content top

Controlling Fleas Naturally With Diatomaceous Earth

At some point every pet owner will experience the misery of fleas. Depending on where you live fleas can be a seasonal nuisance or a year around headache. In either case, a flea infestation can become a nightmare reminiscent of a Hollywood horror movie complete with unstoppable blood sucking parasites.

In any battle it is important to understand your foe, so let's touch on a few flea facts. These insects are very small with a hard shell.  They are capable of jumping amazing distances for their size, four to five feet horizontally and close to a foot straight up.  Fleas operate on three basic imperatives, survival, feeding, and reproducing and they are experts at all of them. Fleabites can be incredibly itchy because when they bite they inject blood-thinning compounds to keep the blood from clotting as they feed. As well as causing itching these anti clotting proteins can cause a massive immune system reaction. Flea allergic dermatitis is one of the most common skin problems in pets. For both pets and people allergic to fleabites one bite can cause a severe and prolonged reaction. To make matters worse fleas can also transmit many diseases such as Bubonic Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tapeworms.

It is very important to understand that your war against fleas must be fought on three fronts. They are; the pet, the home, and the outdoor environment. For every flea you see on your pet there can be up to 100 more in the surrounding environment in various stages of development. Typically an adult female flea lays about 20 eggs at a time. Depending on the conditions she can live up to a year and a half producing thousands of eggs. These eggs are normally laid in dark damp places and if they are laid on the pet they will fall off but not before they have traveled all over the home and the yard. These eggs will hatch in about a week most of the time, however, they can delay hatching until conditions are right for them. Once the eggs are hatched the larvae pupate, spinning cocoons in which they finish their development, typically another week. As with the egg stage of development these larvae can survive in the cocoon for up to six months waiting for the ideal conditions to emerge. It is easy to see now why we must address not only the fleas on our pets but the surrounding area as well.

Obviously, prevention is the best method of flea control. However, even the most proactive flea prevention regime is not guaranteed 100% to keep fleas from your pet. Once fleas have found your pet they must be eradicated quickly to prevent a full-blown infestation. There are many products available for repelling and killing fleas; there is also considerable debate as to the safety of some of these products.

Several types of topical sprays and shampoos effectively kill and repel fleas. Unfortunately many of them contain chemicals and pesticides that can be highly toxic. Felines are especially susceptible to these types of products because of their grooming habits, which leads to them ingesting whatever is on their fur.

The effectiveness of flea collars is very limited at best and these types of collars are often treated with chemical pesticides that you really do not want your pet wearing around their neck all of the time. There are natural flea collars that are effective in areas where fleas are not a severe problem but are not a good choice for a first line of defense.

The debate surrounding "Spot On" flea products is ongoing and at times can be quite heated. Chemical spot-on flea products contain powerful pesticides and should be considered only as a last resort for pets with extremely severe flea allergies. It goes without saying that any type of pesticide poses a health risk to humans and animals alike. Both over-the-counter and veterinarian prescribed topical treatments contain pesticides. These pesticides enter our pet's internal organs, livers and kidneys; move into the intestinal tracts and, over time, are eliminated in their feces and urine. These chemicals are easily transferred to human skin when the animal is petted or handled. This fact should be of particular concern to pet owners with children. In spite of claims of the safety of these products by the manufacturers and many veterinarians chemical spot-ons have been known to cause severe adverse reactions such as excessive salivation, lethargy, skin rashes, tremors, hyperactivity, seizures and even death.  In 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency received more than 44,000 reports of adverse reactions to these products and is currently investigating the safety of all registered spot on products.

If you have health and safety concerns about using these products there is good news. We often forget that nature is all about balance. While nature has provided fleas with amazing survival skills it has also provided a way to defeat their defenses. Diatomaceous earth or "DE" is a simple but effective natural substance that will eliminate fleas.

Diatomaceous earth is a mineral substance that consists of the fossilized remains of prehistoric diatoms or algae. It is a powder and is very fine and smooth to the touch. While it is non-toxic to people and pets it is deadly for pests such as fleas and ticks. This is because on a microscopic level it is razor sharp and as the powder covers the flea or tick it cuts the shells, this leads to dehydration and death for the pests. DE is effective for killing fleas in all life stages.

Diatomaceous earth has several advantages over the chemical forms of flea control. It is mechanical in its killing action rather than chemical. This means that the pests cannot build immunity or adapt to it and thereby preventing the creation of a pesticide resistant super flea, which can prove to be very difficult to kill. It won't pollute your home or the environment or water supply with residual chemicals, which can linger for years and pose a substantial health risk to both your pets and your family. DE is an all purpose flea killer and can be used anywhere fleas hide and live thereby replacing the need for separate products for your pet, your home and your yard. DE can be used in your pets fur, on their bedding, in carpets and furniture and even in the yard making it powerfully effective since fleas spend the majority of their reproduction and growth stages in the surrounding environment and not on your pet. DE will penetrate the smallest of spaces or tightest of carpet and fabric weaves killing the fleas where they are most vulnerable and disrupting the reproductive cycles.

While results with Diatomaceous earth are not as immediate as those with pesticide laden products you should see noticeable results within two to three days and can realistically expect your pet and home to be completely free of fleas within two weeks. All of this with no toxic chemicals, no horrible smelling flea products, no oily or sticky residues and no unnatural substances, who could ask for more?

Although DE is a natural product there are still some things to keep in mind if you choose to use it as a form of flea control.  First of all you can find products with DE created specifically as a flea powder, however you can also simply purchase DE in small or bulk quantities. If you decide to simply purchase the DE make certain it is a food grade DE, not the product for pool filters that most people are familiar with. Food grade diatomaceous earth is a more highly refined and cleaner product than that which is used as for swimming pool filtration. Second, DE is extremely fine and a little goes a long way, using too much can lead to dry skin for your pet. The products designed specifically as a flea powder will have very specific directions of how much and how often to use the product to avoid this problem. With food grade DE it is recommended to apply it twice a week but no more than three times in a week. Keep an eye on your pets skin, if it seems to be dry use less of the powder or reduce the number of applications you are applying. Finally when using the DE apply it lightly and slowly to keep the dust down so that neither you or your pet are breathing in the product then using a comb or brush gently work it into the fur.

Diatomaceous earth has many other uses besides pest control. It is an incredibly versatile substance and thousands of pet owners have used this completely natural way to control fleas and ticks with great success.  By choosing DE you will be joining a growing number of eco-conscious, health-motivated pet lovers who want safe and effective flea control


Article Source:

About the Author

Jeffrey Weber has been a long time and avid pet lover. Over the years he has had the privilege to learn from pet professionals, as well as from his own experience, many things that enhance the joys of having a pet. In an effort to help strengthen the bond between people and their pets he openly shares his knowledge on his blog "Family Pets"
In addition Jeff and his wife believe a healthy pet is a happy pet and offer highest quality pet supplies at Your-Pets-R-Family-2

Leave a Reply


Skip to toolbar