Cynthia is the proud mama of three fur-kids: two cats and a dog. She regularly uses DE on her pets and has for years and years.
How I Learned About Diatomaceous Earth
Years ago, I dutifully went to the veterinarian to get one of those popular topical flea treatments. I read the label and instructions and was mildly alarmed that there were so many warnings on the label, but I knew that as a "good pet owner," I needed to prevent fleas and ticks on my pets. Besides, there are few things worse than flea infestations—and I didn't want that. So, I twisted off the tip of the green-looking chemical solution and thought, "Bye-bye, fleas."
Adverse Reactions to Flea Medication
A couple of hours after applying the flea medication, my dog started foaming at the mouth. He was an older dog, and I watched anxiously as he started to grow lethargic. (The year before, the same thing had happened to my cat.) It was 10 P.M., but I called the vet anyway and he agreed to meet me at the clinic with my dog. By 1 A.M., my dog was showing improvement after receiving fluids and oxygen therapy. The vet said he would need to keep my dog overnight to monitor him.
What My Research Revealed
The next day, I anxiously waited until I could bring my dog home. I now had two animals that had shown adverse reactions to name-brand flea medications. I hopped online, wondering if other people experienced similar issues. (I should have guessed that topical flea medications were bad when the directions urged me to wash my hands immediately and to avoid skin contact.) While browsing the internet, I read things like "endocrine disruptors" and "toxic to the brain and nervous system." This information wasn't just on one site . . . it was on many.
I began to look for natural alternatives for so many reasons. I didn't want to perpetuate the rampant use of chemicals that our society is so dependent upon, nor did I want to put my animals at risk. After all, my dog ran out in the woods all the time and would invariably bring home a few fleas from his romps in the bushes. I recalled that, despite the incident at the vet, I still expected the flea application to last a month, but it lasted three weeks and not a day more. This stuff wasn't cheap, and it never lasted as long as the box would say.
In Search of Natural Flea Prevention
I ordered some animal-safe herbal sprays with tiny amounts of cinnamon oil and cedar oil. It worked, but I felt like I had to apply it every other day, and my dog hated being sprayed down all the time and smelling like a cinnamon stick. Right after applying, he'd run outside and roll and slide in the grass and leaves until he was satisfied he didn't smell anymore—effectively rubbing it off. I liked the smell of the cinnamon, but it was equally difficult holding him still long enough to spray from head to toe. He would shake like a leaf whenever he saw me bring out the bottle.
I then turned to garlic. Some would argue that garlic wasn't good to give to my dog, but I tried adding a small amount of it into his food. I had done enough research to be comfortable trying this with my dog but not the cats. Small amounts of garlic seem to be okay for dogs, according to some experts, but both onions and garlic are toxic to cats, as are many essential oils. For my dog, the garlic seemed to mildly work. After he ran around in the woods, I'd still have to pick off ticks. I still felt like I was fighting a losing battle.
Then, I finally read about diatomaceous earth or DE. With my veterinarian's blessing, I began to use DE exclusively on my pets.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
DE is made up of a mineral called silica. It comes from the fossilized remains of ancient diatoms, a type of microscopic algae. It looks like a fine, white powder. This white powder has numerous practical applications and is used for water filtration, in scientific experiments, and as a form of pest control.
In terms of pest control, it works by cutting the exoskeleton of the insect (the hard outer layer) and then dehydrates the flea, tick, ear mite, and all sorts of other tiny pests. This is because the powder has tiny but sharp edges and the ability to absorb liquid. DE is fine to use topically and even internally with animals if it is food-grade and animal-safe. However, avoid breathing the dust from it—you don't want those tiny silica particles in the lungs.
How to Choose a Safe DE Product
When buying DE, make sure it is approved for use on animals. Many hardware stores carry DE for general use, but it may not be safe for use on animals. If in doubt, call the manufacturer's phone number listed on the product and they will tell you whether it is safe or not.
All internally consumed DE must be food-grade. Failure to verify the source of DE and using an industrial DE product can result in poisoning and toxicity in humans and animals.
How to Use DE to Get Rid of Fleas
One thing to remember is that DE is a natural product. As with all pet/flea products, your experience with it might differ from mine. You might find it to be greatly successful or you may not. This can be due to many factors, including pet allergies or tolerance for DE, how often you apply DE, how thoroughly you can get rid of fleas elsewhere in the home, etc. If you have questions about it, it's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian.
The following method will help you get rid of your flea problem naturally, but it is critical that you get rid of all fleas in your home as well as on your pet at the same time. I know that when I have not done this, the fleas always come right back.
1. Bathe Your Pet
Before putting DE on your pet, you'll need to get rid of existing fleas. Start by giving your pet a warm bath with a pet shampoo of your choice. You can use a flea shampoo for added protection after the bath.
2. Treat the Rugs and Vacuum
After bathing your pet, spread DE on all rugs and leave it there for 15 to 20 minutes to help dehydrate and kill the flea eggs. Vacuum all carpets and rugs thoroughly and clean out the vacuum afterward so that the fleas can't find their way out and back into your home.
3. Reapply the DE to the Rugs
Reapply the DE and work it into the carpet with a broom; leave it there for three days and vacuum again. This will kill any fleas living on the rug, repel any new ones, and continue to dehydrate the eggs.
4. Wash All Cloth Items
Wash all cloth items and bedding where eggs could have fallen off of your pet. This includes bedspreads, pillows (or at least the pillowcases), clothes (like laundry clothes), and anywhere your pet might like to sleep like the cover of pet beds, etc.
5. Apply the DE to Your Pet
Once your pet is dry, go ahead and sprinkle the DE on them. This will ensure that any new fleas that hop on will not survive for long. Repeat this process every few days.
Instructions and Various Uses for Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade DE is currently widely used all over the world on livestock and domesticated animals. Industrial DE has been chemically treated and is altered and will poison humans and animals alike, so always verify the quality of the product you are purchasing. Here's how to use it:
- Use it for flea control: Powder your pet from head to toe and roll them over, powdering their legs and underbelly. Brush it against their fur if you can to help rub it in further. Repeat this daily for severe infestations and every three days or so.
- Use it for tick control: The directions are the same as for fleas (see above).
- Use it for ear mites: First, use vegetable oil (olive oil or almond oil work well) on a cotton ball to clean your pet's ears. Then put just a pinch of DE in each ear on a daily basis until the ear mites are gone for about 30 days.
- Use it for intestinal worms: Humans and animals alike can ingest DE to help improve digestion and to get rid of intestinal worms. It can also help with other internal parasites.
- Use it on carpets: Sprinkle DE lightly on carpets and work it in with a broom so that you can't see it. Wait three days and vacuum lightly. Lightly reapply it once more and wait for another three days. Vacuum it up lightly again and do this for three weeks.
- Use it on pet bedding: Sprinkle it lightly on bedding and work it in with your hands or a broom.
- Use it in the yard: You can use DE in the yard to help rid it of fleas. However, it will also kill beneficial insects, too, so you may want to just apply it in areas where you think you might have larger populations of fleas. (If you live near the woods, you can use nematodes to kill fleas and ticks in the yard; this won't kill other beneficial insects.) DE is not supposed to hurt earthworms, however, and may even help them!
- Use it for clammy hands. Those of us in the population who have clammy hands can benefit from DE's drying action.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Be sure not to put more than a couple of tablespoons on your animal at a time—you don't need much. (My dog doesn't mind having the powder on his fur and doesn't shake when I bring out the bottle.) One can or jar of DE lasts me six months or more.
Only Use Food-Grade DE Internally
You can help get rid of parasites and improve digestion in humans and animals alike with DE; however, make sure you purchase food-grade DE. Other DE products may have been chemically treated and are poisonous if ingested.
Instructions for Internal Application
The following proportions for ingestion are based on the Lumino Organic Diatomaceous Earth product instructions (pictured above):
- Kittens (6 weeks and older): 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon once daily with food
- Adult cats: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon once daily with food
- Small dogs and puppies (under 35 pounds): 1/2 teaspoon once daily with food
- Medium and large fogs (over 35 pounds): 1 tablespoon once daily with food
- Humans: 1 generous tablespoon daily before breakfast or before bed with a glass of water (always check with your physician before use)
- Diatomaceous earth: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pictures, history and chemical composition of Diatomaceous Earth are all on this site.
- Diatomaceous Earth For Flea Control-Buy Natural Flea Control
Diatomaceous Earth will help rid your pets of fleas and ticks and can even help de-worm them!
- Diatomaceous Earth: Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Health Benefits
Everything you ever wanted to know about Diatomaceous Earth and its health benefits.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Cynthia Calhoun
Natty S on August 26, 2020:
There are absolutely no reliable studies showing DE will eliminate pests when ingested, but there are plenty suggesting it is ineffective.
As for external use, there is a reason you wont find it at pet stores. Almost no vet will recommend due to the downsides far outweighing the potential positives.
This is a mechanical pest killer so it can be very effectively applied, just not on the living creatures you want to protect. And... dont consume this. It is basically tiny razers that once wet lose their efficacy.
Dan Goddard on August 19, 2020:
I have read several article such as petmd that states never to use DE directly on your animals. Ironically this was a standard with livestock, chickens, etc. years ago. Both applied directly on the animal and internally for parasites. I have seen psittaculturists (parrot breeders) dust the entire flock and they didn't have any lung issues with their birds. This was done once or twice a year with no known breathing issues on birds that live decades. So not sure who to believe. I would guess with caution on your pets taking care of the lungs when you apply DE directly to them they would be fine. But you will get varying educated opinions for sure.
Mary on June 12, 2020:
Hi I have flees in my house buy I'm tired of using strong chemicals
They are in the furniture
Stephanie on June 05, 2020:
This stuff did nothing for my poor dogs
lauri on February 21, 2020:
Hi, my mother ended up in the hospital after using DE because she breathed it in. How do you stop the dogs from inhaling it?
Mary-Winston Blackman on December 27, 2019:
My Siberian has a , an air way problem after I use it for Flea control just wanted everyone to know it’s not good . It was Food Grade and I did it as directed. Please don’t use this for your pets . Just bath them and use dawn and soap in a plate in the dark with a tea light candle for the house . Neem oil maybe but please be so very cautious there is so much misinformation out about DE .
leilani moffit on July 24, 2019:
How did you apply the DE to your pets? Did you make a paste with water or did you just apply the powder to the dog directly?
Lisa Elyea on September 11, 2018:
I just used the diatomaceous earth on my boston terrier which turned out to be a disaster. Apparently some got into her eyes (both) and scratched her corneas quite badly. So now I’m going to try bathing her with Dawn. I pray that it works!
chantal syc on May 28, 2018:
You can breathe in Food Grade DE, not Pool Grade. I do it all the time for the last 4 yrs. No problem with the lungs. Had Asthma before. The DE even helped eliminate the Asthma. So don't be afraid to breathe it in. Its harmless.
WN on April 29, 2018:
DE has worked very well on feral cats I feed and the difference is noticeable within a few weeks of sprinkling on their food.
Kristel BC on February 03, 2018:
Thank you for all the wonderful info and am just starting my one year old German Pinscher with it. I read that, if we, as adults use it we must drink about 2 litres of water per day, as well. How do I get my dog to drink more water so that she can pass her stool easier...
Shelley on September 13, 2017:
Does it kill tapeworms?
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 26, 2017:
Yes. I have one cat now that can't take topical flea medication at all. So, we treat him with pet-friendly DE. :)
Naomi on July 26, 2017:
Thank you so much for this info. We had the same issue with topical flea/tic stuff from the vet. I haven't tried this yet but have purchased it and am excited to see how it works for our "boys" Can you use it on cats?
Christy Owens on June 13, 2017:
I work at Tractor Supply and DE is a product we carry. Lots of farmers dust poultry with it as well as horses and cattle, along with dogs and cats. It is great stuff and cheap in bulk.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 31, 2017:
Ken - thank you for your comment. Yes - just like breathing baking soda or borax - while they're fine externally (again, make SURE you have food-grade DE), breathing the powder is a lung irritant. DE is a little worse because it's made of tiny glass particles. Honestly, I've breathed some in when I've put some on my cats and dogs on accident and the sensation - at least for me - is like an allergy attack. Best to avoid it if you can.
KEN on May 31, 2017:
If DE is harmful to the lungs isn't it enevitable that my dog will breath it in while licking or somw orher activity.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on April 26, 2017:
I keep DE on hand all the time and never use any chemical for my fur-girl except the necessary one-ingredient Heartworm pill, Interceptor. I only do that because we live in a hot, humid climate where mosquitoes are rampant all but a few months of the year. DE is wonderful and, yes, it works! Thanks for this article. More pet parents should know about it.
Kate on April 20, 2017:
Thanks for a great article on de. I've used it for a while now on our carpets to get rid of fleas and their eggs and it does a great job but it plays havoc on a vacuum cleaner!!!lol. Food grade is a must!
Ellen F on December 18, 2016:
Hi, great article. I have a 9 year old cat that always had a itchy spot, which seems like a hot spot all his life on a between his shoulder bladed on & off. Since last year it's gotten bigger and it's become a major discomfort for him and I. Getting a cortizone and antibiotic shots lasts only 3 weeks. I've ruled out food and grain allergies. There are no fleas in the home or on my cat, he's an indoor cat. Though it is possible that I could have dust mites. I've tried everything. Posted on my Facebook page regarding his hotspot and a friend if mine said DE got rid of hot spots on her very furry bunny (my cat is also a long hair). She gave me 2 jar fulls. I cleaned the area and dusted him last night around 5 and he didn't break it open again until 9 this morning. I went and reapplied. Have you heard of DE helping hotspots?
Tinkerbell on October 25, 2016:
Loved the article.
Jilspan on September 21, 2016:
I buy a 4# canister of it at Tractor Supply for $7.50.
Can't beat the price!! Most "Flea Powders" are 6-8 Oz For $15-ish, and not safe to use frequently
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 20, 2016:
Gretchen - well, I've not watered it down when I've treated my dog but it'll get watered down when they eat it with food...I'd follow the directions on the label and call the manufacturer to see if it would be as effective. When I've had questions with DE, I've called the manufacturer (and added those tips when I've learned them here).
Gretchen on September 20, 2016:
I am using DE to treat my dog due to tapeworms. Is it still effective if you put it in water and pour it on his food? I am concerned with him inhaling it if I just sprinkle it on his food. Thank you for your time.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 18, 2016:
Chris - yes - always check with your vet if you have any doubts.
Victoria - I'm sorry it didn't work for you. As with any product, always check with your vet and also with any product - it's kind of like with people: sometimes you find things work really, really well and sometimes...well, they just don't. I do hope you find something that suits you well, though. I know for me, I used this with my vet's blessing and it worked for me. Thank you for your feedback.
Victoria on September 17, 2016:
Do not waste your money. I followed instructions to a "T" and Zero results. Beware of people that try to hype products. Sincerely.
Chris on September 13, 2016:
This exemely fine dust is DANGEROUS if not used properly. The dangers are infact not highlighted sufficiently. Your animal is BREATHING this in.....so HOW do you KNOW how much to administer.......despite ambiguos instruction. Amounts of use WILL vary from person to person My cat had to be put down after severe breathing difficulties following the use of Diatom Flea powder. SEE A VET before use......& no......I am not a vet looking for trade.
Jessica on November 11, 2015:
I've been using this brand of DE, too. I started to worry about the safety of DE when my cat died of lung cancer. Silica is also in clumping kitty litters, which have been linked to lung cancer. I don't care if the vet or the label says it's safe, I am no longer going to use DE around my animals. It's not worth it.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2015:
Peggie - hmm, well, I guess it would depend on how big the fountains/bowls are from which they drink. Then, you could just extrapolate the instructions found on food-grade DE. So, if you have a quart, you could adjust the amount of DE you put in. That question is a really good question for the manufacturer - they could probably give you direct proportions to use based on the size of bowls or fountains you have. :)
Peggie on May 05, 2015:
I have DE. I also have several animals. Is it possible to just add the DE to their water fountains, that way they will all get it internally?
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 06, 2015:
eters - thanks for stopping by. Well, this is one question where I would also talk to the vet. DE certainly has many uses and combating parasites is one of them. However, there are so many factors involved: weight of the animal, diet, repeated exposure to tapeworms (sometimes your yard can have them or if they eat the excrement of other animals, etc, etc.) - so many things.
And, you want to be sure that is what they have. Only a vet can diagnose that. DE is also only so strong: they may need stronger stuff to help them get rid of parasites and then you can follow the directions on a food-grade DE package to help keep it at bay.
eters on April 06, 2015:
Thanks for the help. Took her again after 3 weeks and the vet said she did have mites. The other problem i have is my two schnauzer have worms. Tapeworms I believe. Have been feeding them DE for over 3 months but they still have them. They only weigh 13 pounds and I give them 2 teaspoons a day. Why isn't the DE killing them. It works for fleas but not worms.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 11, 2015:
eters - my best advice is to read the label and/or follow the instructions for DE. Because I'm not a vet, I'm hesitant to tell you exactly what to do, so my second best advice is to consult a vet who is knowledgeable about DE. :) Good luck with your puppy. It's no fun when they're not feeling 100%.
eters on March 03, 2015:
Would it be safe to put DE in my puppies ears. She keeps digging at them and shaking her head. The vet said he didn't see.any mites but she could have a a few but their not seen. He said if she does they will get more.numerous and then show up later. In the mean time my puppy is whinning and shaking her head. Can anyone help me out. Can i mix it with water and when the water dries the DE will kill the mites. She's so tiny. Only weights 2 pounds
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 29, 2014:
Hey, anonymous. Thank you so much for your comment. As far as Lyme disease - you know, here's my recommendation: I would ask around for vets that are also advocates from diatomaceous earth. If they know and like DE, then they're going to know great remedies for Lyme disease prevention. I say that because even with DE, sometimes a flea or a tick does get through it (though I'd say they're not going to be able to be healthy for very long). The awesome thing about DE is it makes for an inhospitable environment for creepy crawlies. Generally, they don't survive. However, they are constantly developing things that are natural to help ward off various things like Lyme.
All in all, I hope you have a great experience with this. Just be patient - it works, but you do have to keep at it and diligent about applying. The neat thing is that you can put it on the carpets and it doesn't hurt anything. Of course, just don't breathe it until it settles. :) Those little glassy particles will make you cough - not so good. :P
anonymous123 on July 29, 2014:
Thank you! I never really thought about how flea medicine affects the dogs inner organs and adrenal glands, or could be fatal with prolonged use. I feel guilty using it on my dogs... I stopped already because it gave both of my dogs horrible rashes all down their backs where it had been applied, and one of them licked some of the spots bloody. It looked like they had been attacked. Now they have fleas which are making the spots worse. I just ordered some diatomaceous earth from this holistic retailer my friend likes online, it should be here anytime, and I'm looking forward to giving it a try. My dogs are so sensitive to anything, and the flea medicines never worked 100 percent anyway. I ordered a ton, because I'm really desperate to get this under control. I love my dogs and these fleas are making them miserable and I hate feeling like getting their skin healthy is out of my hands. I'm going to try all of your instructions and get some beneficial nematodes for the yard.. I was wondering though, do you know anything about prevention? I just worry about things like Lyme disease, and wanted to know if treating the dogs will help them ward off disease carrying insects if I want to take them hiking or whatever. Now I'm going to make sure that my heartworm meds are safe! Haha. Thanks for sharing, I'm really excited to give this stuff a shot!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 25, 2014:
Lynda - I hope the DE works and I'm sorry for your pet - it's maddening what chemicals we use in society, no?
Also, make sure you get the food-grade kind. If in doubt, ask: the store will know and if they don't, then the manufacturer will. Farmers around the world treat their animals with this stuff. I will say it's not always 100% foolproof - a flea or two may get by until they're exposed enough times - but it sure beats the alternative. :)
Lynda Sanders on June 24, 2014:
My sister called me the other day and told me she applied one of the flea products you can purchase from your Vet on her little Yorkie ,I won't say which one it was, because even though it seems to be the cause of the dogs death, we can't prove it. Anyway she applied the product and two days later her little Yorkie started having neurological problems and four days later had to be put down because he was suffering so much pain. I have a small 14 lb rat terrier. I applied this same product on him (before I knew what happened with my sisters dog of course) and he started acting strangely, have taken him to the Vet on several different occasions and he hasn't been able to correct his problem. It's been about a month since I applied the product and he is now improving, I will not use it on any of my dogs again . I am so happy to learn of this new natural flea preventive and I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks so much for all the info.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 14, 2013:
Alexadry - yeah, good to know. Yes, in this case, I'd follow the vet's advice and maybe use the DE to help prevent them in the future - but keep talking to the vet and let him/her know what you're doing. :) Good luck.
Adrienne Farricelli on October 12, 2013:
Thanks, I have yet to find a vet suggesting natural products for worms:( I worked for a vet and knew she had roundworms because they look like strands of spaghetti, --I know, yuck! I wanted to try DE before going the classical dewormer route, which is what the vet prescribed in the first place after running a fecal test and turning positive.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 12, 2013:
Alexadry - that sounds fishy. I personally would do one of two things: order food grade DE from a reputable manufacturer online or go to a health foods store and get the pet-specific stuff. Of course, if you think your doggie might have parasites, my best advice would be to see a vet first - one who is sympathetic to using natural products. I just say that because sometimes when you think it's one thing, it's another. I was treating my dog's ears for what I thought might have been fleas - I was treating him with DE - and when it didn't clear up after a little bit, I took him to the vet. Turns out he had swimmer's ear, which, incidentally, you treat with different remedies. :) good luck
Adrienne Farricelli on October 10, 2013:
When I contacted the manufacturer he told me that I may have gotten a "bad batch" and he was supposed to ship me a different type that was supposed to be more effective. He never did, but I was curious to learn if there is really one that works well for intestinal parasites as I am not that eager to use chemicals. If so, that would be awesome!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 08, 2013:
alexadry - you know, once in a while, DE just isn't quite as effective as other things. The cool thing is that you tried. In fact, with our new puppy, he ended up having a skin allergy to the DE - wouldn't stop scratching. So we had to try other remedies. Eh...you can't win them all, huh? :)
Adrienne Farricelli on October 04, 2013:
I used food-grade DE for intestinal parasites for a foster dog but it didn't work. I waited and waited to see the dead worms in the stool but nothing. I had to purchase the regular dewormer, and right after, a poop full of dead worms showed up. I think it works better topically for fleas. It's my understanding that when wet, DE doesn't work well, so perhaps with the dog's digestive juices and all, this is why it didn't work.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 03, 2013:
Jaye - that's awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience with this. :)
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 02, 2013:
I use the DE (from Natural Pet) on my dog's bedding (I don't have carpet) and use their natural flea preventive ointment (no chemicals) on her skin after bathing her. There is also a natural, non-chemical spray. I stopped using the chemical products after a vaccination compromised her immune system. They are just too dangerous. Why would I want to poison my dog? The safe natural products work well--haven't seen a flea, and she's not scratching--so I'll continue using them.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 20, 2013:
Richy's mom - that's great! I hope it works well. :)
Richy's mom on September 19, 2013:
Thanks a lot! Your report is so informative to apply for my little one who has been infected with fleas. I happened to know DE in google and I already ordered and have been waiting it delivered. But I do not know well how to use DE, especially to apply to a dog directly. With your productive explanations and experience, I think that my little one and I would be free from small devils! Thanks again :)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 01, 2013:
Sammy - that's great! I like the stuff, too. Thanks for the info.
Sammy on August 28, 2013:
YES! It's safe! I've been using Food Grade DE for a few years now. I first heard about it when looking for an organic and safe solution to nasty garden critters, but I now use it twice a year for flea and tick control in and around my home. I have 15 acres and an Aussie that roams it. There is NO way I can treat the whole area, so I treat the lawns around my home and then use it on the dog regularly. I also use it on his bedding in his crate and on his food to control internal parasites. I won't use anything else now. Here's where I first found it and if you scroll down there is a bunch of information about its uses: http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/...
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 16, 2013:
Susan - awesome! It takes awhile for it to start working, remember. It's sort of a cumulative effect. Once you use it and reapply, then you'll really see the benefits. :)
Susan Sisk from Georgia, USA on June 15, 2013:
I am always trying to find natural flea remedies. I don't like all the chemicals either, plus, after using them several times, they quit working.
Will have to look for some of this.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 22, 2013:
Diana - just please make sure it's NOT pool grade but FOOD GRADE and you're good to go. :)
Diana on April 20, 2013:
I found some at Tractor Supply company. It was $13 for 20 pounds.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 11, 2013:
Ciscokid - no worries. Yeah, it's always best to ask your vet, preferably one who is into alternative and natural treatments. Some of them do get paid to promote the topical (chemical-heavy) flea products and personally, I will never use it again. Good luck in the future with your kitty who has cancer. Have a great day.
Ciscokid2 on April 11, 2013:
Thanks cclitgirl. I will be seeing my vet for my other pets and I just hate to use all the other dangerous toxic chemical alternatives.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 10, 2013:
Ciscokid - while I"m not a vet, the reason you don't want to breathe it in is because the DE is microscopic shards of glass: it irritates the lungs. I end up breathing it in half the time when I apply it to my animals, but if you read above, they like to lick themselves and it's ingestible. I end up coughing for about a half hour but it's not more terrible than that.
The things that actually cause lung cancer are far and wide, but my animals are getting on in their years and I've never had any lung issues with them. And I would venture to guess that it's impossible to know just what caused that in your animal. I will say that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we use has plusses and drawbacks. For me, the positives for using DE far outweigh the negatives.
Of course, it's best to take these concerns to your vet.
Ciscokid2 on April 10, 2013:
I have always used DE for treating fleas on my pets and done so cautiously, when there is no wind etc.
But recently I began to wonder just how safe it is, as on the package it warns against breathing in the diatomaceous earth...
So what happens when you apply it to your pet - as you cannot put a mask on them, or even when they clean themselves is there a chance that they could breathe it in?
The reason I ask is that my cat had been diagnosed with lung cancer and I am wondering if in treating her with DE, it might have caused the cancer.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 31, 2013:
Susan - cool! And I haven't heard of brewer's yeast, so I'll look into that, too. :) Thanks for that info. :D
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 30, 2013:
I've never heard of DE before. I've always used brewers yeast for my dogs. A tablespoon of brewers yeast powder in their breakfast and it's always worked. If ever I need to switch I'll remember DE.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 30, 2013:
Michelle - no worries! We're all so busy and half the time, I don't get around to MOST of the things I want to read: between HP and blogging and all the awesome stuff out there, I wish I could read 1000 pages a minute. Then maybe I could keep up. LOL
Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 29, 2013:
Hi CC, was so busy yesterday that I forgot to say that DE is a good, natural alternative for those considering using it. Am sharing this around!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 26, 2013:
Que Scout - thank you very much for your feedback. Yeah, I really like this stuff. :) I have been using it for years with my pets and it works just as well as those nasty chemical drops - and like you said, it's not bad for the environment. :)
I'm not surprised it works on cockroaches. Ewwww. LOL
Steve from Fiji on March 25, 2013:
Good hub cclitgirl
I put this hub in the top 100 of all hubpages. You have effectively bowled on to three areas with success; The hub highlights a flee control product that works, is non-chemical, and environmentally safe, all in one solution. No hub does that !
It is also said that DE works well on cockroaches. Sprinkle under the house or anywhere the roaches wonder. It cuts them up as they walk. eeuwwww.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 13, 2013:
Jennifer - good luck. I hope it goes well. There's a site called Earth Clinic that might also be able to help. They have a pet section. :)
Jennifer on March 12, 2013:
Ok ty for your response. I haven't yet taken it orally. But I have dusted my furniture with it and when you sit on it we look like we're apart of the peanuts gang lol. So there for I'm sure were getting some. I've dusted the puppy and she's still scratching so today is the fourth day we've appliedttwice now
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 12, 2013:
Jennifer - DO keep me posted, but um, ingesting a pet-variety might be a little suspect, but you can call the company and find out if, indeed it is JUST diatomaceous earth. You can also click some of the informational links in the hub to help locate pure DE.
As for putting it on the skin: it will dry it out on you. It will most likely kill whatever it is on the puppy, but I would research "walking dandruff" to see what sorts of treatments (including home remedies) are available. Beyond that, it's always a good idea to contact a medical professional (vet) in such cases - I definitely don't want to give out bad advice, especially since I'm not a doc. :) I just know that for fleas and ticks, this stuff works great with my dog.
I am so sorry you're getting all those bites. :\
Jennifer on March 12, 2013:
Ok. ..I purchased some diatomaceous earth from my holistic natural pet store and it says on it for fleas and ticks on it (belly rub). The ingredients say just diatomaceous earth. So that information can it be ingested? I got a puppy from a breeder 8weeks old shes been diagnosed with walking dandruff. Wow...that stuff is horrible, now I and my fiancé both have bites all over us. I am getting the worst of it. :( I'm using the diatomaceous earth because im at my wits end. I only pray that it takes care of the issue. I'll keep you posted! !!
Rod on December 03, 2012:
Thanks so much for this info. I've been looking for gentle, chemical free (if possible) to get rid of relentless ticks and parasite that certainly acquired a taste for my dog's blood. Hopefully I can find this on my area.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 28, 2012:
Staylor20 - I'm so glad you were able to take your doggie to the vet. My dog also gets allergic reactions to fleas - they really drive him crazy. The DE and the occasional bath really help him. Thank you for coming by again. :) Cheers!
staylor20 on September 27, 2012:
Hi cclitgirl, I took her to the vets and it actually was an allergic reaction to flea's. He gave her a shot and she is looking and acting much better.
Thanks for the information you give to people about DE. It really does help.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 27, 2012:
Mariacolomy - thank you. I love it, too. :)
Maria Colomy from Nashville, TN on September 27, 2012:
Love DE - great write up!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 24, 2012:
Staylor - my best advice would be to see a vet. Sometimes what appears to be mange can actually be something else. Not only that, if you're dealing with open wounds, you'll want to get those taken care of immediately, and then with the advice of your vet, try home treatments. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but with acute conditions, it's a good idea to rule out other problems that may need other types of treatment, too. Good luck.
staylor20 on September 23, 2012:
Does DE also work on mange? I think my little cat has mange and need to know if this works on that.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 30, 2012:
Cherubmom - I'm really glad you called them. Now, you can be 100% sure of the use of this particular DE. It makes sense why they can't put the "food grade" on there. Your vet may have recommendations where you can get food grade DE inexpensively. In addition, I often get mine at the health foods store in the pet section. Good luck with those fleas. I personally use DE most of the time, but in the height of summer, I don't think ANY product is 100% effective all the time, so I'll supplement with a bath or two. My dog doesn't like it, but he sure smells nice for two days. LOL.
cherubmom5 on August 30, 2012:
Thank you for responding. I did call the manufacturer which is SAFER product. She said it is all organic but they cannot put "Food Grade" because of all the testing with FDA they would have to go through but it is perfectly safe to get on our skin, etc. She said she would not recommend me putting it on my dog as it does have a little something added to attract the bugs to it. And even though it wouldn't harm any pets skin she would be concerned with them licking it over and over again. The woman recommended me calling my vet if I wanted to do that. That makes sense to me. I never thought about the licking the fir part. I will keep using it on my carpet and other places in my house. And my dog I will just have to keep sudsing her up in the bathtub every few days and using the comb to take the dead fleas off until a month goes by and I can reaply some kind of spot treatment. Fleas in my house is ruining my social life, lol. Thanks for your help and all your information.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 29, 2012:
Cherubmom5 - The DE on your carpet will work, but because the fleas have eggs that hatch after the fact, you'll have to reapply it every week. I think the standard time is 5 weeks. But yes, you have to let it sit on the carpet for a few days - even sweep it in - vacuum up and then reapply after a few days - at least that's what I've done.
As far as the Home Depot brand - what I would do is call the manufacturer and find out if it's safe. I wouldn't trust the salesperson at HD only because they may or may not know enough about DE to give you an informed response. That being said, I got my most recent bag of DE from a garden shop. It doesn't say anything about being Pool Grade, nor does it say anything about being safe in the home. It does give instructions for "indoor use" which tells me it's safe, despite the fact that it says "ant killer" on the bag. But, if a company says you can use the DE INSIDE the home, then is PROBABLY safe. The safest thing you can do? Call the number on the bag to be 100% sure. :) I hope that helps. Good luck.
cherubmom5 on August 29, 2012:
I'm glad the DE is safe to put on my dog because I feel so bad for her. She is a poodle and I had her shaved down and treated with a spot on treatment and it only worked a week. I tried the DE on my carpets but haven't found any relief yet. I think there is just too many in my house and in my couch . Regardless I have not given up and am tired of spraying toxic chemicals with all the asthma we have in our house only to have those products not work either. I will continue putting the earth all over my house and will now also put it on my poor poodle. when I bought the DE from Home Depot but it did not say "Food" or "pool" on it. But the worker said it is safe to get on your skin and put in your house. Am I safe to put it on my dog as long as it doesn't say for POOL?
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 06, 2012:
Kelley - thanks so much! I definitely use this stuff A LOT! :D Thanks so much for coming by!
kelleyward on August 06, 2012:
This is a fantastic hub. Like Sharyn I learned so much from reading this. Thanks! Voted up, useful, and shared. Kelley
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 06, 2012:
Sharon - yeah, this stuff rocks!! It's saved our lives this summer. Where we live, the fleas and ticks have been bad. Yeah, I clean "my boy's" ears and put a teeny bit of earth in them. It keeps them pretty clean. :) Thanks for stopping by!
Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on August 05, 2012:
Hey Cyndi, I have never heard of this and learned so much. I will definitely keep this in mind. I haven't had a problem with fleas for many years. When I did, it was horrible. This stuff will help for so many other things too. And I also never heard of cleaning a dog's ears with oil, that is such a great tip. Thank you!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 03, 2012:
sadie - thanks for stopping by at another of my hubs. :) That's great that you're already using DE for such good things. I have lots of friends that are complaining that the ticks and fleas are really bad this year...but with the DE I haven't had that problem. :) Cheers!
sadie423 from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:
We use DE in the garden and for our chickens....I haven't treated the dogs and cats yet....though I probably should! Great info!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 07, 2012:
KC - I'm so sorry about your Sheltie. Aww, I LOVE that breed of dog. Alas, there's no proof, but I'm with you: so many drugs/food/pesticides/products that we use contain chemicals that weren't in drugs/food/pesticides/products before the modern age. Some do indeed help. However, I have to wonder at so many others - including flea treatments. I'm definitely an "herbal/simple" remedies first kind of gal, and then I'll use modern medicine if I can shake it - both on myself and my pets. Stick with your gut feeling - it's usually correct. DE is so easy to use and takes so little time. I just sprinkled my animals with it in less than two minutes. Two minutes every three or four days is all it takes. Ahh. (HUGS)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 07, 2012:
KC - hey there, thanks for stopping by! :) I have not heard of starting out "lighter" when trying DE in the diet. However, that makes total sense. With anything new, it's always a good idea to tread carefully. Good advice there. :) I'm glad you enjoyed this article.
KC on May 07, 2012:
Also, I just wanted to throw in my two cents regarding topical flea treatments for pets. (I've been a professional pet groomer for almost 30 years, btw)
I sincerely believe my Sheltie's cancer was caused by using a brand-name flea deterrent. Her growth was on top of her shoulderblades, right in the middle, in the spot where these treatments would be applied. I have no proof that this is the cause of her cancer, but my gut feeling tells me it is. I'd applied only after finding fleas on her, so she had maybe 8 treatments in her lifetime, but from now on I will be using DE instead. I cannot risk putting another dog through what she went through. :(
KC on May 07, 2012:
I've heard that caution should be used when first introducing DE into one's diet, because it will really "clean out your system" in the beginning. I was told to start with 1/4 teaspoon daily for an average-sized adult, and to time it so that you don't have any special plans the first couple days, due to needing a lot of access to a bathroom.
Has anyone else heard this, or had similar experiences? I haven't bought any DE yet myself, but I'm anxious to try it. Thanks so much for this great article, CC!
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:
watergeek - yep, Vicki is a great pet owner. :) Thanks again for commenting. :)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:
Wow! $1.69/lb? That's great!! I wish our health food store had that! I have to order mine, usually. Good to know. :)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:
watergeek - hey, thanks for the info. I have no idea if it's "cool" or not to share that info, but I think it's cool that you're trying to help. :) I appreciate you stopping by and telling us some of your experience with DE. Cheers!
Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on April 30, 2012:
Wow. That's a great price, Victoria. Good luck with it.
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 30, 2012:
CC--Yeah, I thought about that once I asked. Dry hands is the only reason to wear gloves if it's safe. I found DE at our health food store today for $1.69 per pound. That seems pretty good considering prices I've seen online. Thanks for all the great info!!
Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on April 30, 2012:
My nephews were having trouble with their cat, so I bought four 2.5 pounders - 3 for them and 1 for me. Then they decided not to use it. I've been ingesting the one I bought for myself every night for about five months and I'm only half done. Don't need the other 3, so they're for sale. If someone wants to buy all 3, you can have them for $20 each plus shipping. Go to my profile and send me a private email. (Also, please let me know if this is not cool on HP.)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:
Vicki - the only thing DE will do when you rub it into your pet's fur and you use bare hands is dry them out. But, I have clammy hands, so I don't mind too much. :D You can wear dish gloves if you don't want your hands to dry out. Wash your hands afterwards. I once forgot and rubbed my eye when it itched and really irritated it. Oh and don't breathe the dust if you can help it. It will make you cough like crazy for a little while if you do - you want to avoid breathing in those little microscopic shards. But, it's safe stuff: once it's on fur or in the carpet or even EATEN (as a detox treatment), it's perfectly fine. But, it's like breathing in most any kind of dust or powder - it'll irritate for awhile. Best to avoid. :)
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:
DzyMsLizzy - that was a great article! Glad to link. Let's spread the word. :)
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 29, 2012:
CC--Another question--Do you wear gloves to rub it around on pets? I'll check out that site...and maybe ebay. I'd like to get something I can sprinkle for the dog and cats, but I also need a huge bag. I need it for bedding, carpet, outside....I think I have fleas running around. Nothing will keep them off my dog, and he has been scratching like crazy! Thanks for the info! And from DzyMsLizzy as well!
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 29, 2012:
Thank you--I'll link back to your article, as well.
Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:
Dale - I'm so glad I could help with the onions/cats info. It's so refreshing, however, to see people interested in DE - it's good stuff (food grade) and my dog never minds when I put it on. He actually thinks I'm giving him a belly rub (well, I partly am, anyway, hehe). Thank you for your feedback as well. Cheers!