I was a bit skeptical when I first learned about the many uses of diatomaceous earth, but I became more convinced that most of the claims were reasonable as I started to learn about the physical properties of this substance.
For millions of years, mother earth kept this precious sedimentary rock a secret, until it was discovered in the nineteenth century by a German peasant who was digging a well.
Since that time, this amply available mineral has received significant attention for industrial and agricultural uses. It has gained popularity in recent years for a wide range of applications like pest control and health promotion.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a natural, soft, off-white colored chalky substance formed from the fossilized remains of small, ancient one-celled algae organisms called diatoms.
As the diatoms died, they sank to the depths of the bodies of water in which they had lived, building a sediment that became compacted and fossilized, eventually forming a white sedimentary rock.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pets?
Generally, there are two sources of diatomaceous earth, marine deposits (from areas where saltwater once existed) and freshwater deposits, which provide food-grade D.E.
We are interested in this latter sort, as it is the only kind safe for mammals — i.e., you and your pets, it’s also a safe, gentle product to worm your pets and keep them free from fleas and parasites.
Remember not to confuse food grade diatomaceous earth (safe for humans and animals) with industrial-grade, marine, swimming pool, or calcined D.E., which are NOT SAFE for humans or animals.
How Does D.E. Work to Kill Fleas?
Unlike the chemical killers that fleas often become immune to in several years, the geometric skeletons of dead algae have very sharp edges that cut off the exoskeleton of the flea, and the absorbency of the D.E. sucks the fluids right out of the flea causing it to dehydrate and die.
How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Fleas?
Many people seeking a safe and powerful pesticide that can be applied to kill fleas have turned to diatomaceous earth, with outstanding results.
There are numerous ways to use D.E., depending on the level of the infestation in your home.
Apply D.E. Directly On Your Dog’s Coat
Food grade Diatomaceous earth can be used directly on your pet to kill insects crawling on them. Also, it can be used around the pet’s living area to kill any pests.
Inside Your Home
If you find fleas that have managed to slither or crawl their way into your home, D.E. can help you get rid of them. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (from organic gardening places or natural pet companies) around the house, especially in the cracks and out of way areas. Focus on areas where your dog frequent the most – beds, couches, etc. Let the powder sit 12 hours and then vacuum thoroughly.
After vacuuming, you can put D.E. in the cracks between floorboards, work it deep into rugs, and in any area where your dog is not sniffing, lying, or playing – best not to leave loose powder around.
Another way to use D.E. inside your home is to mix it with warm water in a ratio of 1 – 3 teaspoons per cup. Then you can fill a discarded spray bottle and spray hard to reach areas that may be loaded with fleas.
In Your Yard
One of the most common uses of diatomaceous earth in and around the home is as a pesticide. Amazingly, although it is very safe for pets and people, D.E. can be quite deadly to pests.
If your dog loves to play outside, but you have problems with fleas or ticks, you can protect your pooch by dusting the lawn, as well as the pets’ bedding with D.E.
Diatomaceous Earth Side Effects
Food-grade DE is harmless if ingested but should never be inhaled. When applying, remove pets from the area and wear a protective mask. Let the powder sit at least several hours before vacuuming.
Never use diatomaceous earth that has added pesticide POISONS or is labeled for use in swimming pools.
We don’t recommend using D.E. on dogs with skin conditions, as this may lead to skin irritation due to the drying effect of the substance.
Watch for symptoms of irritation such as hair loss and scratching. Always talk to your vet before trying new flea treatments, your vet will walk you through the right and safest way to use Diatomaceous earth to kill fleas.
Diatomaceous Earth Dosage
For mild or light infestations infestation, one treatment of D.E. should be enough to kill the fleas on your dog within 24 to 72 hours. For severe infestations, D.E. needs to be reapplied frequently at least three times to kill all emerging larvae.
For best results, we suggest using Diatomaceous earth in conjunction with other flea treatments for dogs.
How Often Should I Feed My Dog Diatomaceous Earth?
You can keep your dog flea-free by mixing a little D.E. with your pet’s food daily.
For a grown dog, a tablespoon or two is enough. Larger dogs should get a bit more. As a precaution, don’t feed more than three tablespoons a day for a large dog.
The flea undergoes three major life stages: egg, larvae, and adult fleas. Please keep in mind that getting rid of adult fleas alone isn’t enough, soon, flea eggs will hatch and start feasting on your dog’s blood.
If you’re treating your dog with D.E, you should keep it up on a daily basis for at least 90 days; this is how you make sure that fleas from all the eggs that hatch will continue to be eliminated.
Since dogs are continually exposing themselves to re-infestation, we suggest that pet owners make D.E. a daily supplement taken over the long term.
Finally, in using DE, as in all things, exercise caution and good sense in evaluating extravagant claims. You should be sure to check with your doctor before giving your pet D.E. internally, especially if your dog is suffering from illnesses such as Stomach ulcers, colitis, intestinal permeability, or lupus, as D.E. may make these conditions worse.
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