Articles Index/Cocoa Bean Mulch Dangerous if Ingested by Dogs
As people tend their lawns and gardens, many will use mulch made from cocoa beans. This mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives a garden an appealing chocolate small. However, it also attracts dogs that can be easily poisoned by eating it.
Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals, called methylxanthines. Even low doses of methylxanthine can cause mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain); higher doses can cause rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and death.
Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about two ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; About 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)
If you suspect that your dog has eaten cocoa bean mulch, immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435). Treatment will depend on how much mulch the dog has eaten, when it was eaten, and whether your dog is already exhibiting symptoms.
ANTIC, June 2010
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