12 Best Mulches for Dogs (Review): Pet-Safe and Pest Repellent

best mulch for dogs

Has this happened to you?  You just finished your spring landscaping with a fresh layer of mulch. When you let Fido outside, he checks out the new materials and starts munching on a piece…

Is eating mulch ok? In this review, we’re going to examine why dogs eat mulch, the benefits of mulch, and the types of mulch that are dog-safe and the types that are dangerous or poisonous. Then we’ll review 12 products currently on the market to help you find the best mulch for dogs.

Table of Contents

Top 12 Mulches for Dogs

EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack

EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack Biodegradable Organic Processed Straw

our Ratings:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

This straw mulch is designed for planting grass seed. It includes a tack bonding agent to help hold it together and prevent it from blowing away. There’s no dye, and the product is pet and child safe. One bale holds 2.5 cubic feet.

What We Like About It

  • It helps keep dogs from getting muddy feet
  • It provides lots of ground coverage
  • The chop makes it easy to apply

What We Don't Like

  • Some customers said the product had seeds in it
  • Some customers reported that it wasn’t tacky enough

Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding

Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding

our Ratings:

4.6/5

Price Range: $$

This shaved cedar bedding is kiln dried and comes in 2.5 cubic foot bales. The material is absorbent and aromatic. It can help keep your pooch dry and sweet-smelling. There are two bales in a pack.

What We Like About It

  • It smells great
  • It’s easy to use and refresh
  • It helps keep pests away

What We Don't Like

  • It has a lot of tiny pieces that can blow away

Kaytee Red Cedar Bedding

Kaytee Red Cedar Bedding

our Ratings:

4.4/5

Price Range: $

Kaytee Red Cedar mulch bedding is cleaned and filtered to minimize dust. The all-natural product contains red cedar wood shavings. It comes in a125o cubic inch package and expands to cover 3200 cubic inches.

What We Like About It

  • It has a fresh aroma and helps to keep potty odors down
  • You can use it for your dog run and for gardening
  • It prevents muddy dog feet

What We Don't Like

  • It’s not safe for some pocket pets
  • There can be some difference in consistency between bags

Amish Aromatic Red Cedar Wood Shavings

Amish Aromatic Red Cedar Wood Shavings

our Ratings:

4.4/5

Price Range: $$

Made for animal bedding, Amish Aromatic mulch is 100% natural and biodegradable. There are no chemicals or preservatives. One box holds 864 cubic inches of product that weighs about 4 pounds.

What We Like About It

  • The product is fresh and fragrant
  • The chips are large enough to resist blowing in the wind
  • It looks great around the yard

What We Don't Like

  • It comes loose in the box - open carefully!
  • There’s lots of dust

Natural Cedar Shavings (16 Quart)

Natural Cedar Shavings

our Ratings:

4.2/5

Price Range: $$

This all-natural product from Four Winds Trading comes in 4, 8, or 16-quart bags. It has cedar wood shavings that you can use for animal bedding or landscaping. The shavings also work well for crafting and other household uses.

What We Like About It

  • It helps control insects in the garden
  • It’s easy to use
  • It smells great

What We Don't Like

  • It’s a small amount for the price

Playsafer Rubber Nuggets

Playsafer Rubber Nuggets

our Ratings:

4/5

Price Range: $$

This ground cover from Playsafer is made from recycled rubber. It comes with a 12 year color guarantee. The product is available in 6 color options. It’s certified 99.9% wire free. There’s 1.55 cubic feet in a 40 pound bag. It dries quickly after rain and will not attract mold or pests.

What We Like About It

  • It looks great and retains its color
  • It won’t rot or attract termites
  • It’s durable and will last more than a year

What We Don't Like

  • You can find small pieces of wire in the mulch

International Mulch Company NS8RW Redwood

Best Rubber Dog-Friendly Mulch

International Mulch Company NS8RW Redwood

our Ratings:

4/5

Price Range: $$

Made from recycled rubber, this redwood-colored mulch works for playgrounds, dog runs, and general landscaping. It provides excellent drainage and helps to prevent mold, fungi, and dust. The product comes with a 12-year color guarantee and a 5-year warranty. One bag contains 0.8 cubic feet of mulch

What We Like About It

  • You don’t have to worry about termites or other wood parasites
  • It looks good
  • It won’t rot, so it lasts longer

What We Don't Like

  • You may find steel shavings in the product

Thunder Acres Natural Wheat Straw

Thunder Acres Natural Wheat Straw

our Ratings:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

Thunder Acres Wheat Straw comes in 4 pound boxes and can be used for pet bedding. As an all-natural product, this material is pet safe. It provides a soft, warm ground cover for your pal’s run or outdoor dog house. You can also use the mulch on the garden to keep plants moist.

What We Like About It

  • The straw is long and works well for bedding
  • It’s easy to carry and spreat
  • It comes in a convenient bag that you can carry right to the dog run or yard
  • It won’t clump

What We Don't Like

  • It’s dusty
  • The straw is lightweight and can blow away if it’s windy

Cedarcide Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch

Cedarcide Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch

our Ratings:

4.3/5

Price Range: $$

Cedarcide granules are all-natural cedar shavings. Depending on the thickness of your mulch cover, 1 8 pound bag can treat up to 3,500 square feet. You can use this for your lawn, garden, or outdoor dog run to repel pests like fleas, ants, and mosquitoes. It’s certified as pet-safe and uses non-GMO sources.

What We Like About It

  • It works well to cut down the bugs
  • It smells great
  • It’s not irritating to dogs

What We Don't Like

  • The shavings are tiny and can stick to dog paws

100% Natural Cedar Chips

Best Cedar Dog-Friendly Mulch

100% Natural Cedar Chips

our Ratings:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

Made from Western Red Cedar trees, this mulch is useful for dog bedding and landscaping. One bag contains about 5 quarts of materials. The natural aroma can freshen your home or yard. It’s made by Wood Smith USA.

What We Like About It

  • It works well as a bug repellant
  • It has a great aroma
  • It looks good in potted plants and in the garden

What We Don't Like

  • The chips are really small
  • It’s a small bag

AA Plus Shop 100% Natural Wheat Straw Grass

AA Plus Shop 100% Natural Wheat Straw Grass

our Ratings:

4.4/5

Price Range: $$

AA Plus Shop wheat straw grass is pet-safe and available in 4 pound lots. The wheat grains are plucked from the stalks prior to packaging. It’s all-natural and locally grown. You can use it for bedding or ground cover.

What We Like About It

  • It’s easy to spread
  • It fresh and has a pleasant aroma
  • It works great for outdoors
  • Dogs seem to like it and will roll around in it

What We Don't Like

  • The stalks are short and can be dusty
  • One owner found rocks in the bedding

Kaytee Pine Bedding for Pet Cages

Kaytee Pine Bedding for Pet Cages

our Ratings:

4.5/5

Price Range: $

This bedding uses all-natural pine shavings for pet bedding. It’s biodegradable and 99% dust-free. You can use this product in small pet cages or for your dog bedding. It’s available in 4 size options ranging from 600 cubic inches to 4 cubic feet.

What We Like About It

  • The fresh wood scent helps keep pet odor down
  • It’s a good value for the money

What We Don't Like

  • It’s dusty
  • It’s very lightweight and can fly away easily

Understanding Mulch for Dogs

Combining dogs and landscaping material can pose some hazards. If your pup is a munch monster, mulch or other yard improvements might be appealing to him. Why does fido eat mulch, and what can you do to keep your property looking its best while also keeping your furbaby safe? Let’s take a look.

Why Do Dogs Eat Mulch?

Most mulch is made from tree bark, and it has an attractive aroma for canines. Dogs are also natural chewers and some of them like to gnaw on wood. Even though most types of mulch are not poisonous to our furbabies, they still pose a risk for choking or obstructions.

Is mulch safe for dogs?

is mulch safe for dogs

If your furbaby likes to munch on mulch, you may be better off to avoid using it in your yard. However, Fido may still encounter ground cover on walks. Keep your furbaby on a leash and steer him away from landscaped areas. That being said, some mulches are pet-safe and others may be harmful or toxic. Read on to learn which options are hazardous and which are ok to use in the yard.

Is Dyed Mulch Safe For Dogs?

Most colored mulches made today use one of two pet-safe dyes – iron oxide or carbon black. However, to be extra safe, check the bag for a seal of approval from the Mulch and Soil Council.

What Are The Best Types of Mulch to Use With Dogs?

Cedar

Cedar mulch is considered safe for dogs. It doesn’t have any toxic chemicals but can still pose a risk if your pooch swallows large pieces. As we stated above, cedar also has some insect-repelling properties. This product has a pleasant aroma and attractive natural red color that can pop in your yard. 

Pine

Another mulch that’s non-toxic and safe for dogs is pine. If your landscaping material includes pine needles, be careful. They can irritate or puncture the stomach if your pal eats them.

Untreated Wood

Natural woods that haven’t been dyed or treated are also safe for dogs. Even though dyes used today to color mulch aren’t toxic, the chemicals can leach into the soil. 

Rubber

Rubber mulch, usually made from recycled tires, is safe for dogs. It looks like wood, but it doesn’t have the same aromatic scents as wood mulches. Most dogs will not be tempted to munch this product. An added bonus with this product is that it’s durable and lasts 5-10 years.

What Should You Avoid?

Cocoa Bean Mulch Can Poison Dogs: Warning! Toxic Mulch for Dogs

One popular type of landscaping material that people like to use is Cocoa Bean Mulch. It has a pleasant aroma and looks attractive in the yard. However, this product contains small amounts of theobromine. This is the compound found in chocolate that’s toxic to dogs. If a pooch eats large amounts of cocoa mulch, they can show signs of chocolate poisoning like:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panting or rapid breathing
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Cherry red gums
  • Tremors/seizures

It’s best to avoid this type of landscaping. If you have cocoa mulch in your yard and thing Fido may have eaten some, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Rocks

Another option for flowerbeds and other non-lawn areas is rocks. While most pups find stones unappealing, there are a few canines that will eat them. If your pal swallows a rock, it can cause an obstruction. The material can also dry out the soil and make it harder to maintain plants. If you choose to use stone in some areas of the yard, look for smooth rocks. They’ll be less likely to cut or injure your furbaby’s paws.

What’s the Best Mulch for a Dog Run?

If you’re setting up a dog run and want to line it with mulch, make sure you use a non-toxic material. Rubber mulch is a great option because it won’t blow away, it’s easy to clean, and it’s gentle on the feet. With rubber, you’ll have good drainage and you’ll be able to hose the run down for easy cleaning. If you prefer a natural substance, go with cedar. It provides warmth as bedding and can also help prevent pests.

best mulch for a dog run

How to Keep Your Dog From Turning Your Yard Into a Muddy Mess

When you have one or more energetic pooches, grass may not hold up to their activities. So, you may need to find other materials that are safe and practical. If you really want some lawn, section off dog-free areas and keep Fido off. For other parts of the yard, you can use:

  • Pea gravel
  • Wood chips
  • Artificial turf

Before laying out the material, level the ground and cover it with plastic sheeting or landscaping fabric to discourage weeds.

Can Mulch Help With Flea and Tick Prevention?

Some wood-based mulches like cedar, cypress, and pinewood help to repel fleas, ticks, and other pests. The action is due to chemicals that occur naturally in the material. For example, cedar releases an oil called plicatic acid into the environment. This compound has some repellent properties that may last for a few months.
A Veterinary Tip

Before you go all-in on a mulch investment, try some out with your pup. Some canines have allergies to plant material. If your furry friend starts sneezing or itching, you should try another material.

F.A.Qs

Can I use this product on an outdoor dog run with no roof cover? Yes, these products can be used in outdoor dog runs. Rubber may be more resistant to windy weather because it’s heavier.
Will it repel insects? The natural chemicals in cedarwood act as an insect repellant and can help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other pests. Rubber mulches do not have inherent repellant properties, but the synthetic material will also not attract any insects.
How much area will a bag cover? The amount of coverage will depend on the size of the bag and how deep you plan to lay the mulch. Check the manufacturer specifications to find out.

Best in Show: Our Top Pick

best mulch for dogs
After evaluating the above products and checking against our criteria of dog safety and usefulness, we select Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding as our best mulch for dogs.
This product is all-natural and made from shaved Eastern Red Cedar. It’s kiln-dried to help minimize dust. Pet’s Pick offers odor control and insect repelling properties. Best of all, it’s dog-safe.
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