In recent times, pet owners have been presented with so many flea treatment methods and products that it’s become difficult to separate the grain from the chaff. Some experts are hell bent on recommending only flea insecticides while others advocate only natural techniques.
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The truth is: both flea insecticides and the natural approach work really well. However, each has its fair share of merits and disadvantages. In our post, we’ll focus on a different flea control product called diatomaceous earth (DE). We’ll answer questions such as: how does it work? And is it any better than other methods?
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally existing sand that’s usually extracted from the ground. It’s made up of very tiny skeletons of algae, which are referred to as diatoms. DE can be classified into two types: food-grade and filter grade.
Important to note is that both kinds of DE contain a chemical compound called silica. Silica is found in an array of other elements such as sand, rock and plants.
However, DE has concentrated levels of this compound, making it exceptional. To put this into perspective, diatomaceous earth for commercial use consists of 80 to 90% silica, little amount of iron oxide (rust) and traces of other minerals.
How does Diatomaceous Earth Work against Fleas?
The compound that makes DE an effective insecticide is the silica component. Whenever the DE powder comes into contact with an insect- in this case fleas- it damages their waxy outer coating that makes up the exoskeleton.
What follows is that the insect is rendered incapable of retaining water, and subsequently, dies from dehydration.
Thanks to its efficiency, diatomaceous earth is used to eradicate both internal and external parasites like fleas. Often, farmers add food-grade DE to livestock feed in an attempt to kill internal worms and parasites infecting their domestic animals.
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How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Control
Are you planning to rid your yard or home of fleas using DE? Here are a couple of steps you should follow:
- For starters, confirm that the diatomaceous earth you’re using is food-grade. The filter-grade is toxic to mammals and it may cause serious side effects if ingested or inhaled by you, your family or your pets.
- Look for protective gear. Even though it’s safe for humans, it can cause dehydrating effects if it comes into contact with your skin. Thus, you should adorn in gloves, and possibly a dust mask when handling it.
- Clean the area you’re planning to treat. Before you begin sprinkling the powder on carpets, it’s advisable to vacuum them. This will make the diatomaceous earth work more effectively.
- Sprinkle the powder on your carpets, pet’s bedding, furniture and any other areas you suspect have fleas. Leave the powder on for a minimum of 3 days before vacuuming your carpets or cleaning the bedding.
- Repeat this process every other week for the next 1 month. Be sure to leave the powder on for at least 3 days every time.
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Why Use Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Control?
There are several reasons why you should use diatomaceous earth for flea control.
For one, it’s completely safe to use around humans and pets. This means you can even apply it on your pet’s bedding and not have to worry about potential health hazards. Apart from carpets, it can be applied on hardwood floors to get rid of flea infestations.
It can be used in gardens and around the yard. Just be sure to apply it when the grass is completely dry since any moisture can jeopardize its efficacy.
DE is an excellent choice for situations that require a natural approach of flea control. Using chemical-laden flea insecticides poses certain risks. For instance, your pets may accidentally ingest the poison and suffer grave side effects.
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Can Diatomaceous Earth Be Applied Directly on Pets?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend using DE directly on your pup’s skin. However, there’s no harm in doing so apart from the mild drying of their skin that would occur because of silica. There are several people who have used applied this compound on their pets and succeeded in getting rid of fleas.
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The reason why I don’t recommend using DE is because it has short-lived results. The powder can easily fall off or your pup could lick it off their body. And as we mentioned earlier, if it gets even slightly wet it becomes inefficient.
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Besides, there are so many other treatments designed specifically for riding your pet of fleas. These are available both in the form of edible medicine and topical solutions. Also, it’s not advisable to apply DE on very young pets. If your kittens or puppies ingest large amounts of this compound, they may experience minor respiratory problems.
If fleas have infested your home, one of the best natural solutions that you can use is food-grade diatomaceous earth. It’s highly-effective and it poses no harm to pets or humans.
Sprinkle the powder on your furniture and other flea-infested areas. You can also sprinkle in your yard or garden. Leave the compound on for three days before cleaning the carpets and pet bedding. Once clean, you can reapply and allow it to rest for three more days. Do this for 30 days and you’ll have eliminated all the fleas from your home.