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Danger - "cocoa mulch" - please read, advise others

June 15th 2008 4:33 pm
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I'm not sure to what a degree of an emergency this will turn out to be, but it seemed like a good idea to pass on in case you use or live near someone who uses this stuff. The article on can be found at: p

It verifies this story as "true" and is worth a quick read for details as there are apparently several brands of "cocoa mulch". Each has it's own standards and claims of safety, so you should at least know what questions to pose when evaluating products or in speaking with a chosen professional.

Following is a message I received from the group messaging of FOR THE LOVE OF LAUREL:

*** URGENT *** "Cocoa Mulch" !!!DANGER!!! Please read and crosspost

verified by

forwarded ...

Over the weekend one of our friends experienced a tragedy with one of their dogs and wanted me to pass a special message along to all of our dog loving friends and family. Please tell every dog owner you know.

Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dogCalypsodecided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Half way through the walkshe had a seizure and died.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the labelupon further investigation on the company's websitethis product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey'sand thy 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). However98% of all dogs won't eat it.'

True information about the mulch can be found here - Cocoa Mulch. This site gives the following information:
Cocoa Mulchwhich is sold by Home DepotForeman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply storescontains 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 cautioncheck what you are using in your gardens and be aware of what your gardeners are using in your gardens.

Theobromine is in all chocolateespecially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobrominea xanthinecompound 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.

Amy Beichler
Executive DirectorPublic Animal Welfare Society(PAWS)
A Nonprofit Humane Society Serving the Animals & People of Greater
Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Since 1976


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