2-_e6db9f74-9350-4e68-b054-94ca987832b9.v1

What dog doesn’t like a big, juicy bone? Unfortunately, this dog treat has been under fire for years from pet owners who say the bone is responsible for vet bills and even deaths. Hundreds of pet owners have shared their negative experiences with the bone, and even the Better Business Bureau has warned consumers for years, advising pet owners to exercise caution when buying the treats.

mdgraham

The bones, according to critics, come apart when bitten, creating sharp shards that can get stuck in the small intestine, which leads to vomiting, diarrhea, and, without treatment, eventual death. After years of complaints, the bones now come with a warning label advising owners to supervise their pet while consuming the bone. But an innocuous warning label isn’t enough for some dog lovers.

There’s currently a Facebook page, a class-action lawsuit, and an online petition that are all trying to get the bones pulled from shelves. However, the FDA concluded in an investigation that bones in general are “not good for dogs” and that the blame can’t be pinned on only one company. Despite all the controversy and backlash, these bones can still be purchased at any pet store.

Jerky Treats (various brands)

Chicken-Jerky-Dog-Treats

Back in 2012, the FDA issued a warning for chicken jerky dog treats made in China that were responsible for the death of more than 1,000 dogs. According to pet owners, the treats caused kidney failure and gastrointestinal illnesses. However, the most common side effect was FLS or Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease. Both Petco and Petsmart stopped carrying the dog treats, which, at the time, seemed like a conclusive end to the problem. However, many of the treats are still being sold in pet stores and in online shops like Amazon.

Since then, many dog food brands have been reformulating their jerky treats and slapping “made in the USA” labels on their products. However, such labels can be misleading since some of the ingredients can be sourced from China and contain some of the same toxins. In an updated report, the FDA advises pet owners to stay away from jerky treats until they can pinpoint what ingredient is making dogs sick.

Pur Luv Dog Treats

pur-love-bones

Earlier this month, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the dog food manufacturer stating that its treats cause intestinal blockage due to indigestible rock-hard chunks that obstruct the dog’s bowels. On Amazon, pet owners have been posting pictures of the indigestible pieces their dogs have coughed up, and there’s currently an online petition to get the treats pulled from shelves. So far the FDA has not looked into the complaints, and the dog treats can still be purchased everywhere.

Rawhide Bones/Chews (Various Brands)

800px-Dog_with_rawhide_chew_toy

Rawhide chews are infamous among pet owners. Typically made from cow hide that has been stripped of hair, the chews are given a chemical bath for freshness before being patted down and dried. Although promoted as good for teeth and teething puppies, the popular chews contain tons of chemicals and have gone through several major recalls for salmonella poisoning over the past few years.

Many pet owners advise to only buy rawhides made in the U.S., but others don’t think the purchase is worth the risk. However, with rawhide chews still being sold across the country, the choice is ultimately up to dog owners.

The Best Dog Treats For Your Dog

Now that we’ve covered some dog treats to avoid, let’s talk about the alternatives—the treats you can give your dog that will keep them happy and healthy.

When shopping for dog treats, you should look for treats that are:

  • Grain-free
  • Full of nutritional value
  • Made from high-quality ingredients

So what, exactly, are the best treats to give your pup?

Soft-Baked Treats

Weiner dog eating treats

Jerky is great if your dog likes a rougher treat. But if your pup is on the market for something a little on the softer side, Soft-Baked Treats are a great option. Soft-baked treats (like Winner Winner Chicken Dinner) are a little easier on your pup’s chompers—but still have all the nutritional benefits (and yumminess!) you’d want in a treat.

Crunchy Biscuit Treats

Dog with treat

If your dog is head over paws for flavorful treats, Crunchy Biscuit Treats are a great option. Crunchy Biscuit Treats have everything your dog could want in a treat. They’re packed with both flavor and nutrition and are free from any of the “nasties” (like wheat, corn, and soy) you want to avoid when choosing dog treats.

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Are Rubber Balls Safe For Dogs?

Are Rubber Balls Safe For Dogs?

***Looking for toys that are guaranteed safe AND fun for your dog? Check out BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

Balls are a classic staple toy in the canine world. Dogs love them, and it’s easy to see why. Balls bounce, roll, and can be carried in their mouths. What more does a pup really need when it comes to toys?

Varying in size, materials, textures, and abilities – some balls squeak, float, glow, or are infused with flavors – tennis balls are hands-down the best for fetch. They’re inexpensive, bright, easy to carry (for dogs and humans) and an all-season outdoor toy. The more durable rubber balls are great too, but they tend to be a bit heavier.

Why Do Dogs Love Rubber Balls?

BarkBox Sledgehog Dog Toy

Ever wonder why dogs love these round toys so much? It’s because the silly bouncing balls tap into your pup’s basic instinct to chase and hunt. Your pal isn’t chasing the ball across the park just for the fun of it – although it is pretty fun. The movements of the rubber ball are similar to that of prey and your pup is the predator going in for the kill. Your dog finds the ball, shakes it, and brings it back to you victoriously. When you throw the ball again, the hunt is on once more!

There’s no denying rubber balls can be tons on fun. They’ve been a staple in dog toys for a very long time since they’re able to withstand most wear and tear from playful pups and they really get those tails wagging. But are these rubber balls safe for dogs?

Safety Issues

Dog with tennis ball

Choking is always at the forefront of a pup parent’s mind. Pups who love to use their powerful jaws to chew can easily destroy a rubber ball – especially a tennis ball – and swallow the pieces. Dogs with strong chompers can bite into a rubber ball as easily as an apple, so a rubber ball might not be a great choice for them if they’re interested in tearing it apart.

Ingesting pieces of toys can create internal blockage and serious health issues that could result in a trip to the emergency room. Larger pups, like Labrador Retrievers and Great Danes, can comfortably fit tennis balls in their mouths and swallow them whole. The ball can get lodge in the back of their throats cutting off their air supply or make it down to their stomachs creating a blockage.

Terrier Dog with BarkBox Orbee Globe Fetch Ball

The American Kennel Club wants owners to keep an eye on the condition of the fuzz around this specific toy. “The ball itself is not the only choking risk. Some dogs enjoy shredding the yellow-green fuzz that surrounds the tennis ball. Eating this fuzz can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockages that could require surgery.”

Dogs are excitable creatures that can get themselves into undesirable situations quickly. Rubber balls, or any toy really, can be dangerous without human supervision. Keep a watchful eye on your pal when they sit down for a rubber ball play session. The rule of thumb is to take away the toy if you notice pieces becoming detached. The integrity of the toy has been compromised and it’s best to get your pal a new toy to play with.

Watch Out For ‘Blunting’

Chihuahua Eating BarkShop Barkday treats

Would you use a scouring pad on your teeth? That exactly what it’s like when your pup chews excessively on tennis balls. It would take a long period of time, but the abrasive fuzz can be damaging to their chompers by blunting (wearing down their teeth), which leads to major dental issues. Keep your pup’s teeth safe by monitoring your dog’s time with the ball and cutting off their access to it when you’re not present.

How To Play With Rubber Balls Safely!

Yorkie Yorkshire Terrier Fetch Toy Best Balls Ever BarkShop

Balls vary in size, so it’s best to find the right size for your pup. You wouldn’t allow a German Shepard to play with a ball made for a toy breed. The ball would be too small and pose a serious choking hazard for the large dog.

Humans know what’s best for their pup, that’s why supervision is so important when dogs play with toys. Rubber balls can safely be used during play time. Just make sure your pal isn’t getting to the toy when you’re not around. Limiting their access to the balls when you’re away is a good idea. Knowing when to toss the ball in the trash is essential. Signs that it’s time to get a new ball is if there are puncture marks, chunks of rubber missing, or the tennis ball is becoming bald.

What Rubber Balls Are Safe For Dogs?

Beagle Dog Playing with Best Balls Ever Fetch Toys Barkshop

Tossing out old toys give you a chance to step up your game of fetch with new and exciting tennis balls. But “The Best Balls Ever” aren’t your average Fetch Toys. They’re bright blue, bouncy, and squeaky – so you know they’re made specifically for dogs!

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Why Does My Dog Follow Me Around All the Time?

Why Does My Dog Follow Me Around All the Time?

***Looking for a gift to blow your pup’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Our treats are made in the USA and Canada, and our recipes never contain any wheat, soy, or corn. Because we want #BarkBoxDay to be incredible for pups AND their parents, every box is wrapped in a fun surprise theme that changes monthly. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)

Everybody knows that the biggest perk of having a dog is their amazing ability to dispense love to you whenever you’re around them. On my daily commute home, I look forward to turning the key and hearing the familiar jingle of dog tags as my pup Lady cuts one of her many naps short to come get snuggles from Momma.

corgi_running_gif

Source: gifsee

But when I want to put my bag down and take my coat off, she’s stuck to me like velcro. And for the rest of the night, she’s always underfoot. One of the hardest habits to shake when I’m away from her is remembering I don’t have a shadow following me around. To give you an idea of how bad the problem is, here’s what Lady chose to swish under the bathroom door as a reminder that she would still be there when I was done:

lady_waiting_door_tail

So why do our dogs follow us around?

If you’ve got a dog like mine who follows you into the bathroom, he might just be returning the favor for all the times you’ve watched him drop a deuce. Think about it — it’s the time when you’re most vulnerable, and your pup probably wants you to feel like he’s got your back because that’s what best friends do. At least that’s what I tell myself, because anything else makes me think my dog has some poop fetish and that’s too much for my brain to handle right now, thanks.

dog_pooping_bathroom

Another reason might be that your pup really likes being around you. In a remarkable study done that involved training dogs to lie still in an M.R.I. scanner (which is hard enough for us two-legged folks to do), scientists found that dogs’ brains respond to familiar sounds and smells in a way that suggests that they do, in fact, love us and consider us family.

But love isn’t the only reason your dog wants to be your #1 sidekick 4eva. You might just be a messy eater and your pup sticks around to catch the Cheeto that will inevitably fall out of your hands. Doggy serendipity, if you will.

cheeto_corgi_gimme

Another study done on relationships between dogs in packs found that dogs are more likely to follow the most friendly dog, not the pack leader. So the fact that your dog follows you around like a groupie looking for an autograph might suggest that your pup feels safe around you, and that means you’re doing something right. So keep giving out those belly rubs and ear scratches, you rad human! 😀

Featured image via @itslolathepug /Instagram

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This Amazon Dog Bed Comes With A Surprise Toy, And People’s Pics Are ADORABLE

This Amazon Dog Bed Comes With A Surprise Toy, And People’s Pics Are ADORABLE

Looking for durable comfort, easy clean-up, and a good night’s rest? Snag BarkBox’s orthopedic memory foam bed at 20% off with CODE: 20M15VHY and show your dog how to play hard and dream big.

Unless you’re completely unfamiliar with Hans Christian Anderson and his (usually) disturbing fairytales, you probably know the story of the princess and the pea.

In this tale, a prince begins his search for a real princess. When a girl shows up at the castle gates, she’s sent to bed upon a single pea and twenty mattresses, only to wake up with bruises and complaints about the uncomfortable pea-bump. She’s a keeper, amirite? She’s then deemed “sensitive” enough to be a princess and lives happily ever after. *rolls eyes into back of skull*

SO… BarkBox recently debuted a new orthopedic memory foam dog bed on Amazon, along with a little squeaky legume and a wearable paper crown.

Because all dogs are royalty, we asked people to snap a pic of their #PupAndThePea atop their brand new beds. Enjoy smiling at these 17 REAL princes and princesses:

1. This little nugget, whose pea is almost as big as his head.

2. A sleepy Knightro, who will rule his kingdom with an iron paw one day.

3. This absolute heir to the bone.

4. Fiorenzo, sunning on that sweet, sweet memory foam.

5. Princess Addie awaiting her royal court.

6. This cozy pajama’ed pittie who demands only a nice head scritch.

7. This pint-sized duo who’s ready for some serious snugglin’.

8. This grumpy goober who could use a good, deep snooze.

9. Luna’s hypnotizing puppy eyes just BEGGING you to throw the pea.

10. An impatient Binkley waiting for Human to put the camera away, already.

11. Regal Luna waiting for the peasants to bring a chicken for her table.

12. This pooped-out pupper dreaming of squirrels and turkey jerky.

13. Itty bitty Wickett chillin’ out after some pea-fetch.

14. Owen, who knows no amount of sleep will get rid of those glorious wrinkles.

15. A guilty Bailey relieved to know his bed cover is totally machine-washable.

16. This beautiful floof about to recharge with a three-hour nap.

17. AND… future queen and current bed warmer, Mona.

Is your pup ready to play hard and dream big? Get 20% off BarkBox’s orthopedic memory foam bed (with matching pea and crown!) with CODE: 20M15VHY and show ’em a great night in!

The post This Amazon Dog Bed Comes With A Surprise Toy, And People’s Pics Are ADORABLE appeared first on BarkPost.

How Do I Add Fiber to My Dog’s Diet?

How Do I Add Fiber to My Dog’s Diet?

***Looking for a gift to blow your pup’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

Good owners want their furry loved ones to be healthy inside and out. One of the best ways to determine the condition of your pal’s digestive system is to keep an eye on the color and consistency of their stool. Trust me, you’re not the only human watching their dog do their business – it’s a part of our pup parent duties. So is picking up the waste, which is difficult when your dog’s bowel movement comes out watery. If your fur friend’s stool is looking a bit loose, or a lot loose, adding fiber to your dog’s diet is an easy way to change the consistency of their poop.

Fiber can promote healthy bowel movements, colon health, relieve your dog of constipation, and aid in weight management. Fiber can especially help by creating a solid foundation in diets for dogs who suffer from weak health, disease, or are more senior in age. Consulting your vet is always a great first step, but all pups can benefit from adding a supplement to their daily meals.

High fiber dog food, veggies, and grains are a few different ways to easily integrate fiber into your pup’s regularly scheduled meals. All pups are unique with their own needs. Determining which ingredients and the amount to use may seem a bit tricky. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are some easy and tasty tips for adding fiber to your pup’s diet.

Whole Grains

Brown rice

Absorb the liquid in your dog’s digestive system with whole grains. This is a super simple and cheap option for a supplement  – not replacement – to your normal pet food. Sprinkling a spoonful of cooked oats, cooked brown rice, or bran flakes over their meal will provide your pup with extra nutritional value and the necessary fiber to improve their bowel movements.

Start slowly by adding small amounts to your pal’s diet and work your way up over several days. Observe how your pup’s system acts in response to the change. Just like everything in life, moderation is key. Be sure you’re giving your pup the right amount of fiber (whether it’s high fiber dog food or supplemental ingredients). Signs of too much fiber are easy to spot. It can cause bloating, weight loss, farting, and loose stool – which would defeat the purpose of this dietary change. Consult the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.

High Fiber Dog Food

Dog food bowl

The fiber content in average dog food is %5 or less. High fiber dog food generally provides about 6 to 10% per serving, anything above 10% may be overdoing it and could create a negative experience for your pal. Sticking to the suggested serving size based on the life stage and size of your pup is best. You can locate the fiber content on the  ‘Guaranteed Analysis’ section of the food bag.

A few popular high fiber dog foods are Nurtro Lite and Weight Management, Wellness Core  Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Adult Dog Food. Not only do these dry dog foods have high fiber, but also high protein.

Serving your furry friend dog food with a high fiber content will improve their digestive functions, regulate blood sugar. Your pup will feel more full with this diet change since the fiber absorbs water and the switch will help manage your dog’s weight.

Pumpkin!

Pit Bull With Pumpkin Toy BarkShop BarkBox

Pump up your pup’s fiber with pumpkin. (Actual pumpkin, not a pumpkin dog toy as pictured above!) If you’ve found dog food that fulfills most of your pup’s dietary needs, switching to high fiber food may not be an option. That’s totally fine! Supplementing your current food with a bit of pureed pumpkin could work wonders for your little one.

Other than fiber, pumpkin is also full of minerals, iron, potassium, and vitamins.

Serving sizes vary with the size of the consumer. For smaller pups, add a 1/2 or full teaspoon of pumpkin pulp to their food. The medium dogs would get a table spoon amount. Larger pups would need about 1/4 of a cup added to each of their meals. You can also freeze the servings in an ice cube tray and let your pup enjoy it during a hot day!

Canned pumpkin is preferred over fresh pumpkins. It’s available all year long and has a higher level of fiber since fresh pumpkins contain more water. The downside to canned pumpkin is easily mixed up with pumpkin pie filling. It’s an easy mistake to make! Learn the distinction between the two products. They’re not the same and you’ll be adding more sugar and other additives than you expected if you end up with the pie filling. Canned pumpkin pie filling may also contain xylitol, which is toxic for our fur babies! Be sure to read the labels carefully and get your pal the right stuff.

Veggies & Fruits

Pit Bull Chewing Corn Cob Toy BarkShop

Fruit and vegetables are good for everyone, even the pups! Serve your pooch beet pulp, mashed sweet potatoes, peas, and steamed green beans to add fiber. Raw or steam carrots and apple slices are beneficial for your fur friend. They’re high in fiber and low in calories – and raw carrots are also good for your pup’s teeth!

Mashed sweet potatoes take a good amount of time when made from scratch, but you’ll be able to control what exactly goes in (or can be kept out) of the mashed sweet potatoes for your pup. Make sure to peel away the skin before chopping, steaming, and mashing. Serve 1 to 3 tablespoons with your pup’s meal once a day.

Steamed green beans are a simply way to add color, texture, and fiber to any dog’s meal. Steamed green beans is the best way to provide your pal with fiber. Raw green beans are nice every now and then, but they aren’t as easy on the internal system. Steamed green beans ensure that more of the nutritional value is absorbed! Give your pup a handful of these green veggies with their meals for an easy way to boost their fiber intake!

Other Simple Additions

Dog with treat

There are temporary solutions to use if you’re looking to help your pup with constipation issues. Fiber capsules like Virbac Vetasyl Fiber Capsules are simple for those fur friends who do well with tablets. Even if your pal can’t do capsules, you can open the plastic capsule and spread the fiber over their food!

Metamucil and similar fiber products can get your pooch through the constipation episode. Sprinkle small amounts on your pal’s food. Serve up to 1/2 tsp. for small dogs, no more than 2 tbsp. per meal for very large dogs. To blend the fiber additive to the food, add a small amount of water and let them enjoy.

Fiber capsules and Metamucil aren’t for every day use. Serving your pup Metamucil more than two days in a row could create a new bowel problem for your little one. It’s always best to follow directions and use sparingly.

There are quite a few options for adding fiber to your pup’s diet. Finding the right one for your fur family can be as easy as adding carrots or changing the food. No matter what method you find works best for your dog, always make sure they access to plenty of fresh water. It’s important to keep them hydrated and water will help get the digestive system moving smoothly.

Checking in with your vet never hurts. From puppyhood to adulthood, your dog’s needs will change throughout the years. Your veterinarian will provide even more handy tips on how to maintain your pup’s health inside and out!

Looking For More Articles Like This?

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Are Regular Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

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Are Regular Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

Are Regular Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

***Looking for dog toys that are guaranteed safe AND fun for your pup? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

When you think about Fetch Toys, chances are, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Tennis balls.

And that makes sense! Tennis balls are a dog toy classic. When you think of playing fetch, you think of throwing tennis balls in your backyard. (And of your pup chasing those tennis balls as fast as their little legs will carry them!) Tennis balls have been a fetch staple for so long, most pet owners consider them a go-to.

But what’s the deal? Are tennis balls the best Fetch Toy for your pup? And are regular tennis balls safe for dogs? Or should you look for something created specifically with pups in mind?

Potential Issues With Tennis Ball Safety

Shih Tzu with tennis ball

Now, tennis balls wouldn’t have become a staple if they posed a serious and immediate risk to your pup’s health. But that doesn’t mean they’re not without their issues! You shouldn’t give your dog a tennis ball and let them go to town. There are a few safety issues you need to keep in mind if you’re going to make tennis balls a regular fetch toy in your household.

So what, exactly, are those safety issues?

Choking Hazard

One of the major issues when it comes to answering the question “are regular tennis balls safe for dogs?” is the potential of a choking hazard.

By definition, fetch entails you throwing the tennis ball, your dog chasing it, picking it up, and bringing it back to you. That means that the tennis ball will 100% end up in your dog’s mouth. And even if you’re not actively playing catch, dogs love to chew. So that tennis ball is going to eventually find its way to your pup’s mouth—fetch or no fetch.

If a tennis ball is intact, it doesn’t present much of a choking hazard—but if your dog is able to chew through the ball, that’s when things get tricky. If your dog swallows a piece of the tennis ball or it gets lodged in their throat, it could block their airway and cause choking.

Dental Issues

Shaggy dog with tennis ball

Another potential issue with tennis balls have to do with your dog’s teeth.

While tennis balls have become a favorite for playing fetch, that’s not what they were designed for. They were designed for, you know…playing tennis. And—in case you’ve never seen tennis in action—tennis balls take quite the beating during a match.

In order to be able to take that beating, tennis balls are designed to be tough. (Otherwise, they’d fall apart mid-serve!) And while that toughness definitely comes in handy when a tennis ball comes in contact with a racket, it’s not ideal when that ball comes in contact with your dog’s teeth.

The green fuzz on the outer coating of a tennis ball is actually extremely abrasive. Over time, can wear down your dog’s teeth (that wear and tear has a name in the veterinary world—”blunting”). This can lead to a host of dental issues, which can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog—and extremely expensive for you.

Digestion Issues

Speaking of that abrasive green fuzz, it’s not only rough on your dog’s teeth—it can also be rough on your dog’s stomach.

Ingesting too much of the fuzz from tennis balls can lead to intestinal blockages, which could cause issues with digestion (or—worst-case scenario—may require surgery).

Are Regular Tennis Balls Safe For Dogs?

Black Lab With Tennis Ball

So, when it comes to safety and tennis balls, there are definitely issues to keep in mind. But at the end of the day, are regular tennis balls safe for dogs?

And the answer is yes—but with certain precautions.

If you’re going to use tennis balls as fetch toys (or for anything else), it’s important you only let your dog play with the tennis ball when you’re there to supervise. Supervision is key! That way, you can make sure they’re not in any danger of choking or swallowing pieces of the ball. Also, never let your dog play with more than one tennis ball at once. If your dog tries to get two tennis balls in their mouth, it could push one towards the back of their throat. That can increase their risk of choking. (This is especially important to keep in mind if you have a large dog with a large mouth, like a Golden Retriever or a Labrador.)

BarkBox Best Balls Ever Dog Toys

The Best Balls Ever > Regular Tennis Balls

You should also only give your dog a tennis ball after you train them to drop it on command. If a tennis ball breaks or presents a choking hazard, you need to know your dog will drop it immediately when you tell them to. So don’t use a tennis ball as a fetch toy until you’re confident your pup will drop it if you give the word.

Also, pay attention to how your pup interacts with the tennis ball. Notice f your dog is an epic chomper—and chews on the ball excessively, If so, you’ll want to replace the tennis ball with a more appropriate chew toy.

And last (but not least!), if you want to make your dog’s interactions with tennis balls safer, don’t go for a regular tennis ball! Give them a legitimate fetch toy that resembles a tennis ball—like the Best Balls Ever. Not only are these less abrasive than traditional tennis balls (which makes them safer), but they also have a squeaker inside (which makes them more fun for your pup).

What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Tennis Ball

Lab Mix With Tennis Ball

Even if you’re keeping a close watch on your pup, there’s always a chance that the tennis ball could break in their mouth—and they could eat part (or all) of it. If that happens, the first thing you should do is see if there are any pieces lodged in the back of their throat or visibly blocking their airway. If there is, remove it—and then get your pup to the vet as soon as possible. Even if the tennis ball doesn’t present a choking hazard, it can still get lodged in your dog’s intestinal tract. That can cause serious issues—and cause them quickly.

So, If you notice your dog has eaten part or all of a tennis ball, get them to the vet immediately. Your vet will be able to determine the best course of treatment—and make sure your pup is out of harm’s way.

Looking For More (Fetching) Articles Like This?

What Are The Best Fetch Toys For Large Dogs?
What Are The Best Fetch Toys For Small Dogs?
What Are The Best Fetch Toys For Playing In The Water?
10 Toys To Satisfy Your Retriever’s Urge To Fetch?
What Are The Most Durable Dog Toys?

Featured image via Bob Haarmans/Flickr

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