If you're thinking of sprucing up your landscaping, consider using rubber mulch, a recycled product, as part of your new garden's look. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it's pet-safe as well. Unless Fido has a penchant for munching on mulch, he should have no issues with it.
Rubber and Pups
Rubber mulch, also referred to as crumb rubber, is made by recycling old rubber tires so that they don't end up in a landfill, making it a green option for your garden. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that rubber mulch doesn't provide any health risks to people or pets. It will last for up to 12 years in your garden without needing to be replaced like other types of mulch. Rubber mulch has a soft texture that is generally safe for the little paws of our four-legged friends if it isn't made from recycled steel-belted tires. Purchase mixes that are steel-free to avoid having any small metal particles in the mulch, which could provide a risk of cutting or irritating your pooch's feet.
Rubber mulch has even been used in some dog parks. Freedom Bark Park in Lowell, Indiana made use of recycled rubber mulch as part of its "green" initiative and won the 2009 "America’s Best Dog Park" award given by Dog Fancy Magazine. The mulch helps keep away unwanted weeds and insects without the use of toxic weed killers and pesticides, which can be harmful to pooches. Rubber mulch, unlike wood mulch, can be rinsed off to keep it clean. It doesn't hold water so it won't harbor bacteria or fungi when wet, keeping such harmful microorganisms away from pups. This makes it easy to keep areas covered in rubber mulch clean and odor-free, especially if Fido likes to eliminate on them.
While rubber mulch is generally safe to use around pooches if all they do is walk or sniff around it, it isn't meant for eating. Unfortunately, somedogs have a compulsive desire to eat non-food items, including garden mulch. This condition is known as pica and is common in pups, especially those that enjoy chewing on everything in sight, according to the Humane Society of the United States. While some pups may not like the smell of the rubber mulch, others may think that it has a similar texture to a chew toy and might take to ingesting it. This could lead to a life-threatening intestinal blockage, so always monitor your pup around any rubber mulch.
When first using rubber mulch, use it in a small area and keep Fido on a leash around it so that he doesn't try to taste it, especially if he has a history of eating non-food items. While there is some concern that rubber mulch mixes contain potential carcinogens like lead, naphthalene, benzene, acetone and arsenic, the EPA has determined that the levels of these chemicals the mulch contains are not harmful to pets. Like cocoa mulch, though, rubber mulch isn't safe for your pooch to snack on in large amounts because of the chemicals it contains. Rubber mulch does leach zinc and iron into the soil, so keep that in mind if your soil is already acidic as this can potentially harm any plants in the area.
- The Wall Street Journal: Is Rubber Mulch a Safe Option For Backyard Landscaping?
- American Recycled Plastic: Recycled Rubber Mulch
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Mulch
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening
- petMD: Dog Fancy Magazine Announces 'America's Best Dog Park'
- petMD: "They Ate What?"
- The Humane Society of the United States: Pica: Why Pets Sometimes Eat Strange Objects
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: The Use of Recycled Tire Materials on Playgrounds & Artificial Turf Fields
- CalRecycle: Landscaping & Rubber Mulch
- Mother Earth Living: Mind Your Mulch: Eco-friendly Mulch
- Pinnacle Rubber Mulch: LTR Products Helps Center for Courageous Kids Ramp up the Fun with Donation of Vigoro Rubber Mulch
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.