What Type of Mulch Is Best for a Dog Run?

By Zach Lazzari

Mulch is used to create a soft ground cover in dog runs. Natural and synthetic options are available and are easy on the dog's paws and joints. You must shop for nontoxic mulch options and replace the mulch when it becomes soiled. Other options also are available for covering the floor of a dog run.

Natural Mulch

Pine mulch is a good ground cover option for your dog run. The mulch is soft and it provides a comfortable layer of bedding. Cedar mulch is also effective but you must first test your dog for allergic reactions. Make contact between a sample of cedar mulch and your dog's skin. Monitor the skin for irritation and rashes. If the cedar disturbs your dog, it is not a viable option for the run. The major downside to natural mulch is the need for regular replacement. The mulch will absorb urine and fecal particles, but you must remove and replace it often.

Synthetic Mulch

Rubber is a top choice for synthetic mulch. Shredded rubber is used in playgrounds and many community dog parks. It comes from recycled tires and shoe soles and it provides a nontoxic ground cover. The rubber is nonporous and it cleans easily. Simply use a pressure nozzle on your hose to wash away urine and clean the area. Lay gravel under the mulch to provide natural drainage and prevent water from pooling.

Beware of Toxins and Consumption

Always use nontoxic mulch products that are designated as safe for animals and humans. Treated lumber that is turned to mulch will lead to health issues in your dog. Respiratory problems and skin rashes will develop with prolonged exposure to toxic mulch products. Also monitor your dogs to ensure they are not eating the mulch materials. Provide chew toys to prevent mouthing and consumption of the mulch.

Homemade Mulch

Make your own mulch to save on costs if the materials are readily available. Rent or purchase a wood chipper with shredder settings. Cut down or acquire cedar and pine wood that is untreated. You may partner with a tree trimming service and collect their scrap wood for your mulch pile. Feed chunks of wood through the chipper on a shred setting and store the material in a pile for easy access.

Wood chippers are powerful and dangerous. Use a stout stick to push material through the hopper. Never use your hands or a metal tool near the spinning blades.

Nonmulch Options

Mulch is not always the best option. It absorbs water, fails to file your dog's nails and requires frequent maintenance. Consider using a small area of mulch and using concrete or gravel for the remainder of the run. Hard surfaces reduce nail growth and keep the pads hardened. A combination of mulch and gravel provides the dog with different comfort options inside the pen.