Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Dogs?

In the last ten years, diatomaceous earth has become a popular topic in natural medicine circles – and with good reason. From tackling tenacious flea infestations to clearing odor from indoor “accidents” while house-training your new puppies, diatomaceous earth appears to be the new panacea. Does this mean diatomaceous earth is safe for dogs? Well, yes and no. Done right, diatomaceous earth can be a safe and useful product to help with all of those scenarios. But done wrong, it can put your pet and your family at risk. Read on for full details on the benefits and uses of diatomaceous earth, and how to use it safely on your dogs.
Dr. Kathryn Dench - Qualified Veterinarian Surgeon with over ten years of experience in small animal medicine.
October 4, 2022
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6
min read

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from fossilized algae called diatoms. Diatoms are one of the primary aquatic microorganisms that produce essential fatty acids and serve as an important food source for sea life. 

Their shells are made of silica, one of the planet's most abundant elements, and are now known as an essential trace element. When diatoms die, their preserved shells are deposited in sediments of water mined for their various uses.

There are two types of diatomaceous earth:

Food-grade diatomaceous earth: 

  • These are processed to contain low silica and are safe for human consumption. They are used in skin care products, pharmaceutical and food supplement ingredients, and as lubricant to prevent clumping in food and beverage production.

Non-food grade or filter grade diatomaceous earth: 

  • These are high in silica and toxic to humans and animals. They do, however, have several industrial uses, such as water filtration, paint component, polishing and buffing of any metal, and pest control.

Only buy pure, organic, and food-grade diatomaceous earth for pet use, with no additives or fillers.

Uses of Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs

Diatomaceous earth can be used in a broad range of applications in pet care. Follow these guidelines to help you properly use and apply diatomaceous earth on your fur babies. 

Internal Parasites

Diatomaceous earth is used as a dewormer to help your dogs to get rid of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and pinworms.

Incorporate diatomaceous earth into your dog’s wet food for 30 days to achieve lasting results: 

  • Small dogs and puppies = ½ tsp per day
  • Medium-sized dogs = 1 tsp per day
  • Large dogs = 1 tbsp per day
  • Extra-large dogs = 2 tbsp per day  

Although diatomaceous earth can be safely ingested, it can inflame the nose and nasal passages of both dogs and humans if inhaled. It can also cause irritation when it gets into the eyes. To make sure your dog doesn’t inhale any of the product, you must mix it with wet food. If your dog is on a pure kibble diet, moisten it with water or broth.

Since internal parasites are the most common health problem that dogs can get, we recommend you deworm your dogs regularly, even if they are not showing signs of infection.

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External Parasites 

If your dog has ticks and fleas but is sensitive to medication, diatomaceous earth is a good replacement for spot-on treatments, flea collars, powders, or sprays.

The abrasive and absorbent properties of diatomaceous earth mechanically kill parasites. Under a microscope, diatomaceous earth has abrasive edges that cut through the hard shells of fleas, lice, or ticks. It dries them out by absorbing their oils, fats, and fluids. It does these without affecting your dog’s body at all.

Put on gloves and use your hands or a brush to massage the powder through the fur and onto the skin, avoiding the nose, mouth, and eye areas. Let it sit for at least an hour, and bathe your dog with mild shampoo and moisturizing conditioner. Make sure to wash the skin and fur thoroughly, because diatomaceous earth absorbs your dog’s natural oils and can cause dry skin if not washed off properly. 

Food Supplement

When your dogs are done with the 30-day parasite treatment diet, you can add small amounts of diatomaceous earth as a food booster to their meals. It is composed of magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, and other trace minerals that help in metabolic processes, healthy skin and coat, and your four-legged friend's overall health and wellness. 

Although clinical research into the benefits of diatomaceous earth as a food supplement for dogs is still lacking, in humans it’s been found to reduce blood cholesterol.

Chemical-Free Deodorizer

The super-absorbent properties of diatomaceous earth makes it excellent at clearing smells. Spread it on your dog’s bed, furniture, rugs, or carpets, leave it there for a few minutes, then vacuum it. You can also make your own air freshener by filling several sachets with diatomaceous earth and tying or placing them close to trash cans, litter boxes, or any area with a strong pet odor.

Final Thoughts

With the advances in medicine, there are a range of commercial and natural medicines that we can choose for our pets. Amongst the alternative treatments available for dogs, diatomaceous earth is one that has a broad range of applications and some positive research supporting its use. 

If you are looking to use diatomaceous earth to treat your dog’s worms or fleas, or generally support their health, be sure to choose a food-grade product and take precautions to prevent your dog from inhaling any of the product. If any complications arise, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

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GoodPaw Pet Services Inc., GoodPaw, offers free advice, product information and other editorial resources that are intended for informative purposes only, and should not be used in place of proper veterinary care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet is experiencing any health concerns, contact a licensed veterinarian. GoodPaw assumes no responsibility for action taken based on information given from GoodPaw.com.

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