Mulch And Pet Safety: Tips On How To Keep Mulch Safe For Pets (2024)

While mulch serves a variety of functions in the home garden, mulch application issues, such as toxicity to dogs, need to be addressed for the safety of your precious pets before they occur. Generally, mulch poses little threat to cats, though it can become a haven for use as a litter box. Dogs, on the other hand, often chew on some types of mulch, which can be dangerous. Keep reading more about mulch and pet safety so you can avoid any problems later down the road.

Mulch and Pet Safety

Mulch serves many purposes in the home landscape. It adds an attractive touch to flower beds, provides protection for plants, and helps keep the soil moist. Mulch comes in many different forms and colors depending on your budget and needs. However, if you are a pet owner, particularly an owner of a curious dog, it's essential that you pick your mulch carefully. This is especially important for pets that spend a fair amount of time unsupervised outside. Pet owners should always use a product that is labeled as pet-safe mulch.

Is Mulch Toxic to Dogs?

Mulch made from cocoa shells is known as cocoa bean mulch, and it is particularly toxic to dogs. Homeowners with dogs should stay clear of this type of mulch and seek a less toxic alternative. While others types of mulch may not necessarily be toxic, they can also be dangerous.

Why Dogs Eat Mulch?

Dogs are chewers by nature, especially young puppies. Dogs will sometimes chew on wood because they are lacking in nutrients, but mostly it is out of boredom or curiosity. If possible, keep your dog contained in an area of the yard where you don't have any mulch, and be careful when you take your dog out to public areas that have mulch.

Types of Mulch Safe for Pets

Pine, cedar, and hemlock mulches are good alternatives to cocoa bean mulch if you have pets. However, keep in mind that dogs can choke on mulch and must still be supervised. This is especially true with pine needle mulch, as the pine needles can actually puncture the stomach lining if ingested. Some dogs and cats may exhibit symptoms of allergic reaction to certain types of mulch. Signs that your pet may be suffering from an allergic reaction include rash, pus-filled bumps, excessive itching, and irritability. If you suspect that your pet has had an allergic reaction to mulch, it's imperative that you seek medical attention immediately.

What About Rubber Mulch?

Rubber mulch is considered safe for pets, although some concern has been expressed in the past about the chemicals it may contain. The chief concern with rubber mulch is the same as other hardwood mulches: choking.

Tips for Mulch Application Issues When You Have Pets

If you have pets and are considering using mulch in your yard, speak to a veterinarian about the risks involved with your pet and certain types of mulch. It's always best to get a professional opinion before proceeding.

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Mulch And Pet Safety: Tips On How To Keep Mulch Safe For Pets (2024)


Mulch And Pet Safety: Tips On How To Keep Mulch Safe For Pets? ›

Pine, cedar, and hemlock mulches are good alternatives to cocoa bean mulch if you have pets. However, keep in mind that dogs can choke on mulch and must still be supervised. This is especially true with pine needle mulch, as the pine needles can actually puncture the stomach lining if ingested.

What can I put on my mulch to keep dogs away? ›

Cayenne Pepper Mix

Once you've figured out the problem areas — the places where dogs return to again and again — try applying a cayenne pepper mix. Combine cayenne pepper and water in a spray bottle. The ratio for this repellent is 1 part cayenne pepper to 10 parts water.

What is the most dog friendly mulch? ›

Pine bark, cedar bark, fir bark and cypress mulch are some of the best choices for dogs. Another good option is Coco Mulch, made of coconut husks (not to be confused with the dangerous cocoa bean mulch).

What can I spray on my mulch to keep my dog from eating it? ›

A mixture of cayenne pepper, citrus, vinegar, or eucalyptus can act as a homemade repellent. However, use these with caution and ensure they are diluted to prevent harm to your pet. Commercial dog repellents may also be considered but check for safety and efficacy.

How to deter a dog from eating mulch? ›

To be honest, removing the mulch is your best bet. You can try using a basket muzzle (not a regular muzzle) - only put it on when he is outside and I don't suggest you leave him out with it on unattended - but in the end, removing the mulch is the best option.

Do coffee grounds repel dogs? ›

Coffee grounds scattered throughout the garden will have a similar effect. Spicy substances work to keep dogs at bay. Spread a mixture of spicy mustard and red pepper flakes around plants for protection. Dogs have a similar distaste for coffee grounds and bitter orange.

What smell do dogs hate? ›

For dogs, citrus scents are the enemy. Citrus scents like lemon, lime, oranges, and grapefruit–especially in high concentrations often found in household cleaners or essential oils–can cause irritation to your pup's respiratory tract, so keep any fresh citrus fruits out of your dog's reach. You know–just in case.

What mulch to avoid? ›

Finally, avoid large, bark type mulch or big wood chips. Since these big pieces take a long time to decompose, and they end up depriving the soil and plants of nutrients.

What is the best ground cover for dog urine? ›

Liriope (Liriope spp.): Liriope, also known as monkey grass or border grass, is a hardy groundcover that can withstand dog urine. It forms clumps of arching, grass-like foliage and is suitable for partial to full shade.

Is Lowes brown mulch safe for dogs? ›

Premium 2-cu ft Brown Mulch - Controls Moisture, Safer For Pets - 1-year Color Guarantee at

How do I keep animals out of my mulch? ›

Apply a taste or scent repellent around the problem area to help ward off the particular animal. Commercial repellents, such as pepper sprays and predator urine, may help to deter the critters and keep them from digging your mulch or flowers.

Is there a mulch that dogs don't like? ›

Mulch -- the material that is placed around shrubs and flowers -- can be a wood product, cocoa bean product or rock. Bark and shredded wood tend to get kicked out of beds more easily by dogs. Cocoa bean mulch lasts longer than wood mulch, but pet owners beware. This mulch has chocolate which is a toxin for dogs.

What surfaces do dogs not like to walk on? ›

Many dogs are uncertain or sensitive about walking on ground that moves or is a texture they aren't used to. Surfaces like slippery tile floors and metal sidewalk grating can be especially frightening, confusing, or upsetting for dogs if they haven't been properly introduced to them.

How to keep mulch in place with dogs? ›

Keep pets out of freshly mulched or seeded beds, or soft soil, by setting some thorny branches in the ground at regular intervals. Make a chicken-wire fence to protect entire beds. To keep it from being an eyesore, drive several tall stakes in the ground around the bed's perimeter.

What type of mulch is best for dogs? ›

Pine, cedar, and cypress are probably the three of the most popular mulch options and they should all be dog-friendly.

Why is my dog eating mulch all of a sudden? ›

Some dogs may be bored or curious, while others may be attracted to the texture and flavor of mulch. Additionally, the scent of decaying organic matter may entice certain dogs. However, it's worth noting that in some cases, consuming mulch may also indicate an underlying medical condition, such as pica or anemia.

How to keep dogs from pooping in your mulch? ›

9 Ways to Keep Your Neighbor's Dog From Pooping in Your Yard
  1. Utilize Scents to Repel Dogs. ...
  2. Establish a Protective Boundary for Your Yard. ...
  3. Install Motion-Activated Lawn Sprinklers. ...
  4. Purchase an Ultrasonic Repellent Device. ...
  5. Acquire a Dispenser for Waste Bags. ...
  6. Your Neighbor Should Be Informed About Your Concerns. ...
  7. Put Up Signs.
Feb 7, 2024

How to stop a dog from digging in mulch? ›

If you catch your dog digging in an unacceptable area, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise and firmly say, "No dig." Then immediately take them to the digging zone. Make the unacceptable digging spots unattractive (at least temporarily) by placing rocks or chicken wire over them.

What scent will keep dogs away? ›

Strong citrus scents are unpleasant for your dog and may deter them from digging up your plants or specific areas in the yard. You can also use this tactic for indoor plants that your dog is digging around in. Citrus scents are excellent for deterring your dog from areas you don't want them to get into.

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