Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas (on Your Pets, Carpet and Beyond) - Dr. Axe

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Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas (on Your Pets, Carpet and Beyond)


Diatomaceous earth - Dr. Axe

Not only can diatomaceous earth provide incredible health benefits for humans, it’s also known to boost pet health. One of its main uses in pets (especially dogs) is diatomaceous earth for fleas.

What is diatomaceous earth? Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural product composed of the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms known as diatoms. DE comes in the form of a fine powder and is extremely rich in biogenic silica.

Fleas and other parasites can be harmful to both pets and humans, not to mention a serious nuisance. While there are plenty of products on the market that can kill fleas successfully, most of them are loaded with toxic pesticides. There’s also the concern that pests can become resistant to conventional formulations.

So what if you want to get rid of fleas in a nontoxic way? Diatomaceous earth is a natural form of pest control for fleas and more. So, in addition to its internal uses (only when it’s food-grade), DE also has external uses as well … Let’s take a look at using diatomaceous earth for dogs and other pets.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Dogs?

Yes, DE powder is known for being able to absorb the oils and fats from the exoskeletons of insects, drying them out and consequently killing them. The next question: Is diatomaceous earth safe for dogs? Not only is it safe, but it’s also an inexpensive way to control both external and internal parasites.

According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, “Diatomacous earth is deadly to any insect yet completely harmless to animals. Diatomaceous earth’s mode of action for insect- and parasite-control is strictly mechanical. The microscopically sharp edges contact the insect or parasite and pierce their protective coating, so they soon dehydrate and die. The larvae is affected in the same way.”

Are you wondering, can I rub diatomaceous earth on my dog? Yes, if you’re using diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs, you can apply it directly to their coats (more on this in the next section). Even though its applied externally, you should use diatomaceous earth food-grade for fleas on dogs since your dog may lick its coat. You can also use it for diatomaceous earth for fleas in carpet and other areas of your home.

People also want to know: can I put diatomaceous earth on my cat? Yes, you can also use DE for flea control with cats. As with dogs, its best to use food-grade DE since your pet is likely to ingest what you put on its fur. Of course, before using any new healthcare product on your cat or dog, consult with your veterinarian to ensure DE is right for your animal.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

Fleas are external blood sucking parasites that can live on pets and in homes. If your pet has fleas, then you likely need to know how to use diatomaceous earth for fleas in the house since these parasites don’t just stay on your pet’s coat. They can easily end up in bedding and carpeting as well.

Whether you’re using diatomaceous earth for fleas on dogs or diatomaceous earth for fleas on cats, the following steps will help you to know how to apply diatomaceous earth for fleas:

Step 1:  Figure out where you will apply the diatomaceous earth. In other words, where does your pet spend most of its time, including its bed, areas of the carpet, etc.?

Step 2:  Vacuum the areas where your pet typically resides. This way you can hopefully capture any flea eggs that may be around since DE doesn’t affect flea eggs until they hatch.

Step 3:  Apply diatomaceous earth directly to your pet’s coat, making sure to avoid its eyes and dust it over bedding, carpeting and any other areas your pet spends time. To prevent drying, wear gloves on your hands when applying DE.

Step 4:  Let the diatomaceous earth work its magic. Wondering how long to leave diatomaceous earth on carpet for fleas? One recommendation is to leave it on carpeting for at least three days before vacuuming. Some sources recommend leaving it for even a couple of weeks!

Step 5:  After you’ve let the DE sit for three days or more, give your dog a bath with a natural anti-flea shampoo since DE can be drying — plus, the shampooing is another layer of natural flea removal. You can also use a flea comb on your pet’s fur. You can now vacuum the areas of your home thoroughly where you sprinkled the DE powder. However, it’s important to note that DE can be a lot for a traditional vacuum, so you may want to be on the safe side and rent a professional-grade vacuum like a shop vac.

According to one first-hand account, “With my veterinarian’s blessing, I began to use DE exclusively on my pets. Maybe a stray flea will hop on for a ride, but it won’t survive for long in fur treated with DE.” So, using diatomaceous earth for fleas may not be quite as potent as toxic alternatives, but it certainly seems to do a great job.

How long does it take for diatomaceous earth to kill fleas? When applied to your pet as well as the areas and bedding it inhabits, it typically will take about three days at least.

Other Diatomaceous Earth Uses for Dogs

As with humans, you can also use DE internally with pets to boost digestion and get rid of parasites and worms. Again, just make sure the DE is food-grade. Wondering where to buy diatomaceous earth for fleas or diatomaceous earth food-grade for dogs? You can find different varieties of DE in pet stores, health stores and online.

Diatomaceous earth is a natural dewormer. Feeding it to a dog seven days in a row has been known to help eliminate roundworms, whipworms, pinworms and hookworms.

How much diatomaceous earth for dogs? For internal use, such as diatomaceous earth for worms in dogs, check with your veterinarian, but these are some general recommendations for dogs:

  • Small dogs and puppies: ½ teaspoon food-grade DE once daily with food
  • Dogs under 50 lbs: 1 teaspoon of food-grade DE once daily in food
  • Dogs over 50 lbs: 1 tablespoon of food-grade DE once daily in food
  • Dogs over 100 lbs: 2 tablespoons of food-grade DE once daily in food

It’s important to to mix the DE well with your dog’s food to avoid any irritation to the lungs from inhaling the powder.


According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), “After inhalation of amorphous diatomaceous earth, it is rapidly eliminated from lung tissue. However, crystalline diatomaceous earth is much smaller, and it may accumulate in lung tissue and lymph nodes. Very low levels of crystalline diatomaceous earth may be found in pesticide products.” This is why it’s so important to buy pure food-grade diatomaceous earth for use with your pets.

Always avoid breathing in diatomaceous earth since the amorphous form is still associated with mild, reversible lung inflammation. For protection, wear a mask when handling the powder. If inhaled in a small amount, DE may cause irritation in the nasal passages or lungs. If inhaled at a greater quantity, diatomaceous earth can lead to coughing and shortness of breath.

DE may also cause irritation to the eyes and dry out the skin. When applying DE around the home, it’s safest to avoid those treated areas if possible. If you must enter, wear a mask as well as protective eyewear. You should also wear protective clothing to avoid contact with your skin to help prevent possible side effects.

When applying DE to your pets, it’s very important that you don’t get it in their eyes, nasal passages or mouth. You also want to keep your pet away from the treated areas until you remove the DE. You ideally want to avoid these areas as well to avoid contact or inhalation of DE.

Keep away from babies and small children who might be more sensitive to DE’s effects.

Final Thoughts

  • Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a fine, powdery substance made from the ground, fossilized remains of diatoms, which are tiny aquatic organisms.
  • You can use DE for natural flea control for dogs and cats.
  • How long does it take for diatomaceous earth to kill fleas on dogs? Results can vary, but three days is typically the minimal amount of time needed if the DE is applied to both the dog and areas of the home it spends time in.
  • Be sure to use food-grade DE.
  • Check with your vet before using DE with your pet to be on the safe side.

Read Next: Pet Nutrition 101: Are You Giving Your Pet the Best?

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