Is Cocoa Shell Mulch Dangerous Around Pets?

The short answer is that it could be harmful if trace amounts of the Theobromine oil in the shells are retained after their processing, and your pet would have to eat a large amount of the shells. Theobromine oil, which is poisonous to pets in large doses, is present in large amounts in the cocoa bean itself, the cocoa shells have much smaller amounts of the oil in their raw state.

Cocoa shells like any other live tree bark, or shredded wood must go through a composting process that starts the decomposition process, and makes the product safe for use around plants. In the case of the cocoa shells, the process to make them market ready involves heating them up to extreme temperatures to dehydrate them and remove any residual oils.

The odds that there is any Theobromine remaining in the shells after the extreme heating process they go through is minimal. Should you use cocoa mulch in your yard if you have pets?  The decision is a personal one.  If you have a pet that is known to put any and all things in it’s mouth, you might want to avoid this product in case a problem develops, but for the average pet owner, cocoa mulch should not be a problem.

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