Deadly mulch - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Deadly mulch

Posted by Rachel Leigh email

(WFLX) - It's called cocoa mulch, and just like chocolate, its smell is what attracts many gardeners and pets to it.

Like most dogs, 7-year-old Blaze likes to eat. "He's a hardy eater just like his owner," said James Harris.

In fact, James Harris says he and his wife have to be extra careful to keep blaze away from foods that may harm him. "A couple of times, we have left the trash out, and he's gotten into the trash."

No doubt, everyone knows to keep their canines out of the garbage, but what about your yard? "Dogs can be attracted to it."

A certain type of mulch, called cocoa mulch, can be dangerous or even deadly to your best friend, and its smell is often what makes it irresistible.

"Smells just like chocolate," described Jason Snider. He says cocoa mulch is extremely popular among gardeners mainly because of its fine texture and pleasant aroma. "Just to make their garden smell good - really that's the attraction."

Most homeowners have no idea the mulch poses any threat to their animals. But an e-mail that began circulating on the Internet in recent years is sounding the alarm.

The message tells the story of a Minneapolis Labrador that died as a result of eating a large amount of cocoa mulch.

Dr. Christopher Patterson of the Three Chopt Animal Clinic says, while isolated, the story should cause pet owners to be cautious. "There definitely are some concerns associated with cocoa mulch. It has two chemicals in it. It has caffeine in it and theobromine in it which are in chocolate."

Depending on the amount ingested, Dr. Patterson says, dogs could experience symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to muscle tremors, seizures and death.

Still, he reiterates that severe cases of cocoa poisoning are rare and recommends pet owners simply heed the warning in fine print on most cocoa mulch bags which states to keep away from animals.

Dr. Patterson said, "I think the smartest thing is that if you have a dog or a cat, you probably shouldn't use this mulch."

A shocking discovery to dog owners, like Janet Howell, who say they wouldn't risk putting cocoa mulch in their yards. "I've spent a lot of money on her eyes. I can't afford to have something else happen to her."

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