At Dawg House, we work hard to keep our playroom, boarding kennels, lobby, and parking lot all very clean and pest-free. Every chemical cleaner we use is specifically manufactured for use in dog daycare and boarding areas. But when it comes to pests like ticks, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and other no-see-ums, there are not that many effective control products, and even fewer that can be used with safety and confidence in rooms where dogs play and sleep.
This year was particularly bad for ticks. Though we use vet-recommended products on our own dogs, we’re still seeing the occasional tick trying to find a good place on them for lunch. Ticks are also occasionally hitching a ride inside the playroom on our furry guests, even though we know our clients are vigilant about keeping their dogs up to date on Frontline and other tick (and flea) control products.
We did some research on safe alternatives and ended up using Diatomaceous Earth. Here’s a description from Wikipedia:
“Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite or kieselgur, is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Diatomite is also used as an insecticide, due to its physico-sorptive properties. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency. It is most commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and eventually eliminate cockroach and flea infestations.”
There are two types of the DE as well. We utilized the food grade, which means, if ingested, it is perfectly safe. Many people actually consume about a teaspoon of the product per day, along with sprinkling that much on their dogs food, to kill any internal parasites and also to make dogs’ waste less palatable to other dogs.
The common ways people use DE to control pet-pests is to sprinkle it along the base of walls, inside dog crates, on dog beds, and sometimes rubbing it into their fur (though rubbing it on their fur can dry their skin out a little). DE commonly needs about 2 weeks to get rid of all pests, but it’s a great alternative to “bombing” or “spraying” chemicals around pet areas or your entire house. We have had terrific results here at Dawg House!
So, if you happen to notice a white substance around the base of the walls in the playroom, inside the crates, or on the bottom of your dogs feet—you know what it is! We’re not horrible housekeepers—we put it there on purpose :).
We purchased a 5 pound bag of human-grade (edible) DE here in Tucson at OK Feed for about $6 bucks.
If you have asthma or some other lung ailment, either wear a mask or be very careful when using food grade diatomaceous earth.
Do NOT get diatomaceous earth in the eyes. DE is drying to the eyes, so do NOT put it out when you or your pets are down wind of it. DE is drying to your skin, hands, and feet, just as it can be to your pets.
Do NOT give to very small pregnant animals such as cats, guinea pigs, etc. and do NOT feed continually to babies or small animals such as cats, hamsters, etc. DE can be fed on a continuous basis to larger animals and livestock for continuous parasite control and mineralization.
Do NOT use heavily in carpet. Some advise too much DE causes vacuum problems.
NEVER use pool filter grade DE around animals. It can poison or kill them.
Some people experience a healing crisis (detox reaction) when beginning DE consumption. If this occurs, reduce the dose, till your body is cleansed, and then increase to the RDA.
Remember, DE will kill beneficial insects as well, so use accordingly.