Cocoa Bean Mulch Poses Threat To Pets

Made from spent cocoa beans used in chocolate production, cocal bean mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives off an appealing chocolate scent.  However, it also attracts dogs, who can be poisoned by eating the mulch.  Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, and dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals.  Low doses can cause mild gastrointestinal upset; higher doses can cause rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures and even death.  The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recommends pet owners avoid using this mulch around unsupervised dogs, and dogs with indiscriminate eating habits.

Hold the Onions!

Did you know that onions are not good for dogs? Onions cause toxicity by oxidizing hemoglobin in the red blood cells.  As a result, the dog may become anemic. If a large amount of onions are consumed at one time, the dog may develop sudden anemia several days later. 1/4 cup of onions can make a 20-lb dog sick. If a dog eats a small amount every day for many days, it may gradually develop anemia over weeks to months. While onion toxicity is not common, it's something to keep in mind next time your dog is begging for your onion rings.

Ice Melts

Most pets become exposed when they groom the compounds off their feet and fur. Salivation and mild gastrointestinal signs often ensue. Most problems can be prevented by wiping a pet's feet with a damp towel or bathing a pet soon after it has walked or rolled in areas with ice melt. Using sand or cat litter to help with traction in icy spots is a safe option. If pets must walk over ice melt compounds, paws can be pretreated with a thin layer of nonstick cooking spray to prevent adherence of the compounds. Booties can also help if pets tolerate them.


Ethylene glycol is found most commonly in greenish colored antifreeze chemicals used in motor vehicles, but it is also in rust removers, film-processing solutions, and some solvents. Because of its sweet taste, even a small radiator leak of fluid can attract animals. A single lick can be deadly! Keep chemicals well sealed and out of reach. If ingestion is suspected, prompt veterinary intervention increases the chances of a favorable outcome.

Holiday Hazards

  • Poisonous Plants: Christmas cactus, mistletoe, holly, poinsettia plants.
  • Dangerous Decorations: tinsel, string, ribbon, tree lights, breakable ornaments, metal ornament hooks, artificial snow.
  • Toxic Treats: chocolate, bread dough, liquid potpourri, alcohol, avocado, coffee, garlic, grapes, raisins, hops, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled food, onions, salt.

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