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Popular Fertilizer Is Dangerous to Dogs
by ANC Staff and ASPCA

How does your garden grow? Not with cocoa bean mulch, please.

A retrospective study released recently by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) confirms that this commonly used fertilizer may deter slugs and snails, but it also attracts companion canines, who can be poisoned by eating it.

Made from spent cocoa beans used in the production of chocolate, cocoa bean mulch contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs.

Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea (as exhibited by a 50-pound dog who had eaten about two ounces of the mulch) to tremors, seizures and death.

The study, which included six cases received and managed by veterinarians at the APCC between January 2002 and April 2003, was presented at last month's 2003 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology.

Comments Dr. Steven Hansen, the APCC's Senior Vice President, "Since the updated data confirms that dogs can exhibit certain clinical effects after consuming cocoa bean shell mulch fertilizer, the ASPCA advises pet owners that they should avoid using this fertilizer around unsupervised dogs, and dogs with indiscriminate eating habits."

Owners who suspect their dog has ingested this organic fertilizer - or any other potentially toxic substance - should immediately contact their veterinarian or the APCC at (888) 426-4435 for 24-hour emergency assistance.

More information on cocoa bean mulch can be found on the APCC online, at:

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