Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs – Does it Work And Is It Safe? The Happy Puppy Site Investigates. Separating The Facts From The Myths.
From fleas to worms, pests are a pain.
Usually, the tools we have to deal with them are pretty nasty in themselves, and fraught with potential side effects.
So when a remedy claims to have none of these, but be just as effective, we understandably get a bit excited.
Recently people have been getting enthusiastic about diatomaceous earth for dogs.
Proponents claim it to be an effective pesticide with no ill effects.
With people all over the world asking ‘can I put Diatomaceous earth on my dog’ and some already doing it, we’re understandably intrigued.
Diatomaceous earth and dogs are a match made in heaven, if we’re to believe the headlines.
But is diatomaceous earth actually safe and effective?
Interestingly, there’s actually nothing new about this remedy — it’s been around for a while.
So why is it currently so popular, and what problems does it bring with it?
What is Diatomaceous earth for dogs?
Diatomaceous earth (also called diatomite) is a siliceous sedimentary rock. It is formed by deposits of the cell walls of dead algae.
These cell walls are made from hard silica and remain after the rest of the algae has decayed.
This chalky, dusty material has been consumed and used by humans for millennia. One of the earliest examples of its use are in numerous civilizations using it as an additive to stretch flour supplies.
It has long been used as a mechanical pesticide, as opposed to a chemical pesticide.
This means that it causes physical harm to insects rather than poisoning them. More specifically it strips their shells of the waxy outer layer, causing them to dry out and die.
This is the main cause of its increase in interest recently, most commercial pesticides have to be very toxic in order to hit their target.
This inevitably causes side effects with a range of severity.
Proponents of diatomaceous earth are keen to point out that it is supposedly ‘harmless’ to animals. No cure or remedy is without any side effects however.
The two main Diatomaceous earth uses for dogs that are popular at the moment are as a flea remedy and as a de-wormer.
But before we delve into whether these remedies work, just how safe is this sedimentary rock?
Is Diatomaceous earth safe for dogs?
Humans have been eating relatively small amounts of diatomaceous earth for thousands of years.
That’s not enough to call diatomaceous earth safe for dogs however.
If we are to apply it to dogs fur as a topical insecticide, we need to be sure how safe that is.
Long term exposure to diatomaceous earth in the air can cause respiratory issues, which might be a concern for both you and your dog if you use it regularly.
If applying it to the dogs coat, I would suggest doing this somewhere well ventilated to minimize the risk to both of you.
In a feeding situation, the dust can be minimized by mixing diatomaceous earth into wet food. Here, I would suggest against simply dusting it on top of food, as your dog may be likely to inhale it.
In addition to this, due to its absorbent properties, diatomaceous earth for dogs can cause skin to dry out and become irritated. Care should be taken to watch for these symptoms.
Can dogs eat diatomaceous earth safely
The idea of feeding diatomaceous earth to dogs seems to be a fairly new one.
There’s a kind of reverse animal testing that goes on in modern society, whereby if something works for us for long enough we end up giving it to our pets.
We are doing this blind though, as no serious study has looked at the impact of diatomaceous earth on dogs’ health.
Fortunately it does appear likely to be safe to feed diatomaceous earth to dogs. Numerous studies with rats and other animals have been conducted with no ill effects.
The FDA considers it so safe that it puts no maximum limit on the amount that can be added to stored grain, some of which doubtless ends up in dog food.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say diatomaceous earth is dog food, as it has no nutritional value whatsoever, but it doesn’t seem to be dangerous.
Nonetheless, you should always talk to your vet before using any unfamiliar remedy.
Every dog will react differently to any remedy so it’s important to get a medical opinion.
With all that being said, could diatomaceous earth for dogs have a therapeutic benefit against gastrointestinal parasites?
Is Diatomaceous earth for worms in dogs effective?
Diatomaceous earth has come to the forefront of alternative pet remedies recently as a sort of miracle worm cure.
Products like ‘Flea away Diatomaceous earth for dogs and cats’ have sprung up all over the place.
We know that eating diatomaceous earth doesn’t seem to have any ill effects, but does it have any effect at all?
Whether food grade diatomaceous earth can reliably deworm animals is a subject of controversy in the veterinary world.
Some farmers add it to food not just to deter pests, but to rid them from their livestock’s insides.
However, there is very little evidence that this consistently works in any animal, and none at all that it works in dogs. Some success has been had using the material on roundworm larvae in vitro, but trials with real animals remain inconclusive.
Don’t be fooled into thinking diatomaceous earth for tapeworms in dogs is a dream cure.
Deworming is difficult and multi-facetted, and we just don’t know whether this remedy works.
What could be dangerous is allowing the worms to persist in your dogs. It’s probably best to use a tried and tested commercial de-wormer.
By using diatomaceous earth for deworming dogs, an unproven remedy, you could be exposing your pooch to much more danger than you want to.
Is Diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs effective?
Killing pests in the open air is where diatomaceous earth has some success. The desiccation effect is carried out uninhibited by bodily fluids or anything else that might dilute it.
By applying diatomaceous earth to the coat of a dog, any fleas on him will come into contact with this powerful desiccant. The hyper absorbent diatomaceous earth strips the waxy coating from fleas, causing them to dry out and die.
It’s important to point out that nobody has done a serious scientific study into the effectiveness of this method for dogs. It has been tried with some success with livestock however.
As we’ve mentioned before, due to the drying effect, your dog may experience skin irritation.
I would not recommend this method for a dog that already has skin issues as dry skin can lead to all sorts of nasty secondary effects.
Using diatomaceous earth for dogs skin is not without risks, so take care to watch for symptoms of irritation. Signs like scratching and hair loss in particular areas should be a red flag.
Talk to your vet before implementing a new flea management strategy. They should let you know how to use Diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs.
They might even have an alternative that will work better.
Diatomaceous earth dosage for dogs
So if you’re still interested in using this product, you might be wondering ‘how much?’
Diatomaceous earth for dogs will usually come with dosage instructions, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot backing them up.
No serious study has been made on the feeding of diatomaceous earth to dogs. The FDA has no limit on the amount that can be added to stored grains, but this is more to do with human safety.
It’s also important to make sure you use diatomaceous earth food grade for dogs. This limits potential heavy metal content that could seriously do your dog harm.
If you do want to feed your dog diatomaceous earth, talk to your vet. The dosage, as with any remedy, should differ with the size, age, and health of your pooch.
All of these affect how much he can handle.
Diatomaceous earth for dogs
When we look for evidence about Diatomaceous earth, benefits for dogs are difficult to prove.
Perhaps the biggest risk to your furry friend comes from that uncertainty. Internal parasites are a regular cause of death in dogs around the world.
It’s only because of widely available deworming products that it happens relatively rarely in the developed world.
Diatomaceous earth has been a useful and abundant tool for us for thousands of years. But it can’t do everything.
You can on the advice of your veterinarian use diatomaceous earth for dogs fleas. But I wouldn’t rely on it when my dog is faced with life threatening worms.
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