While The Espoma Company’s Plant-tone fertilizer does contain ingredients that in raw forms are toxic to dogs, the product does not contain sufficient quantities in strong enough concentrations to harm animals.
Which Ingredients Are Toxic?
One ingredient in Plant-tone fertilizer is cocoa meal, which can sometimes contain traces of theobromine. This compound is the component of chocolate that is toxic to dogs.
What Are The Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning?
Also known as “chocolate sickness,” symptoms of theobromine poisoning in dogs include vomiting, increased heart rate, muscle spasms, seizures and death. Toxicity varies greatly depending on the size of the dog and amount ingested.
Cocoa meal is only added as a fertilizer component after it goes through a process by which virtually all cocoa butter is removed. Because theobromine is found primarily in the butter, the stripping process should eliminate all but the smallest traces of theobromine.
Could My Dog Still Get Sick By Eating Plant-Tone?
Espoma claims a dog would have to eat more than his own body weight of pure cocoa meal to ingest a near-toxic dose. Because cocoa meal constitutes less than 10 percent of Plant-tone’s total volume, there is only a very slim chance a dog will be poisoned by eating Plant-tone.
A Warning About Cocoa Hulls
Use caution when selecting mulches that contain cocoa hulls. Because these hulls have not been processed to extract cocoa butter, they may still contain sufficient quantities of theobromine to poison a dog.
Michelle Z. Donahue has worked as a journalist in the Washington, D.C., region since 2001. After several years as a government and economic reporter, she now specializes in gardening and science topics. Donahue holds a bachelor's degree in English from Vanderbilt University.