For as long as I remember, we have always had many pets and livestock. My parents always joked that we should open a petting zoo with our horses, miniature horses, llamas, goats and cattle. Even now, Mr. G and I have many animals. Currently, we have three alpacas, two dogs, a cat and a horse.
One of the challenges that comes with having many animals is pest and parasite prevention. For years, we have relied on pills and pricey tube dewormers given every 6-8 weeks to keep parasites at bay. Also we have used topical flea treatment and have still been plagued by fleas. Not only are these products very expensive, but they have some ingredients I am not really comfortable giving my animals.
That is until we started using something from the garden; Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth or DE. DE is the fossil remains of diatoms.
How does it work?
The silica of the diatoms destroys and dries out the waxy cuticle layer of the parasites. These diatoms are tiny razor sharp particles that quickly decimate parasites internally and externally.
Another way that DE works, is by improving the nutrition and health of the animal. Some of the trace minerals included in DE are iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and potassium. In particular, calcium deficient animals are more prone to infestation. Amazingly, wild mustangs will often travel up to 20 miles to eat certain clays and rock deposits to help control and prevent parasites.
The final way that DE works is by creating a subtle magnetic frequency within the animal that causes pests to avoid the animal. This works because parasites are diamagnetic so they are magnetically repelled by DE.
What animals can benefit from the use of DE? Diatomaceous Earth is great for horses, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, alpacas and many more.
How to use DE for flea control on cats and dogs:
Make sure you are purchasing Food-Grade DE. There is also one that is used for swimming pool filtration that is not safe for consumption. I would recommend wearing something over your mouth while applying to avoid inhalation. Also, try to keep the DE away from your pets face.
I have found that an old baby powder container works great as an applicator. Lightly dust your pet with DE. Reapply every week or so, or if the animal becomes wet. In order to truly treat a flea problem, it is also important to apply the powder to the animals’ bedding and other areas where your animal frequently visits.
How to deworm with DE:
Food-Grade DE can be given to the animals with their food. Note: dogs are picky and you may have to be sneaky. I have found mine will take it wet food or with some molasses. There is a large amount of variation in recommendations for dosage. I will share what works for us.
Kittens – 1/2 teaspoon
Cats – 1 teaspoon
Puppies – 1/2 to 1 tsp.
Dogs under 35 lbs. – 1 teaspoon
Dogs over 35 lbs. – 1 tablespoon
Dogs over 100 lbs. – 2 tablespoons
Cattle, Dairy Cows, & Hogs – 2% of dry feed ration
Chickens – 5% in feed
Goats & Sheep – 2% in grain
Horses – 1/2 to 1 cup in daily ration
In our experience, to prevent and treat internal parasites we give it to the animal every day for 90 days and then every three days thereafter.
Other Uses Around the Barn and Home:
Place in a Burlap Sack to use as a cattle rub
Sprinkle to help dry out a wet horse stall and minimize odor
Add to kitty litter to prevent odor
A small amount can be added to livestock water to prevent algae growth
Sprinkled on poultry animals to prevent mites and lice
Disclaimer and Warnings:
I am not a veterinarian. These statements are based on my own research and experiences. This is only a recommendation not a suggestion.
Use of DE too liberally on carpet has been known to damage vacuum cleaners.
It is best to avoid getting DE in your eyes and on your skin because it is very drying.
Wear a mask while applying DE
DE has not been evaluated by the FDA
Resources and more information: