Does mulch make dogs sick? Expert Advice

Diagnosis of Mulch Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect that your pet has eaten cocoa mulch, or if you have any other type of mulch in your garden and you know that your pet has been grazing on it, call your veterinarian for an appointment without delay. All risks associated with mulch toxicity can become serious. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. If possible, bring a sample of the mulch to the veterinarian clinic. Product packaging is always very helpful if available.

Testing will depend on the clinical signs that your pet is displaying when he arrives at the clinic. Any information you can provide will be important such as recent illnesses, toileting habits, appetite, and activity level. Standard tests will include blood tests to verify the function of the organs (kidney, liver, pancreas), and to provide baseline markers for electrolytes and enzymes levels which will be monitored throughout treatment. Blood tests can also reveal the possibility of underlying disease processes that could complicate the poisoning.

If the physical examination reveals a tender abdomen or the presence of an intestinal blockage, imaging tools like x-rays and ultrasound may be recommended so the veterinarian can see if there is an obstruction.

Symptoms of Mulch Poisoning in Dogs

The symptoms observed in a dog who has consumed mulch can vary.

Cocoa Mulch

  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Increased heart beat
  • Restlessness
  • Rise in body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Thirst
  • Seizures
  • Tremorgenic Mycotoxins

  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fluid accumulation in lungs
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Abdominal Obstruction

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Refusal to lie down
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or diarrhoea
  • Food refusal
  • Types

    Some types of mulch are considered safer than others; mulch made from cedar, for example is a common alternative, however, ingestion could still involve a risk of mold or obstruction. Untreated wood chips, leaves, and pine needles are all used in the garden but if you have a pet who may ingest large amounts of any of these alternatives, they may not be ideal either due to gastrointestinal irritation or obstruction.

    One Type of Mulch Can Be Toxic to Dogs

    One type of mulch is toxic to dogs, and it can be dangerous for them to digest, but it isn’t sold by Gaston.

    Cocoa Bean Mulch is a byproduct of chocolate production and is popular for its color and sweet smell, but because it contains some of the same chemicals as chocolate it can be toxic to your dogs. Be aware of what’s in your gardens and look to replace your cocoa bean mulch with something like pine or cypress mulch – both safe options for your dogs.

    Dogs love to chew on things and they are curious by nature. They like to explore and try new things, which probably means that they will chew on the mulch in your garden at some point.

    Any wood-based mulch is safe for your dog. Pine, cedar, and cypress are probably the three of the most popular mulch options and they should all be dog-friendly. To be completely safe consider these additional concerns:

  • Larger mulch may present a choking hazard – If your mulch is primarily large pieces and your dog tries to swallow one, they may choke. Think about mulching your gardens with chips or fines if you’re concerned about choking.
  • Natural is always best – If your mulch is treated with chemicals it may not hurt your dog, but natural options are always best.
  • Be aware of pesticides – If you spray your gardens to deal with weeds or other pests, those chemicals can linger on mulch. Try opting for more natural options to keep your dog happy and healthy.
  • Some pets can be allergic to mulch, so keep an eye out for allergic reactions in your dogs (and cats). Symptoms like a rash, excessive scratching, irritability, or pus-filled bumps can be signs of an allergic reaction. Try to take note of what your pet has digested or chewed on in case you start seeing the symptoms of allergies.

    While cats may not try to eat or chew on your garden mulch, they may treat your newly mulched garden beds as a fresh litter box. Newly laid mulch is the right depth, smells fresh and clean, and is easy to move around – in other words, it’s the perfect environment for a cat litter box.

    Keeping cats out of your mulch can be a challenge, but here are a few tricks and tips:

  • Add elements to your garden so that they can’t get comfortable. If space out rocks and plants so that your cat doesn’t have room, they’ll likely stay out of your mulch.
  • Spread pepper of cayenne pepper on your mulch. Adding spice to your gardens won’t hurt your cats (or your plants) but it will keep them from laying down in the mulch. Just be careful not to get too much cayenne on yourself.
  • Buy a sprayer (or other devices) to keep pets out of your garden. There are sprayers that work with a sensor that will spray your pets when they try to get in your garden.
  • Provide an alternative to your mulched gardens. Some homeowners prefer to provide an actual outdoor litter box for their cats.
  • Deploying one (or more) of these strategies can help keep your cats out of your garden and keep your mulch fresh and clean.

    Mulch Poisoning in Dogs | Wag!

    One of the important elements of landscape design is mulch. Its functions include retaining moisture, keeping weeds away, and helping plants grow even in difficult soils. Also, mulches add visual appeal to your yard. However, there are certain things that you need to consider before settling on a type of mulch, and one is the safety of your pets, particularly dogs.

    There are mulches that were found to be dangerous to dogs. When certain types of mulches are consumed, dogs may get poisoned, suffer allergies, or even gastrointestinal obstruction.

    Cocoa mulch. A very popular gardening product made from cocoa shells, cocoa mulch contains theobromine, a toxin that is dangerous to dogs.

    Pine needle mulch. Considered harmful to dogs if swallowed, pine needle mulch can damage the stomach lining of your pet.

    It is the nature of dogs to chew on things whenever they are alone or get bored. So, in choosing mulches, avoid those with larger chunks as they can cause gastrointestinal obstruction if swallowed.

    Watch out for any possible allergic reactions, such as wheezing or having skin rashes, if you just added new mulch to your garden. If these occur, immediately remove the mulch and replace it with a different mulch.

    Don’t just choose a type of mulch just because it can adapt to the kind of plants you have in your garden and to the area’s humidity—always consider the safety of your dogs.

    Rubber mulch. Typically made from recycled tires, rubber mulch is a very durable option that can last for years. Since it looks just like wood without the sweet smell like what other types of mulch have, your dog will less likely attempt to chew on it. Still, your dogs are at risk of gastrointestinal obstruction if they chew on rubber mulch out of restlessness.

    Untreated wood mulch. Avoid wood mulches that are dyed and added with chemicals as they are not good for the environment and for your dogs.

    Cedar mulch. A popular alternative among pet owners, cedar mulch is a pet-friendly mulch because it is shredded finely. In case your dog ingests the fibres, it can be easily digested. Plus, cedar mulch has bug repelling properties fit for gardens.

    Cypress mulch. A very common type of mulch used in landscaping, cypress mulch is not toxic to dogs.

    So, before you settle on buying bags of mulches from home renovation stores and landscaping shops online, consider their effect on your pets. Decide on one that is beneficial for your landscape design and safe for the environment and your pets.