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Warning to gardeners: Cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to dogs

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 at 7:25 am in Cocoa bean mulch, dogs, Poison, Toxic.

The ASPCA has put out a PET POISON ALERT for cocoa bean mulch.

If your dog likes to munch on things in your garden, his treat-seeking nose may lead him to one danger in particular: the sweet-smelling, but potentially harmful cocoa bean mulch. Made of cocoa bean shells and considered desirable for its eventual degradation into organic fertilizer, this gardener’s choice can be toxic to canines if eaten in large quantities.

Last year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled 26 cases of cocoa bean mulch ingestion — a third originating in California.

If a dog eats large amounts of cocoa bean mulch, which contains residual amounts of theobromine — a methylxanthine found in chocolate and known to be toxic to dogs — it may cause a variety of clinical signs. These typically start with vomiting, diarrhea and elevated heart rate, and if large amounts are consumed, they may progress to hyperactivity, muscle tremors and possibly other more serious neurological signs.

According to the ASPCA, treatment includes administering medical-grade activated charcoal, bringing tremors under control, cardiac monitoring and preventing further exposure.

Please consider a non-toxic mulch alternative in your garden, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark.

For more detailed information, take a look at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center on-line:

Please add cocoa bean mulch to your list of things not to use in your garden (like snail and slug poisons!).Thanks for caring. /Gary


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One Response to “Warning to gardeners: Cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to dogs”

  1. Carol Alban Says:

    I recently read that coffee and coffee grounds can be toxic to dogs as well.

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