Is Mulch Safe for My Pets?
Our pets are more than just animals, they are our family – and their safety is of the utmost concern.
Many pets love spending time outside and exploring their territory. Dogs, in particular, are curious and will probably try to sample your garden mulch. If you’re concerned about your home landscaping, there are a few things to know to keep your pets happy and healthy.
One Type of Mulch Can Be Toxic to Dogs
One type of mulch is toxic to dogs, and it can be dangerous for them to digest, but it isn’t sold by Gaston.
All Gaston mulch chips are pet-friendly and perfectly safe for your dog.
Cocoa Bean Mulch is a byproduct of chocolate production and is popular for its color and sweet smell, but because it contains some of the same chemicals as chocolate it can be toxic to your dogs. Be aware of what’s in your gardens and look to replace your cocoa bean mulch with something like pine or cypress mulch – both safe options for your dogs.
Why Do Dogs Eat Mulch?
Dogs love to chew on things and they are curious by nature. They like to explore and try new things, which probably means that they will chew on the mulch in your garden at some point.
Any wood-based mulch is safe for your dog. Pine, cedar, and cypress are probably the three of the most popular mulch options and they should all be dog-friendly. To be completely safe consider these additional concerns:
- Larger mulch may present a choking hazard – If your mulch is primarily large pieces and your dog tries to swallow one, they may choke. Think about mulching your gardens with chips or fines if you’re concerned about choking.
- Natural is always best – If your mulch is treated with chemicals it may not hurt your dog, but natural options are always best.
- Be aware of pesticides – If you spray your gardens to deal with weeds or other pests, those chemicals can linger on mulch. Try opting for more natural options to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Some pets can be allergic to mulch, so keep an eye out for allergic reactions in your dogs (and cats). Symptoms like a rash, excessive scratching, irritability, or pus-filled bumps can be signs of an allergic reaction. Try to take note of what your pet has digested or chewed on in case you start seeing the symptoms of allergies.
What About Cats?
While cats may not try to eat or chew on your garden mulch, they may treat your newly mulched garden beds as a fresh litter box. Newly laid mulch is the right depth, smells fresh and clean, and is easy to move around – in other words, it’s the perfect environment for a cat litter box.
Keeping cats out of your mulch can be a challenge, but here are a few tricks and tips:
- Add elements to your garden so that they can’t get comfortable. If space out rocks and plants so that your cat doesn’t have room, they’ll likely stay out of your mulch.
- Spread pepper of cayenne pepper on your mulch. Adding spice to your gardens won’t hurt your cats (or your plants) but it will keep them from laying down in the mulch. Just be careful not to get too much cayenne on yourself.
- Buy a sprayer (or other devices) to keep pets out of your garden. There are sprayers that work with a sensor that will spray your pets when they try to get in your garden.
- Provide an alternative to your mulched gardens. Some homeowners prefer to provide an actual outdoor litter box for their cats.
Deploying one (or more) of these strategies can help keep your cats out of your garden and keep your mulch fresh and clean.
The Benefit of Mulch for Pet Owners
Mulch has many great benefits for your garden. It can decrease weed growth, insulate your soil, and improve nutrient density, but it also has an important benefit if you have pets.
Setting your mulch at the right depth may help dissuade your dog from digging in your gardens. While this isn’t a guarantee, most pets won’t try to get through your mulch to dig into the soil – especially if you use larger pieces like pine bark nuggets. This protects your gardens and keeps them looking great. Contact Gaston Mulch and Soil if you want to learn more or need help exploring our mulch options.