Yes, several types of mulches can be bad for your dog.

As a pet owner, you can’t just choose a mulch based solely on how well it fits the humidity levels and the plants you have in your garden. You should always think about your dogs’ safety first.

Mulching is great for your lawn. However, is mulch bad for dogs? Does it pose a serious health risk to your fur baby? What mulch is bad for dogs?

Many dog parents have these types of questions. 

Today, in this blog, we will answer all your questions regarding dogs and mulch.

So, let’s begin.

What Is Poisoning from Mulch?

An answer post explaining what is poisoning from mulch

Mulch is a material applied to soil to cover it, usually with the intention of improving the area’s appearance. 

As it helps promote a healthy-looking lawn, many gardeners consider applying it.

For instance, many dogs find the idea of ingesting cocoa bean mulch intriguing due to its pleasant scent. The substances theobromine and caffeine, which are also present in chocolate, are harmful if consumed. 

Dogs that are poisoned by these drugs may have tremors and vomiting as symptoms.

Even though other varieties of mulch may not be as poisonous, they may potentially cause intestinal blockage and discomfort in the digestive system. 

Mulch can also contain mold; if consumed, the tremorgenic mycotoxins it contains may cause seizures and tremors. 

So, a simple answer to your question, “is mulch bad for dogs?” is a yes, as it may cause poisoning.

Why Your Dog May Eat Mulch?

You have the answer to whether is mulch bad for dogs. But do you wonder why would your dog consume it?

Well, puppies, in particular, tend to be observant and investigate everything they can get their mouths on, including the mulch you put down in your yard that has an earthy scent. 

Some dogs enjoy chewing on wood mulch chips because of the way it feels in their mouths. 

In other situations, dogs are just bored and want to do something enjoyable.

Pica is a disorder in which dogs have an urge to eat inedible materials, such as mulch. 

They chew on and eat things like wood, bark, plastic, paper, or rocks is what defines the disorder. Dogs of all ages can have pica. 

Your dog may chew on mulch if bored, stressed, or nervous. Underlying medical disorders, including anemia or mineral shortages, can cause pica.

Side Effects of Mulch on Dogs

An infographic listing the side effects of mulch on dogs

All dogs are susceptible to garden mulch poisoning, but puppies and small-breed dogs are more vulnerable. So, if you think is mulch bad for dog if you have a tough breed. Yes, it is still a health risk.

Mulch that is too large can be a choking hazard. 

Similar to how some dogs have choked on stick fragments, your dog may choke if they are chewing on larger mulch pieces and attempt to swallow one. 

Pesticides can also last much longer on mulch. When your dog enters the house, it will track it inside.

Mulch allergies are also possible in certain pets. Thus, it’s critical to watch out for allergic reactions. 

A rash, constant scratching, pus-filled bumps, or irritation are possible symptoms. 

Mulch toxicity symptoms can include the following, and typically, they show within 6 to 12 hours:

  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Death

Is Mulch Bad For Dogs: Handling the Dog Post Mulch Consumption 

If you suspect your pet has consumed cocoa mulch or any other kind of mulch in your garden, don’t wait for signs to show up. 

Bring a sample of the mulch to the veterinary facility. If you are unable to do that, find the product packaging on the internet.

It will help the doctor with the treatment.

Your pet’s clinical indicators when he gets to the clinic will determine what tests need to be done. 

Besides that, the vet will ask about the health history, bowel habits, eating patterns, and level of activity. 

Blood tests are standard testing steps to confirm the organs’ functionality and provide baseline markers for the levels of electrolytes and enzymes that will be tracked during treatment. 

Additionally, blood testing may indicate the existence of underlying medical conditions.

The doctor may suggest imaging tests like X-rays and ultrasounds if the physical examination finds a sore abdomen or the presence of an intestinal blockage.

Dangerous Mulches for Dog

An infographic on the dangerous mulches for dogs

Another explanation for Whether is mulch bad for dogs can be: No, if you use the right one.

It is true that some may be toxic, trigger an allergic reaction, or even result in potentially fatal gastrointestinal blockages if eaten.

First, let’s look at what mulch is bad for dogs.

1. Cocoa Mulch

Mulch made from cocoa shells is extremely popular. It is a byproduct of making chocolate and is well-known for its vibrant color and pleasant scent.

Overconsumption of cocoa mulch can result in seizures, high heart rate, spasms in the muscles, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.

2. Pine Needles

For plants that prefer more acidic soil, pine needle mulch is a beautiful mulch that decomposes and acids the surrounding soil. Pine needle mulch may seem lovely, but it’s thought to be quite dangerous for dogs. 

It can seriously harm your dog’s stomach lining if ingested. It can also get stuck in paws.

When taking your dog to public areas and parks with mulch, exercise caution and try to confine them to a section of the garden without mulch. 

3. Rubber Mulch 

It is an extremely long-lasting solution created from discarded tires. 

Your dog is less inclined to want to chew on it as it looks exactly like wood and doesn’t have the pleasant scent that other varieties of mulch do.

However, if your dogs chew on rubber mulch out of restlessness, it gets into their digestive tract. 

Mulch That You Can Use

After going through what mulch is bad for dogs, we’ll go through the ones you can use:

1. Untreated Wood Mulches 

Avoid mulch that is dyed or treated with chemicals because they are bad for the environment and your dogs.

2. Cedar Mulch

Because it is finely shredded, cedar mulch is a well-liked substitute among pet owners and is suitable for animals. 

If your dog eats the fibers, they will be easily broken down. Additionally, cedar mulch offers insect-repelling qualities suitable for gardens.

3. Cypress Mulch

As it doesn’t cause any harm to living organisms, Cypress mulch is a famous landscaping option.

Therefore, consider how mulch may affect your pets before purchasing bags of it from online landscaping and home improvement businesses. 

Select one that is safe for the environment, your pets, and your landscape design.

Ways to Prevent Dogs from Consuming Mulch

An infographic on how to prevent dogs from consuming mulch

1. Train Your Dog

When your pet is outdoors, keep an eye on it. 

It’s crucial to train your dog using cues or treats. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to teach your dog two possibly life-saving cues: leave and drop it.

2. Keep it Busy 

A dog that eats mulch may be doing it because of boredom. Giving them additional options for stimulation, like chew toys or food puzzles, can help with this.

3. Cover the Area

If you intend to use mulch, cover the area with a fence. Installing a garden fence constructed of chicken wire or any other dog-proof fencing can be an option if your dog is very persistent. 

This is a certain method to keep your dog out of danger and away from plants that could be poisonous to animals, such as mulch. 

Read More: Wood Chips Vs. Mulch: The Better Choice For Your Landscape


How should I respond if my dog has consumed poisonous mulch?

Make quick contact with your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital if you think your dog may have swallowed hazardous mulch. Depending on the condition, they may treat it with activated charcoal and other treatments.

Can dogs have issues with mulch other than toxicity?

Dogs’ paws can be cut by sharp mulch fragments. Some varieties of mulch contain mold, fungus, or bacteria that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt the digestive system.

What do I do if my dog’s paws become stuck in mulch?

Use tweezers or your fingers to carefully remove any mulch that becomes lodged in your dog’s paws. To stop infection, wash the afflicted area with moderate soap and water.


That was a detailed explanation of your question: Is mulch bad for dogs?

As you know what mulch is bad for dogs and its alternatives, you can decorate the lawn as you like. For inspiration, you can read our blog on Dog Yard Ideas to Keep Your Pet Happy & Healthy.

If your dog ingests mulch from anywhere, bring it pet to the veterinarian to have the hazardous effects of mulch.

For pet-safe mulching options, contact Falcons Landscaping.