Is Bark Mulch Toxic To Dogs? A Dog Professional Clarifies!

Bark mulch is very attractive to dogs as a chew toy. The woody smell and the practical, mouth-friendly size are very inviting to them.

But bark mulch can be dangerous for your dog. This article lists the problems caused by bark mulch and how you should react if your dog eats bark mulch.

In a nutshell: Is bark mulch toxic to dogs?

Bark mulch can contain toxic substances, which in the worst case can be deadly for your dog. Pesticides and color are not always labeled or recognizable.

In addition, bark mulch is not produced selectively and can therefore contain plants that are poisonous or at least dangerous for your dog.

What should I do if my dog ate bark mulch?

It is best to prevent your dog or puppy from eating bark mulch as soon as possible.

If you don’t know what the bark mulch contains, you should definitely take your dog to the vet immediately. It is best to take a handful of bark mulch with you so that your vet knows which wood and which poison, if any, it is.

But even if you can be sure that the bark mulch is not poisonous for your dog, you should make an appointment in a veterinary practice as soon as possible. There they check that no injuries have occurred in the intestines and that the bark mulch really was not toxic to your dog.


If there are signs of poisoning or an allergic reaction, you must go to the emergency room immediately. Symptoms are vomiting, heavy panting with foam at the mouth, shortness of breath or cramps.

Why is bark mulch dangerous for dogs?

There is no legal regulation for bark mulch, which is why it can be obtained from different woods and other plant residues often smuggle in between. These plants can be poisonous to dogs.

But also the use of oak or rhododendron wood makes the bark mulch poisonous for dogs.

In addition, bark mulch is often mixed with antifungal agents or stains. These can trigger allergic reactions or poisoning in your dog. With some substances, mere contact is enough.

Likewise, mold quickly spreads on untreated bark mulch, which is also dangerous for your dog.

You can recognize poisoning by sudden vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal cramps or foamy saliva in the mouth. Slow poisoning is shown by listlessness, refusal to feed and a hard stomach.

With an allergic reaction, your dog will either become very lethargic or frantic. His mucous membranes swell and he gasps for air.

But pure bark mulch also harbors dangers: Sharp edges or small sticks in the bark mulch can seriously injure the gastrointestinal tract. The wounds can become infected and develop into blood poisoning. In the worst case, a torsion in the stomach or an intestinal obstruction can also threaten.

Attention danger!

If a puppy eats bark mulch, it is even more threatening than for an adult dog. The same amount of toxic bark mulch is far more dangerous to its small body. Therefore, a puppy that eats bark mulch should always see a vet immediately.

What is bark mulch anyway?

Bark mulch is shredded tree bark, which is often used in your own garden to control weeds. A layer of bark mulch keeps the soil underneath moist for longer in summer and protected from frost in winter.

In addition, the microorganisms in and under the bark mulch ensure greater soil fertility. It usually consists of native trees such as fir, spruce or pine.

In addition, bark mulch is also very decorative on bed borders.

What alternatives are there to bark mulch?

There is no such thing as dog-friendly bark mulch. Pine mulch is safer for dogs because its bark is non-toxic and the risk of fungus is lower. Nevertheless, there is still a risk of injury from small sticks and sharp edges. Poisoning by plant residues cannot be ruled out either.

The best alternative is therefore to avoid bark mulch altogether.

It is therefore better to replace decorative bark mulch with stones or pebbles. Other advantages of bark mulch must be compensated accordingly.


Bark mulch is a very pretty decoration for the garden. But it can have serious consequences for your dog and even be fatal because many substances in bark mulch are toxic to dogs.

You should therefore make sure that your dog does not eat any bark mulch on walks and always consult your veterinarian in an emergency.

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