Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cocoa Mulch Dangers

I received an e-mail from Jamie in regards to an e-mail pertaining to the dangers of cocoa mulch. Now, I've seen this one a few times in the last few years but it seems that I never posted it to All About Labradors. According to this e-mail has been around since May 2003.

The weather will be warming up within the next couple months and gardening and landscaping will begin, so please be careful especially if you do use products with cocoa mulch.

Quote from - "Some manufacturers of cocoa mulch now proclaim that their products are theobromine-free and pet safe. Responsible pet owners should take care in their selection of cocoa mulch brands; some might prefer to choose another form of soil enhancement for their gardens, such as cedar-based products, rather than gamble their dogs won't be attracted to or harmed by cocoa mulch."

Here's a copy of the e-mail:

"Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Even if you don't have a pet, please pass this to those who do.

Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's web site, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that 'It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it.'

The Snopes site gives the following information:

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ' Theobromine'. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.


Make sure you visit to read the whole story as well as additional information on cocoa mulch fertilizers and chocolate poisoning in dogs. The site has some pertinent information and was just updated as of February 24, 2009.

I'd also like to thank Jamie ( Yellow Labrador with Intense Itching - part I ) for sending this in.

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