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Is Mulch Bad For Dogs To Eat Or To Walk On? – Here’s What You Need To Know!

Giving your yard a manicured look is sometimes the best option. Suppose you have mulch around your plants but also have dogs and aren't sure if this is a safe idea. What if your dog or pet eats the mulch in your garden? What happens if they regularly walk on it? Will they be okay?

Luckily, we've done some digging and have these answers below!

In general, letting your dog eat the mulch in your garden is unsafe. That's because many mulches are treated with pesticides and can be prone to molding. Therefore, keeping a close eye on your pets whenever they're in the yard is better.

Walking on the mulch shouldn't be an issue as long as yours is wood-based. Wood mulch won't become hot like rubber options, so that's nothing to worry about.

As we begin this post, we will cover all things mulch and discuss how to keep your dog safe. Whether you recently laid down your mulching, have an unruly pet, or have other related questions, we're here to assist. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!

Suburban backyard patio and garden. - Is Mulch Bad For Dogs To Eat Or To Walk On? - Here's What You Need To Know!

Is Mulch Safe For Dogs?

Red mulch used for garden decoration.

Generally, having mulch in your garden will be safe for dogs. As we mentioned, wood mulch tends to be the best option for your furry friends, as it isn't prone to getting hot or being super toxic to animals.

However, that's not to say all mulch is 100% issue-free. For example, many wood mulches are treated using pesticides before they are packaged and shipped to stores.

Therefore, you don't want to let your dog eat the wood pieces, or there's a possibility of acute poisoning. In addition, wood mulch is fine to walk on and play around with, but if you have jagged pieces, this could hurt your dog's paws.

According to Gaston Mulch & Soil, pine, cedar, and cypress mulch are the top choices for pet owners, as they shouldn't harm your animal with regular use.

Again, we don't recommend ever allowing your dog to consume mulch.

What Happens If My Dog Eats Mulch?

Since many mulches contain chemicals, if your dog eats enough of them, it's expected to notice some poisoning symptoms. Generally, the two substances you should worry about are pesticides and mold.

For example, cocoa bean mulch is susceptible to molding, while other types typically may contain molds such as penitrem A and roquefortine, which can lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

On top of these symptoms, if your dog eats enough mulch with mold or toxins, this could be a fatal mistake. So for your pet's sake, we recommend keeping a close eye on them when they're in the garden.

Furthermore, if you witness any usual behavior from your dog after they are outside, we recommend calling a vet as soon as possible or taking them to an emergency clinic. It's better to be safe than sorry.

What Is The Best Mulch For Dogs?

Any wood-based mulch will be best for your dog. As we said, these can be treated with chemicals, but overall, they are the best option for pet owners.

Moreover, your dog shouldn't be playing in the mulch if you have grass or another soft spot for them to be in, so this isn't something you generally need to worry over.

Considering mulch is usually around the base of your trees, shrubs, and other plants, there's no reason your dog should be right up in it.

With that said, if you can find natural wood mulch pieces, we recommend those over those treated with pesticides. This organic mulch may be more expensive, but we believe it's worth it for your dog's safety.

Is It Okay For Dogs To Chew On Mulch?

Even though your dog may not swallow the mulch in your yard, we don't recommend letting it chew the pieces. It can be difficult to control how your dog behaves when you aren't looking, so if anything, train yours to ignore the mulch pieces altogether.

According to Oodle Life, even chewing on wood chips can be dangerous for dogs. If your dog accidentally swallows a large enough wood chip, this can cause medical problems such as a blocked trachea or intestinal passages.

Besides suffocating on the wood chips, your pet can also have poisoning symptoms if the wood has recently been treated with pesticides.

So anytime you notice your pup going near the mulch and acting suspiciously, redirect their attention elsewhere.

Is Mulch Fungus Harmful To Dogs?

Older dog laying down underneath a flowering purple azalea in Spring. She is looking up towards the right.

Yes. If your dog consumes mulch with mold or fungus growing on it, there's a higher chance something negative will happen. As we said, poisoning from wood mulch is possible, so you want to try and keep your pets away from the wood chips in your landscaping.

If your dog swallows a fungi-filled wood chip, you might notice vomiting, diarrhea, and strange behaviors, which in that case, you need to bring your pet to a vet clinic ASAP.

Although most dog-related fungus interactions come from mushrooms, your mulch may harbor these eukaryotes. One of the trickier factors with fungi is that they have cells being very similar to animals in their structure.

Furthermore, the fungus in your mulch won't usually harm your plants, so this isn't something to worry about as long as your dogs stay away from the area.

Do I Need To Use Pesticides Or Fungicides On Mulch?

Even though applying a pesticide can help eliminate diseases and unwanted critters, using one for your mulch isn't always a safe idea. The same goes for fungicide products, as they likely have chemicals.

Considering you don't want your dog to show poisoning symptoms, it's not generally a smart idea to add another danger to your landscaping.

Therefore, if your mulch has a fungus, we recommend training your dog to stay away from it or removing the mulch altogether. The last thing you want to do is poison your dog.

If possible, we recommend using only pet-friendly products for your plants and landscaping because there's less chance of a complication.

Can You Have Rubber Mulch Around Dogs?

A Papillon/Maltese dog resting in mulch in the warm sun.

Yes. You can typically have rubber mulch in a garden with pets, as long as it isn't made using harmful chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, rubber mulch is safe for people and pets and shouldn't cause adverse health effects.

In addition, using rubber mulch is a great way to keep the ground below cooler and moist during periods of extreme heat, so that's a positive.

On the other hand, if the weather is scorching, your rubber mulch may become too hot for your dogs to walk and play on. Therefore, we don't recommend using it in large sections of your property.

Although it won't melt, rubber can become a hot, uncomfortable surface for you and your pets to be on, which doesn't make sense for a garden you're supposed to enjoy.

It's also worth mentioning that rubber mulch can be helpful for a dog waste area, as it won't absorb smell or water/liquids. So, if you want to create an area for your dogs to go potty with rubber mulch, we don't see an issue with this.

Is Crumb Rubber Safe For Dogs?

Sticking to a rubber theme, using "crumb" rubber mulch in your garden might also be necessary. Luckily, this mulch type is not toxic and will feature the same benefits as regular rubber chips.

According to Surfacing Systems, recycled plastics and crumb rubber mulches pose virtually no risk to children or pets. This type of rubber mulch is very popular for playgrounds and pet parks, so you aren't making a mistake choosing it.

Another interesting fact about crumb rubber mulch is that it does not pollute the earth or water tables. So, if you're looking for a greener option, this could be a great idea to consider!

What Can I Use Besides Mulch In My Yard?

A grey and white dog poses for shot in the front yard

There are other options for those who aren't set on using mulch in their landscaping. Even though mulch may work for many gardens, you might need to switch to a different, less hazardous material if your dog likes eating it.

Here are some we recommend:

  • Pebbles and rocks
  • Leaves and pine needles
  • Grass clippings
  • Compost
  • Straw or hay
  • Natural wood chunks (large)

Of course, you don't have to use anything besides potting soil if you don't want your dog to become sick or develop a bad eating habit, so sometimes, nothing is perfectly fine.

Planting a bit of grass or installing faux turf can also be a good deterrent for your fur baby, so there are endless ways to do this. As we said earlier, you may even want to switch your wood mulch for rubber, so that's another alternative.

To Finish Everything Up

Whether you need to redo your landscaping or make it safer for your dog, it's always good to understand the pros and cons of having mulch. We found that although your dogs can safely walk and play on mulching, they can't eat it.

Therefore, if you have a persistent dog who won't stop chewing or eating the wood chips, you might consider switching them to something less toxic and dangerous. A dog can become poisoned after eating mulch chips, so this can be serious.

Regardless, we recommend creating a space solely for your dog in the backyard, so they'll have a place they can enjoy and call their own. Rubber mulch is also an option, as dogs don't typically eat it!

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related garden articles below!

Gorilla Hair Mulch: The Ultimate Guide [Inc. Pros, Cons, Application, & Safety]

Rubber Mulch Pros And Cons: Is It Right For Your Yard?

Does Cedar Mulch Repel Bugs? How Effective Is It?