Dog Allergies & Mulch

by Jo Chester
    Dogs are attracted to gardens for many reasons.

    Dogs are attracted to gardens for many reasons.

    spitz dog image by Sergey Kolesnikov from

    According to, "mulch is a gardener's best friend"; however, it might not be a dog's best friend. Some kinds of mulch are dangerous to dogs.

    Common Types

    Cedar mulch, pine bark mulch and pine "straw" (longleaf pine needles) are all widely used.

    Attractive Qualities

    Dogs may be attracted to garden mulch because it is cool or because, in the case of cedar mulch, it contains a natural flea repellent. However, some types of mulch attract dogs due to the scent or taste of the material.

    Cocoa Mulch

    Avoid using cocoa mulch, as it contains between 54 and 847 mg per oz. of the lethal chemical theobromine and can easily poison a dog if ingested. It only takes a small amount of cocoa mulch to make a dog seriously ill.

    Cedar and Pine Mulch

    Cedar mulch and pine mulch are nontoxic to dogs if used in their natural condition. If purchasing colored mulch, be certain that the dye is harmless to dogs or it will irritate the dog's skin or stomach if ingested.

    Contact Dermatitis

    Although a dog may not be allergic to mulch, it might be allergic to the chemicals used to keep the mulch from decaying or to prevent insect infestation. These chemicals may cause contact dermatitis---irritation associated with allergies---which may in turn cause pus-filled bumps to form on the dog's paws and stomach.

    Photo Credits

    • spitz dog image by Sergey Kolesnikov from

    About the Author

    Jo Chester holds a certificate in pet dog training from Triple Crown Academy for Dog Trainers. She has trained dogs for competition in conformation, Rally and traditional obedience and agility. Chester has two goats, chickens, rabbits, a collie and a pet rat, in addition to several much-loved Toy Fox Terriers.

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