What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth looks like a soil but it is much more than just your regular garden soil. Diatomaceous earth is made up of the ground fossils of aquatic animals called diatoms. Essentially, diatomaceous earth is silica, a sedimentary rock.
The unique property of diatomaceous earth, also called diatomite, is that it can be used as a mechanical pesticide. The silica absorbs oil and fats from live insects. Insects need a layer of oil and fats to keep their exoskeleton connected to the rest of their body. The silica dries out an insect, causing its exoskeleton to come loose which kills the insect.
Exterminators use diatomite as a more natural alternative to other pesticides. There are no chemicals needed for this method of pest extermination.
Why Has Diatomaceous Earth Drawn Interest For Dog Owners?
Supporters of diatomaceous earth believe that it is a natural form of pest control that is safe and non-toxic for dogs. However, there is still much to be learned about the application of diatomite for dog health. There has not been enough scientific research into the uses of diatomite to prove whether it is truly effective or not.
The main argument for the use of diatomaceous earth is that it is not harmful to humans so it cannot be harmful to dogs either. Some foodstuffs like flour may contain certain levels of silica and are not yet known to impact human health negatively. This is a flawed perspective to take on, though. There are plenty of foods and chemicals that won’t have a negative effect on humans but affect dogs differently.
With any new food or product that you give your dog, check with your vet first. Next we’ll look into two purposes of diatomaceous earth in dogs. If you are considering using the product for one of these purposes, consult with your vet on the appropriate methods first.
Diatomaceous Earth As External Pest control
Diatomaceous earth can be used as an external pest control in two ways. The first option is to spread the soil around in the garden so that the pests are killed before even reaching your dog.
The second way the soil can be used is by lightly coating your dog with the soil. The idea is that any fleas will dry out from the silica and die.
This is considered a natural flea remedy for your dog. Dog owners that don’t want to use any chemical remedies or flea medication tend to choose this option.
However, this flea treatment does not come without any risks. Firstly, there is no scientific proof that diatomaceous earth is sufficient for flea control. This is why vets might recommend this treatment to only be an additional method for your flea-preventing routine.
Another negative effect is dry skin. Insects are not the only ones that dry out from silica. Your dog’s skin might become more dry and irritated too. If you would like to use diatomite on your dog’s coat then ask your vet how much diatomite is safe for your dog. The vet can also advice you on how to keep Fido’s skin from drying out.
Diatomaceous Earth As Feeding Supplement For Dogs
Diatomaceous earth is also sometimes used as an internal treatment for pests. Advocates of diatomaceous earth believe that it can be used as a natural worming method. Be very careful with this assumption though. As of yet, there is no scientific proof of its effectiveness as an alternative worming method.
A vital piece of knowledge to have is that there are several types of diatomaceous earth. The kind that you can use in your garden is different to the kind that is found in traces in foodstuffs. If you are considering feeding diatomite to your dog then make sure that it is food grade diatomaceous earth.
Worming your dog is very important in keeping your pooch healthy. Worms can cause havoc on your dog’s health if left untreated. This is why worming should be part of any dog owner’s regular routine.
Especially, since worms are so resilient, finding an effective worming method for your dog should be a high priority. By opting for an alternative method such as adding diatomaceous earth to Rover’s food bowl, you are uncertain of its effectiveness.
Don’t take too many chances when it comes to your dog’s health. If you would like to give this alternative method a try, ask your vet how much is safe to add to Bowie’s meals.
Also, note that diatomaceous earth can cause respiratory issues when exposed to the sharp dust for long periods of time. This applies to both dogs and humans. Make sure that the area is well ventilated if you are spreading it as a soil around the house or in a garden. If you are adding the soil to your dog’s meals then you could mix it in with wet food to lower the chances of the dust being inhaled. If your dog is already suffering from respiratory issues then it is best to avoid the use of this soil completely.
There is no definitive answer on whether diatomaceous earth is an appropriate method of pest control for your dog, yet. There are avid supporters, strong opponents and those who have yet to make up their mind. This is because there is still more scientific research needed on this topic.
Be a responsible pet owner and consult your vet before rushing to the shops for this hyped alternative method. Despite the potential benefits, there are also still risks associated with it. Possible risks are dry skin and irritation with topical use, respiratory issues and gastrointestinal discomfort when fed to your dog.
When it comes to your dog’s health, it is best to stay on the safe side. Care for your pooch’s health like you would your own.