Action News 5 Investigators: Mulch can be deadly for dogs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Action News 5 Investigators: Mulch can be deadly for dogs

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

Dog owners beware: the mulch you use in your garden could possibly kill your canine companion.

E-mail warnings have been circulating on the internet about a popular type of mulch that contains cocoa. It's turning up in flowerbeds across the country.

The mulch is made from the shells of cocoa beans and can be very dangerous - even deadly - to dogs.

Horticulturist Jason Snider says the fine texture and pleasant aroma of cocoa make it very popular with gardeners.

"Smells just like chocolate," he said." Just to make their garden smell good...really that's the attraction."

But the delicious scent also attracts dogs. 
A labrador retriever in Minnesota died as a result of eating a large amount of cocoa mulch.
Collierville vet Dr. Carr Kelsey says the mulch contains two chemicals that can be toxic to dogs: caffeine and a chemical called theobromine.
Even eating a small amount of cocoa mulch can make a dog sick.

"For the most part, you're probably going to see some small side effects: gastrointestinal problems like vomiting or diarrhea," said Kelsey.

If your pet ingests a larger amount the side effects are more serious, Kelsey says. "Things like tremors or shaking, a heart rate that goes up, and potentially seizures."

The ASPCA does not consider chocolate mulch poisoning common, but Kelsey says several cases are documented each year. 

"My recommendation would be that if you have a pet that is an indiscriminate eater - that means a pet that eats anything and has a tendency to get into garbage and stuff -you probably want to avoid this mulch," Kelsey said.

Much of the cocoa or chocolate mulch is sold by a distributor in Nashville. Home Depot refuses to carry it, and it's not sold in local Lowes stores. But the company does sell it online, so your neighbors might be using it.

The bottom line: whether indoors or outdoors, keep an eye on your pets and watch what they get into.

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