Many people are aware of the dangers of using over the counter flea and tick medications on their pets. Many stores are now refusing to sell flea collars because of the health risks and pet deaths linked to them. Safe flea and tick medications are harder to find (available at veterinarians) and may be expensive, as well they may not be safe to use on all pets, particularly pregnant, and nursing animals, and small caged pets.
In the last few years concerned pet owners have started using food grade Diatomaceous Earth for controlling fleas, ticks, and lice, on their pets. It has even been used for controlling internal parasites in pets and livestock. It is important that it be “food grade”.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous Earth, also called DE, is actually the preserved remains of phytoplankton, called Diatoms, that are buried underground in many parts of the world. Their structure, when seen under a powerful microscope, is a honeycomb ball with tiny razor sharp spikes. It works on external parasites by cutting into their exoskeleton, and works on internal ones by cutting them and most likely dehydrating them.
How Much Diatomaceous Earth to Feed for Internal Parasite Control
It is important to know that this is a long term treatment, unlike worming an animal once every six months. DE must be fed daily, for a week, and repeated two weeks later, so that not only are current parasites (worms) killed, but hatching ones too. Some livestock keepers will feed it daily for a week, one week every month.
It is usually mixed in with the feed.
- Kittens and Small Breed Puppies - ½ teaspoon
- Adult Cats and Small Breed Dogs - 1 teaspoon
- Medium Sized Dogs – 1 tablespoon
- Large Dogs – 2 tablespoons
- Ponies and Small Horses - ½ cup in feed
- Large Horses – 1 cup in feed
- For birds a small amount may be sprinkled on their feed
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth to Control External Parasites
Diatomaceous Earth can be used to kill fleas, ticks, and lice. It is not totally effective against mites as mites burrow into an animal's skin. It should never be put in an animal's ears to control ear mites. You should sprinkle it onto your pet, and rub in well so it gets under the fur and onto the skin. It will not cut your pet's skin and is safe to use on pregnant animals, puppies, and kittens. It takes 72 hours to work and may need another application to kill hatching eggs.
You should also sprinkle some DE on the bedding, carpet (vacuum later), and floorboards. You should sprinkle it in the cages of caged pets, in nesting areas of birds, and in stalls of livestock animals.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth may be hard to find, some livestock feed stores will carry it, some gardening centers, or plant nurseries will carry it as well as health food stores. Be sure to get food grade only.
Food Grade Diatomaceous earth also is used (and consumed) by humans for health benefits.