Every product and service on My Pet Needs That is independently selected by our editors, contributors, and experts.
If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a referral fee. Learn more
While you may think that mulch is just for garden landscaping or for preventing weeds, there are some pet-safe varieties that are also a perfect ‘soft setting’ for your dog’s outdoor house or yard. With both natural and synthetic options available, dog mulch provides a cushioned layer to their outdoor run or kennel and can also be used inside their doghouse for a super-comfortable place to snooze. Not only can dog mulch work all year round – keeping them warm in winter and cool in the summer – but most types will also help to repel those pesky ticks and fleas from making your pooch their home.
But as with all products you use around your dogs, you need to pick the right type to ensure it’s non-toxic and pet-safe. We put the best dog mulches to the test so you can be sure you are giving your pooch the perfect ground cover for their outdoor space.
Organic and with a natural bonding agent, the EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch comes in a range of pack sizes making it suitable for a range of pet owners. The tackifier agents holds it together and protects it from heavy wash out and being blown away by the wind. It is completely biodegradable making it safe for dogs. It comes in a convenient bag that is UV resistant and can be stored outside. It’s easy to handle and has a great coverage.
With 100% natural cedar wood shavings, there’s little to add to this quality dog mulch, and that’s its selling point. As our premium pick, this 4-quart bag from Four Winds Trading is the natural way to mulch up your dog’s outdoor space. The scent from the cedar wood shavings is fresh but not overpowering and packed with the all-important cedar oil, to send those fleas and ticks running. In a mix of sizes, the shavings come together nicely and create a comfortable surface for your dogs to sit, mooch, roll around on and sleep, all the while keeping them fresh and clean. Absorbent, the shavings help to keep damp away from the surface and is a good choice for both outdoor and indoor use. With a zip lock top to the bag, you can use what you need, and store the rest for later as it will be kept airtight and damp-free.
Free of any toxic chemicals, GMO products or artificial additives, this great smelling cedar wood mulch from Cedarcide is a good choice for larger dogs, thanks to its big bag. Cedarcide also pride themselves on the quality and safety of their products, with this pet-safe cedar mulch also skin-safe and hypoallergenic. Unlike some other mulches, Cedarcide red cedar is a granule rather than chip, so that it’s finer and softer to use. It is also handmade from organic cedar trees. The cedar oil smells natural and does an effective job of repelling those annoying fleas and ticks away from your pet for up to eight weeks. As well as your dog’s outdoor house or run, Cedarcide is also an effective mulch for your garden, beddings and lawned areas, to help keep those weeds at bay.
This mulch is a versatile all-rounder, not only creating a pleasant outdoor space for your dogs, but also as a mulch for indoor and outdoor plants. Made from 100% natural Western Red Cedar chips, the mulch has a fresh, long-lasting smell that will mask odors and messes, while the absorbency levels hold moisture well to keep your pet’s space nice and dry for longer. The bag is a generous size, good for regular use and top ups, and is easy to clean out when it’s time for a fresh, new bed. And the cedar oil is impressive, helping to protect your dog from pesky flea or tick infestations, as well as keeping insects away from your plants. The chips are on the smaller side, but the mulch is well made and there are no added chemicals or preservatives that could irritate dogs.
Made from natural Western Red Cedar
No additives or chemicals; super absorbent
Ideal for pet beds as well as indoor/outdoor plants
For those larger spaces or muckier pups, check out this bumper sack of cedar chips from Pestell Pets. Designed to be easy to clean, the fine chips of this wood mulch can be quickly ‘mucked out’, and with good levels of absorbency, will mop up those spills and toilet accidents with ease. The mulch is also nice and soft, so makes a lovely bed for dogs of all sizes and ages. And we really like the scent, which has a long-lasting natural outdoor fragrance which deodorizes the bedding while seeing off those unwanted ticks and fleas. The bag is large and will provide a generous covering for four cubic feet, so enough for your dog or dogs’ outdoor area as well as some spare for your plants and bedding!
If your dog sleeps in an outdoor kennel, has a day doghouse or spends a lot of time in the garden or yard, then a dog-safe mulch is an excellent choice to create a pleasant environment. Using mulch not only as a dog bedding but also as a ground cover can help to keep them comfortable, dry and warm, all year around. A quality mulch provides a safe surface to sleep, rest or roll around on and will cushion much harder ground. And the beauty of mulch is its versatility, keeping their doghouse warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A wood or rubber mulch bedding can help to reduce the risk of tick or flea infestations too, particularly cedar wood chips which repel the pests. Mulch is also a good outdoor surface for your pooch if they suffer from joint problems, as it is softer and kinder on their joints as they walk across it. But to keep your pet happy and healthy, you must choose a mulch that is non-toxic and totally pet-safe.
Things to Consider When Choosing Pet-Friendly Mulch
Pet-safe mulch: It goes without saying that the mulch must be certified safe and non-toxic, for both pets and their humans. But the way the mulch has been processed also needs to be factored in. Wood mulch made from treated lumber can have chemicals which could be toxic to dogs as can any artificial colors or dyes. Also check for any potential allergens that could affect your pooch, particularly if they are on the sensitive side. We talk more about the types of mulch to avoid later on in this buyer guide.
The type of mulch: As well as being non-toxic and pet-safe, the type and quality of the dog-friendly mulch you buy is essential. It also needs to be effective in repelling those pesky fleas and ticks. Cedar mulch is one of the best mulches for dogs you can buy, as it is non-toxic and is despised by parasites as well as having a lovely reddish color and a pleasant smell. Other pet-safe mulches include pine and long-lasting rubber mulch, which has the added benefit of not absorbing water so easier to clean.
Structure: The size of the mulch pieces can also make a difference when choosing the right product for your pet. Wherever possible, look for mulch that has been shredded finely rather than a coarse mulch, especially if your dog is a chewer, as larger chunks of mulch can cause an obstruction and lead to gastro problems you really want to avoid.
Best Mulch for Dogs FAQ:
Q: What type of mulch should I avoid for my dog?
A: As your dog is going to be in close contact with the mulch, when sleeping, playing, and rolling as well as potentially trying to eat it, there are some forms of mulch which are an absolute no-go when it comes to your pet. Here’s the lowdown on the ones pet owners must avoid:
Cocoa: Made from the husks of cocoa beans, cocoa mulch is a definite no, just as chocolate is off the menu for your dog. And this is because cocoa beans contain a chemical called theobromine which is highly toxic to dogs. Consequences of your dog eating or swallowing cocoa mulch can be severe, from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, heart irregularities and even death, if they were to eat enough.
Treated wood: While wood is generally a safe source of mulch for your dog, it must be untreated and chemical-free. Treated wood can contain a host of nasty chemicals, including a form of arsenic called chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, which is highly toxic for your dog or any other pets. If you are opting for a wood-based mulch, look for the Mulch & Soil Council (MSC) seal on the bag, so you can be sure the wood is untreated and CCA free.
Red and black cedar: While natural red cedar is an excellent mulch for dogs, some cedar mulches have added coloring to create a red and black affect. Whilst this may look aesthetically pleasing in your garden, it can pose a risk for your pet. If you are in any doubt, look for the MSC seal of approval on the bag, and you will know that it is safe for people and pets.
Pine needle: While pine bark is considered a safe form of mulch for pets, mulch made from pine needle is a different story. The tiny needles can easily be ingested by your dog and their sharp formation can cause damage to their gut as well as their stomach lining.
Q: What can happen if my dog eats mulch?
A: The first step is to try and prevent your dog from eating the mulch you have put down, or at the very least ensure it is non-toxic and safe for them to have the odd chew. It is also important to observe your dog when your first lay a new mulch down, not only to assess their likelihood of chewing (and stepping in if they are chewing too much) but to also see if they have any allergic reaction. If your dog has a reaction to the mulch, remove it immediately and look for an alternative product. However, if the reaction in your pooch is severe, get them to the vet pronto for a check-up. Large chunks of mulch can be dangerous and so should also be avoided, as these can entice puppies or a dog prone to chewing to have a chomp and can cause an obstruction if swallowed. And if you do suspect mulch poisoning (especially if your dog has chewed one of the types of mulch that’s on our ‘avoid’ list), seek professional veterinary help.
Our Top Pick
In a good value bag, that expands to three times its volume, Kaytee Red Cedar Bedding lays down as our Best Choice pick. Made from quality, all-natural red cedar logs, that’s been cleaned to reduce the dust levels, this wood mulch creates a fresh-smelling space for your pooch, that’s kept tick and flea free thanks to the natural cedar oil. And with 20% more absorbency than similar products, this biodegradable mulch could well be your pooch’s favorite place to settle down.