Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs – What Is It And Does It Work? If You Have Heard That There Is A Natural Flea, Tick And Worm Treatment, Cheap To Use And Easy To Deliver, You’re Bound To Be Excited.
But Does It Actually Work, And Come To Think Of It, Is It Even Safe?
Let’s Find Out!
Dealing with parasites is frustrating.
Pesticides can be harmful to animals and humans, and some owners worry about growing parasite resistance to conventional preventatives.
As a result, many owners are turning to alternatives to try and treat their dogs more ‘naturally.’
The results are not always as effective as we might wish.
You may have heard that diatomaceous earth is a natural, safe, affordable way to get rid of parasites in dogs.
While there is some scientific evidence to back this up, diatomaceous earth, just like any pesticide, has some drawbacks.
If you have ever wondered, ‘can I put diatomaceous earth on my dog?’ you are not alone.
Here is what you need to know about diatomaceous earth for dogs to keep you and your pet safe.
What is Diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a fine, powdery substance.
While it looks smooth, it is actually made from the ground, fossilized remains of diatoms.
Diatoms are tiny aquatic organisms.
Diatom skeletons are made of silica, a natural substance that is very common in nature. When ground, diatomaceous earth kills insects by absorbing the oils and fats from the insect’s exoskeleton, drying it out.
The sharp edges of the ground fossil help speed this process up, which is why diatomaceous earth is often used as a pesticide, treating pests from poultry mites to grain weevils.
Diatomaceous earth is also used in non-pesticide products, including toothpastes, skin care, foods, medicines, water filters, beverages, rubbers, and paints.
With so many applications, it makes sense that owners wonder if there are diatomaceous earth uses for dogs.
What is Diatomaceous earth for dogs?
Diatomaceous earth is typically used as a pesticide treatment for dogs.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, there are over 150 products currently registered for use in farms, gardens, buildings, and pet kennels, and some of these products can be used directly on dogs and cats.
The most common use of diatomaceous earth for dogs is the treatment of fleas and ticks.
Some people also believe that diatomaceous earth can also be used to treat internal parasites.
As with any natural product, there are a lot of claims floating around the internet.
There do appear to be some diatomaceous earth benefits for dogs, but before we get into the details, let’s talk about safety.
Is Diatomaceous earth safe for dogs?
One of the biggest appeals of diatomaceous earth is that it is non-toxic.
However, even non-toxic substances can be harmful if used inappropriately.
Most veterinarians approve the use of diatomaceous earth for dogs, as long as owners follow the product guidelines.
Diatomaceous earth is most effective when dry.
It is also dusty and easily airborne.
Heavy use has been thought to potentially cause lung damage, so owners of dogs with preexisting respiratory disease look for alternative products.
Diatomaceous earth can also cause irritation to human lungs, and can be dangerous for people with asthma.
When applying diatomaceous earth around your home or yard, manufacturers recommend taking precautions like wearing a face mask and glasses to protect your airways and eyes from irritation.
Eyes and airways are not the only organs at risk.
Diatomaceous earth dries out insects. It can also dry out your dog’s skin.
Excessive use of diatomaceous earth could lead to dry, itchy skin, so make sure you research the product and talk to your veterinarian about how often to apply it to prevent your dog’s skin from drying out.
One manufacturer of diatomaceous earth recommends giving dogs a bath and thorough shampooing after a few days to reduce this risk.
Your best resource for safety information regarding diatomaceous earth is your veterinarian.
Is Diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs effective?
Second to safety, the most important thing you need to know about any pet product is if it actually works.
With so many products out there claiming to be natural and effective, it is hard to sort through the false claims from the real ones.
Recently, diatomaceous earth has garnered a lot of interest as a health supplement for humans.
There is very little conclusive scientific evidence backing up claims that diatomaceous earth can absorb toxins, cleanse colons, or cure disease.
However, diatomaceous earth does appear to be somewhat effective at killing insects. Although further scientific research is still needed to confirm its effectiveness in dogs.
This means that without a definitive answer, diatomaceous earth remains a possible treatment for fleas. But is not necessarily a replacement for traditional flea and tick preventatives.
Why Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs Might Not Be The Best Option
There are a few reasons for this.
Diatomaceous earth works to kill insects over time.
This can pose some problems for dogs and their owners, especially if a dog suffers from flea allergy dermatitis. If this is the case, you may need a faster acting product to keep your dog comfortable.
Using diatomaceous earth as your only tick preventative also carries risks.
Ticks are vectors for several harmful diseases, including Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.
Ticks typically need to remain attached for over 24 hours to transmit these diseases, but slower working pesticides like diatomaceous earth could allow them to infect your dog.
When used with flea preventatives, however, diatomaceous earth could be an effective treatment for reducing infestation levels around the home and yard.
Is Diatomaceous earth for worms in dogs effective?
Diatomaceous earth shows some promise for treating external parasites, but what about internal parasites like roundworms and tapeworms?
One of the advantages of diatomaceous earth is that parasites cannot develop resistance to it, thanks to its mode of action.
Of course, this is only important if the treatment works.
The internet is full of claims about how diatomaceous earth can cheaply and effectively kill parasites.
The evidence, however, does not back this up.
The Importance Of Scientific Research
For starters, there are very few studies that examine the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth on canine internal parasites.
To find answers, I had to look for studies in other species.
Studies in equine medicine about the effects of diatomaceous earth on internal parasites have so far been inconclusive, and equine veterinarians do not generally recommend diatomaceous earth as an effective treatment.
Horses and dogs share a few common parasite families, and are often given different dosages of the same dewormers, like ivermectin.
If diatomaceous earth has so far provided mixed results in horses, using diatomaceous earth for tapeworms in dogs is not advisable.
There has also been a study on cattle which showed no difference between the control group and the group given Diatomaceous Earth.
Parasites like tapeworms can lead to serious health problems and even death, especially in young, senior, or immunocompromised dogs.
Instead of using diatomaceous earth for deworming dogs, play it safe and stick with a dewormer recommended by your veterinarian.
How to use diatomaceous earth safely
If you decide to use diatomaceous earth in accordance with a flea treatment plan set up with your veterinarian, there are a few things you should know.
Diatomaceous earth is available over the counter, and can be found in a variety of stores, including pharmacies, farm and garden centers, and hardware stores.
So how much diatomaceous earth for dogs should you use?
If you are applying diatomaceous earth externally as a dust bath, follow the package instructions.
If your package does not have instructions, contact your veterinarian for an accurate dosage.
Talk To Your Vet About Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs
Veterinarians recommend using human food grade diatomaceous earth, instead of pool or poultry grade, in case you or your dog accidentally ingest the product.
If, despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the use of diatomaceous earth as a dewormer, you decide to use diatomaceous earth to treat internal parasites, contact your veterinarian for appropriate dosages.
Diatomaceous earth can be a great way to eliminate pests in hard to reach areas, like cracks or yards, without resorting to potentially harmful or environmentally toxic pesticides.
It will not harm the environment, which makes it a good option for outdoor applications.
Diatomaceous earth can also be used inside to kill fleas in the home, especially in places you may not want to spray potentially harmful chemicals.
But take precautions to prevent you or your pets from inhaling it and be aware that vacuuming up diatomaceous earth may be hard on your vacuum cleaner.
Talk to your veterinarian about how frequently you should apply diatomaceous earth to your dog’s skin.
Your veterinarian can also help you apply diatomaceous earth to your best advantage, killing fleas at the appropriate life stages to prevent the infestation from continuing.
As you apply, remember that diatomaceous earth is most effective when it is dry, so avoid wetting animals or areas until the diatomaceous earth has done its job.
Should I Use Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs?
The jury is still out, so you need to decide whether you are comfortale using something that might not be effective.
Although diatomaceous earth has not been scientifically proven to be the most effective way to prevent parasites in dogs, it might help you as part of a flea treatment regimen. But it should not be used alone.
For best results, use diatomaceous earth in accordance with a pest control plan put together by your veterinarian.
Further Reading and Resources
- ‘Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Control.’ Riversong Veterinary Clinic.
- DePaolo, M. DVM. ‘De-Worming.’ DePaolo Equine Concepts. 2012.
- Lizotte, C. DVM, MBA, CVFT, VCA (IVAS), CIVT, CVHM. ‘Flea and Tick products and natural options.’
- Larek, R. Ms, ED. ‘Using Pet-Safe Pest Control.’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
- Flint, C. DVM. ‘6 pest control tips for pet owners.’ DVM360 Magazine. Oct 2017.
- ‘Diatomaceous Earth.’ National Pesticide Information Center.
- Bennett, DC et al. ‘Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens.’ Poultry Science. July 2011.
- Nielsen, M. DVM, PhD, DEVPC, DACVM. ‘Q&A: Diatomaceous earth as a dewormer?’ Equus Magazine. May 2014.
- Lange et al 1986 Diatomaceous Earth Filtration of Giardia Cysts and Other Substances. Journal AWWA
- Fernandez et al 2010 Effect of diatomaceous earth as an anthelmintic treatment on internal parasites and feedlot performance of beef steers. Animal Science Journal.
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