Mulch, is it safe for dogs?

Our focus in Spring is to revive our gardens and lawns. Mulching our gardens is a common task for many people. This gives our plants the nutrients they need. Mulch brands that are toxic to pets can prove dangerous, but this is what most people don’t know. Mulch is safe for cats but can pose a danger to dogs. Mulch can contain chemicals that could pose a danger to your dog. Pets are more than just animals. They’re our family. We want them to feel as secure in our backyards and gardens as we do. Today we’ll discuss the dangers of mulch and how to make it safe for dogs.

What does Mulch do for Gardens?

Mulch has been used to protect your plants from extreme heat or cold temperatures for hundreds of years. Mulch was made up of leaves, straw, and dirt in the early days. Mulch can also slow down soil erosion by slowing water contact. Mulch is made mostly from organic materials, which decompose and sink into the soil. This helps roots develop and also improves soil structure, which can help prevent erosion.

Mulch can also be helpful for pet owners. Mulch at the right level can stop your dog from digging up your garden. Although this is not a guarantee, most dogs will not attempt to dig through large pieces of mulch to reach the soil. This will keep your garden beds neat and tidy.

However, modern mulch can also be made from synthetic or rock materials. These mulches won’t go bad, but they have the same function as organic mulches. They protect your garden from erosion and weed growth and insulate it. Modern organic mulches can be quite different than the simple mixture of straw and leave that we started with. Organic mulches can come in many sizes and include a variety of additives to boost your garden’s growth. Unfortunately, not all modern mulches can be used safely for dogs.

Mulch is a favorite food of dogs.

Mulch is a popular food choice for dogs. Dogs are natural chewers, especially in their puppy years. Dogs are curious by nature. Dogs love to search for and discover new things. This could mean that they may try your mulch for the first time, especially if it’s not used before. You never know what your pups might try to eat so be sure to keep them away from the garden.

Wood can be chewed by dogs if they aren’t getting enough nutrients. However, most dogs chew wood out of boredom and curiosity. Dogs can find the decay-smelling scent of mulch appealing.

What Happens if my dog eats Mulch?

Poisoning by garden mulch is most dangerous to small dogs and puppies. However, there are also risks for all dogs. Choking hazards can be present when large pieces of mulch are consumed. Your dog may choke if they chew on large pieces of mulch. Mulch can also be affected by pesticides that may linger for longer. Pesticides can also linger on mulch after you’ve sprayed your lawn or backyard. Your dog might be curious if it finds any of the pesticides.

Mulch can also cause allergic reactions in some dogs. It is important to be aware of allergic reactions. You might experience a rash, itching, swelling, pus-filled lumps, or irritability. Mulch can also pose other risks. Mulch can also grow mold, which can lead to seizures, neurological damage, and tremors, as well as severe neurological damage. Mulch toxicity symptoms usually manifest within 6-12 hours. They can include:

Abdominal pain


Muscle tremors

Rapid heart rate




If possible, confine your dog to a part of your garden that doesn’t have mulch. Be careful when your dog goes to parks and public spaces with mulch. We will be discussing which mulches can be safe for dogs and which ones are not.

Mulches are unsafe for dogs

These mulches have been proven to be hazardous for dogs. They can be toxic, allergic, or cause dangerous gastrointestinal obstructions if they are consumed.

Cocoa Mulch

This popular mulch is made from cocoa shells. This is a byproduct of chocolate production. It is loved for its sweet scent and color. It is made from chocolate waste products and poses the same danger to dogs as chocolate. Cocoa mulch is extremely dangerous for dogs because it contains theobromine. Dogs love the scent of cocoa mulch just as much as humans do. They will happily eat from the garden beds. Too much cocoa mulch can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and muscle tremors. It can also cause seizures, high heart rate, seizures, and even death.

Pine Needle Mulch

Pine needle mulch is beautiful and can be used to acidify the soil. This is great for plants that need more acidic soil. Pine needle mulch can be very harmful to dogs, despite its beautiful appearance. Pine needle mulch can cause severe stomach damage if it is swallowed. Pine needle mulch can also become painfully lodged in the paw pads.

Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is a popular choice for home gardeners as it is considered safe for pets. Rubber mulch is not without its problems. There are two main concerns. First, the residual chemicals in rubber could cause your dog to become sick if they chew it. Second, rubber mulch is often made from rubber. Dogs who chew on or swallow rubber mulch from restlessness are at high risk for gastrointestinal obstructions.



Safe Mulch for Dogs

Is there a safe mulch that can be used around dogs? You shouldn’t choose just any mulch for gardening. It should be able to adapt to your plants or the humidity in your area. Consider your four-legged friend. Here are some mulches that can be used safely for dogs.

Stone and Rock Mulch

Nearly every gardening store sells rock or rock mulch. This mulch is safe for gardeners as dogs and cats won’t eat stones or rocks. They are also strong enough to not move in any weather conditions and look great with concrete or stone outdoor fixtures.

Bark Mulch

Safe mulch for dogs is possible with some bark mulches. Dogwood, Dougless Fir, Crabapple, and many other tree barks are safe for your dog. These mulches are available at most garden shops and have a natural resistance against being compacted or spread by the weather. You can choose from a variety of textures and colors to match the appearance of your garden.

Sawdust and Wood Chips

Similar to bark mulch, sawdust mulch and wood chip can be safe for pets depending on where it is made. Although sawdust is not usually made from one type of tree, it can be safe for animals. Here are some wood chip mulches that can be used safely for dogs.

Untreated Wood Mulch

Wood mulches that are dyed should be avoided. These chemicals are harmful to your garden, your dog, and the environment.

Cypress Mulch

This mulch is a very common one used for landscaping. The beauty and non-toxic nature of cypress mulch is a great option for landscaping.

Cedar Mulch

A popular choice for dog owners. Cedar mulch is pet-friendly because it is finely shredded. Cedar mulch is easy to digest for dogs, even if they ingest it. Cedar is a natural insect repellent, making it ideal for your garden.

Can I use black plastic sheeting instead of Mulch?

Plastic sheets are a popular choice for mulch. Plastic sheets can be used to add an additional layer of mulch on top of other types of mulch. This will balance the garden’s aesthetic and functionality.


It is a solid layer that prevents the growth and retention of weeds. It also makes it harder for water to reach the soil. Most gardeners will find that they must add a thick layer of mulch to the top of the plastic sheeting. This effectively means you have the same mulch problems as before.

Most dogs won’t bother with plastic sheeting. However, if your dog is bored enough they might still play with it. You risk causing damage to your garden and your dog could have choking or gastrointestinal problems. Plastic is not biodegradable and can be harmful to the environment.

You should consider the possible effects on your dog before you buy bags and bags full of mulch to plant in your garden. Make sure you do your research to find a mulch that is safe for your dog and also benefits your landscaping. We are always available to help you choose the best mulch for your garden. Visit us today to create a garden that you and your dog will love!