Is Mulch Safe For Dogs?

Is mulch safe for dogs? In this article, we’re gonna find out!

Mulch is a multifaceted material that has great benefits for a home garden. However, when consumed, some types of mulch can pose a risk to domesticated animals, especially dogs. As a pet owner, it is important to use a pet-safe mulch.

What Is Mulch?

Mulch is an important component of any healthy garden. It is a protective covering that is spread around plants or over the surface of the soil. Mulch is used to retain moisture in the soil, suppress unwanted weeds, and enhance the garden’s look. A variety of organic and non-organic materials can be used as mulch, and when applied correctly, can dramatically improve soil productivity.

What Types Of Mulch Are Toxic To Dogs?

When some types of harmful mulches are chewed or consumed by dogs, they may cause mulch poisoning, leading to an allergic reaction, vomiting, diarrhea, or even a gastrointestinal obstruction.

Therefore, it’s essential that you choose your mulch carefully, and know what to avoid:

Cocoa mulch: This popular gardening material is made from cocoa shells, and it is particularly unsafe for canines. The sweet-smelling mulch is very tempting for your dog to chew. However, like chocolate or coffee, this cocoa bean mulch contains the compound “theobromine.” If swallowed, it can cause cardiac irregularities, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and potentially death if enough is ingested. 

Pine needle mulch: The smell and texture of Pine needles can be particularly attractive to puppies and dogs. This mulch looks similar to grass and may prompt your pooch to ingest it when hungry or bored. Swallowing the sharp pine needles can cause damage to your pet’s stomach lining.

Wood Mulch: Some mulch contains species of wood that can be harmful to pets and may cause allergic reactions. Dangerous woods include oak, cherry, and trumpet vine cedar. Furthermore, some mulch contains the treated wood arsenic (CCA) “chromate copper arsenate.” CCA is a poisonous chemical that’s not only bad for the soil but also humans and pets.

What Is The Best Type Of Mulch To Use Around My Pet?

Cedar mulch: This toxin-free mulch is an ideal covering for your garden and provides a warm bed for your dog to lie in. Cedar is a dog-friendly mulch because it is finely shredded, making the fibers easy to digest. It is also an excellent bug repellent. A drawback to this type of mulch is that it must be replaced every year, as it absorbs moisture and bacteria. 

Rubber mulch: This is an eco-friendly and durable option that poses less threat to your chewing canine. Typically made from recycled tires, rubber mulch can last much longer than wood mulch. It does not retain liquids, making it easier to rinse off any odors and urine. Aesthetically, the rubber mulch looks like natural wood but does not have the sweet-smelling scents that will attract dogs to chew. Of course, every dog is different, so there is still some risk of gastrointestinal obstruction if your dog is a persistent chewer.

Stone and RocksThis is a safe option for dog owners to use around their pets. Rocks have no taste and are extremely hard, making them almost impossible to be chewed. Make sure to choose smooth and rounded rocks to keep your dog’s paws safe. A disadvantage to rock and stone mulch is that it doesn’t add any nutrients to your soil.

How To Choose The Best Dog-Friendly Mulch.

Begin by looking for natural or synthetic options that are cushioning and easy on the dog’s paws and joints. Ensure that you choose a nontoxic mulch that is safe to use around animals and humans. It is also helpful to select types of mulch that can be easily replaced when it becomes dirty or smelly. Once you have chosen your mulch, lay it in a small area of your garden, and watch for any possible allergic reactions, such as coughing or skin rashes. If this happens, immediately remove the mulch and replace it with a different mulch.

Why Do Dogs Eat Mulch?

It’s in a dog’s nature to want to chew, especially young puppies. Sometimes your dog will chew on mulch because it tastes and smells nice, like Cocoa mulch. Other times your pooch will chew on wood mulch because they are lacking in nutrients or are hungry. In most cases, however, your dog will chew out of boredom or curiosity. 

What To Go If Your Dog Eats Mulch?

It’s important to note that not every variety of mulch will cause issues for your pup. It is important to stay alert and cautious when introducing your dog to new surroundings. If you suspect that your dog has eaten mulch, particularly cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian immediately. All symptoms associated with mulch poisoning can become serious. If possible, bring a sample of the consumed mulch to the clinic, as this can make it easier to determine what may be causing issues. 

How Do You Keep Pets Out Of Mulch?

For many curious animals, mulch is an excellent place for digging, peeing, and sleeping. This sort of activity can damage the mulch and disturb the plants underneath. Mulch may also pose risks to your pet, so keeping them away from the mulch is the best option for your plants and pooch. It is not always possible to keep dogs indoors, but it is possible to keep them away from the flower beds. Here are some options:

1) Cut some chicken wire the length of your garden beds, place it over the mulch and soil, and ensure that it is nailed down in place. Cut holes in the wire for the plants to fit under so that they can grow, and no sharp edges are visible for your dog to cut itself on. Placing wire on top of the mulch will make it a lot harder for your dog to dig and chew on. It will also create an uncomfortable surface for your dog to walk on, so they will naturally opt for the grass or surrounding garden instead. 

2) You may also choose to place multiple wooden stakes around the flower beds, spacing them approximately 20-30cm apart. Ensure that the stakes are not sharp, or can be easily knocked over by your pup or the wind. The stakes make it difficult for your dog to walk around and lay on the mulch without bumping into the spaced-apart wood.  

3) Another option is to place an odor repellent over your mulched garden. This can be found at most pet stores or online. Choose a spray odor for those smaller areas or granules for larger garden beds. Reapply the repellent after rain or heavy winds, and follow the instructions indicated on the product packaging.

Final Thoughts

So, is mulch safe for dogs? Yes and no.

While some mulch is considered safe for dogs (in that it isn’t toxic to them), it’s always a good idea to supervise your dogs whenever they’re near your garden beds to prevent them from consuming it.