Cocoa Mulch & Your Dog

Spring is here! It’s here! Oh wait, its winter again! Spring is back! Ok so we have been having some pretty funky weather around here lately, but we have all got spring fever bad, which means an overwhelming desire to work on the yard and do some planting! Whoo!

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

There are many people that put mulch around their flower beds or in their gardens. Most use a cedar mulch that is good for keeping away fleas. Others use what is known as chocolate (or to die for smelling) mulch that is made from cocoa bean husks. Made from spent cocoa beans used in chocolate production, cocoa bean mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives a garden an appealing chocolate smell, but it attracts dogs like a magnet!

Cocoa mulch is just as poisonous to dogs as chocolate because it contains caffeine and theobromine. Cocoa mulch contains anywhere from 300-1200 mg of theobromine per ounce, making it the most concentrated chocolate product that a dog can encounter. According to the ASPCA,

Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; about 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate or cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center immediately.

The first signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea, increased urination, lethargy and depression, and muscle tremors. This can progress to cardiac arrhythmia and seizures that can lead to death.  Though most symptoms will begin to appear within two hours it can take as long as twenty four hours for symptoms to appear and up to three days for recovery.

As theobromine metabolizes slowly in dogs symptoms may be slow in appearing- do NOT be fooled into thinking everything is ok.  Early attention and treatment can make the difference in saving your companion’s life.

If you discover your pet has ingested cocoa mulch DO NOT wait for symptoms to appear but phone your veterinarian-poisoning is an EMERGENCY.

It is up to us to keep our furry companions safe, so in the best interest of your dog, just avoid the stuff and use cedar or rock to landscape your yard.


4 thoughts on “Cocoa Mulch & Your Dog

  1. This is a great tip, and to think I was about to do this EXACT same thing to my lawn today.

    …and my dogs are well under 50lbs and both will eat anything. I mean anything!

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