The Many Uses of Diatomaceous Earth for Pets

| Modified: Mar 31, 2019
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If you’re tired of spending big bucks to control fleas, there’s a dirt cheap way to do that. Many of Earth Clinic’s posters depend on food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to control fleas on their dogs, cats and other pets. In addition to killing fleas, diatomaceous earth is effective against parasites within the bodies of both humans and animals.

Only use FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth, at least 90% pure and as close to 100% pure as possible. Food grade diatomaceous earth is non-toxic and safe for humans and animal when used as directed. DO NOT USE POOL OR INDUSTRIAL GRADE DE. The pool or industrial grade of DE is contaminated with toxic ingredients. By the same token, check the label if considering diatomaceous earth sold as a flea killer. It is probably mixed with strong insecticides. While it might kill the fleas a little faster, the whole point of using diatomaceous earth is to avoid using dangerous chemicals.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is composed of the fossilized, silica shells of microscopic algae. It is a fine powder. When applying it, try to avoid doing so where wind or fans will blow it around as it is always a bad idea to inhale any kind of powder into the lungs. Also, if DE is blown around the house onto furniture, etc., the cleanup will make you wish that you had turned off the fans first.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas, Worms and Other Pests

Diatomaceous earth kills fleas, ants, parasites and other pests by cutting the bodies of the pests and larvae with the microscopically sharp edges of the fossilized diatoms. Pests are unable to develop a resistance to DE because it kills mechanically by dehydrating the fleas. It has been reported that fleas die in about 4 hours. The diatomaceous earth particles are safe to use because they are too small to cut a person or animal.

How to Use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth can be taken internally or applied externally to pets, carpets, bedding, etc. Diatomaceous earth absorbs moisture, so it is reportedly less effective in humid climates. If sprinkled outside, it will need to be reapplied after rain.

Internal use: Use no more than one tablespoon per day for dogs over 55 lbs. Small dogs can be given up to one teaspoon per day. Some people use DE only occasionally, perhaps once a month, as part of a flea prevention program. Consult with a holistic vet for dosage recommendations if using for parasite removal or for use on puppies or kittens.

External use: If the powder is put into a plastic bottle (such as the red or yellow ketchup or mustard bottles sold in dollar stores) it can be applied fairly easily. Run a line of the powder down the dogs back and rub in. Use once a week when fleas are active or once a month as a preventative. Using more often will dry out the skin.

Bedding, Sleeping Areas, Around Doorways or Outside: Spread some on, let it sit for a while and then vacuum. When sprinkling on carpets to get rid of fleas, it’s necessary to do this once a week for about 4 weeks in order to kill newly hatched fleas after the adults are gone.

If you have been using diatomaceous earth for your pets, please let us know your experiences and recommendations! Continue reading below for interesting feedback from our readers who have used DE for years on their dogs and cats.

Diatomaceous Earth Side Effects in Dogs

Posted by Natalya (Florida) on 07/02/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Hi, I started giving to my dog diatomaceous about 5 weeks ago. She is 105 lb and I started minimum dose and increase to 1 1/2 table spoon. Two days ago she got a urine infection, which she never had it before, and she is almost 10 years old.

My question is, can the diatomaceous cause that? The doctor said if it has a high calcium, it can develop the bladder stones.

Ear Infections

Posted by Marisa (San Jose, USA) on 04/18/2008
5 out of 5 stars

My cat was miserable and his ear stank. I put a pinch of diatomaceous earth (swimming pool filter grade)in each ear. He seemed to be a bit better in about 40 minutes. He has stopped shaking his head and seems less lethargic. We'll see if he needs something more, (if he has a bacterial infection. His ear smelled like feces. ewwwwww!

Replied by Gwenda
Gulfport Fla, Fla

thanks for this info, my dog a cocker has ear problems all the time, the vet was charging me a fortune for a cream that as soon as it was used up immediately returned, i came looking online just in case there might be a remedy and i have the diamomceous earth at home here and will try it... as you see i too live in Gulfport fla

Replied by Binxy
Brisbane Australia
1 out of 5 stars


In response to Marisa from San Jose, USA:

Never, EVER use pool grade DE. It has been specially treated and its crystalized structure is dangerous to your health (and your pets). ONLY use food grade DE with living creatures.

Replied by Karen

MARISA, ONLY use Food Grade DE Powder, the one for swimming pools can KILL your Pet

Ear Mites

Posted by Joey (Kingston, Ontario Canada) on 01/08/2011

this is a wonderful product... My mixed breed collie has always had ear infections which I presumed were mites and were treated with steriod liq from the vet, only to return in 8 wk. my vet then took a swab and it came back as a YEAST infection. I then researched online and found a treatment for this:

4 oz witch hazel, 1 tbsp boric acid, 4 drops gentian violet, shake well. put several drops in ear and massage, use 2 x per day for 1 week then 1x/dy for a week. Use longer if required. this is not a permanent cure but sure did last longer than the steriods.

About the Dia. Earth 'dirt': I bought a bag (35 lbs! ) at our local farm centre - ensure you buy food grade. I take a teasp daily for colon health..... It is also good for your pet health - worms - have seen the results. I use it in the garden for grubs, use in the basement to control spiders. Since we can no longer use pesticides this is the best all round product for home/garden that is safe.

Posted by Lynn (Gulfport, Florida) on 01/21/2009
5 out of 5 stars

My male cat had scratched his ears so much that the ear developed a huge bubble and separated the ear skin/flesh. I had to take him to the vet for expensive treatment and surgery. It was due to ear mites. The ear is now permanently disfigured and ruined his appearance. I used diatomacious earth (food grade) mixed with a little water for transport, and and eye dropper, and put it in his ears when the mites came back. The water will evaporate and leaves the DE in the ear for ongoing treatment, as it is a powder and coats the inside of the ear a little. You don't need much. He stopped scratching by that night, and he hasn't had a problem since. That was a couple of years ago. My other cats are having problems though, and I am going to use it on them. I HATE ear mites and see how my cats can suffer with them. You can buy it (food grade) online or sometimes in a plant nursery (they use it to kill insects). It pays to remember that there may be an infection in the ears as well, and without a proper examination, you can't know. As much as I don't like vets offices, checking for an infection is worth it, especially in severe cases. One of my cats had mites and an infection. Her energy picked up after treatment for the infection, and I felt guilty that maybe she'd had it all along and it was painful. It's important to find a vet you like. Talk to people and get a referral for one you trust. Treatment can utilize both natural and standard treatment when appropriate.

Replied by Lisa
Athens, Tn

What would you say the ratio is for DE & water. How much did you put in the ears? I brought my mom's cat home to live with me after her recent passing. I'm in dire need of help. My vet wants me to use Ivamec he mixed with mineral oil & I've read to my bad things about it. Urgent need of some help for him. Than you!

Replied by Soazburrolady
Southern, Az

Hi Lisa. About 6 years ago, I trapped 2 kittens who were playing in a major retail store garden department. One of them, Rosebud, had the worst ear mites I have ever seen. Her ears had scabs in them. I used the diatomaceous earth to eliminate the mites by dipping my little finger in it and rubbing directly into her ear (no wetting) - at least twice a day. I think it probably took a few weeks to eradicate the little buggers. The good news is that she has never had them again - and to this day she is the only one of my kitties who willingly allows me to touch her ears. All the best.

Replied by Julie

HI, for ear mites in dogs, cats, rabbits use Thornit Powder. Try Amazon or Ebay

Replied by Lisa
Athens, Tn

Thank you for your reply. I will start doing the treatment. I have also read using yellow dock but all of the remedies use dried herbs or tincture to make a tea. I have it in powder form and don't know what ratio yellow dock/water to use. Thanks again Soazburrolady

Posted by Lynn (Jeannette, PA)
5 out of 5 stars

I have found that putting a pinch of food-grade diatomaceous earth into the dog or cat's ear kills the mites. I do it daily for about a month since that is how long the mites can take to hatch. Within a few days though the animal has absolutely no symptoms of mites and it is completely safe for pets of all ages and sizes. It is also a great way to get rid of mites on birds and to rid a pet of internal parasites.


Posted by Keener (Larryville Ks) on 07/20/2018
5 out of 5 stars

It REALLY works for fleas and ticks. I live in an area of the US known for having lots of fleas and ticks. I started using the diatomaceous earth in May and it's now July and I have had NO fleas on my dog or in my house :) I simply put it in one of those red ketchup bottles from the dollar store. I put it on my dog and on his bedding. We have been flea free all summer :)

Posted by Tara (Baton Rouge, La) on 12/25/2011
5 out of 5 stars

My cat had a tick behind his eat for a while because I didn't know what it was. Luckily my brother came over one day and recognized it. I had some food grade diatomaceous earth on hand because I've used it for other things. I sprinkled some on the tick area and rubbed it in once daily. The tick just seemed to shrink and disappear and was gone within a week or two. I even forgot to do it some days. :D

I also sprinkle it on my cats' fur and rub in every now and then to control fleas. It works well.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is awesome and has many uses and benefits. I bought 50 lbs. online.

Replied by Sherry
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Help! I adopted 2 ferals who I can't put collars on because they are still warming up to me. What can I put in their food that they will eat? How much is it? I have 1 adult and 2 6 month olds.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney, Australia

I would go all raw and spray their coat with apple cider vinegar and water. Also put some in drinking water. Diatomaceous earth dosages can be found on this site. I have never used it so can't speak from experience here.

Posted by Jp (Monroe, Ny) on 10/28/2010
5 out of 5 stars

Hi Pennie from Indpl, I also use food grade Diatomaceous Earth. It is awesome stuff. I use it around my foundation to kill fleas and ticks, instead of pesticides. I also mix 1/2 cup, with 1 tablespoon of dish washing soap, into a gallon of water. I mix this into a pump sprayer and spray my lawn. It's alot less messy looking, than spreading it dry. No tick and fleas;0) You can also give it to your dog as a dewormer. I don't use it as a dewormer, because I use garlic and RAW ACV. Garlic will get rid of heartworms and intestinal parasites and ACV will get rid of fleas. I've also used Diatomaceous Earth, to get rid of bed bugs. Fill up a sock and pat around your house. Wear a dust mask while doing this. Than leave your house until the dust settles. Leave it there for 3 weeks and say goodbye to the bed bugs and roaches;0)

Replied by Kelly

Don't ever give your pets alliums. They are toxic to dogs and cats. While a small amount might be all right for a given animal at a given time, it might later do serious harm.

Replied by Matthew
Onamia, Mn

How much of this food grade DE stuff do you put your dogs and cats? I'm planning to go buy some somewhere (i heard hardware stores carry it).

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Matthew!

Hardware stores do carry DE however it is not the kind for applying to your pet or taking internally. The type to be used on the pet- and safe for your pet to lick up - is the food grade DE, not the hardware store kind. Only use the product from the hardware store outside.

Posted by Pennie (Indpl, In, Usa) on 10/16/2010
5 out of 5 stars

Natural Flea & Tick Remedy

Hi everyone! After almost losing our Baby Kitty to those dangerous advantage medications, I decided to figure out a way to live without using them year after year. So I did searches and found out about, "Diatomaceous Earth". This stuff is miraculous! I found mine at the local True Value Store, but you can also buy online at different retailers. BUY: FOOD GRADE! I spread this in all different areas of my lawn as well, and within 48 hours you have no more ticks or fleas. It harms all insects. I have plenty of flowers bees, and other wonderful insects roaming around, but this gets rid of the fleas and ticks really great. And I put it down on the ground on a NON-Windy day. ALSO: WEAR A MASK TO PREVENT BREATHING THIS SUBSTANCE! It worked great and I will never have to buy pesticide and put it on my animals again!! Late fall I again had fleas on my dog and all I did was put small quantity on his fur and within 48 hours all fleas were dead, then I washed him, the fur was slightly dry, but so well worth it to keep him flea free. After 3 days I washed him and put some good conditioner on him and he felt great. Usually you just have to put the Diatomaceous Earth around their tail and back area. Again in the fall, I put more of the earth around the areas that he lays in and no more fleas, after it rains you will have to put it back down again, but it's cheap. I also put it on all my fruit tree's and surrounding tree's to keep the leaf hoppers off, and my tree's look great too! Hope this works for all of you looking for a natural approach. With carefully placing it on the ground, I did not harm any beneficial bugs that roamed freely on my flowers. Lot's-O-Love to all our Animal Lovers out there! Pennie"

Posted by June (KC, KS) on 12/25/2008

Hi, I bought my DE from They have great prices. I mix it in my cat's food, and sometimes sprinkle it on their fur but don't use it on the carpet.

As far as keeping fleas out of your house, vacuum of course, this kills fleas. I mix up a spray that really helps. I use a blend of any of these oils: neem, eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella, etc...and add water in a spray bottle. Add as much oil needed to get a strong smell, roughly 20-30 drops of each oil. I spray this on the carpet as often as I need and lightly on furniture. It helps repel and will also destroy eggs.

I've also read you can place liquid dish soap in a plate and put these around your house. The fleas are supposed to be drawn to the soap and drown. You then pick up the plate, dump the fleas and start over. I haven't tried this, but heard it's a good remedy.

Also, google for information on This site charges for membership, but their old posts are free to read. They have great suggestions on natural pet treatments.

Replied by Wendy
Alabama, US

The Diatomaceous Earth. cuts them and dries them as well as the salt dries them.

Posted by Lyn (Jeannette, PA)
5 out of 5 stars

I just wanted to comment on the fleas section. It is true that any shampoo will kill fleas, but it needs to be left on for 30 min. Also, if you have a flea infestation in your house, just spraying your animal wont help. You must treat where the fleas live. See, they only feed on your animal. I have tremendous luck using table salt and food-grade diatomaceous earth all over the house to kill fleas and prevent. The salt (I prefer organic unprocessed sea salt) cuts into the body of the flea and then allows the DE to dehydrate the animal. Salt by itself does seem to work also, I just like a faster approach. Keep in mind though that this means of defense does take up to 2 months to work as some fleas are still hatching. In really bad infestation, it could take longer. I think flea eggs can survive up to 280 days. I would also like to recommend quadruped pet products. I work at a holistic pet care center and this is what we use to bathe the animals. They do not contain(unlike most pet shampoos) any harsh chemicals. Also, all their products are concentrates so it is much cheaper than buying the harmful stuff from pet shops or grocery stores.


Posted by Mia (Manchester, Ct) on 03/05/2012
1 out of 5 stars

We have been giving DE to our cat two times a day with her food for three months. It has done nothing to take care of her tape worm. This may be because it is mixed in with her moist food. We will not be trying DE to take care of the fleas that I'm sure are coming our way now that spring has come and we have small worm bits hiding around our house. I do not want any animals or people to breathe in tiny glass like fragments in dust form. Our cat will be going to the vet shortly to have the worms taken care of.

Replied by Tee
St Joe, Mo

Your animal will not be breathing in shards of glass! Diatomaceous earth FOOD GRADE is nothing more than diatoms (algea) and ground shell etc. All organic all natural nothing toxic and nothing dangerous in it. for Gosh sakes who in heaven said it was glass???? It DOES work. If you didn't see results, you didn't use enough or you didn't use consistently. I have been taking it for nearly a month now myself with excellent results, it took care of our flea problem within 24 hours and my nieces bed bug problem! It is awesome - read before you scare people!

Replied by Gardengirl
Gallatin , Tn. U.s.a.
5 out of 5 stars

I just want to share my good news about getting rid of parasites in my mixed hound dog (Lucy), she was coughing, losing weight and starving all the time. I had already tried worm pills ( didn't do the job). I really was getting worried that I might lose her. Started putting 1 T. Of DE in her food, which was a lot for her body weight (25lbs. ), wanted to make sure it worked good. Well, that was 3 weeks ago , now no coughing, has gained weight, lots of energy. I also have 2 other dogs, so it a great cure for fleas( dust them ) works GREAT!!!!!

Replied by Melissa

If you read about it tapeworm is not one of the worms it helps get rid of. Research research research

Posted by Jazz (Blackpool, United Kingdom) on 05/21/2011

Yes it means the diatomaceus earth(DE) was working. As the worms die they release toxins, your cat must have a large amount of worms. However DE absorbs the toxins once u start giving DE you should not stop for at least 3 weeks until all the eggs have died.

Posted by Mirra (Cullowhee, Nc) on 05/16/2011

Don't worry about your kitties inhaling the earth if you properly mix it in with wet food. It's fine.

Posted by Teresa (Gulfport, Ms/usa) on 04/16/2011

DE is available in food grade. I've given to my chihuahua with no problems! Found in most garden centers.