My Dog Ate Mulch and Is Throwing Up [Digging Deeper]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Picture this: a mischievous furry friend with a penchant for exploration has just devoured a generous portion of garden mulch. 

Moments later, the unthinkable happens – a bout of vomiting ensues.

Gardening with your pet can be a great bonding activity until they take a mouthful of your gardening supplies.

If you find yourself saying “My dog ate mulch and is throwing up”, you should definitely continue reading the rest of this post.

That’s exactly what we’re gonna tackle today. 

Let’s dig in.

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What Exactly is Mulch?

What Exactly is Mulch

Every seasoned gardener knows that mulch is a must-have in their gardening toolkit. 

This versatile material works wonders for their precious plants – it retains moisture, regulates soil temperature, and even helps keep those pesky weeds at bay. 

Mulch is made from a mix of organic materials like wood chips, leaves, bark, and straw.

However, as much as it’s a gardener’s best friend, it can be an enemy of our furry companions when they decide to munch on it.

Doggy says, you might be interested in reading this too: My dog ate a dryer sheet

What is Mulch Poisoning in Dogs?

Mulch is made from plant debris and other natural materials that fall onto the ground. You might then wonder, “How could something natural be bad for pets?” 

The problem lies in what happens after those natural materials start to break down. The mulch starts releasing substances that can wreak havoc with your pet’s stomach.

Then, we’ve got the mold and mushroom. Some types of mulch can harbor these unwanted guests, and while the toxicity risk from them is generally low, it’s not something you want your pet to be chowing down on.

There’s also cocoa bean mulch. This one’s a real troublemaker for your pet. 

What Are the Symptoms of Mulch Poisoning in Dogs?

The symptoms of mulch poisoning in dogs can vary based on the type of mulch ingested and the quantity consumed. 

If your furry friend has developed an appetite for mulch, keep an eye out for these telltale signs:

  • Your poor furry pal might throw up or get diarrhea as their body tries to get rid of the bad contents of the mulch. 
  • They could seem uncomfortable or in pain around their belly because of bloating. Your pet might even suddenly lose interest in food due to the stomachache. 
  • Feeling super tired even if they did not move much or acting more drooly than usual might also be experienced. 
  • Mulch poisoning can also cause them to struggle when pooping. Palpitations and tremors can also occur.
  • Keep an eye out for odd behavior like restlessness or whining. In serious cases, seizures might occur. However, these only happen in extreme and very rare situations.

What Are the Causes of Mulch Poisoning in Dogs?

When your pet consumes too much mulch, whether it’s because of their natural curiosity and chewing habits, they can experience poisoning. 

The various organic contents of mulch, like shredded tree bark, wood chips, straw, and leaves are not meant to be eaten and could cause stomach aches and other digestive problems.

The growth of mold and fungus within mulch, often damp or moldy leaves, can lead to allergic reactions or even poisoning, resulting in symptoms like tremors and seizures. 

Theobromine-laden cocoa bean mulch is particularly dangerous, capable of causing symptoms such as rapid heart rate and convulsions.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: does wet dog food cause diarrhea?

Why is My Dog Eating Mulch?

Dogs may munch on mulch out of boredom. If you spend hours focused on your plants, your furry pal may start looking for something to do. 

Alternatively, they might simply be satisfying their natural curiosity. Dogs could be drawn to explore the new scent and texture of the mulch. 

And of course, there’s the possibility that teething puppies may find chewing on mulch soothing for their gums.

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What Will Happen if Your Dog Ate Mulch? Risks Explained

Getting a little mulch in their systems shouldn’t affect your pet significantly unless it’s cocoa bean mulch that they managed to get their paws on.

But if they do manage to consume more than a little, then these are the risks. For starters, ingesting large pieces of mulch can lead to choking hazards. 

This is especially true for tiny breeds and young pups. If your dog can’t properly chew or digest the material, they risk choking on large organic materials like branch pieces. 

Additionally, swallowing a lot of mulch or eating mulch with large pieces can cause blockages in the gastrointestinal tract.

This is a problem that can turn life-threatening and might require immediate medical attention or surgery. 

Remember that some types of mulch can be toxic to dogs. Pesticide-laden and cocoa bean mulch is particularly dangerous due to its poisonous content. 

On top of this, damp and moldy leaves within mulch can trigger allergic reactions in dogs, and the mold and fungus growth within the mulch can lead to poisoning.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Eats Mulch?

If you catch your furry friend munching on mulch, it is best to seek professional help. 

Before contacting the vet, figure out how much mulch your furry pal got their paws on and what type it is.

Give this info to the vet so they can properly assess what your next steps should be. 

Watch for any unusual behavior like pacing or trouble settling down. Keep an eye out for signs of tummy trouble such as throwing up or acting sluggish. 

On top of that, keep that water bowl brimming. Hydration might help dilute any unwanted mulch toxins.

What Are the Treatment Options for Mulch Poisoning in Dogs?

What Are the Treatment Options for Mulch Poisoning in Dogs

If your pet only had a small taste and isn’t showing any symptoms, your vet might suggest monitoring them closely and keeping them hydrated. 

But if things take a turn for the worse and your furry buddy starts showing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or tremors, it’s off to the vet’s office. 

In severe cases, they might need treatments like activated charcoal to soak up toxins or intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated. 

Home Remedies for Vomiting Due to Your Dog Eating Mulch

If your dog experiences vomiting after indulging in mulch, you can take a few steps at home to help alleviate their discomfort. 

  • Ensure they have access to clean and fresh water to stay hydrated. 
  • Allow your dog to rest and refrain from offering them food for a few hours to give their stomach a break.
  • Once the vomiting has subsided, you can gradually reintroduce a bland diet, such as boiled rice or plain chicken, which can be easier on their stomach. 
  • It’s a good idea to offer smaller portions of food to prevent overloading their system.
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How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Mulch?

To keep your pets safe, take these proactive steps to prevent them from eating dangerous mulch. 

Consider using pet-safe mulch alternatives, like rubber mulch or pea gravel, that are less likely to be ingested. 

Train your dog with basic commands like “leave it” to discourage them from exploring and eating foreign objects. Give those commands as soon as you see your pet take a bite. 

Keep your yard clean and free of debris, making sure to remove any fallen leaves or mulch that might tempt your dog. 

Offer engaging toys and interactive play to keep your dog mentally stimulated and less likely to resort to chewing on mulch out of boredom.

Regular exercise and mental enrichment can also help reduce the chances of your dog seeking out mulch for entertainment.

If you notice your dog showing interest in mulch, redirect their attention to a safe and appropriate activity. 

Finally, always supervise your dog when they’re outside and ensure they have access to plenty of fresh water to discourage any curiosity-driven munching.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is mulch toxic to dogs?

Mulch itself isn’t toxic in small amounts. However, if ingested in large amounts, it could cause blockages or poisoning symptoms. Additionally, some types of mulch can be harmful. Cocoa bean mulch is particularly dangerous due to its theobromine content.

Is bark mulch safe for dogs?

Bark mulch is generally safe for dogs. It’s unlikely to cause harm in small amounts. However, excessive amounts could lead to blockages. Keeping an eye on your pet’s behavior is essential. If you notice any unusual symptoms, contact your vet.

Is cedar mulch safe for dogs?

Cedar mulch is considered safe for dogs. While it may cause minor stomach upset if ingested, it’s generally not toxic. Still, keep an eye on your pet for any adverse reactions.

Is rubber mulch safe for dogs?

Rubber mulch is generally safe for dogs in small amounts. However, it’s important that you prevent them from eating too much of it. Excessive consumption of this mulch can be bad for their health.

Is it dangerous if my dog consumes black mulch?

Dogs who eat black mulch run the danger of getting sick. Blockages in the digestive tract might occur if they manage to eat a lot of it. In addition, some black mulch could have chemicals or pollutants that are dangerous.

What to do if my dog ate mulch and is throwing up?

Call your veterinarian for advice if your dog is vomiting after eating mulch. Depending on the state of your dog, they can advise the best course of action and assist in assessing the severity of the issue.

What would happen if my dog ate black mulch?

If your dog consumed black mulch, keep an eye out for any symptoms of discomfort, such as nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, or vomiting. For guidance on what to do if you detect any strange symptoms, speak with your veterinarian.

In Conclusion: My Dog Ate Mulch and Is Throwing Up

It can be pretty hard to keep our dogs out of trouble, which is why we need to always be on our toes.

Keep your garden pet-friendly by using safe alternatives, supervise outdoor play, and consult a veterinarian if vomiting or discomfort persists.

You will do just fine!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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