How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Dogs

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I have done hours of research on diatomaceous earth since it is something I am not overly familiar with, nor is it a remedy I am comfortable using.

However, I had recently heard from a friend that diatomaceous earth can be useful and safe to use on dogs.

My reservations about using or recommending diatomaceous earth for fleas is not that I don’t believe it will work.

I know that it is a registered pesticide for controlling fleas—my concerns regarding diatomaceous earth for fleas centers around its safety.

Before I set out on researching its use, I was not confident it was safe to use directly on dogs.

Though I trust my friend, I still had reservations and felt it would be best to do my own digging into this topic.

What I learned was interesting, and thought that it was worth sharing, so others would have all of the information before using diatomaceous earth for fleas on their dog.

Diatomaceous earth natural flea killing dust topical use on dogs

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?

Yes, diatomaceous earth is useful for killing fleas, along with several other insects such as ticks, bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders, and other pests.

Specific types of diatomaceous earth are eligible as a registered pesticide with the EPA (under the chemical name silicon dioxide)[1].

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Dogs?

According to some people, specific types of diatomaceous earth is safe for dogs and puppies.

Products like Harris Diatomaceous Earth is a food-grade freshwater diatomaceous earth. It is advertised as safe to feed to your dog as well as to be used topically.

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But like with all things it does come with some precautions such as:

  • Diatomaceous earth can irritate the lungs if breathed in
  • Because diatomaceous earth naturally absorbs moisture, it will dry out your dog’s skin and coat
  • Diatomaceous earth needs to be in powder form to work; if it is wet or mixed with liquid, it will negate its effectiveness

However, according to PetMD, most veterinarians warn against using diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs, claiming that it is not a safe product[2].

And according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, it should not be used directly on your dog and maybe potentially hazardous to your dog’s respiratory system.

Additionally, Dr. Susan Jeffrey states that diatomaceous earth could be harmful to the GI system due to its abrasive and dehydrating nature.

But, one thing is for sure:

The filter grade diatomaceous earth, often found in hardware stores, is not considered safe for use in, on, or around pets.

What is diatomaceous earth how does DE kill fleas tiny fossilized diatoms
A diatom under a microscope

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?

Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are tiny aquatic organisms[3]. These remains are mined then processed into a dust-like substance.

Diatomaceous earth is a highly abrasive material that absorbs moisture.

When diatomaceous earth comes into contact with a flea, it clings to its body while also cutting into its exoskeleton.

Once the diatomaceous earth has cut through the exoskeleton, it begins to absorb the moisture from the flea’s body, ultimately killing it.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

To rid your dog of fleas, it is said you should dust your dog thoroughly with diatomaceous earth, being careful not to get it in their eyes or allow them to breathe it in.

Then, using gloves, work the diatomaceous earth into your dog’s coat. Repeat as necessary.

To eliminate fleas in your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the carpet, dog beds, and furniture.

Then with gloves, work it into the fabric, allow it to sit overnight, then vacuum the treated area the next day.

Be sure to keep all family members, both four-legged and two-legged, out of the are the diatomaceous earth was spread until it is vacuumed up.

Where to Buy Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

You can purchase food grade diatomaceous earth online, such as at DoMyOwn.com, or some retail stores such as:

  • Hardware stores
  • Pet supply stores
  • Farm supply stores
  • Garden stores

Conclusion

Some swear by diatomaceous earth as a natural flea remedy.

And I do not doubt that diatomaceous earth is an effective way to kill various insects and parasites such as fleas.

I also see the appeal of using diatomaceous earth as it is a non-chemical based treatment.

However, I am not entirely convinced that it is a safe remedy to use with dogs topically or orally.

Though I do not think using diatomaceous earth is fatal, I do believe that it has potentially harmful side effects such as the potential to cause skin irritation, GI upset, or damage to your dog’s respiratory system.

I also know that other natural flea remedies are much safer and are as effective as diatomaceous earth. Two such solutions are coconut oil and Epsom salt.

I would never tell a dog parent not to use diatomaceous earth, but neither would it be top on my list of recommendations.

If you are still uncertain about using diatomaceous earth, I strongly encourage you to consult your veterinarian.

FAQs

Can I Put Diatomaceous Earth on My Dog?

Yes, some people use food grade diatomaceous earth topically for fleas and ticks.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats and Other Pets?

Diatomaceous earth may be safe for use on other pets such as cats; however, it is best to consult your veterinarian first as it may not be safe for all animals, especially those with skin conditions.

How Long Does It Take for Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Fleas?

Diatomaceous earth starts killing fleas in as little as four hours.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pets to Breathe?

No. Neither is diatomaceous earth safe for humans to breathe in.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Ticks?

Yes, diatomaceous earth does kill ticks, as well as several other insects such as spiders, cockroaches, and crickets.

Are Fleas Attracted to Diatomaceous Earth?

No, but once diatomaceous earth touches the exoskeleton of the flea, it clings to the flea until it is dead.

Resources

  1. https://iaspub.epa.gov/apex/pesticides/f?p=113:6:::::P6_XCHEMICAL_ID:3768
  2. https://petmd.com/dog/parasites/can-you-use-diatomaceous-earth-fleas
  3. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html

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