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Dog Cocoa Bean Mulch Poisoning

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Dog Cocoa Bean Mulch Poisoning

Cocoa bean mulch is another one of those things that many take for granted. However, the danger to your dog should not be taken for granted. The smell of the cocoa bean mulch is pleasant, which may be why you use it. It is also pleasant to your dog who will devour large amounts if left to their own devices.


Caffeine and theobromine are the toxins in the mulch that can harm your dog. They will cause the heart rate and respiratory rate to increase to dangerous levels. At times it can also cause the heartbeat to become very irregular. Your dog will be very restless. Caffeine also can stimulate the myocardium(heart lining) and the central nervous system.

Toxic Dose

You will notice symptoms if your dog eats 45mg of theobromine per pound of his weight. Death from theobromine has been reported with the ingestion of 52mg/lb of body weight. Cocoa bean mulch contains up to 2.98% theobromine. This is the equivalent of 54-847mg per ounce. Milk chocolate has 44 mg per ounce and the unsweetened baking chocolate has 390 mg per ounce. The cocoa mulch is far more toxic.

Caffeine reaches a toxic level at 63 mg/lb of body weight. Beverages containing caffeine should also be kept away from your dog. They love sweet stuff and carbonated beverages are often sweet.


Dog Vomiting, Dog Diarrhea, hyperactivity, restlessness, panting, tremors and a significant change in heart rhythm may occur. Your dog may also have a Dog Fever. Death, coma or Dog Seizures may occur as well. Occasionally your dog may experience bloody urine or abdominal pain. If any of these symptoms to appear it is time to find out the cause.


Once you realize that your dog has ingested the mulch, vomiting should be induced. This can be done with 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide at 10 minute intervals for 3 doses. Call your veterinarian immediately and see if they want you to continue with a second round.

Veterinary Care

Your vet will most likely continue to induce vomiting. A gastric lavage (stomach washing) may also be done. After the lavage, activated charcoal will be given to your dog.

Observation of your dog along with intravenous fluids will begin. The fluids will prevent dehydration and will also induce the kidneys to produce more urine; otherwise Dog Renal Failure may occur. Monitoring of the heart rate and rhythm will continue. Medications will be administered if necessary. Any other symptoms such as fever or seizures will also be treated. There may be a need to insert a catheter into the bladder to remove the urine and therefore reduce the risk of the body reabsorbing the toxic substances.


The prognosis is usually good with aggressive therapy and rapid hospitalization. The most vital step you can take is to call your veterinarian if you find out that your dog has eaten any of the mulch. If too much of the toxin is absorbed, the dose could be fatal. It would be best to find a different kind of mulch the next time gardening is on the schedule. This will prevent illness and the possibility of heartache.

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