If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you likely already know about all the good stuff mulch can help us with in our planting activities – from discouraging weeds to maintaining moisture levels in the soil, mulch is a staple in gardening. But if you happen to have dogs running around your yard, or are specifically looking to repurpose some of that mulch for a dog run, you’re going to have to be a bit more mindful of the types of mulch you use. Any mulch derived from cocoa is toxic to dogs, for instance – it contains the toxin theobromine, which can be deadly if too much is consumed by your canine friends. So what types of mulch should you be considering, so your dogs can get the exercise and outdoors-time they need? Here are our picks.
CedarCide Insect Repellent Red Cedar Granules
Natural wood based mulch is not only healthy for your dogs but is also good for your garden, without the risk of synthetic dyes and chemicals seeping into the soil, damaging its nutrients and hurting your plants. While excessive chewing on any type of mulch poses a choking hazard for your dogs, this natural cedar mulch doesn’t come with artificial coloring or any other additives which might harm your furry friends. To discourage chewing, for all types of dog run mulches, we recommend either providing chew toys or other distractions for your puppies, or spraying the mulch with garlic water – this not only deters your dogs from ingesting bits of mulch, but also keeps them from digging holes into it.
Cedar also has the additional benefit of being a natural insect repellent – you won’t have to worry about the mulch becoming a breeding ground for creepy crawlies which might harm both your pets and your plants. The cedar oil in these granules has a pleasant smell, enhancing the ambient and aesthetic appeal of your dog run or yard. The mulch is rot-resistant, and easy to rake up and replace once its soiled up. One bag of this product comes with 9 pounds of mulch.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Ohio Mulch Supply Pine Fines Potting Mulch
Pine is another natural mulch option, and this bag comes with 2 cubic feet’s worth of it. The soft texture of the mulch makes it gentle to the pads of your dogs’ feet to run around in, and since its completely natural, without any chemicals mixed in, is harmless for your garden as well. In fact, mulch made out of pine bark is attributed to keeping weeds at bay, doing away with pesky parasitic outgrowths which might end up sapping away the nutrients your flowers and hedges need to thrive. Note, however, that pine needles can hurt your dogs and cause discomfort if ingested – if your puppy tends to be a chewer, give him or her a selection of chew toys to play with instead, or spray a little citrus or a diluted vinegar solution over the mulch. Dogs are sharp creatures, and once they’ve learnt that something tastes bad – often after a few repeated attempts – they’re likely to learn to leave it alone.
Note that, like all wood chip based mulches, pine bark will also soak up any waste your dog produces while playing on the dog run, which can easily make them unsanitary if left standing too long. Fortunately, the mulch is inexpensive and easy to replace, a simple matter of raking up once soiled, bagging and disposing in preparation of a fresh layer.
EZ Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack
This 2.5 cubic feet bag of straw mulch is organic and completely safe for pets, with a bonding agent to hold it together and keep it from making a mess, so your pets are less likely to be kicking up flurries of straw as they skid up and down a dog run set with it. It also keeps the straw from getting stuck on your pet’s fur as they pelt through, so you don’t have to worry about clean-up afterwards. Perfect for keeping grass seed from getting washed or blown away, the straw biodegrades naturally, so it’s harmless to your garden as well as your canine pals and ideal if you’re looking for a two-in-one solution to both keep birds, bugs and weeds off your lawn while letting your pets have a safe playing field to roll around in.
As with all types of mulch, straw can also become breeding grounds for bacteria and unpleasant odors if soiled by your dogs, so we recommend being mindful of how often you replace the straw with a fresh bed of mulch.
International Mulch Rubberific Rubber Mulch in Black
While it’s inevitable that dogs might have bathroom related accidents while frolicking around outside – especially anywhere they can dig down, mulch paths being a natural candidate – synthetic mulch has the benefit over natural mulch of being more easy to clean. Made of recycled rubber, this non-toxic mulch is both gorgeous when laid out on your garden, as well as non-porous – meaning if your pup has decided to empty its bladder on it, all you have to do is hose it down with your garden hose or a bucket of water without needing to rake the whole thing up again and put down a fresh layer.
The shredded mulch stays down despite wind, rain, or the flurry of paws of an excitable puppy on the loose, maintaining its color well over several years of use, making it one of the more enduring, long-term options on this list. Its synthetic quality also means it won’t rot or tear, so you won’t have to worry about the upkeep whether you’re using it for a dog run, as bedding to keep your plants and shrubs safe from weeds or dehydration, or both. With three times the coverage of wood based mulch, this 2 cubic feet’s worth option also keeps your garden safe from pests and parasites, and helps regulate the moisture in the soil so your flowerbeds remain properly hydrated.
- SFGate: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/mulch-use-around-animals-36077.html
- The Nest: http://pets.thenest.com/put-ground-dog-run-3719.html
- Valley Cottage Animal Hospital: http://valleycottageanimalhospital.com/2014/05/12/choosing-a-mulch-for-pet-owners/