Chocolate Mulch Risky for Dogs

March 27th, 2010

Your thoughts may be turning to landscaping about right now. Before you head to the store for mulch, consider whether selecting chocolate mulch is worth the risk to dogs.

If you have a dog or a even if your neighbors have one, it’s smart to avoid cocoa bean or chocolate mulch. It’s a byproduct of chocolate production, and it contains theobromine and caffeine, two substances that pose a danger to dogs.


Canines may be tempted by the chocolate smell of cocoa bean mulch, but they could pay the price with upsetting symptoms if they give in and eat it. When consumed in a low dose, the mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset.

However, the symptoms become more serious when the mulch is consumed in higher amounts: gastrointestinal obstruction, tachycardia and muscle tremors.

Some people think the threat posed to dogs by cocoa bean mulch is overblown. The ASPCA reports that they’ve never received a case of dog poisoning via consuming the mulch. According to, there has only been one 2007 case of a pet death caused by eating the mulch. They rate the cocoa bean mulch warning as “partly true.”

The danger, however unlikely, still persists. It’s commonly accepted that chocolate is dangerous to dogs, and this mulch contains chemicals from chocolate. If poisoning is possible, isn’t it better to choose a different mulch?

If cocoa bean mulch is consumed by your dog, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 or your veterinarian for help.

(Image via flickr/IntangibleArts)

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