Best Mulch for Dogs

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best mulch for dogs

Mulch is a great way to give your garden a neat, aesthetic appeal.

In most cases, it’s made from organic ingredients, and it provides a number of advantages, such as controlling weeds and slowing down soil erosion. It also encourages helpful critters, like earthworms to move into your garden and soil.

As a pet owner, there are a few reasons why you might want to use mulch, as this material is:

  • Comfortable to lay on
  • Soft and gentle on the joints
  • Prevents paw injuries
  • Keeps fleas and ticks away

If you’re going to use this, however, it’s very important that you select a type that’s designed with your dog’s safety in mind. Particularly if your pup is prone to digging or chewing, you need to be sure you’re using a completely pet-safe, non-toxic product.

The first thing you need to know about dogs and mulch is which kinds are harmful and which kinds are safe.

What Should You Avoid?

Cocoa Bean Mulch: We all know that chocolate is toxic to our furry friends, and chocolate is derived from cocoa beans.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that mulch made from the shells and hulls of the cocoa bean is just as harmful to our dogs.

This 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.

But don’t worry, there are safer alternatives!

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.

What Mulch Type to Buy?

Cedar: This is a great mulch for dog owners, as it’s not only non-toxic to pets, but it also has the added benefit of repelling insects and parasites, like fleas and ticks.

On top of that, it has a good smell and an attractive, reddish color.

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 nuggets (made from pine trees) are an effective mulch. They not only help with keeping weeds at bay, but they also smell great, 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 it’s friendly for the environment.

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Unlike wood mulches, it doesn’t absorb moisture, which helps it last longer, and it’s also easier to clean.

In addition, most dogs aren’t drawn to the smell or taste of rubber either, so it’s very unlikely your dog will be interested in tasting it.

Below are the best pet-safe mulch options for dogs.

What’s the Best Mulch for Dogs?

1. Cedarside Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch

Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch Granules Repels Fleas, Ticks, Ants, Mites, Mosquitoes 8lb Bag

This natural mulch is completely non-toxic and free of harsh chemicals. Its red color adds aesthetic appeal, and it gives off a naturally pleasant aroma (yey, not as much as other cedar mulches).

In addition, it provides a natural defense against ants, ticks, fleas, mosquitos, and other insects.

The granules are fairly small in size, so the risk of choking is reduced. You also get a lot of value for your money, since one bag treats up to 3,500 square feet.

Plus, it comes with a satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy, the seller will gladly refund your money.

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  • Pleasant aroma
  • Natural ticks and fleas defense
  • Satisfaction guarantee

2. Four Winds Trading Natural Cedar Shavings

Natural Cedar Shavings (4 Quart)

While this all-natural mulch is great for yards and gardens, it has a number of indoor uses as well. This means everything from being useful for odor and insect control to providing bedding for dogs.

It’s highly absorbent, so you don’t need to worry if your dog has an accident during the night or while you’re away.

Other than that, the cedar smell is very pleasant, and even though the 4-quart bag is probably too small, it also comes in two larger sizes.

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  • Repel insects
  • Highly absorbant
  • Pleasant cedar smell

3. Kaytee Red Center Bedding

Kaytee Red Cedar Bedding

Made from all-natural red eastern cedar, these shavings are pre-cleaned and filtered before being packaged, which means it 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, which keeps your pet’s bed a lot more manageable.

Additionally, there are no chemicals used in any part of the processing, so it’s 100% pet-safe.


  • Low dust formula
  • Long-lasting smell
  • absorb liquids and odors

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4. Kaytee Pine Bedding

Kaytee Pine Bedding, 4.0 Cubic Feet Bag

This pine mulch is all-natural, biodegradable, and soft to the touch. It’s an excellent choice for keeping your dog’s bed cozy, yet it may not be the option if you’re looking for high absorbance.

On the other hand, it has a fresh pine scent, and it can be useful in repelling some insects, such as mites.

Guaranteed to be 99% dust-free, this product also keeps the mess down and ensures that you or your dog won’t be bothered by allergens in the air.

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  • Soft and cozy
  • Fresh pine scent
  • Low dust formula

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5. Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding

Pet's Pick Cedar Bedding, 5.0 cu ft for Dog Beds, Houses and Runs with MAXIMUM ODOR CONTROL + 100% GUARANTEE

This mulch is mostly ideal for dog beds and houses. It helps keep pets bedding dry, cozy, and free of odors, and is even kiln-dried to aid in absorption.

By the way, this process also helps to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria. and as an added bonus, these aromatic cedar shavings are triple washed to cut down on the dust.

You also get a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can be confident in the quality of the product.


  • Absorbent
  • Low dust formula
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

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6. Vigaro Rubber Mulch

Vigoro 0.8 cu. ft. Rubber Mulch (1, red)

Even though 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.

It’s also great as a shock absorber, which is ideal for elderly dogs with joint issues. It is, however, not quite as warm and snuggly in feeling as some of the other mulches, nor as absorbent.


  • Eco-friendly
  • Won’t attract insects
  • Good shock absorber

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7. Woodsmith USA Cedar Chips

100% Natural Cedar Chips | Mulch | Great for Outdoors or Indoor Potted Plants | Dog Bedding (4 Quart)

This mulch is all-natural and has a subtle cedar scent. The chips are proudly manufactured in the US, and they make great bedding for your pet, as they whisk away moisture while holding in warmth.

The mulch is also soft to the touch, so your dog can really snuggle in. Additionally, it absorbs unpleasant odors, and even helps to keep away fleas, ticks, and other bothersome pests.

Just be aware that this bag is quite small, and you may need to order more than one.


  • Subtle cedar scent
  • Absorbs odors
  • Keeps away fleas and ticks

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Why Should You Use Mulch for Dog Bedding?

We all love our dogs, but the truth is that sometimes, they can be a little stinky.

The key to keeping your dog’s bed fresh smelling and clean lies in a high-quality mulch, which offers serious odor control paired with a soft feel that helps to retain heat.

Not only does it feel good for your pup to snuggle into a bed of mulch, but the soft texture also helps lock in his body heat, so it keeps him warm and dry throughout the night.

Mulch generally has an appealing scent on its own, particularly if you’re using cedar or pine. This helps with absorbing odors from urine, while also keeping your dog’s bed smelling fresh and clean.

Some mulch types are also highly absorbent. This means that they can quickly lock in and whisk away liquids, such as drool and urine, so your dog can stay dry, even if he has an accident.

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For the same reasons, it’s also advisable to use mulch inside dog houses, kennels, and dog runs.

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. It’s not meant to be in their bodies, and if they make a habit out of eating it, it can have negative effects.

Warning: As mentioned before, ingesting cocoa bean mulch can be very toxic for pets, which just not worth the risk.

Keep in mind though that any kind of mulch, even if it’s completely pet-safe, still isn’t great for your dog to ingest.

For example, larger fibers of cedar can wreak havoc on the digestive tract, while pine needles can actually puncture your pet’s stomach lining.

Give your dog something else to play with, such as a bully stick or a stuffed chew toy. Also, make sure he’s getting enough exercise, both physical and mental.