How Does Dog Safe Mulch Save Money?

What is dog safe mulch? And how on earth can it help my yard, dog, and wallet? While you may think that lawn mulch is simply lawn mulch, it’s not. In other words, not all mulch are created equal. There are ones you’ll want to avoid and ones you’ll want to use for your dog’s health and the beautification of your yard. I certainly looked into all the types of mulches that were best for my dog, Henry. I’m glad I did too as I learned a lot. So, today let’s dig in and discover all about dog safe yard mulch.

A happy pup smiles because his yard has dog safe mulch
disclaimer note
Budget tip:

Our yards can be a first impression to our guests, ourselves, and our neighbors. Thus, using mulch not only helps with the beautification process, it can help our plants as well. Not only that, but our dogs can spend a lot of time in their yard. As such, choosing the right mulch for your plants and dogs is a must! Therefore, it’s critical to select a mulch that is good for your dog and your wallet, such as pine bark mulch. The right dog safe mulch is a major win-win-win for your yard, dog, and your wallet!

Why should I use yard mulch anyhow?

There are a few reasons you’ll want to lay down mulch or wood chips in your yard. They include:

  • Reduces weed growth
  • Less water evaporation and need to water
  • Adds nutrients to your garden
  • Reduces mud

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What are the concerns of lawn mulch for my dog?

Some dogs will eat nearly anything and this includes consuming mulch. Therefore, you need to make sure that your mulch selection is safe for your dog. Even walking on some types of mulch and licking a paw can be an issue. Thus, if you pick the wrong mulch you can have a sick dog from ingestion or allergies. Additionally, some mulch, like pine needs can get caught in paws and fur and cause serious issues if ingested. 

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What mulch should I avoid for my dog?

There are a few types of lawn mulch you’ll simply want to steer clear of for your dog. These include:

Cocoa mulch (aka cocoa bean mulch or cocoa shell mulch) – This type of mulch is as toxic as chocolate for dogs

Chemically treated mulch – I hope this speaks for itself on the hazards for your dog. However, let me say, always avoid chemicals with your dog.

Large chunk mulch – This type of mulch can be a choking hazard, especially for those “eat anything” dogs.

Pine needle mulch – Pine sap is toxic and needles have a sharp edge and can cause serious issues if ingested. 

Rubber mulch – This type of mulch contains chemicals. Yep, no more needs to be said here.

Unknown sources – Who wants to play roulette with your dog’s health? Basically, with unknown sources, you simply don’t know if the mulch contains chemicals, insects, or other potential problems.

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What are dog safe mulch options?

There are a multitude of mulch varieties you can use for your garden that are dog-friendly. These include:

Pine bark mulch (basic wood mulch)- This type of mulch is the most economical, but can wash away and fade quickly.

Cedar mulch – This is my favorite type of mulch due to its smell and pest-repellant qualities. However, some dogs are allergic to cedar, so make sure to keep your eyes on your pup.

Cypress mulch – This is also a great-smelling mulch. It also repeals insects and can last 2-3 years. However, cypress mulch can make the soil too acidic for some plants. It’s best to talk with your nursery to make sure cypress mulch is a good option for you.

Pea gravel or rock mulch – While this isn’t really mulch it can act like mulch for your plants and yard. However, make sure the gravel or rocks aren’t too small if your dog likes to chew on rocks. Also, be careful as gravel can get very hot in the summer. Additionally, it is heavier and costs significantly more than wood mulch.

Henry sits on dog safe mulch in our yard.

NOTE: I have garden mulch from various trees I know are safe at my home. While the pieces may be a bit bigger, Henry isn’t a chewer. Thus, it’s safe for him and wallet-friendly for me. 

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Is pine straw mulch safe for dogs?

Some dog parents like pine needle straw, which is dried pine needles. The thought is that when the fallen needles have dried they aren’t AS dangerous if ingested. While the sap may not be present with the dried pine straw, you may still have problems if your dog is a chewer. Thus, you may want to avoid pine needle straw. 

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What are the best landscaping tips for placing dog safe garden mulch in my yard? 

Since mulch is great for keeping plants moist and reducing weed growth, I like to place it in:

  • Flower beds
  • Around plants (but not too close to a tree base as it can cause rot)
  • Walkways

Although, some people will also install dog safe mulch within dog runs. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you select a safe mulch. 

What are the cost savings for installing dog safe mulch?

This is always the fun part of an article. The cost breakdowns. So, with this in mind consider the following possible expenses for a moment. 

Potential IssueCost
Emergency vet visit$150 – 5,000
Ingestion of mulch$250 – 5,000
Mulch toxicity (or mulch poisoning)$25 – 5,000
Allergies from selected mulch$200 – 2,500
Happy, healthy dog, and beautiful yardPRICELESS!!!!

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Summary of How Does Dog Safe Mulch Save Money?

Yard mulch can be a wonderful addition to your property. However, you want to make sure that you choose a dog safe mulch such as pine bark, cedar, or cypress. For me mulch has helped with reducing stickers in Henry’s paws, limiting the amount of mud we track in our home, keeping our plants well watered, and keeping the weeds at bay. Thus, picking the right dog safe mulch is a huge game changer for your yard, your wallet, and your dog. I know, I’m pleased with my choice for Henry and my yard.

A Husky sits in a yard with dog safe mulch

Did you realize that there was dog safe mulch? What kind of mulch would you like in your yard?


10 thoughts on “How Does Dog Safe Mulch Save Money?”

  1. This is a great post! When we moved to Phoenix, we needed mulch because everything dried out so fast. We discovered cocoa mulch, but I hadn’t realized that of course it would be toxic to my dogs! Not to mention, I actually hated the smell. We had to scrape it all up. What a waste.

    • OH NO!!!! That’s awful to spend the money on mulch and then have to re-do it. Well, at least you discovered what mulch didn’t work well for you. I always say if I can learn something from a fail, then it’s not a complete disaster.

      Thank you, Cathy for sharing your experiences! I really appreciate it!

  2. Fascinating! I just bought any mulch I found, having no idea some were actually hazardous to my dogs. Thankfully they never showed any interest in eating any of it, they were all about the food they found! Not exposing dogs to hazardous materials can absolutely save us a fortune.

    • The main issue is with your dog eating mulch. But there are times that simply walking on the mulch and licking could be an issue. Specifically, when the mulch is treated with chemicals or is cocoa mulch. Honestly, Hindy, mulch is one of those things most people don’t think a lot about. But what you select can make a big difference for your dog, yard, and wallet. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  3. I had no idea there could be so many kinds of mulch, or the potential dangers of some of them YIKES. You probably just saved someone a fortune because they will take time to look at the labels and check the contents of the mulch bags!

    $5,000 minimum vet feeds for a dog eating mulch, Ooooh I would not want to be that dog owner! Safe mulch is good mulch.

    • Isn’t it crazy how things we don’t think twice about can be so costly for our furry friends? I hadn’t really thought about it much until I was ready to install mulch here. Then I did some research. It can certainly be a huge money saver to pick the right mulch. Thanks, Marjorie for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it!

  4. Not having a yard I never thought about it but wow this post is so interesting and I have shared it for all pet parent gardeners so they can learn from you. Henry is so lucky to have you as a dog Mom as you think of everything. Hugs to both of you

  5. Excellent topic and article! I wrote about the dangers of toxic cocoa mulch to dogs years ago, but had no idea there were so many different choices today, and very happy to hear that there is “pet safe” mulch! I did use the cedar mulch at my house when we had our five Huskies. Thankfully, they never were interested in it to chew, quite possibly due to the cedar. It’s a great idea to mulch your own safe trees if you can. I like that idea! (I have a lot…a LOT of pine trees where I am now!) I know a lot of pet parents have questions about mulch when they share yard space with dogs. I’m sharing this for them to read!

    • Thanks, Dorothy! Isn’t it crazy the things to think about as a dog parent? Yes, I love cedar mulch. I also think it’s a great idea to use trees you personally know are safe. Mulch certainly can be a great way to improve the look of your yard, keep weeds away, the mud down, and your pet healthy with the right selection. Thank you so much for your continued support!


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