Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix - Warning to Pet Owners

Real Estate Broker/Owner with ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors

Dogs and Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Soil Don’t Mix

(Poor, sick Mac on his way to the Animal Hospital - the cone is to keep him from pulling out the IV catheter.)

Here’s a warning to all pet owners - there’s something in Miracle-Gro’s Organic Choice Potting Mix that attracts dogs ( and maybe cats). We think it’s probably the funky smell of the composite material. My sister had put the soil in large pots flanking a patio, and hadn’t yet planted them with flowers.  At any rate, our Golden Retriever Mac found it so irresistible that he ate clumps of the soil over several days. 


We caught him in the act at one point and gave him a scolding, but since there were no warning labels on the bags, and it was advertised as all natural, we weren’t too concerned. However, he did get sick - very sick. It seemed to hit him all at once too. Vomiting, excessive drooling, diarrhea, and weakness. He had all the symptoms of being poisoned and we rushed him to the our vet with the ingredient label from one the bags of potting mix. 

Sure enough, there’s nitrogen, phosphate, and potash (fertilizers) in the mix and the vet said Mac was exhibiting all the classic symptoms of organophosphate poisoning. They immediately started an IV to get him hydrated and informed us that he would need to go to a specialized animal hospital for more tests and 24 hour monitoring. It was late on a Friday afternoon and we waited anxiously that evening for a phone call giving us the results of his blood test. 


We were so relieved when they finally called with good news, the blood tests were encouraging, however Mac was still panting and drooling.  We fell asleep holding hands and hoping for more conclusive news in the morning. Fortunately, Mac did get to come home, he was lethargic and thin, but we were all thrilled that he lived through the ordeal. It’s been a couple of weeks now and he is still fine - showing no long-term effects from the poisoning. Of course the soil is gone, and none of us will buy Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix again.

We found several posts online about other pet owners who’ve had similar experiences. It makes us wonder why there are no prominent warning labels on the bag. My husband is writing a letter to Costco ( where the soil was purchased ) in hopes of preventing future problems for other curious, dirt-nibbling dogs (and cats). As for the company that makes the soil, Scotts claims that their potting soil is non-toxic, but admit there is organic fertilizer in the soil. The bottom line, they don’t believe that eating their potting mix causes any problem for pets. We’ll be sending them a copy of $1000 vet bills and the diagnosis of phosphate poisoning from two veterinary specialists. 

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Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Belinda Spillman 05/16/2016 04:34 AM
  2. Tammy Lankford, 05/16/2016 05:20 AM
  3. Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA 05/18/2016 07:59 AM
  4. Roy Kelley 06/02/2016 08:21 PM
  5. Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate 05/19/2016 11:44 AM
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It's Raining DOGS! Dog Lovers Group
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Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

The weed killer like Roundup is the most tested chemical. Medical professionals speculate it is "probable carcinogen".   DOA told they use mechanical wacker to clean trails....

May 22, 2016 02:09 AM #52
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Poor Mac! Glad to hear he's on the mend and I hope he has a full recovery. Organic or not, if the ingredients are harmful it should so be stated on the packaging. A brutal lesson, but I appreciate you sharing the story.

May 22, 2016 02:17 AM #53
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

So glad to hear that Mac recovered, but what a scare!!  Thanks for letting us know about this hazard .... likely your post will save other pets and their humans from the stress of what you've been through.

May 22, 2016 03:29 AM #54
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

A few years back, our yellow lab experienced similar symptoms. I also thought she was poisoned. Unfortunately, I didn't know the location of an emergency dog hospital at the time. She passed away on the way to the vet the next morning. We didn't get an autopsy and never knew what killed her but this makes me wonder. Can't remember if we had potting soil at the time.

May 22, 2016 06:58 AM #55
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Debb,  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites!

May 22, 2016 11:58 AM #56
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks for the warning. Now I need to go look at the bag of garden soil my husband brought home. I know it says Miracle Grow. I haven't opened it yet and now perhaps I won't. 

May 22, 2016 02:26 PM #57
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Oh no!  Glad the dog is okay now.  That must've been so scary.  Good for others to be aware of what this might do to their pets.

May 23, 2016 07:21 AM #58
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

How horrible for all of you! I am so glad Mac made it through all that mess.

May 27, 2016 11:40 AM #59
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

I am so glad Roy Kelley reposted this one. My dog will periodically eat dirt in the yard and of course I scold and he stops but now I know to be really careful with potting soil   Thanks 

Jun 02, 2016 08:28 PM #60
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Yes, Mac was a lucky boy. We do keep a better watch over his antics in the yard though. And NO more Organic Miracle Gro potting mix. D

Jun 09, 2016 01:39 AM #61
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Follow up, the damn company called us after our complaint to Costco, where we purchased the soil. They claim there isn't enough material in their soil to have caused the problem. Mac threw up copious amounts of the soil - nothing else. The vets all concurred it was phosphate poisoning. I will try to avoid Miracle Gro products at all cost. Terrible company and no responsibility for harm. 

Aug 10, 2016 02:20 AM #62
Jenny snyder

I am so glad you posted this. My 9 year old rat terrier ate this potting soil as well. She was on iv fluids and medicine. The vet ask us if she got into antifreeze. We have no antifreeze at our house. All I got find was this potting soil with a whole chewed in the bottom. Unfortunately, my little Sasha was too old and could not fight the poison. She was in kidney failure and we had to put her to sleep. It doesn’t make me feel better but at least I know what happened now. I will get rid of the rest of the soil so my other dogs don’t eat it. Thank you.

Jan 10, 2018 12:34 PM #63

my friends shizsu just went blind eating miracle gro for citrus and avocado

Mar 17, 2018 01:03 PM #64

Sorry to hear some dogs passed, glad to hear at least recovered. Pointing out, however, there is a hugely significant difference between phosphate and organophosphate. Not the same thing at all. If the vet thought it was organophosphate poisoning look at insecticides as the culprit

May 11, 2018 03:47 PM #65


Apr 30, 2019 02:15 PM #66
Leisha Grant

I purchased Miracle Gro Potting soil this past Sunday & put it in my backyard flowering bed. Because it has a bunch of little sticks & other little thinks in it, my 1 1/2 yr old puppy was chewing on some of the little sticks in there. By Tuesday she was so sick, vomiting & diaherea all day. At first I thought she just had a stomach flu & would get over it. I soon realized this was not the case. I took her to the vet on Wednesday to find her liver counts were super high & she was not doing well at all (ALT Count was at 482 and the ALP count was at 302). The only thing she had that was different was eating those little sticks & things in the Miracle Gro Potting Soil. She's still at the vet clinic getting intervenous & other medications to help her get over this. It's going to take a while yet before she is completely out of the woods. I am appauled that they do no have a warning on their bags that this is harmful to animals. I am Very Very Disappointed to find this out & would like to see that they mark these bags with a warning. Instead all I could find was that it is okay to lay this stuff down & right after have your pets walk around in it. Unbelievable. If I hadn't take her in when I did, she would not be alive today.

May 10, 2019 07:57 AM #67
Karen weyant

I have a question related to your experience although nothing as serious, I don't think. My aunt works at a greenhouse for the summer and usually stops at my house on her way home. We have two 4 year old cats, and as soon as she tries to pet our one cat she starts to squint her eyes, swat ninja style at her hand, and excessively drool. We cannot figure out what it is. I am wondering if it is the soil. If anyone else has experienced this with their felines could you maybe help narrow down what it could be. My email is JordanAndmasonsmuscles@gmail.com Thanks

May 18, 2019 04:50 PM #68
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi Karen, I'm so sad to hear this. I honestly don't know if it's related...hope someone can help you figure it out. 

May 19, 2019 07:12 AM #69

Some facts and some hopefully helpful advice... I am prior service army and when I first saw our 9 pound Yorkie drooling, foaming at the mouth, and unable to stand, my immediate thought was ‘chemical!’ It matched all the symptoms of a nerve agent. Sure enough it is. As mentioned previously, these are the signs of organophosphate poisoning. Straight phosphates themselves are relatively benign and are found in many common detergents, but organophosphates were developed by the Germans during the war for use as nerve agents. The family includes notorious killers like Sarin and VX nerve agents. These chemicals attack the central nervous system and cause loss of muscular control to include respiratory function. That’s how they kill. MANY FERTILIZERS CONTAIN INSECTICIDES THAT ARE ORGANOPHOSPHATE BASED. The insecticide is meant to control grubs. The smaller the animal, the more susceptible to weak doses they are. We learned to keep him out of other peoples yards and bathe him after walks. We also stock the antidote. I found this post because this is our third incident in a week. No walks and not been out of the yard.... but two dozen tomato and pepper plants sit in peat pots on the patio, waiting to go into the garden, and filled with miracle grow potting soil. There was some on the garage floor from the open bag as well. It rains, the rain washes it out onto the patio, and the animals walk through it. Then they lick their paws. The antidote is atropine. 1cc per 25 lbs given subcutaneously will reverse the effects in as little as two minutes. Vets may or may not give you a syringe to take home; my vet here in the country is an old Nam vet who knows I know what I’m doing. He says farmers frequently have some on hand for their animals as well. Study organophosphate poisoning, know the signs, and learn to give sub Q injections, and talk to your vet. You may save your animals life next time. Miracle grow potting soil has organophosphates in it I am convinced.

Jun 10, 2019 04:50 PM #70

Very scary. I searched this topic today after my indoor cat went wild nibbling potted home-grown cat grass (oat/wheat/barley mix). Then kitty started enthusiastically pulling out whole blades of grass complete with roots & clumps of Miracle Grow potting soil. End of feast... Makes my wonder about the safety of commercially sold pots of “cat grass” sold in pet stores. Also reminds me why we try to buy organic when possible.

Sep 19, 2019 11:22 AM #71
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD

REALTORS® in Clark County, WA
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