cocoa shell

Spring Gardening and the use of Cocoa Mulch –

Internet stories abound! Warnings are everywhere! Is Cocoa Mulch really the deadly killer it is proclaimed to be? Most experts don’t think so.

The dangers: Cocoa Mulch smells delicious! Cocoa Mulch is made from the shells of the cocoa bean. This is the same bean from which chocolate is made. Therefore, the bean shells contain theobromine and caffeine, the same chemicals which cause the Methylxanthine toxicosis caused by chocolate. Theobromine and caffeine are known to cause an increase in respiratory and heart rates. The more ingested, the more will be noted as far as vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, tachycardia (increased heart rate), hyperactivity and seizures.

Although there are stories all over the internet, there only seems to be one proven case of death to a dog from ingesting cocoa beans, and apparently, there may have been an underlying cause for that death as well. Over the last 10 – 15 years, most manufacturers of the mulch have become aware of the stories, and now do extra cleaning steps, and steaming of the shells, to remove as much of the theobromine as possible. It is a safer product than it used to be for your dogs and cats…and children.

HOWEVER, not all manufacturers are as conscientious, not all landscaping companies are concerned with where their products are made. It does not take much theobromine to make a pet sick. Our recommendation is: If your pet goes outside, unattended, use a different kind of mulch and don’t take a chance. If you feel the need to use cocoa bean shells, keep your pets at a distance.



On our website this month, and in this month’s blog, we have keyed in on some of the dangers to watch for as the weather warms up. Each season has its dangers and Spring is no exception. Any one of the following items could be an article or blog by itself. If you would like further information on any of these, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate.

A few things to watch for and remember as it gets warmer:

  • Stagnant water and puddles – Spring showers leave puddles, puddles often carry the Leptospirosis bacteria and can get passed on to your pet when they drink, play, or even just splash in the puddles.
  • We have discussed in other areas of the website, toxic plants and mulch, but when gardening, don’t forget the dangers of pesticides and insecticides as well.
  • Your pets have been in all winter, and many have not had the chance to stretch out and run. Make sure you ease into that, so they don’t pull muscles. Don’t expect too much, too fast.
  • Overexposure – white coated animals and those with pale skin around eyes and nose are susceptible to skin cancers from exposure to the sun.
  • Wild animals are out of hibernation, and are in a hunting mode. Keep your smaller dogs and cats safe from hawks, coyotes, and other predators in your area.
  • If you are Spring cleaning, be careful of the cleaning products you use. They should be safe around your pets. Open the windows to let out strong fumes.
  • If you are opening windows – be sure screens are in tightly, and windows are secure, so your pets don’t fall out.
  • Expect some Allergies as the plants and trees start blooming.
  • Make sure you have your supply of Heartworm preventative and Flea and Tick preventative products.

Lastly, keep our telephone number handy…just in case. (508) 885-4848


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