Gardening and dogs don’t always mix.
Not only can your four-legged friend rip up your hard work, they can also suffer some pretty serious consequences if you use mulch that is toxic to dogs.
If you want a lovely outdoor aesthetic while keeping your dog safe from harm, check out my list of the best mulch for dogs.
Also, learn what to look out for so you can avoid harmful outcomes or vet visits.
Mulch for Dogs: Key Takeaway
- In addition to gardening, you can use mulch in your dog’s outdoor areas as long as it is pet safe.
- Pine, cedar, and hemlock mulch are great wood options for desired areas, as they are pet safe and keep your flowerbeds neat and tidy.
- You can use rubber mulch, which is easy to clean and doesn’t break down over time. This saves you on replacement mulch.
- Try to avoid cocoa mulch at all costs since it is highly toxic to dogs. Rocks are also not advisable since some dogs will chew or swallow the rocks.
- Mulch provides a lovely floor space that is natural and organic for your dog so you can skip on the expensive kennel flooring.
Best Mulch for Dogs: Quick Picks
- Overall Favorite: Longleaf Pine Straw Roll for Landscaping
- Best Mulch for Small Areas: 100% Natural Cedar Chips
- Best Cedar Mulch: Amish Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings
- Best Straw Mulch: EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack
- Best Rubber Mulch: Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets
Is Mulch Safe for Dogs?
Mulch is a necessity for flowerbeds and gardens when you want to create healthy soil, eliminate weeds, and make the area look lovely.
However, if you’re a pet owner, you’ll prefer to add ‘pet-safe’ to your list of wants as you shop.
Most mulches are fine to have around your pets. But cocoa bean or cocoa hull mulch, for example, is toxic for dogs.
Because of the toxicity, stay completely away from this type. Look for an alternative wood mulch such as pine, cedar, hemlock.
Pine needle mulch is a sensible decision because it has high ground coverage.
However, if your dog eats a lot of pine needles, the sharp points can cause intestinal punctures.
If you’re searching for an easily cleanable and long-lasting option, you can even try rubber mulch.
While it may be less natural-looking, you can find several color selections to match your style. Plus, most rubber mulches are fine for pets.
No matter your pick, be sure to check labels. Many brands will specify whether they are pet-safe.
Types of Mulch Safe for Dogs
If you want your dog to be in a safe area with no risk of toxicity or harm, try to look for these mulches.
1. Straw Mulch
Straw is excellent for retaining moisture in the soil and keeping weeds at bay.
You may only want to use a straw if you’re regrowing grass or starting seeds, as it may not be as aesthetically pleasing as other selections.
But the great news is, it’s totally dog-safe. You can even use it in dog boxes because it retains bodily warmth well.
2. Pine Mulch
Pine mulch is often safe for dogs since it is natural and non-toxic.
Pine mulch generally comes in wood chip form, which is light in color.
Alternatively, you can also buy pine needle mulch. If you do use the needle type of pine mulch, monitor your dog to make sure they aren’t eating it.
Pine needles will not digest properly in their system and may puncture the lining of their intestines.
3. Cedar Mulch
Not only does cedar mulch smell fantastic, but it also has a lovely deep red and brown color that puts gorgeous contrast to your flower and garden areas.
Cedar is a safe mulch for your dogs, and it is also an excellent natural deodorizer for pet areas.
Because of the distinctive scent, it deters your dog from eating it.
4. Hemlock Mulch
Hemlock mulch is beautiful and rich in color. It helps retain soil moisture and prevents weeds from sprouting.
According to the ASPCA, hemlock mulch is safe for dogs.
However, if your dog eats a large amount of mulch, it can have negative side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
5. Rubber Mulch
Rubber mulch may not be as ‘earthy’ as other mulches, but it can work well with pets.
It’s easy to clean and doesn’t retain odors from urine or feces.
Rubber will absorb impact while your pet romps around, which is why you often see it in playground areas where children play.
While rubber mulch is a good option for dogs, err on the side of caution.
Types of Mulch to Avoid
When it comes to keeping your dog healthy and avoiding any danger, these are the types of mulch to steer clear of at all costs.
1. Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch
While cocoa shell, or cocoa hull, mulch can be really beneficial for the soil in your garden, it’s toxic for dogs. You should avoid it entirely.
As you may very well know, chocolate is bad, bad, bad for dogs!
That’s because cocoa contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures—and in extreme cases, even death.
2. Treated Mulch
Treated mulch can work well for warding off insects and pests in your garden, but they aren’t good for your dogs.
Treated mulches may contain pesticides or mycotoxin-producing mold.
If your dog eats treated mulch, it could cause usual toxicity symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors.
It can take symptoms quite a while to show up, sometimes up to 12 hours!
5 of the Best Mulch for Dogs
1. Overall Favorite: Longleaf Pine Straw Roll for Landscaping
It’s straightforward to lay down in gardens and flowerbeds since it merely rolls out at your discretion.
This saves you time and energy because you won’t be on the ground trying to cover every inch manually.
If you’re a lover of the environment like me, pine needles are also wonderful, as it requires no trees to be cut down to make the product.
The pine needle bedding is safe for your dog, but as I mentioned previously in this article, monitor them around it.
If your dog starts gnawing on it like candy, it can puncture the intestines.
I want to note that this issue is very atypical.
2. Best Mulch for Small Areas: 100% Natural Cedar Chips
These chips are specifically from Western red cedar trees with no additional additives or chemicals.
If you have potted plants or small areas, this bag of cedar chips will really come in handy—and is totally pet-safe.
They come in a zippable bag so the chips can retain their scent and moisture if you don’t use the entire bag at once.
This is also a great option if you have indoor potted plants, so you won’t have to worry if your dog comes in contact with the mulch inside.
Although this is a safe mulch for dogs, the bag itself is less than five quartz.
It’s best for small areas or potted plants over large garden spaces.
3. Best Cedar Mulch: Amish Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings
Unlike the above cedar chips, these are packaged to cover a wider perimeter.
In addition to using in your plant areas, you can use these shavings for your dog’s bedding and kennel spaces.
They smell fantastic, so it takes longer for the wood chips to become saturated with unwanted odors from urine or feces.
If you use these curls in a bathroom area or another spot that is frequently exposed to moisture, make sure that you change out the bedding often.
If you don’t, not only is it unsanitary, it can also grow mold.
4. Best Straw Mulch: EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack
You get a lot of bang for your buck here, as it covers up to 500 feet.
They added in tackifier, which helps the mulch stay together to protect the plants or seeds.
It’s natural and completely safe for pets and children. You also have no cleanup, as it is biodegradable.
This is really only suitable for seeding, and not made for decorative purposes.
So, if you’re looking for something to spruce up the look of your flower gardens or other areas, you should skip this selection.
5. Best Rubber Mulch: Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets
It’s incredibly easy to clean, and it’s weather and water-resistant.
You don’t have to worry about it falling apart, fading away, or disintegrating.
Rubber is also shock-absorbent. So, if there are falls or accidents, your dogs will be protected.
The rubber may have a rubbery smell, but it doesn’t retain odors from pet waste.
If you want the rubber mulch to match, it comes in several color choices. Each color can last up to 12 whole years!
This rubber is made of recycled tires, free of 99.9% heavy metals. But, truthfully, rubber isn’t for everyone.
It may not fit into a natural setting in a way that works for you.
1. If my dog eats mulch, what do I do?
If your dog eats mulch, you will need to monitor them closely for symptomatic responses.
Luckily, most of the time, your dog won’t want to eat the mulch.
If your dog eats pine needles, it’s the best idea to contact your vet right away to prevent intestinal punctures.
If your dog shows any symptoms after eating mulch of any kind, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or tremors, make an emergency vet visit.
2. Can you use mulch for dog bedding?
You can absolutely use mulch for dog bedding. Most mulches have moisture-absorbing and odor-reducing properties.
If you do use mulch for dog bedding, make sure you cycle out the litter frequently.
Mulch can trap odor, develop mold, and harbor bacteria if it’s not clean regularly.
Cedar bedding may work the best if you want wood shavings since dogs are much less likely to try to eat it.
While I enjoyed the Longleaf Pine Straw Roll for Landscaping, another pick may work better for your home or personal setting.
It’s such a big deal to keep your dog’s safe since they’re silly sometimes, chewing and gobbling up unmentionables.
Hopefully, these mulch options and information led you to a worry-free purchase.