There are a lot of myths, misconceptions and falsities floating around out there about diatomaceous earth for dogs.
Mention diatomaceous earth (DE) in an online discussion and there’s sure to be an uproar.
People take one of two sides when it comes to DE. In one corner, you’ll hear from people who swear by the stuff and in the other corner are those who say DE isn’t the least bit effective, and go as far as saying that DE is harmful – even deadly.
This is why it’s so important to do your own research, and properly educate yourself on the uses and effectiveness of diatomaceous earth.
What is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized shells of diatoms (an ancient algae) found in freshwater lake beds. When mined and ground into powder, it becomes what we call diatomaceous earth.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth: DE in its purest form is organic and safe.
It’s important to note that not all DE is chemical-free. Only food grade DE is safe to use on, around or to feed to your dog.
Feeding DE As A Natural Dewormer
Taken internally, DE can rid dogs of roundworms, whipworms, pinworms and hookworms, within a week of daily feeding. It should be fed for at least a month in order to kill hatching eggs and worms moving in and out of the stomach.
Note: DE is less effective against tapeworms.
What’s the thinking behind DE being ineffective?
Diatomaceous earth is commonly used to deter and kill insects. DE particles are hard and sharp, and once they stick to an insect they become an irritant. Insects constantly clean themselves, so as the insect grooms itself, often by sliding a leg along the body, the DE is scraped across the body. Think of putting sand on a windshield and then running the wipers. This damages the insect’s body, and it begins to dry up and die.
However, if you’ve ever used diatomaceous earth around your house to kill bugs, you know that it’s far less effective when wet because it no longer attaches itself to insects.
This is where the confusion comes in. How can diatomaceous earth be effective once ingested?
How does diatomaceous earth work when ingested?
DE’s chemical composition allows it to stand up well to both water and sunlight without becoming altered or evaporated, which makes it useful in a variety of different liquid and solid products.
You’ve probably used many products that contain DE without even knowing it!
Once it enters the body, only a very small amount is actually absorbed while the rest is quickly excreted through the lungs and urine. While it gets flushed from the body pretty quickly, as it leaves the body, it takes heavy metals and other toxins with it.
Diatomaceous earth has also been reported to absorb methyl mercury, e-coli, endotoxins, viruses, organophosphate pesticide residues, drug resides, and toxins produced by some intestinal infections.
Does diatomaceous earth flush parasites the same way it flushes toxins?
Yes! Internal parasites can be controlled by giving diatomaceous earth internally.
Diatomaceous earth can eliminate roundworms, whipworms, pinworms, and hookworms within seven days of being fed daily. This is accomplished by disrupting the environment that the parasites are thriving in and flushing them out of the body.
A study published in the Oxford Journal of Poultry Science found that diatomaceous earth has the potential to be an effective treatment to help control parasites. During the study, hens that produce organically raised, free-range eggs. Giving two breeds of commercial egg-laying hens DE improved production of their eggs and egg quality compared to control groups, effectively working as a parasite cleanse in the process.
The two groups of hens used in the study were found to differ in their resistance to internal parasitic infections, which was observed by examining their gastrointestinal tracts. The hens fed DE had significantly lower incidences of infections and significantly lower worm infestations. Those fed DE were also significantly heavier in weight, laid more eggs and consumed more feed than hens fed the control diet, plus their eggs had larger yolks and therefore were more concentrated with nutrients.
What about the studies that show DE is ineffective?
A study done by Cambridge University used thirty crossbreed steer calves to evaluate the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth as an parasite treatment and its effect on subsequent growth performance.
The calves had not been dewormed prior to starting the study.
Once randomly divided into a positive control group and negative control group, the first group was given diatomaceous earth for 46 days.
According to the study “Fecal samples were collected when the calves arrived at the feedlot and the resulting egg counts showed that all steers were positive for nematodes and coccidia. Faecal samples were collected on days 0, 15, 28 and every 28 days thereafter to determine faecal egg counts. The last sample was taken on the day of slaughter. On day 0, the average count for all calves was over 70 eggs per g faeces (epg) for trichostrongyle type eggs; counts for Nematodirus sp., Strongyloides sp., Trichuris sp. and Capillaria sp. were negligible. CTRL and DE steers had higher parasite levels than CONV steers during the 1st (P < 0·01) and 2nd months (P < 0·05) after treatment. Egg counts for CTRL and DE groups decreased in March and none of the groups differed (P > 0·05) significantly for the remainder of the study. Coccidia levels decreased over time similarly for all groups.”
Similar findings came from a study done on bison and goats: http://canadianbison.ca/producer/Resources/documents/DiatomaceousEarthandtheRealDirt.pdf
But there’s a point made in this report that really stands out to me.
“The proponents of diatomaceous earth treatment, and a great many other natural treatments, use testimonial and anecdotal evidence to support their claims of effectiveness. Such evidence is often reinforced by personal bias and as humans we tend to ignore certain cases in favor of examples that support our belief.”
In other words, you’ll either be drawn to the evidence that proves diatomaceous earth is effective, or you’ll agree with the evidence against its effectiveness.
Diatomaceous earth alone isn’t a parasite cure-all. Though many swear by its effectiveness and there are multiple studies that back up believers, DE should be fed to an already infested animal with vet supervision. It’s best used as a preventative, and shouldn’t be the only step you take to keep your dog healthy.
The foundation of parasite control is a strong, healthy gut. Equally important is a clean and balanced environment. Without these two important factors, no amount of natural preventative can be depended on to keep your dog parasite free.
1/2 tsp for puppies and small dogs
1 tsp for dogs under 50 lbs
1 tbsp for dogs over 50 lbs
2 tbsp for dogs over 100 lbs
Remember, to be most effective, diatomaceous earth should be fed for at least 30 days, to catch all newly hatching eggs or the cycling of the worms through the lungs and back to the stomach.
Make sure you purchase and use food grade DE only. DE can cause irritation on the lungs so ensure your dogs don’t inhale any dust.
Disclaimer: All content provided on this website, WhitneyLiving.com is for informational purposes only. The materials contained here are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed veterinary professional.