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Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Dogs

Powdered diatomaceous earth spilling from a sack

Flea infestations are extremely frustrating for dog owners because these pests make your pooch very uncomfortable. Hence, owners try all kinds of alternatives to prevent and treat these infestations. Although many flea sprays and treatments are available, some DIY solutions, like Diatomaceous Earth (DE), are also quite useful. Keep reading to see how you can safely use Diatomaceous Earth for fleas on dogs.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a powdered substance made from sedimentary rocks that are often found in lakes, rivers, and streams. These rocks are the fossilized remains of diatoms (single-celled algae) and are loaded with silica. Diatomaceous Earth also contains trace amounts of several other minerals. That’s the reason why it’s considered a good source of nutrition for marine animals.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

Bottle of Harris brand diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous Earth can be divided into two categories (based on its level of silica). The food-grade Diatomaceous Earth has 0.5-2% silica while this amount can go up to 60% for industrial DE. As the name suggests, food-grade DE is considered safe for humans and pets because it has very little silica. On the other hand, industrial grade Diatomaceous Earth is toxic and must be kept away from your furry friend and family.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas?

Scoop of diatomaceous earth on a distressed blue painted pieces of wood

Diatomaceous Earth can be spread around the house to prevent flea infestations. If the fleas have already infiltrated your home, sprinkle this powdered substance on the affected areas and other hiding spots. For example, carpets, furniture, wall cracks, and dark places are favorite locations of fleas.

In addition to this, Diatomaceous Earth can also be used for fleas on dogs. Read on to learn an effective method to use this natural flea control on your pooch.

Find the Favorite Spots of Your Dog

The very first step is to identify the areas of your house in which your dog likes to reside. It can be anything, like your dog’s bedding or your couch. Likewise, your dog may like to rest on the carpets. Note all those areas as they will be the focus of the Diatomaceous Earth treatment.

Vacuum the Selected Areas

Start the treatment by vacuuming all the identified spots of your home. This is important because DE doesn’t affect flea eggs (until they hatch) and you need to remove them. It will minimize the chances of a re-infestation.

Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Bowl of Diatomaceous Earth

Once you have taken care of the flea eggs, you can sprinkle DE around the hot spots. Make sure that all the areas are dry when you apply this natural powder. This is because it works best in dry conditions and will yield the best possible results. Leave the powder there for about 2 weeks.

It’s not recommended to dust Diatomaceous Earth with bare hands. Instead, you should use an applicator or a sock (with its open end tied). A sieve can also be handy for this purpose.

Shampoo Your Dog

Chihuahua getting a bath

Bathing your dog (a few days after applying DE) is essential to avoid skin dryness and irritation. This is because Diatomaceous Earth can cause rashes and abrasions if it’s left on your pup’s skin for too long. Once your dog has gathered enough powder, bathe him/her with a moisturizing shampoo to counter the drying effect.  

Comb Your Dog

Corgi being combed

Use a flea comb to brush through your dog’s fur as it will remove the remaining fleas. Although most of these parasites will be removed by vacuum, DE, and bath, it’s worth a shot. Repeat this step every few days to ensure that fleas haven’t emerged again.

Collect the Fleas and their Eggs

Vacuum all the areas thoroughly upon completion of 2 weeks. This will not only clean up the Diatomaceous Earth but will also remove the remaining fleas. It will also get rid of the flea eggs, pupae, and larvae. In this way, the entire cycle of fleas will be disrupted.  

A traditional vacuum might not work for this step because the edges of DE can damage its filter. Therefore, you should go for a shop vac unless you are cleaning a very small area. And it can cause it to kick up into the air getting on your appliances, shelves, and countertops (and trust me that is not an easy mess to clean up!)

Where to Put Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas?

Diatomaceous Earth can be sprinkled on the bedding, carpets, and furniture that are infected with fleas. Similarly, you can spread it in your yard or garden to kill fleas before entering the house. Last but not least, you can apply this natural flea remedy to your dog’s coat. Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is safe for pets and won’t cause any harm even if they ingest it (in small quantities).  

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work on Fleas?

Close up of a flea as seen through a microscope

Diatomaceous Earth can kill fleas only when it comes into direct contact with them. Its sharp edges are ideal for killing fleas because it pierces through their hard exoskeletons. These edges are so small that you won’t even notice them while using DE. However, they are significant for fleas, and it will be like walking on razor blades or glass for them.

Once the exoskeleton is damaged, the particles of Diatomaceous Earth can absorb the moisture (oils and fats) from the bodies of fleas. The fleas will dry up and die within a few hours to a few days. The only drawback of using DE is that it’s not effective against flea eggs. Therefore, you will have to leave it there for a few days (or a couple of weeks) for better results.

Where to Buy Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas?

Close up of a grocery buggy with the grocery store blurred in the background

Pet supply stores and hardware shops are your best bet to get food-grade Diatomaceous Earth. However, you can also get this natural product online. This powder is mostly available in bags, but some companies also use jars and bottles for its packaging.

You can find several companies on the market that are selling this product. However, if you want to use Diatomaceous Earth for fleas on dogs, make sure to buy from a trusted company. Similarly, you should consult your veterinarian before applying this substance to your pup. This will minimize the chances of any unwanted incident.

How Long to Kill Fleas with Diatomaceous Earth?

Red mechanical clock floating in front of a light blue background

Diatomaceous Earth can kill fleas in as little as 4 hours. However, it’s recommended to leave this powder on the affected areas for about 2 days. This is because DE can only kill adult fleas and will have no effect on flea eggs. Leaving it there for a longer time will increase the efficiency of the process and ensure that the cycle of flea reproduction is hampered.

You may have to re-apply Diatomaceous Earth several times to treat a flea infestation, completely. This is because flea eggs can survive for several days (and even weeks) without hatching. In that case, DE must be applied whenever new fleas emerge. Treating the affected areas (with DE) once a week can be a useful strategy to deal with these pesky parasites.

How Much Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs for Fleas?

Scoop of diatomaceous earth in front of a glass on a blue background

There is no definite answer to this question because the exact quantity will depend on your dog. This means that the larger the dog size, the more DE it will need. You need an optimal amount of Diatomaceous Earth (that could cover your pups’ entire body) to kill fleas on dogs.

Sprinkle the powder on your pup’s body and rub it through the skin and coat with your fingers. Let it settle (and kill fleas) for a few hours before washing it away with a dog shampoo. It’s highly recommended to use a herbal product because it is beneficial for your pooch. You may also use a moisturizer or conditioner after bathing your dog because Diatomaceous Earth can cause dryness.

You can also sprinkle an even layer of DE over your pet’s bedding and his/her favorite spots. For example, your pooch may like to sit on your couch or have a sitting spot on the carpet. Diatomaceous Earth can also be used in the yard or garden of your home in case of an infestation. The general rule of thumb is to use 1 pound of DE per 500 square feet of land.  

Is Diatomaceous Earth Harmful to Dogs?

White adult dog with 3 white puppies sitting in grass

Diatomaceous Earth is generally considered safe for dogs and offers an inexpensive way of treating flea infestations. However, it can cause dryness, irritation, and skin abrasions in certain cases. For instance, applying too much DE can be detrimental to your pup’s skin. Likewise, using this natural powder too often can result in some negative effects.

Can I Put Diatomaceous Earth Directly on My Dog?

Golden retriever puppy sitting outdoors in grass

Yes, Diatomaceous Earth can be applied directly to a dog’s coat and skin. Just make sure that the DE you are using is food-grade and that you are applying an optimal quantity. This will ensure that your canine friend stays safe even if he ingests the powder. Similarly, you should remove this powder after a few hours by bathing your pooch with a moisturizing dog shampoo. This will be helpful to counter the dryness caused by Diatomaceous Earth.

NOTE: You must consult your veterinarian before applying any new substance (including DE) to your dog’s coat. And Diatomaceous Earth can be very messy so protect all your appliances and countertops/shelves when applying or you will have a bigger mess to clean up than you began with (speaking from experience, I was a newbie once 😉 ).

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.