Cocoa bean shell products, a by-product of chocolate production, are increasingly used as mulch for landscaping. Cocoa bean shell products have an attractive odor and smell, and some dogs will eagerly eat large amounts of the cocoa shell bean mulch.
In response to increasing reports of dogs eating cocoa bean mulch, a retrospective case study was conducted to further define this unique phenomenon. Sixteen cases of cocoa mulch ingestion by dogs were managed between January 2002 and April 2003.
Of these, six cases were selected for analysis because the final outcome was known, there was evidence/obseration of ingestion, and the managing veterinarian assessed the causality relationship as medium or higher.
They concluded that dogs consuming cocoa bean mulch might develop methylxanthine toxicosis. Clinical signs shown in the case studies included vomiting and muscle tremors, but life-threatening signs were not reported. Pet owners should avoid use of cocoa bean mulch in landscaping and around unsupervised dogs.
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