Cocoa Shell Mulch: An Unexpected Pet Danger

By Palani_CML

Gardening pet owners have a new hazard to worry about: cocoa shell mulch, popular for its landscaping prowess, pest-repelling qualities, and rich color, can be toxic to pets just as any cocoa product can. Learn more from your Santo veterinarian here.

What is Cocoa Shell Mulch?

Cocoa mulch is a type of gardening mulch made from the shells of the cacao bean. Gardeners and landscaping professionals like it for its pleasant scent, its moisture-retaining qualities, and a beautiful deep brown coloration. It also helps repel garden pests. Cocoa mulch is readily available at many home improvement stores and garden supply shops.

Why is it Dangerous for My Pet?

Like chocolate, cocoa mulch may contain theobromine, the toxic element in any cocoa product. If your dog or cat ingests enough theobromine, the results could be extremely dangerous or deadly. What’s worse, your pet may smell the chocolate scent of cocoa mulch and be attracted to it—you may not think a pet would set about eating a lot of mulch, but if it smells like chocolate or your particular pet—most likely a dog—is the curious, eat-anything type, you don’t want to run the risk.

How Can I Prevent Poisoning in My Pet?

Many cocoa mulch manufacturers say their product is stripped of the theobromine chemical that makes it harmful to pets, so the product is actually safe. You’ll want to be sure to check this on the bag, or call the manufacturer directly to determine if the mulch has any harmful qualities. It may be as safe as any other mulch if it has been treated to remove theobromine, but it doesn’t hurt to be sure.
The other option is to simply choose another type of mulch for your garden that doesn’t have potentially hazardous qualities, like cedar mulch. Also be sure to monitor your pet when he’s outside to be sure he doesn’t approach any mulch or other hazardous materials. Call your Santo veterinarian for more helpful tips and warnings about outdoor safety for your pet.


Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365