Can Cedar Chips Be Toxic to Dogs?

By Ann Compton

Cedar chips are frequently used as filling for dog beds and also as bedding for outdoor doghouses. Cedar is safe if it's used in commercial dog beds but can pose a health hazard to a dog who is allergic, or if the chips are ingested.

Cedar Bedding

The smell of cedar repels insects. This makes cedar chips a popular choice for filling dog beds. It is effective for this use, but its strong scent can cause a reaction in dogs with respiratory issues or allergies. Prolonged contact with cedar bedding can cause contact allergies in dogs who are susceptible to them, resulting in itching or rashes. Cedar-filled beds are not toxic to dogs, but should only be used for dogs who are healthy and free of allergies.

Cedar in Your Dog's House

Cedar is sometimes used to line the floor of outdoor doghouses. The insect-repelling properties of cedar make it a popular choice to keep your dog comfortable and dry. If your dog is a chewer, avoid using cedar chips. They can cause gastric upset, abrasions to the mouth or blockages if swallowed. Wood shavings should not be used for pregnant dogs or newborn puppies to avoid bacterial transmission.

Garden Use

Mulch can be hazardous if your dog likes to dig.

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Cedar is frequently recommended for use as mulch in garden beds because it helps repel fleas and ticks. Although cedar is nontoxic, avoid using chips that are large, especially if your dog likes to dig and chew. Consider using garden fencing to keep your dog from getting into the garden area. Contact your veterinarian if you dog ingests any wood mulch.

Cedar Alternatives

Avoid using any dyed wood mulch in your garden. Dyes can leach into the ground and affect your dog if he digs there. Safe garden alternatives include rubber mulch, which is long lasting and looks like wood, recycled leaves or natural wood. Pine needles may be used but, like wood chips, avoid letting your dog eat them. Tea tree oil acts as an insect repellent and can be used in your garden and yard.

Toxic Mulch

Several types of wood mulch are dangerous to use in homes with dogs. Cocoa mulch, black mulch or mulch made from cocoa beans, shells or hulls contains toxins that can make your dog sick. Convulsions, vomiting, seizures and cardiac issues can result. The ingestion of a large quantity of cocoa mulch can be fatal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten cocoa mulch.