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RamonaGS
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Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

It seems this would be the best forum for a warning to dog lovers. I have posted and article from Snopes about a potential threat to dogs. It is about a product called Cocoa Mulch. It's advertised as being a repellent to keep cats out of gardens and flower beds, but some dogs find it smelling edible. But the mulch has levels of caffeine and theobromine which are at dangerous levels if ingested by dogs. Apparently, there are some brands of cocoa mulch that that are safe for pets. Just watching out for the safety of the fur babies.


https://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp
~~Ramona mother of fur babies~~

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

Hi,
Please read the article that you linked to. This started as an Internet rumor spread by email. Snopes is debunking the rumor by stating that the claim is only partially true.

In fact, many cocoa mulches are specially treated to remove the harmful compounds and are thus dog friendly. The article states that while a puppy may ingest some of the chipes, 98% of dogs won't bother with it.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) confirms the potential effects of theobromine and caffeine on dogs:

Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals, called methylxanthines.
And further on it quotes a letter from Home Depot to Snopes.com that states their brand of Cocoa Mulch goes through a chemical free treatment to remove all elements harmful to pets.

I edited the title of this discussion to reflect the fact that not all cocoa mulch is harmful. I encourage everyone interested in this topic to read the linked article, Snopes.com is an authoritative source of information. It's a site dedicated to debunking modern myths. ;)

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hendi_alex
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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

This thread prompted me to read a bit further. Found this table that was of interest. I can't vouch for the reliability of the info, but helped to quantify what might represent a serious threat to a dog. The article includes info on treatment and other facts related to the issue.


So, the general rules for the amount of chocolate that will be toxic for a dog:

Milk chocolate: one ounce per pound of body weight (so, without intervention, a 16 pound dog (7.2 kg) would likely die from eating one pound of milk chocolate)

Dark chocolate: 1/3 of an ounce per pound of body weight (around 5 ounces of dark chocolate for that same 16 pound dog)

Baker’s chocolate: 1/9 of an ounce per pound of body weight (around 1.8 ounces of baker’s chocolate for a 16 pound dog)

Cocoa powder: 1/16 of an ounce per pound of dog (around 1 ounce of cocoa powder to kill a 16 pound dog)

https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php ... -for-dogs/
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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

There's a lot of territory between "harmless to" and "will kill" a dog. Breeds of dog differ in their sensitivity to various substances (e.g., many white-footed dogs, like Collies, cannot take normal heartworm medication), and chocolate is probably one of these substances.

I generally suggest that people *not* use cocoa-bean mulch because it will draw dogs to their lawn or street-side plantings, there to leave their...ah...personal messages :wink: , perhaps not something the people want. I see that it's time for me to go to the Big Boys and read the labels of their cocoa-based mulches. (I go there maybe once every five or so years for research projects like this.) I'll also ask at my more normally patronized local nursery what they know about the treatments to remove methylxanthines from the cocoa-based mulches.

And, of course, the younger the dog, the more likely he/she is to check things out by mouth: "Hmm. This smells yummy." [Scoops up pieces of mulch while "pet parent" talks to another person.] Later, the young dog exhibits diarrhea and, say, an elevated heart rate and unquenchable thirst (diarrhea is very dehydrating). Owner of dog unable to figure out the cause, things go from there. Dog is sick, probably will not die, but miserable in the meantime, and person has extra cleaning to do.... :(

Better safe than sorry, esp. in cases like this, where other substances are available for mulch.

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RamonaGS
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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

I did read the article, it still says there is a threat with some dogs by using the wrong cocoa mulch. I'm not trying to create a panic or spread a rumor, that's why I set a link to Snopes and not the original rumor the story came from. To hear them tell it, all dogs will die if you use cocoa mulch, and they seem to think ALL cocoa mulch is so darn dangerous. :roll: I feel it is important information for people to know if they have pet dogs and want to use cocoa mulch. Even the webmaster said it in their statement...the claim is partially true. I think it's better to err on the side of caution where animal's safety is concerned, doesn't everyone? :?
~~Ramona mother of fur babies~~

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

Maybe there is some reason to avoid this product, I don't know. But I do think that things have gotten a little crazy with animal ownership. Before long they will be displacing humans on heart lung machines so a dog can await a heart lung transplant, to stay on anti rejection drugs all of its life.

When I was a child, most everyone had a mut, and it was lucky if it got more than annual shots. Those dogs roamed the neighborhood and all seemed to be extremely happy. The cost of a dog for a pet back then was probably the equivalent of $200 per year in current dollars. It has gotten so crazy that now pet ownership is approaching an elitist thing. My daughter rescued a stray dog. So far she has about $1500 in the animal, and there is a continuing almost $100 per month fee for food, pills, and annual vet bills. Back in the day, if a dog got bitten by a rattlesnake, the dog knew to go off and lie still for a few days. The owners also knew that was what the dog was supposed to do. None of our dogs ever died of a snake bite, and none ever went to the vet. These days that would likely be a $500 to $1000 event. Those dogs also tended to live about the same length as all of these high priced, overly pampered dogs do. The only winner IMO is the veterinarians who are making a killing off of this anthropomorphic transformation that has taken place in the human/pet relationship of the past few decades. People used to know that a dog is a dog. Now a dog is a member of the family, the dog is kin. The dog is due every medical advantage that is available to its human family.

I keep telling my dog, when the vet bill gets close to the cost of a replacement animal, she better start looking over her shoulder. She will have a great life while she is with us. But this crazy heroic stuff that the veterinarians and peta kinds of folks are encouraging is just plain crazy, and is not practical at all for the typical family who tries to scratch by on $50K a year or less in family income.

By the way, back to the cocoa mulch thing. We have a few Sago Palms. They are supposed to be about the most toxic plant that a person can have around animals. So far we have had Sago palms and at least seven or eight pets. Not a single one has ever died from eating the plant. With pets, some things are an I.Q. test. Get under the car tire, you die. Eat the Sago palm, you die. Hurt yourself such that the vet bill is way too high, you die. There is always a replacement, anywhere from free to just a few hundred dollars. A thousand dollars for a broken leg, forget it. Horse people know what to do in that situation!

We have two cats and three dogs. All get lots of attention and have great lives. When the cats die, they will never be replaced. When one of the dogs dies, we will step down to only two dogs, and indoor dog and an outdoor dog. As I've said, things have just gotten too crazy out of hand.
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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

I agree Alex. Two of my old, old cats contracted illnesses that made their lives uncomfortable. There was medication and injections for them but they were like fifteen and seventeen years old. They had reached the end of the road, naturally. I wasn't going to keep them alive unnaturally.

As for the cocoa mulch, just read the label. Many of those are treated to remove the dangerous parts.

Thanks Ramona for bringing this up because I did not know and I agree with you that this is good, good information to have. ;)

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

I don't know, Alex, is cocoa mulch so incredibly great for your garden it's worth causing suffering to small animals who may have no reason to know better (like puppies)? I think it's worth sharing this information if only to get people to check the label and make informed decisions--Ramona was right to lead with a Snopes article. I don't think it represents any kind of panic.

Heck, I try to stop my cats eating grass outside just because I know I'm going to have to wipe it up off the kitchen floor if I don't. It won't kill them, but our mutual discomfort is something I'd like to avoid if I can. One doesn't need a purely Darwinian approach to pet ownership to preclude a future in which they get the iron lung and our children get the needle. D:

ETA: just to clarify, my cats try to wolf down all the grass they can on the rare occasions I let them out onto the patio with me. I keep a close eye one them, but they just aren't interested in anything else.

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

My cats and dogs both eat grass on occasion. I thought that was a natural thing, especially when they are having some digestive upset. Never had a problem from it, though they do hurl from time to time afterward. Our cats are feral, but rarely leave the yard. The small dogs live in the house at night but run the yard during the day. Our lab lives outside all of the time. We have about 4 acres fenced in, and that is in the middle of our rural 130 acre property. So the dogs and cats have a pretty good life.

I'm not a fan of feral cats because of the havoc that they reek on wildlife. That is the main reason that we will never have cats again. I am not willing to have them in the house, and they are too taxing on the environment to be left outside. All of our animals have been spayed and are given their annual shots. I don't know what I would do if our cats tended to roam, but they most always stay right around the deck where they are fed. Still they manage to get several birds per year as well as lizards and other small critters.

As far as the cocoa mulch thing, I said [I DON'T KNOW.] I don't mind the topic, but it just seems that so many people are so obsessed and are so overboard when it comes to issues relating to pets. I don't know how society migrated to where it is now, but is approaching the level of extremely bizarre at this time, in my view.
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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

Cats lick their fur and the fur does not pass well through them, so they eat grass. The grass helps the fur pass or lets the toss it up, yes sometimes on your floor. Eating grass is both natural and a part of them keeping healthy.
I have had pets die after spending big bucks on them, tell my wife it does no good. The vets always tug at your hart to drain you of as much money as they can. I am not saying vets don't do good, they do, it is just that profits are what they do it for.

We have a small coca tree in a pot inside of our house, it was a gift, the pot is real nice, the tree; well.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

Cats will eat grass no matter how they're feeling. You will find plenty of sources extolling the potential benefits of eating grass, like dislodging hairballs and providing folic acid, but it's been my experience that, given the chance, my cats will lay in the grass for hours and nibble on it ceaselessly. Of course, the grass in your yard has all kinds of things living in it that may not be great for cats--fertilizers, parasites, fleas. That's why you can find "cat grass" at any pet store. I don't personally think they need it, and I've never seen a hairball come up with the grass--it's just grass and bile and maybe some kibble. They are mostly throwing it up because they can't digest the fiber.

Besides, our little one tends toward being extremely underweight. She has the metabolism of a humming bird. We got lucky that the first time we changed her diet, she stopped throwing up for a while, but then we figured out that feeding her too much was causing her to throw up all the time... so paradoxically, feeding her less makes her fatter. Who knew. Anyway, she doesn't need help.

As for vets being manipulative, I'm really not so sure. I had to take in a six week old kitten I was fostering because he stopped passing waste, only to find that he had some spinal deformities that made it impossible for him to do so. They were pretty clear there was no intervention that was really going to help him, and after they put him down, they discounted almost the entire cost of the visit. The clinic I visited is part of a chain, too, so I don't know how much discretion they have to be decent.

On a side note, he was the kitten of an abandoned manx in our neighborhood, and he wasn't the only kitten with spinal problems. One of his litter mates died within days of birth and another just couldn't control her bowels, which was sad because she was super affectionate and meowed pitifully when we kept her in the bathroom. I harbor no small resentment for irresponsible breeders.

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

Some cats are bigger grass eaters than others. Houdini is my Pixie Bob, and he nibbles here and there, Darom is my Bombay and that nut, will steal salad greens off your plate and leave meat and potatoes with gravy alone. He doesn't even care if there is dressing on it or not, lol!

I know with vets some are more interested in helping community than others. I live in a small town, and here the vets have to first of all be competitive, and second they have to show some civic loyalty. The vet I took my animals to was great for years, because they let you take as long as you needed to pay your bills, they took in wild/feral animals in need of care, studied alternative cheaper treatments, and gave discounts to students, seniors, military, and if your animal had to be put down in their care the fees were waved. Then they retired and sold their practice to another vet. The new vet nickle and dimed everything, raised fees, required half the bill be paid up front, and you had to pay off your bill in a month no matter how big the bill was. And as someone pointed out in this thread, they tried to push the most expensive treatments down my throat. It was like dealing with a sales associate working on commission. I reached my limit when the new doctor acted as if they were very knowledgeable about snakes and greyhounds, but then were unaware of bio diversities that I knew about just as an owner and sighthound fan. I had enough and switched to a vet who specialized in Greyhounds and whippets, and he is a very nice guy, who has the same discounts, has special rates for people who adopt and bring in stray animals, or animals from the pound, as an incentive to adopt. And my dog is scared to death of him, because he's the "vet" but he always has tail wags for him, lol I think it depends on the vet. Some care more about the community than others do.
~~Ramona mother of fur babies~~

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Re: Cocoa Mulch & Potential Danger for Dogs

The vet we go to is good and the people do care, they do push treatments. I have had very good ones and some very bad ones. I will do what is needed for my animals but if it is only going to prolong their suffering for a short time then it is time. There are drugs the vets have that ease suffering and make the animals last days better.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.



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