ACTION ALERT: Mulch made from cocoa shells poses a real threat to dogs the same as chocolate

I usually do a lot of gardening (well, this year-not so much), I have never seen this product for sale, although, I am sure it is available.  The smell of chocolate in my garden and the pest control would be greatly desirable, but not at the risk to the animals. If your garden is totally fenced and no way for dogs, cat, puppies or kittens (any animal) to get inside, by all means use it; otherwise, please do not buy this mulch for your garden. Note: I am not sure what effect it might have on other animals as it is not mentioned in this article…However, when there is any question as to the effects on animals and/or the environment, don’t use it.

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.”

*Snopes site gives the following information: .asp>

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. Just a word of caution — check what you are using in your gardens and be aware of what your gardeners are using in your gardens.

Theobromine is the ingredient that is used to make 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.


Snopes goes on to say that the product has changed over the years and not heard of any deaths since 2003 but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or that there’s no risk. This is a choice you will have to make on your own; made my decision right off that his product would be inappropriate for my use without a guarantee that no harm would come to an animal as a result of my using it. A shame really when you consider that I prefer to have an organic garden that would benefit from the pest control the product offers. I just don’t happen to think of animals as a pest; maybe the reason we do fence it off however, I have seen animals get past our fence.


more from Snopes:

Origins:   This warning about the potential danger to pets posed by cocoa mulch began appearing in our inbox in May 2003. Although there is at least some truth to this one, the dangers it warns about are by now somewhat outdated and exaggerated: most dogs aren’t really interested in eating cocoa mulch, some brands of that product have been reformulated to reduce or eliminate the potentially dog-dangerous substance it contains (theobromine), and we know of only one substantiated case of a pet death caused by ingestion of the substance.
(In July 2007, “Moose,” a 3-year-old Labrador belonging to a Minneapolis couple, died after eating cocoa mulch purchased at a local store. His owners had a veterinarian at the University of Minnesota perform a necropsy to determine the likely cause of death of their young and previously healthy pet. The vet found cocoa shells in Moose’s stomach and evidence of theobromine in the shells.)
Cocoa mulch, made of cacao shells, is popular with gardeners and landscapers for a number of reasons: it has an aromatic scent, it repels garden pests, it retains moisture well, and it has a rich brown color that darkens (rather than fades) over time. However, veterinarians have warned pet owners that cacao shells also naturally contain theobromine, the same ingredient that makes chocolate toxic to dogs.


For more go, to the above link to Snopes.

Sometime back I reported the issue of chicken jerky used for treats for dogs or cats. It’s been in the news for sometime now and no conclusion has ever come from any testing as to why this is occurring. My rule of thumb has always been, when in doubt, don’t use it.

I saw in the news today that Petco has decided not to carry chicken jerky treats made in China due to the risk of death to dogs and cats (puppies and kittens). However that won’t begin until December. I have to ask why wait!?! If there is a need to discontinue a product that might be harmful to dogs or cats; why wait before removing it from the shelf when that product can cause death to someone’s pet?!?

Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinions of others…Stay tuned  -B

Thank you Debbie for the heads up…

~ by topcatsroar on May 21, 2014.

One Response to “ACTION ALERT: Mulch made from cocoa shells poses a real threat to dogs the same as chocolate”

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