Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. I cannot diagnose your dog and the opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own. I research to the best of my ability in an attempt to bring you valuable content. If your dog is sick, please bring him/her to a licensed veterinarian for a proper evaluation.
You don’t have to look far to find wild claims about various supplements and herbal remedies these days. While there might be a small truth to some of the claims, the reality is that there is no such thing as a “miracle” supplement, and that includes diatomaceous earth for dogs.
I’m not completely against the use of diatomaceous earth for dogs, but I do want to bring your awareness to the questionable health claims. My goal is to help you make an informed decision about the use of diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs – Not The World’s Next Miracle
Diatomaceous earth for dogs is, basically, crushed sea plankton (microscopic skeletons of diatoms that are mostly comprised of silica). It’s ground into powder form and sold as a natural, non-toxic way to get rid of insects, slugs, and parasites. There is a food-grade version of diatomaceous earth and an industrial grade used in agriculture and home products.
Choosing non-toxic pesticides is a great idea, especially when using it around the house and garden for bug control. We all want to protect our dogs, and when faced with a natural option over a pharmaceutical solution, I think we tend to lean towards the natural products. Sometimes, however, that can cause more harm than good.
But Everybody Says Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs is Amazing!
Search for information on diatomaceous earth for dogs and you will many sites that rave about its so-called benefits. I’m not saying there are no benefits, but the lack of scientific evidence weighed against the lengthy health claims makes me wonder.
Current information about the use of diatomaceous earth for dogs is anecdotal. Some people swear by it, and others won’t go there. Personally, I tend to rely on traditional veterinarian medicine before considering homeopathic remedies.
Diatomaceous earth is designed to slowly kill insects and parasites by chipping away at their protective waxy layer. Once that layer is gone, the pest dries up and dies. My question is: If this substance only kills pests by drying them out, how could it possibly kill internal parasites like tapeworms, or manage flea infestations fast enough to eradicate them?
The FAKE NEWS of Diatomaceous Earth
As I mentioned above, anybody can do a quick online search and find reams of articles about the so-called benefits of diatomaceous earth. Given the lack of medical evidence, it’s difficult to find hard facts.
I’ve listed the top 9 questionable health claims below along with a few thoughts to help you question the validity of the claims before treating yourself or your dog. I welcome your thoughts on these claims as well. Just complete the Contact Me form in the sidebar or email (see below).
Questionable Claims Include:
#1: Detoxifies and absorbs toxins from the body.
A normal, healthy liver does its job of removing toxins from the body, so why the need for anything else? Again, the body knows how to keep everything in balance. If you or your dog suffer from gastrointestinal issues, it probably takes more than a tablespoon of diatomaceous earth to fix the problem. That is, of course, only my opinion.
#2: Supports healthy joints.
Silica, the main substance that makes up the diatomaceous earth for dogs, is thought to support the health of our skin, blood vessels, cartilage and tendons, teeth, bones, and hair. But, is more better? My guess is that a tablespoon of diatomaceous earth for dogs doesn’t warrant concern, but I am not a veterinarian.
#3: Reduces the pain of arthritis.
If this is true, why aren’t all veterinarians recommending diatomaceous earth for dogs? I’ve read worrisome statements on popular dog blogs like “all joint pain is caused by nutrient deficiency” and I scratch my head.
#4: Improves bone density.
It’s true that silica works within our bodies to promote bone strength, but how much diatomaceous earth would you have to eat in order to actually improve bone density? The fact is, nobody really knows. I’m not sure that it’s harmful, but why waste your time and money if there’s no proof that it’s helpful?
#5: Helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
I have no idea what this means and I would be highly suspicious of this claim.
#6: Strengthens the heart.
According to my veterinarian, the best way to strengthen my dog’s heart is through regular exercise. Because she is a senior, and her joints sometimes hurt, my veterinarian recommended swimming to increase cardiovascular strength.
#7: Lowers cholesterol.
I can almost guarantee that if you ask any general practitioner or veterinarian how diatomaceous earth for dogs lowers their cholesterol, they won’t be able to tell you. In order to legitimately make this claim, strict analysis through scientific studies would have to be carried out. As far as I can tell, that hasn’t happened yet. In addition, is diatomaceous earth supposed to lower “good” cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol. And how exactly does this happen?
#8: Prevents wrinkles.
I suspect this claim is loosely based around the concentration of silica in diatomaceous earth. Silica, as mentioned above, does work within our bodies to support skin elasticity. Do I believe it will prevent wrinkles? No. If that were the case, the cosmetic industry would be out of business.
#9: Helps people with diabetes.
Here’s a dangerous claim. Never rely on diatomaceous earth for the treatment of diabetes! Diabetes is a serious disease that can cause vision problems, nerve damage, serious foot problems, infection, kidney infections, stroke and heart disease. Have your dog treated by a traditional veterinarian.
External Use of Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs
Diatomaceous earth for dogs is primarily made up of silica, a natural, non-toxic, drying agent. In order to even attempt to rid your dog of fleas, diatomaceous earth has to be used regularly for a minimum of 30 days. It can take upwards of 6 weeks or longer to stop the flea life cycle.
FLEA LIFE CYCLE:
Mature flea on dog – lays eggs two days later – eggs hatch – eggs turn into larva – which eventually turns into another adult flea – repeat.
Dusting DE powder onto your dog’s fur over time can result in very dry skin. Excessive scratching can create secondary skin problems or worsen dermatitis.
Internal Use of Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs
Diatomaceous earth for dogs works by scratching away at the waxy substance found on insects and fleas. Once that protective coating is gone, the insect/parasite dries up and dies. I don’t believe it works the same way when digested. As a dog owner, I would skip the diatomaceous earth and go straight for a proven, effective, topical or oral flea, worm, and tick preventative.
Evidence of success against whipworm, roundworm, and pinworm is purely anecdotal. Diatomaceous earth for dogs will not kill tapeworms.
At the end of the day, the decision on whether to use diatomaceous earth for dogs is yours. It’s not illegal to buy or consume the product, but keep in mind that just because someone says it works on their dog, doesn’t mean it works on all dogs.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, please work with a licensed veterinarian for all of your dog’s health concerns. The intent of this post was to give you a few worthwhile things to think about. I hope I was successful.
Please feel free to open a discussion with me on the pros and cons of diatomaceous earth for dogs by emailing me at: latheriault@hugspetproducts.