Facts on Dogs and Chocolate (cont.)

Cocoa Shell Mulch: A Little-Known Danger

Most people don't realize it, but those increasingly popular cocoa shell mulches used for landscaping can also pose a serious risk to dogs in the same way that chocolate does.

Terry and Dawn Hall found out the hard way several years ago when their beloved 105-pound chocolate lab ‘Moose' died after eating just eight ounces of cocoa shell mulch used to landscape their Minneapolis yard.

The death prompted the couple to contact Minnesota state senator Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis, who sponsored a bill to require cocoa mulch sellers to warn customers of the potential danger to dogs.

His bill was approved by the Legislature last spring, but vetoed by the governor.

“It is my understanding that theobromine can be removed from cocoa mulch pretty easily, and that some manufacturers do this and others do not,” Dibble tells WebMD. “But right now there is no way for the consumer to know if the mulch they are buying has been treated.”


Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th Edition Online. Michelle DeHaven, DVM, owner, Cumberland Animal Clinic, Smyrna, Ga.

Kevin Fitzgerald, DVM, PhD, Alameda East Veterinary Hospital, Denver.

Scott Dibble, state senator, Minneapolis.

Saint Paul Ledger Capitol Report “Death by Chocolate: Couple Fights for Warning Labels on Cocoa Bean Mulch,” March 24, 2009.