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Gardeners Beware!

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This has been posted on other forums because the author wanted the info widely distributed.


This message came to us from Ali Taylor, Head of Welfare, Battersea DH.



Yesterday one of our dog agility friends experienced a tragedy and wanted me to pass a special message along to all of my dog loving friends and family. Please tell every dog owner you know.


Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden.


Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mum woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.


Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.


Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that "It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can

suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it."



Also included was the following information -



Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called "Theobromine". It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die.

Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Just a word of caution, check what you are using in your gardens and be aware of what your gardeners are using in your gardens.


Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.






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Sadly, there are numberous things that are toxic to dogs and not labeled as such by places that sell them, so it really pays to be informed on what things can be dangerous. Someone in our flyball club experienced a horrible incident recently where there dog was chasing another animal around a Sago palm (these are quite common in Southern California) and ended up eating the some of the sago seed pods around the plant. The pods and the entire plant are deadly to pets and humans. Their dog was at the vet in intensive care for a week, but didn't make it.


This is an interesting link about dangerous things to keep away from your dogs-


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Not to completely ignore the warning about cocoa mulch, but "Calypso" has been making the rounds of internet discussion forums since at least 2003. Here is an excerpt from a version of the story collected in 2006:


Sent to us by Meagan Karnes, of Fur Crazy Pet Care.


Yesterday, one of our clients experienced a tragedy and

wanted me to pass a special message along to all of my dog loving friends and family. I was hoping you could forward this to your contact list.


My client was the doting owner of two young lab/golden retriever mixes.

Over the weekend, they purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their

garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away

from their garden. They set the bag in their yard. Their dog Calypso, decided

that the mulch smelled good enough to eat so she broke into it and devoured a large helping....


No one seems to know who "Calypso" really was, but an article in the June 1, 2006 JAVMA News says:


The story being circulated about a young dog named Calypso ingesting cocoa bean shell mulch may be true, Dr. Hansen said, but the cause of the dog's death is "highly suspect." The statement that she vomited a few times is consistent with such poisoning, but not the absence of other clinical signs until the next day, when the dog is said to have had a single seizure during her morning walk and died instantly.


"A big problem from the perspective of a toxicologist and a veterinary clinician is that if you have poisoning from methylxanthines, you get a progression of signs—vomiting, diarrhea, more vomiting, trembling, the heart rate kicks up, then it may progress to seizures if the dose is exceptionally high, with death being uncommon," Dr. Hansen said. "A necropsy would have likely shown that Calypso had an underlying condition that caused her death."


As for how much of a risk this is to your dog, The Media Desk pointed out in way back in 2006 that:


The Hershey Company has pulled their web page about their brand of Cocoa Mulch and has nothing on their site commenting on it at all. The former product website: www.hersheyscocoamulch.com now resolves to the company site: http://www.hersheys.com with no further information available.


Also. The garden supply shops listed in the email no longer sell the product and it is almost impossible to find it on line. The following information is from Home Depot's website on their mulch page:


Is the cocoa mulch sold at The Home Depot harmful to pets?

The Home Depot does not and will not sell mulch harmful to pets. The mulch sold by The Home Depot containing cocoa shells goes through several cleaning processes, including a high heat system in order to strip the cocoa fat from the shells without the use of any chemicals. The Home Depot has very strict policies and procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the mulch products sold in our stores. All The Home Depot mulch suppliers are required to be certified by the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC) which created the industry standards and criteria for mulch and soil certification and inspection.

Maybe not such a big risk?


Now the Sago palm thing, on the other hand.... Wow, the Internet is positively overflowing with tales of many, many different dogs felled by Sago palm seeds. Check out the stream of comments after this blog post. It looks like everyone who loses a dog to Sago palm goes straight to the internet to figure out how it could have happened to them, and many of them end up at this guy's blog post where they proceed to add their own sad stories to the ever-growing list.

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