What the heck is Diatomaceous Earth and why would I want to use it on, in or near my pet?
Diatomaceous Earth is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled organism of algae like plants called Diatoms. Diatomaceous Earth has many protective uses, from use on household pets as a drying agent, in pet food as a digestive aid, or applied in areas where there are pest (like ticks and fleas) as a non-chemical, safer alternative to pest control.
There are 2 types of diatomaceous earth, saltwater, and freshwater. This is why it is very important that when using on animals or near humans you choose the freshwater, food grade diatomaceous earth. Freshwater diatomaceous earth is amorphous silica. Saltwater diatomaceous earth, the type used in pool filters, is crystalline silica. Pool filter diatomaceous earth is amorphous silica that has been heat treated forming large lump crystalline silica that makes for better filtering, but not good for your lungs.
NEVER, NEVER USE POOL FILTER DIATOMACEOUS EARTH ON ANIMALS.
It simply won’t be effective and is dangerous because of the many harmful side effects.
For Pest Control
Unlike persistent chemicals pesticides that can be harmful to your pet and the environment, Diatomaceous Earth is an ORGANIC mechanical pesticide that treats infestation without harmful side effects. Diatomaceous Earth is truly a safe ingredient; bugs can not become immune to Diatomaceous Earth because it kills them by PHYSICAL, not chemical action. Specially processed milling makes Diatomaceous Earth into a product graded for particle size which is most effective for killing insects. This process makes it easier and less dusty to use. As the insect comes in contact with the powder, static electricity causes an attraction to the body. Once the powder attaches itself to the insect, the sharp edges of the particles cut through the waxy outer layer of the exoskeleton of the insect and absorb the body fluids, therefore, killing the parasite. It takes a day or two for the process to take place but the end results is most effective, death by dehydration.
Diatomaceous Earth is both a short and long-term non-toxic, effective, safe, organic pesticide and has a remarkable repellent factor. As long as it is present, insects tend to stay away, making a serious infestation almost impossible. Also, the more diatomaceous earth is used, the more an environment is created to repel insects. If you use diatomaceous earth on a regular basis your animal both internally and externally will have less and fewer problems with all types of troublesome parasites. Having said that, diatomaceous earth tends to be better when used lightly per application, applying more over a longer period of time instead of a big bunch all at once. For anyone that has used diatomaceous earth before you know what I am talking about. The powder form can be difficult to keep under control, getting on things you do not want it on. Imagine throwing down a bag of flour and watching the dust billow up. So use the product prudently and much like salt in food… less can be better at times.
For Digestive Health
Freshwater, food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be used for internal parasites by placing in the daily feed ration. The same mechanical effect it has on external parasite carries over to parasites in your pets digestive tract. It has been used effectively as a worming agent and to help with digestive upset. Diatomaceous earth scrubs the digestive tract of poorly digested food and cleans out the stomach and intestines.
** There are some warning that goes along with the use of Diatomaceous Earth. First, because it is a powder made of microscopic rough-edged particles it should not be inhaled to a great degree. Use of a dust mask when applying the product is recommended. Let the application settle before allowing pets or people back into an area that has been treated. We would not suggest using this product around puppies or mothers that are nursing as puppies have underdeveloped and sensitive lungs, making them more susceptible to the side effects of inhalation. These warnings sound ominous but with proper care, diatomaceous earth is no more dangerous than laying down a layer of cooking flour. Remember that less is more in the application of Diatomaceous Earth.