ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Issues Cocoa Bean Fertilizer Warning
Organic mulch fertilizer may pose hazard to dogs.
Contacts: Deborah Sindell
(212)-876-7700 ext. 4658
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(URBANA, IL) March 13, 2003 -- As spring approaches, people will start to tend their lawns and gardens. Many will consider using cocoa bean mulch as a fertilizer. Made from spent cocoa beans used in chocolate production, cocoa bean mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives a garden an appealing chocolate smell. However, it also attracts dogs, who can easily be poisoned by eating the mulch.
Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals, called methylxanthines. In dogs, low doses of methylxanthine can cause mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain); higher doses can cause rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and death.
Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; about 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)
If you suspect that your dog has eaten cocoa bean mulch, immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435). Treatment will depend on how much cocoa bean mulch your dog has eaten, when the mulch was eaten, and whether your dog is sick. Recommended care may include placing your dog under veterinary observation, inducing vomiting, and/or controlling a rapid heart beat or seizures.
For over 25 years, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has been the premier animal poison control center in North America. The center, an allied agency of the University of Illinois, is the only facility of its kind staffed by 25 veterinarians including 4 board-certified veterinary toxicologists and 10 certified veterinary technicians. Located in Urbana, Illinois, the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners and specific analysis and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2002, the center handled over 73,000 cases. In addition, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides extensive veterinary toxicology consulting on a wide array of subjects including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, regulatory reporting and bio surveillance. To reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, call (888) 426-4435. For more information on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center visit www.apcc.aspca.org. (1/03)
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