Using Diatomaceous Earth to Worm Pets

Using Diatomaceous Earth to Worm Pets

Diatomaceous earth is now being widely used as an effective, natural agent to worm pets without the use of toxic chemicals. Many pet owners are horrified to learn their pet has intestinal parasites, or worms. Pets can pick up these parasites from other cats and dogs, insects or the soil in their environment. No matter how parasite-free their mother is, puppies and kittens are even born with worms.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the microscopic remains of phytoplankton, known as diatoms. These one-celled organisms lived in the oceans and lakes of the world thousands of years ago and are mined today for many uses, from cosmetics to pool chemicals. DE particles have tiny, razor-sharp edges which produce invisible cuts on the exoskeleton of insects and parasites when they come into contact with them. It eventually causes dehydration and death. Kept dry, DE has an unlimited shelf life.

Formulation of DE

Diatomaceous earth is available in a distinct powder formulation for use internally in humans and animals. Food-grade DE is safe for consumption by pets to aid in worming. Never feed DE in any other form to livestock or humans. Food-grade DE is available at most feed stores and through online retailers. Industrial-grade DE for swimming pool filtration and other uses is also available. However, this formula is toxic and can be fatal if consumed. Be very careful to read the package thoroughly to determine its contents.

Dosing for Dogs and Cats

Because food-grade DE is not a toxic agent, it is very safe to use in the recommend dosage for worming pets, even very young puppies and kittens. The following can be given once or twice daily:

  • Puppies and dogs weighing less than 10 pounds: .5 to 1 teaspoon.
  • Puppies and dogs weighing 11 to 19 pounds: 2 teaspoons
  • Puppies and dogs weighing 20 to 50 pounds: 1 to 1.5 tablespoons
  • Puppies and dogs weighing 51 to 100 pounds: 2 tablespoons
  • Puppies and dogs weighing over 100 pounds: 3 to 4 tablespoons
  • Kittens: .5 to 1 teaspoon
  • Cats: 2 teaspoons


DE can be mixed with your pet’s food as a daily preventive to many types of intestinal parasites. Most dogs and cats do not react negatively to the taste or texture of the powder being added to their meals. You should take care to keep yourself and your pets from inhaling DE, as it will cause irritation to the lungs due to its dehydrating effect. Similarly, avoid getting DE on your hands because it can cause severe dryness.

Parasites DE Will Eliminate

Many internal and external parasites can be controlled and eliminated with DE. Intestinal roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are a few of the parasitic infestations which DE can eliminate. Externally, fleas and ticks can be controlled by lightly dusting the pet’s body with diatomaceous earth. DE is also used in the garden to kill ants, slugs, snails and aphids, among others. A very important benefit with using DE to control insects and parasites is that they have no means to build a resistance to the substance.

How to Use Coconut Oil to Fight Fleas on Dogs and Cats

Pet owners are often encouraged to apply flea drops or use chemical-laden flea collars on their pets. It is no secret that I have been using flea drops on my own dogs for years. However, many people are unaware of the fact that some of these products contain harmful chemicals that can cause seizures in dogs and cats. They slowly poison your pet which can lead to diseases over long term use. So is there a safer and more natural solution for fleas on dogs and cats? Thankfully, the answer is yes. You can get rid of fleas and ticks entirely without the use of chemicals. The solution is coconut oil.

What is wrong with conventional flea products for dogs and cats?

The active ingredient in many flea products available today is Fipronil. This broad spectrum insecticide can kill all kinds of parasites on your pets, including lice, ticks, mites, ants, roaches and fleas. However, Fipronil also spreads throughout the animal’s skin and is absorbed into its blood stream. This not only causes discoloration, hair loss and itching on the area where it is applied; it can also cause toxic side effects like vomiting, confusion and breathing issues. In some pets, the long term use of these flea chemicals is even known to cause fatal side effects. According to a recent article on AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), four of the commonly available flea products were linked to seizures in cats and dogs.

Why use coconut oil for lice, ticks and fleas?

People have always used coconut oil for eliminating lice in hair. Lice are similar to ticks and fleas; they live on their host’s body in areas with hair and suck blood from them. Folk remedies around the world have recommended the use of coconut oil for drowning lice in human hair. The remedy involves applying coconut oil liberally throughout the hair and scalp to drown lice and nits. The oil saturates the exoskeleton on the pest’s bodies and completely blocks off oxygen supply. This causes the lice to suffocate and drown in the oil. In addition to that, coconut oil also imparts antimicrobial properties to the scalp to prevent infections in the sores and bites caused by the lice. Coconut oil also stimulates cell repair, cell regeneration or cell turnover to rapidly heal the bitten parts of the skin and scalp.

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Coconut oil for fleas on dogs and cats

Coconut oil is a wonderful remedy for controlling fleas on dogs and cats. You can use it in multiple ways to ward off lice, mange, ticks, fleas as well as bacterial and fungal pathogens. The oil may even boost your pet’s overall health and well-being. Here are some ways to use coconut oil to repel fleas on dogs and cats:

Internal treatment

Feed a couple teaspoons of organic coconut oil daily to your dog or cat (dosage depends on its bodyweight). This will help strengthen your pet’s immune system and empower it to fight off bacteria, fungi and other parasites. Add coconut oil to your pet’s meals or simply administer a couple of teaspoons post-meal. This will also help freshen its breath. Ticks and fleas have trouble surviving on pets that regularly eat coconut oil. Feeding coconut oil to dogs and cats also has other advantages like weight management, healthier fur, stronger immunity, better cognitive function, reduced inflammation, cholesterol management etc.

Dosage of coconut oil for dogs

  • Large to medium sized dogs – 1-2 full generous tablespoons. Add to food once a day.
  • For small breeds or puppies – ½ to 1 teaspoon and slowly increase it to 1 tbsp over the next few days.

Dosage of coconut oil for cats

  • For adult cats – 1/2 to 1 tsp and slowly increase up to 1 tbsp.
  • For kittens – ¼ tsp and slowly increase it to 1 tsp.

Topical treatment

During flea season, massage warm coconut oil in your pet’s fur to ward off ticks, fleas, lice, mange and mites. The oil repels fleas and also drowns and suffocates existing parasites as explained above. Moreover, coconut oil also heals your pet’s skin where fleas and ticks may have bitten them. The oil prevents secondary skin infections by rapidly healing the skin and also prevents itching, redness and pain.

Homemade flea collars with coconut oil and essential oils

Rubbing coconut oil throughout the pet’s fur is one way of repelling fleas. However, this remedy can leave your pet’s coat greasy which can then attract dirt and grime. One way of going about this is to apply the oil, massage it in the fur, leave it on overnight and then wash off the next morning with a mild tick/flea shampoo. This can eliminate almost all of the existing fleas. However, this remedy may not repel new fleas.

For this purpose, saturate an old bandanna or handkerchief with a mixture of coconut oil and diluted tea tree oil. The scent of the tea tree oil repels fleas and ticks. You can also use lavender oil for repelling fleas. Simply add a few drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and saturate a hanky in the mixture. Let the oils permeate the fabric overnight. You can now tie this homemade flea collar around your pet’s neck to repel fleas. You will have to ‘recharge’ the collar every few days with essential oil and coconut oil to keep the scent fresh.

Coconut oil flea bath

Another method of using coconut oil for repelling fleas on cats and dogs is making a coconut oil flea bath. This nice hot bath will soothe your pet and also eliminate all the fleas from its fur. As an added advantage, this bath will also moisturize its skin.

Steps to make a coconut oil flea bath

Does coconut oil repel fleas on humans?

Humans are not immune to fleas either. Fleas can and will bite us in the presence or absence of animal hosts, leaving behind red, itchy welts that are painful, itchy and annoying. You may now be wondering if coconut oil can kill fleas on humans too. The answer is that you will have to really saturate your entire body with coconut oil to drown the fleas. Of course, fleas do not usually stay for long periods of time on humans; they bite and then jump away to find a hiding place. Since most humans do not have extremely hairy bodies, it may be difficult for fleas to find hiding places on them. What the coconut oil does here is, it soothes the rash and relieves pain and itchiness. You may apply coconut oil mixed with lavender oil to eliminate itchiness and inflammation and prevent the bites from turning into serious skin infections. The oil’s aroma will also repel fleas away from your body and stop them from biting.


Coconut oil can help kill fleas on your pets, provided you completely saturate their fur with the oil. That is the only way to really get rid of fleas on dogs and cats using coconut oil. You can add essential oils like lavender or diluted tea tree oil to the coconut oil to repel fleas. These scented oils keep fleas away and also soothe the skin. Alternatively, add coconut oil to your pet’s diet to strengthen its immunity and help them repel fleas from inside out.

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Homemade Flea Treatment

DIY Flea Killer Solutions

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get effective, natural flea treatment solutions for your pet’s pesky problem. Here are some easy homemade flea spray recipes and natural flea treatment solutions that are made from safe, effective ingredients.

Homemade flea killer sprays and collars

If you prefer to control the ingredients that go into your natural flea treatments, then why not make your own flea collar or spray? These simple recipes are quick and inexpensive and will allow you to ensure your pet becomes flea-free as naturally as possible:

  • Homemade flea collars: Make your own flea collar by taking an average collar and adding some drops of essential oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of almond oil (use dilute solutions when applying to cats as they can be very sensitive to essential oils). Some great flea-repelling essential oil options include cinnamon, rosemary, wormwood, clove, peppermint, pennyroyal (don’t use this if your pet or human in the home are pregnant), and cedar wood.
  • Neem oil rub: With a few drops of the oil on your palms, rub it into your pet’s fur and skin.
  • Homemade Flea sprays using essential oils: Mix 10-15 drops of your favorite oil (essential oil or neem oil) with 1-2 ounces of mild, organic soap and water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray your pet periodically throughout the day during a flea outbreak.
  • Lemon wash: Citrus is a natural flea deterrent and will condition your pet’s skin. Make this wash by combining 4 sliced lemons, 1 tablespoons of salt, and 6 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil for two minutes, then turn off and let steep 24 hours. Wash your pet with soap, comb out to remove dead bugs, and then apply the lemon water generously over your pet. Repeat the lemon wash portion of this daily until your pet’s skin improves. Can also be used as a spray and applied daily.
  • Flea shampoo: Combine 6-10 drops of essential oil (see list above) with two ounces of organic, biodegradable, mild shampoo or soap. Use this to shampoo your flea-infested pet (don’t forget hard-to-reach areas like their armpits, between toes, and under tails) and let the shampoo sit on their fur for five to ten minutes. Then rinse thoroughly to avoid skin irritation. Repeat daily until the problem leaves.
  • Diatomaceous earth: Buy some of this product and dust over your pet (lightly) just like other flea treatments. Also dust your pet’s sleeping and playing areas.
  • Herbal flea powder: Crush together dry herbs including rosemary, fennel, yellow dock, wormwood, and eucalyptus in equal portions and then apply to your dog’s fur as you would conventional flea powders.
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To learn more about natural flea treatments and prevention check out our Flea Prevention and Control article.

Natural Home Remedies to Worm Cats & Dogs

Parasites such as roundworms and heartworms can infest dogs and cats and make them sick. Veterinarians can typically treat a pet safely and effectively for these conditions, but many pet owners do not want to put potentially harmful substances into their pet to cure a condition that may be otherwise taken care of by natural means. There are some natural home remedies to try before resorting to veterinarian-prescribed medicines.

Chewing Tobacco

When a cat or dog has worms, a small amount of chewing tobacco mixed with the animal’s food may be enough to rid it of the parasite. The nicotine in chewing tobacco acts as a poison to the parasites, but it does not have enough of the element to hurt a cat or dog in small amounts.

The tobacco is simply pinched off and either fed directly to the animal or mixed with its regular food. Most animals will not like the taste and may not eat tobacco by itself. Larger animals should be given more tobacco. Small cats may only require the amount of tobacco found in the last inch of a cigarette.

Natural Herbs

Several herbs are known to remove and prevent worms in cats and dogs. Natural herbs that aid in digestion can flush the worms out of the digestive tract, and the presence of the herbs could prevent further infestation.

Quassia is a variety of plant that can be used to stimulate the appetite and quickly cause bowel movements by an animal, therefore flushing out the parasites. Peppermint and cinnamon are both good food additives that will aid in digestion and help remove worms from the digestive tract. Peppermint and cinnamon also create an unfriendly internal environment for worms, and it could keep them from attaching to the animal internally once ingested.

Oromocto Veterinary Hospital


Facts and Myths about Flea Control

Flea Facts

  • There are more than 2,000 species of fleas, but only a few of them affect our pets and infest our homes. The most common flea found on dogs, cats, and certain wild animals is Ctenocephalides felis, also known as the common cat flea .
  • Fleas are more of an environmental concern, since 95% of the flea population (eggs, maggots, and pupae) lives in the environment and only 5% of the population (adults) lives on the animals.
  • Dog parks and other open spaces (like most of your yard) are not likely sources of fleas, since these are not places pets spend a lot of time resting. Also, open spaces exposed to sunlight (or too cold in the winter) are not conducive to the immature flea ‘s life stages.
  • Inside the home, the flea population will be concentrated in areas where a pet spends time sleeping or resting.
  • Successful flea control requires treatment of both the pet and the environment. Addressing only the pet or only the environment will result in a failure of control.
  • Squirrels and other rodents do not carry the same species of flea that infest dogs and cats. Other wild animals, such as raccoons and opossums can introduce fleas into a yard only if they are nesting in areas accessible to the pet.
  • Talk to the staff at Oromocto Veterinary Hospital for more information on flea control.

Flea Myths

Myth 1: Control fleas by feeding pets raw garlic, garlic powder, or garlic pills.
Not only is there no clinical evidence that garlic has any effect on fleas, it is a potentially hazardous substance to pets, particularly cats. Garlic is in the allium family, which includes onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. In some animals, these plants can cause severe anemia. Lesser reactions could include upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Myth 2: Feed the dog 1 mg of brewer’s yeast for every 5 pounds it weighs, mixing it into the food (or buy tablets with brewer’s yeast).
While brewer’s yeast is not toxic to pets, it is equally lacking in evidence of any effectiveness against fleas. As remedies against fleas, both garlic and brewer’s yeast survive in folk­lore through anecdotal reports, despite research studies that have disproved their value.

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Myth 3: Put an ultrasonic device on pets’ collars to emit ultrasonic sounds fleas and ticks hate.
High-frequency ultrasonic devices, whether worn as a collar or placed around the home, have no effect on fleas or other pests such as insects and rodents. Some areas have legislation banning sales because these products have been labeled as fraudulent. The high frequencies generated cannot be heard by humans, but may be audible to pets and have been blamed for behavioral changes when used on or around animals.

Myth 4: Cut an orange in half and rub it on your dog’s back and stomach.
The peel of citrus fruits, particularly oranges, contains a chemical known as linalool. Linalool is used as a fragrance in products such as soaps, shampoos , detergents, and lotions. Citrus oil has also been used as an insect repellant with variable results. For citrus oil to have any effect on fleas, it would need to be extracted from the orange peel and concentrated . It is not effective or practical to use a slice of the orange.

Myth 5: Vinegar and baking soda will kill fleas.
Well, sort of ….
Vinegar is acetic acid. While high levels of acetic acid can be toxic to fleas, the acidic nature can also be harmful to the pets skin with repeated or long-term exposure. Baking soda has no known effect on fleas.

Myth 6: Use lice shampoos for humans on the pet.
Shampoos and other topical treat­ meant for lice in humans contain pyrethrins, organic compounds also found in many flea shampoos labeled for dogs and cats. While lice shampoos will kill adult fleas on the pet, there is no benefit to their use over shampoos intended for dogs and cats.

Myth 7: Coat pets with mineral oil to suffocate the fleas.
Maybe, but not practical!
While you may be able to drown fleas in mineral oil, the volume of mineral oil required would create an enormous mess on your pet. This is an extremely impractical method for flea control.

Myth 8: Bathe the cat or dog with Dawn liquid detergent.
Maybe, but not a good idea!
In general, bathing a pet, especially shampoos, will reduce flea populations. However, any sort of detergent used as a shampoo can dry the skin of dogs and cats, perhaps resulting in irritation. Dish soap may be particularly effective at removing grease and oil from hair, but has no specific efficacy at killing fleas. Oatmeal-based shampoos are typi­cally non-detergent and have been used in pet shampoos as therapy for certain skin conditions. Oatmeal itself has no ability to kill or repel fleas. Shampoos should be carefully rinsed away with water after application.

Myth 9: When washing your pet, don’t rinse first because fleas will jump off. Start with a soapy lather that will trap and suffocate them.
Since a bath in water alone can help kill fleas, it does not make much sense to avoid putting water on the pet. Although I’ve never tried it, lathering a dry dog or cat with shampoo would seem to be difficult.

Myth 10: Keep a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on your floors (where vacuums can’t reach) and vacuum every 3 days, tossing some on the floors first. Sprinkle Borax washing detergent on carpets and wash pet beds with it. Salt your carpet.
True (but only a partial solution)!
Diatomaceous earth (DE), boric acid (found in Borax and other powders intended to be applied to carpet), and salt, all dehydrate the flea maggots (larvae) that are found in the carpet, pet bedding, and other places in flea-infested environments. If you have a flea infestation in your house, these remedies can be an effective part of an overall flea-control program and work best when applied to the loca­tions in which a pet frequently sleeps. However, these remedies don’t do much for the fleas on the pet.

Myth 11: Spray the yard with Ivory soap and water.
Soap and water can be effective against adult fleas on the pet, but since the adult flea is only on the pet (or other animals) and does not live out in the yard, this would be an ineffective environmental treatment.

Myth 12: Release nematodes (roundworms) into the backyard to eat flea larvae.
Once a popular natural remedy for flea control in the environment, treatment with nematodes was never found to be effective, probably because there are not huge concentrations of flea maggots in the open spaces of a yard.

Myth 13: Spread cedar chips in the yard to repel fleas.
Maybe, but impractical!
Cedar is a natural insect repellent, but unless your entire yard is covered in mulch, it is not likely to be of much value. Plus, mulch in the yard will do nothing to protect the inside of the house, which is where most infestations occur.

Myth 14: Plant pennyroyal, also known as fleabane to repel fleas.
Hmmm …
There are botanical references to fleabane’s attribute of repelling fleas. Some say that the plant itself, alive or in dried form, can repel fleas. Other references claim that it is the smoke from the burning of the plant that becomes the repellent. Either way, like cedar mulch, it would likely require large quantities to be effective and once again leaves the inside of the home unprotected.

Myth 15: Keep your cat indoors!
Any pet that lives strictly indoors theoretically has a lower exposure to external parasites. However, fleas thrive in indoor environments and all it takes is one male and one female flea to be introduced, perhaps as a hitchhiker on a pant leg, shoe, or visiting pet, to start an infestation. Within a few weeks, two fleas can become two thousand fleas inside the home.

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