Dog Friendly Garden Mulch: What To Know


As a dog owner, you want your lawn and grass to look good, as well as your garden … but you also want to keep your pet safe.

In this case, a dog friendly garden mulch makes sense to bring the best out of your soil and plants, but also to keep your pet/s from a trip to the vet.

Mulch comes in many types and forms, so it’s important to know what you’re looking at and for.

In this quick guide, we run through what mulch is, what its used for, the types of mulches and how you might assess a dog friendly garden mulch.

Let’s check the guide out!


(NOTE: this is a general informational and educational guide only. Speak to a qualified person for professional advice – this information is not a substitute for the advice of an expert.)


Dog Friendly Garden Mulch: What To Know

What Is Garden Mulch?

Mulch is usually an organic material that you apply as a fine layer to the top of your garden soil, although it can be inorganic too.

It comes in several organic types and forms such as:

Gravel and stone

Cocoa mulch

Shredded tree bark and wood chips

Grass Clippings


Manure and Compost


Biodegradable earth paper


Pine needles



Man made mulch comes as:

Black plastic

Landscaping fabric


How Does Mulch Help Your Yard & Garden?

Mulch can help your soil and plants in your garden in the following ways:

Keeps the soil and plant roots cool – plant roots are less stressed from the heat

Keeps soil moist with more water available 

Organic mulch over time can slowly drip feed nutrients into the soil and plants (especially compost)

Organic mulch is good as organic matter for plants and micro organisms that naturally decompose and break down certain nutrients in the garden


How Can Mulch Harm Your Garden?

If you use a mulch that is too thick or doesn’t allow proper aeration, you can get:

Insect and bug problems

Soil aeration issues


Additionally, the time of the year, the weather and the season you place the mulch on your garden plays a part.

The temperature of the soil can influence growing conditions, so you want to make sure you’re applying mulch for the optimal germination, growth or maintenance environment.


Is Mulch Usually Safe For Dogs & Pets?

Most organic mulches are generally safe for most dogs (obviously though it is up to you to decide what is safe for your dog – ask a vet if you aren’t sure).

When dogs eat the mulch is when you tend to see problems diarrhea, vomiting and poisoning.

Mere exposure to most mulches doesn’t tend to produce hazardous environments in general.

If you want to be extra safe though, you might pay attention to the following:

Stay away from mulches like cocoa mulch that smell good for dogs, and make them want to eat it

Wait a few week to a month for the mulch to settle into your garden before letting you dog around it sniffing it

Read the label and the ingredients list on the mulch packaging for any instructions of application and any warnings

If you are using anything home made like a compost for example, get an opinion from your vet as to whether it will be safe around you pet

… and obviously ask a vet about anything you’re unsure about, or if you notice adverse or serious reactions in your dog


How To Choose A Dog Friendly Garden Mulch – What Is The Best Garden Mulch?

A heavy (in weight), organic mulch might be best.

Heavier mulches are less likely to move around/come displaced, and organic mulches usually have nutrients that they can slowly release into the soil over time.

Black plastic for example has no organic benefit, and can rip and break off into the environment (plastic is not biodegradable), plus it can get slimy and moldy on the underside.


How Much Mulch To Apply To Garden?

Follow the instructions on the bag of the mulch you buy – it should tell you the depth of the layer.

It can be affected by several factors including but not limited to your soil, amount of rainfall, type of mulch, and how weedy the ground is.


Further Resources On Garden Mulch, and Pet Friendly Garden Mulch

1. About Garden Mulch

2. How Dog Friendly Is Mulch?


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You should always consult your own veterinarian, animal expert, or health care professional and follow their advice before making decisions on all matters.


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