Skip to Content

4 Reasons Why Golf Balls Are Dangerous For Dogs

Most dogs are at their happiest when they’re chasing a ball, some of them when they’re chewing it! My German Shepherd adapted the game of fetch to this: my human throws the ball. I fetch it, but my human must chase me around the garden to get the ball back. Repeat. Dogs love all kinds of balls but are golf balls dangerous for them?

Golf balls are dangerous for dogs, whether large or small. If swallowed, they can block the dog’s airway or the intestines, causing death. Golf balls are also made of toxic materials, which can make the dog ill. Furthermore, they are very hard and can break the dog’s teeth or cause other oral damage.

Let’s work from the standpoint that all dog owners want to take the best possible care of their best friends. Golf balls are dangerous for your dog, so you should not include them in your dog’s toybox. If you are into golf, keep your golf balls out of reach of that mischievous pup.

A dog with some golf balls. Are Golf Balls Dangerous For Dogs?

Are Golf Balls Dangerous For Dogs?

The ball is the epitome of glorious fun for your dog. His face lights up, and his tail starts beating the air at a vicious pace. Far be it from me to condemn the puppies to no ball playing, but as responsible pet owners, we should provide them with the right type of ball.

Let’s look at the reasons why golf balls are dangerous for dogs.

1. A Golf Ball Is A Choking Hazard For Dogs

If a ball is small enough to fit past your dog’s front teeth, it is much too small to be a dog toy. A golf ball fits that category completely, and most dogs will be able to carry one around in its mouth. The ball will get slimy and can easily lodge itself in your dog’s windpipe, causing your dog to choke or stop breathing altogether.

Signs That Your Dog Is Choking

If you didn’t see your dog swallow the golf ball, these are some indicating that he could be choking:

  • An obvious sign is coughing as he tries to expel the object blocking his windpipe.
  • He might paw at his head or mouth.
  • He will probably appear panicky as he can’t breathe with the foreign object blocking his airway.
  • The dog may also be vomiting, gagging, or drooling as he struggles to breathe.
  • If he can’t breathe for a lengthy period, he will lose consciousness.

Helping Your Dog When He Is Choking

Once you’ve established that a golf ball is blocking his windpipe, swipe your fingers sideways against it. If you can’t expel the ball, you should immediately get him to a vet. You can also try the Heimlich Maneuver.

  • For smaller dogs – turn him on his back and press your palm upwards from his ribcage below the sternum five times.
  • For larger dogs – stand him up, and follow a similar procedure as you would with a human: put your arms around your pup and join your hands in a fist at his abdomen. Thrust upwards and forwards five times to dislodge the golf ball.

It is also possible to give dogs rescue breaths if you can’t dislodge the golf ball, closing his mouth and breathing into his nose. This scenario would be necessary as you’re rushing the dog to the vet, or he may not survive.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are all good reasons not to allow your doggo to play with golf balls.

Dog and a Golf Ball

2. Dogs Can Swallow Golf Balls And Will Need Surgery

Especially in the case of big dogs, golf balls are easy to swallow. Once inside your dog’s body, the only way to remove them is through surgery.

You may not notice immediately that your dog has added golf balls to his diet because he may not show any symptoms if the golf ball is simply lolling around in the stomach.

When the golf ball temporarily blocks the gastric outlet into the bowel, it can cause the dog to vomit, but this will resolve itself when the ball goes back into the stomach.

The issue becomes more serious when the golf ball is forced into the small intestine, which is not as stretchy as the stomach, and it will get stuck.

Warning for golf enthusiasts: Don’t leave your golf balls lying around for your dog to swallow as he will require surgery as he can not pass a golf ball naturally.  

As a German Shepherd owner, I had to share this crazy case of a German Shepherd who had emergency surgery to remove 18 golf balls he had swallowed while ‘caddying’ for his owner. The vet was said to be stunned as he continued to remove them from the dog’s stomach. Thankfully, the dog survived.

3. The Components Of Some Golf Balls Can Be Toxic To Dogs

Some dogs have the attitude of, “If it can fit in my mouth, I can eat it or chew it.” That’s not always great for their health.

Though the risk of choking or getting the ball stuck in the digestive system is a more significant danger, the composition of some golf balls could make a dog sick if ingested.

Environmentalists studying the impact of “golf ball litter” on the environment discovered that some golf balls contain heavy metals such as lead, tungsten, cobalt, and zinc. Scientists have also found that golf balls take up to 1000 years to decompose.

Golf balls can be made up of 1 to 5 pieces. Depending on the type of golf ball, the different layers inside a golf ball can be rubber, liquid rubber, and plastic.

The core is constructed of rubber, and the outer coatings are made either from Surlyn, a thermoplastic resin, or urethane, a compound also found in pesticides. You can learn more about the composition of golf balls in this article, What Are Golf Balls Made Of?

Dogs reacting to chemicals or metals could start vomiting, refuse to eat or drink, and become lethargic. If your dog presents with these symptoms after swallowing a golf ball, you should consult a vet immediately.

Dog With Golf Balls

4. Golf Balls Can Cause Dental Damage To Dogs

Golf balls are extremely hard, so if any of the previous scenarios don’t affect your dog when he gets hold of one, chewing it could break or chip his teeth which could require dental surgery.

The ball fragments can also lodge in his gums and cause inflammation or infection. Dental surgery can be traumatic for the dog and an unnecessary expense for the pet owner.

Final Thoughts

Dog lovers are often inclined to let their best friends play with anything they find interesting, but no circumstances make it appropriate for your dog to play with golf balls. It isn’t worth risking their well-being or their lives.

There are many alternative toys specially designed for dogs that will not harm them, so always provide your pooch with safe toys to play with.  


About Post Author