If you’re into landscaping your home, there are many reasons why you might want to use mulch.
Besides giving your garden a neat, aesthetic appeal, it provides other advantages, such as controlling weeds and slowing down soil erosion.
Mulch, however, isn’t just for the outside.
It can also be used as pet bedding or an outdoor potty area, and even keep away bugs that can potentially harm your dog, such as ticks and fleas.
But if you’re going to use mulch, it’s very important that you select a product that’s designed with your dog’s safety in mind.
Particularly if he’s prone to digging or chewing, you need to be sure you are purchasing a completely pet-safe, non-toxic kind.
Below are the best mulch options for dogs.
Best Mulch for Dogs
1. Cedarside Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch
This mulch is made in the USA from organic cedar trees and is completely free of additives and harsh chemicals.
It has a nice red color and a pleasant cedary aroma, plus, it provides a natural defense against fleas, ticks, mosquitos and other insects.
The granules are also fairly small in size, so the risk of choking is reduced, and you get a lot of value for your money, since one bag treats up to 3,500 square feet.
That said, the product comes with a satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy, the seller will gladly issue a refund.
2. Four Winds Trading Natural Cedar Shavings
While this mulch is great for using in the yard or garden, it has a number of indoor uses as well: this means everything from being a non-toxic air freshener to providing bedding for dogs.
The shavings also have a fresh earthy smell, and they act as a natural repellent against insects. Simply spread them around your dog’s kennel for fleas and flies
As a bonus, they come in a handy re-sealable bag for added convenience!
3. Kaytee Red Center Bedding
Made from all-natural red eastern cedar, these shavings are pre-cleaned and filtered before being packaged, which cuts down on the dust a lot.
The mulch is naturally soft and has a long-lasting smell, and it also helps absorb liquids and control odors. This, of course, keeps your pet’s bed a lot more manageable.
Moreover, there are no chemicals used in any part of the bedding’s processing, so it’s 100% pet-safe.
4. Kaytee Pine Bedding
This all-natural and biodegradable pine mulch is an excellent choice for keeping your dog’s bed cozy and fresh. Yet, it’s not as absorbent as cedar mulch.
As expected, it has a pleasing pine scent, and can be useful in repelling some insects, such as mosquitoes.
Guaranteed to be 99% dust-free, it also keeps the mess down and ensures that you or your dog won’t be bothered by allergens in the air.
5. Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding
This cedar is ideal for dog beds and houses. It helps keep pets bedding dry, cozy and free of odors, and it’s even kiln-dried to aid in absorption.
This process also helps to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria, and in addition, the aromatic cedar shavings are triple washed to cut down on the dust.
On top of that, you get a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can be confident in the quality of the product.
6. Vigaro Rubber Mulch
Although this mulch might look similar to red cedar, it’s actually made from recycled rubber, which makes it one of the eco-friendliest options on this list.
It doesn’t attract pesky insects and has a 12-year guarantee that its color will stay authentic, whether it’s used inside or outside.
The mulch also acts as a shock absorber, so it’s perfect for dogs with joint issues!
But keep in mind that it’s not quite as warm and snuggly in feeling as some of the other mulches, nor as absorbent.
7. Woodsmith USA Cedar Chips
These western red cedar chips are 100% natural and has a subtle scent. They’re proudly manufactured in the US, and make great bedding for pets, as they whisk away moisture while holding in warmth.
The mulch is also soft to the touch, so your dog can really snuggle in! Likewise, it absorbs any unpleasant odors, and even helps to keep away fleas, ticks and other bothersome pests.
The only drawback is that it tends to come in smaller sizes.
What Mulch Type Should You Buy?
The most important thing you need to know about dogs and mulch is which kinds are safe, and which ones to avoid:
Cedar: This is an ideal mulch for dog owners. Ceder is non-toxic to pets, and it also has the added benefit of keeping insects, like fleas and ticks at bay.
However, it’s recommended that you purchase the varieties that are shredded finely, as larger chunks can cause gastrointestinal issues if your dog does happen to ingest some.
Pine: Pine needles are another natural effective mulch. Not only do they help with keeping weeds at bay, but they also smell good and blend in perfectly as a part of the natural landscape.
Rubber: While it may look like wood, rubber mulch is made from old tires. So unlike wood mulches, it’s more durable and long-lasting, and requires almost no maintenance.
Dogs aren’t drawn to the smell or taste of rubber either, so it’s very likely your dog won’t be interested in it.
Cocoa Bean Mulch: We all know that chocolate is toxic to our furry friends.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that mulch made from the shells and hulls of the cocoa bean is just as harmful to dogs and cats.
Cocoa bean mulch contains a toxin called theobromine. If your dog happens to ingest it, it can cause everything from irregular heartbeats to seizures and even worse in a high enough dosage.
There are plenty of safer alternatives out there, so if you have pets, it’s best to just avoid it altogether.
Rocks: Some people use rocks for mulch, and while it’s great for providing water flow and other benefits, keep in mind that some dogs like to chew on rocks.
In extreme cases, this can cause dental issues, as well as severe stomach problems.
My Dog Likes Laying in Mulch, Is It OK?
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Yes! In fact, many pet owners choose to use mulch as a kind of liner in their dog’s bed or kennel.
Mulch is Highly Absorbent: This means that it quickly locks in and whisks away liquids, such as urine, so your dog can stay dry, even if he has an accident.
Mulch Controls Odors: While mulch generally has an appealing scent on its own (particularly if you’re using cedar or pine), it also helps with absorbing odors from urine.
Mulch Retains Warmth: Not only does it feel good for dogs to snuggle into a bed of mulch, the soft texture also helps lock in their body heat, so it keeps them warm throughout the night.
What Can Happen if My Dog Eats Mulch?
While dogs might love the feel of mulch, it’s important to train them not to eat it. If they make a habit out of eating it, it can have negative effects.
Especially if your dog ingests cocoa bean mulch, it can be toxic. So as we’ve discussed above, this isn’t recommended. It’s just not worth the risk.
Be aware though that any kind of mulch, even if it’s completely pet-safe, still isn’t great for your dog to ingest.
Larger fibers of cedar can wreak havoc on the digestive tract, while pine needles can actually puncture your pet’s stomach lining.
Instead, offer your dog something else to chew on (such as a bully stick or a stuffed chew toy) and make sure he’s getting a lot of physical and mental exercise throughout the day.
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!