Yes, tea tree oil is safe for dogs but with some precautions. Tea tree oil is used for several purposes, from cleaning your homes to using it for dogs. However, it is best to consult your veterinarian before using tea tree oils for dogs. Although diluted tea tree oil is used to treat skin ailments like hot spots or yeast infections in dogs, it is vital to take safety measures before administering it to your dogs.
Tea tree oil is safe for dogs only in very negligible concentrations, while the wrong dilution ratio can be detrimental to your canines. Therefore, it is essential to know about your dogs’ tea tree oil poisoning before using it.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from the steam distillation of the leaves of a small tree Melaleuca alternifolia, found in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. For centuries aboriginal people have used the oil in traditional medicines:
- As a mouthwash
- The oil has been used as a cleanser to treat gingivitis, tonsillitis, colds, coughs, and other skin conditions.
- In some cases, tea tree oil is added to vaporizers to cure respiratory infections.
The tree came to America and was grown in the southern states, especially Florida.
Tea tree oil is transparent to pale yellow that has a camphor-like aroma. Chemically, it comprises a terpinen-4-ol compound that includes mono and sesquiterpenes.
- The chemical compounds in the tea tree oil fights bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- The oil strengthens the immune system by improving the movements of white blood cells.
- It is also used topically to treat:
- Athletes’ feet
- Nail fungus
- Vaginal infections
- Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- It is also brewed in tea
- The paste is applied directly to the wounds.
- Tea tree oil is known to have antiparasitic effects. It is used in:
- Insect repellents
- Hand sanitizers
- Natural deodorants
- Skin creams
- Antiseptic products
While it is a magical oil for humans, it may not be one for your dogs.
Tea tree oil can be toxic to humans and animals if taken orally. In Australia, there is a mention of safety warnings on all bottles of tea tree oil. In the United States, there is no prerequisite of the Federal Drug Administration. The omission of the safety warning brings a false sense of security. Thus, people neglect the potential hazards of this product.
Tea tree oil can be safe for dogs by following some safety procedures. Tea tree oil, when correctly diluted, can be used for dogs in treating some skin conditions. A concentrated extract of this oil can cause severe side effects in dogs. A 2014 review of poisoning cases by the ASPCA showed that a concentrated tea tree oil led to common signs of poisonous effects in canines. It said,
Intentional or accidental use of 100% TTO in dogs or cats caused serious signs of Central Nervous System depression, ataxia, paresis or tremors within hours after exposure and lasting up to 3 days.
The amounts of tea tree oil (TTO) used were negligible in some cases, as low as 0.1 ml or 0.0033 oz that caused poison. This oil was used orally as well as topically.
Natural products, at times, are not worth the risk. For example, while you would have come across some cosmetic products for your pets containing tea tree oil, known for its healing nature, the purest form of tea tree oil can be dangerous to dogs. Therefore, pet parents should be careful while buying any essential oil products. Sadly, the oil’s idolization has resulted in some veterinary skin care products that contain a small quantity of tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil needs to be handled with caution around pets. It is essential to consult a veterinarian before experimenting on your furry friend. Remember never to give the tea tree oil orally. While you are using tea tree oil on your canine’s skin, dilute it with a lot of water. The safest concentration is 0.1 – 1%. The diluted oil is never considered toxic. The pet parents may also purchase a canine-specific product that contains TTO already in it. Pet products containing tea tree oil as an ingredient may be pre-diluted and professionally tested to ensure the safety of canines. Therefore this is a better idea than diluting the oil on your own at home.
- Flea and Tick
A study conducted in 2003-2004 stated that tea tree oil was one of the effective natural remedies for fleas and ticks, not only for canines but also for other animals. The tea tree destroys the potential pests with its pungent smell and smothering effect. It has been proven that with TTO, your canine’s skin-related issues are resolved by keeping the redness and itches at bay.
Tip: All you need to make a homemade repellent for Flea and Tick is mix a teaspoon of tea tree oil with a cup of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on your dogs. Remember to not spray it on any of the sensitive parts of your dog, like eyes or nose.
- Ringworm Infections
Ringworm is not a fungal infection that is a result of any worms. Instead, it is a red circular patch seen on the skin. Therefore, ringworms may appear like a random bald patch, scaly or dry skin. Tea tree oil has the property to kill the ringworm fungi. It showed a 70% success rate in a study conducted in 2002.
Tip: Things you need to make your DIY tea tree oil solution are:
- A teaspoon of TTO
- A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cups of water.
Apply this diluted concoction twice a day for a week, and your dog will get rid of the ringworm infection. You can also dab the solution with a cotton ball on the affected area.
Tea tree oil may cause hotspots due to allergies, over or under-grooming, pest bites, or excessive licking or biting their skin. However, no research proves tea tree oil is effective for hot spots.Still, its anti-inflammatory properties can relieve itchiness in your furry friends. Also, the tea tree oil’s pungent odor can prevent your pet from licking or biting the hot spots further.
Tip: To treat hot spots, all you need to make your homemade tea tree oil mixture are two to four drops of TTO with one to two tablespoons of coconut oil. Apply not more than two times a day.
- Canine Acne
Not only does tea tree oil treat acne in humans, but it also treats acne in canines. These blemishes and bumps are generally found around the nose or face of the dog. However, they do not cause discomfort for your dog. Using TTO with witch hazel can help in treating acne in dogs.
Tip: You require two drops of tea tree oil, two drops of witch hazel, and a tablespoon of coconut oil for a DIY acne home remedy for dogs. The pet owners must ensure that none of the pimples are open as the oil can cause poison by entering the bloodstream. Pat, the acne-prone area, dry after gently washing, and then apply a good amount of homemade cream.
This mixture is not applicable for dogs experiencing acne around their mouth or eyes. It is better to consult a vet before providing any treatment to dogs.
- Ear Infections and Aches
Your furry friend may have an ear infection if some insects, water, or liquid has entered or they scratch their ears. They may shake their head and rub the inside of their ears to get some relief. Their ears may be smelly or have ear wax that is pink or dark brown. Several studies show the effectiveness of tea tree oil on ear problems. In addition, a meta-review in 2016 has shown some evidence on the efficacy of tea tree oil for various ear infections and aches in canines.
Tip: Your homemade tea tree oil solution for ear problems requires one to two drops of TTO with two to four drops of warm olive oil. Before applying this solution, gently clean your dog’s ears with a cotton swab or ear wipe made for canines. After cleaning, drop one to two tiny drops of this solution on the base of your dog’s ear without pouring into the ear canals, as this can cause discomfort to your dog.
- Respiratory Infections
Tea tree oil holds a portion in the aromatherapy helping the dogs to deal with several respiratory issues. Any issue with the respiratory system needs immediate attention from the veterinarian. Please do not attempt to treat any health problems without consulting your vet since it can be lethal. The following symptoms are related to respiratory issues:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of Appetite
- Sneezing or coughing
- Colored discharge or nasal congestion
- Disinterest in activities
This oil diffuser with a few drops of tea tree oil will help fight internal infections and alleviate the inflammation in the nasal cavity. Other essential oils work well with tea tree oil for canines, such as eucalyptus and peppermint, which aids in opening and clearing the nasal canals with their herbal scent and provide relief to the dog.
- Mange Mite
Mange is a type of skin ailment caused by parasitic mites. The word “mange” suggests a poor condition of the skin or fur. Mange is a mite-related skin disease seen in livestock, domestic mammals, and wild animals. The acute mange can lead to excessive shedding of permanent baldness since the scar tissue damages the hair follicles. Mange on dogs is a severe health issue related to a pet’s immune system; thus, an appointment with your veterinarian is highly recommended. Your vet will likely prescribe extra medicines to help with the weakened immune system and recommend medicated shampoos. However, several studies show that tea tree oil effectively cured dogs with mange.
Tip: All you need for a homemade tea tree oil recipe for mange mites treatment in canines is ¾ cup of filtered or distilled water, three drops of lavender oil, and three drops of tea tree oil. Add this in your canine’s shampoo and a spray bottle for topical application. The lavender essential oil has disinfectant qualities, a pleasant aroma, and a natural soothing effect.
- Removing Dog’s Odor
The crevices on a paw are potential spots that bring fungus and yeast infections in dogs. To prevent these, you should add some drops of tea tree oil to your dog’s bathwater. Ensure all four paws are submerged without touching their belly or chest. While they are washed, their feet will be dipped in the natural tea tree oil mixture, acting as a medicated therapy. Use the tea tree oil for dogs only during bath time, which implies that this oil should not be used often, for it can be over-treating your dog.
The following are the symptoms of tea tree oil toxicity in your dogs:
- Low body temperature
- Uncoordinated gait
- Liver failure
- Loss of coordination
- Low heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle tremors
- Elevated liver enzyme levels
Symptoms would appear within hours of exposure, say two to eight hours, and there is no antidote for tea tree oil poisoning.
What If My Dog Shows Signs of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning?
The veterinarian will treat this by induced vomiting, skin decontamination, intravenous fluid, and medications that help safeguard their liver. A hospital stay for two to three days is expected if your canine suffers from tea tree oil poisoning. If you accidentally apply tea tree oil on your dog, decontamination is required by washing off. Shampoos or other skincare products that contain diluted tea tree oil are usually not considered poisonous and will hardly cause any harm to your dogs. Give activated charcoal to canines with severe symptoms owing to the risk of charcoal liquid aspiration. Since Terpenes are hazardous to the liver, liver protectants such as Silymarin or milk thistle or SAM-e for 14 days are recommended.
If you doubt your dog has consumed more tea tree oil, it is always better to call Animal Poison Control Center first. Dial (888) 426-4435 for immediate treatment and take your dog to the local veterinary hospital.
Pet Products that contain Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is usually an ingredient in skincare products like creams, wipes, shampoos and is topically used for treating fleas. They are sold in a mixture with eucalyptus oil or aloe for enhancing their benefits. Tea tree oil reduces swelling odors and treats skin infections without affecting canine’s natural oil and hue. Always ensure that the tea tree oil is not concentrated before buying any product with tea tree oil as one of the ingredients. Also, wash your dog thoroughly after using the shampoo to prevent your dog from getting poisoned by tea tree oil.
Many other natural and essential oils are harmless for your dogs. Essential oils from lavender, frankincense, cardamom, fennel, helichrysum, spearmint, etc., have antibacterial or antifungal properties. All these essential oils are suitable for one-time use alone. Always dilute any essential oil before using them on your furry friend. Remember there is some hot oil like cinnamon, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme, and birch, which may cause an adverse effect in your dogs.
Amalgamating all the points about tea tree oil and dogs, you would have understood the dos and don’ts. The pet parents are suggested to consult their veterinarian before experimenting with any new thing on your dog. Better to be safe than to be sorry.