Many people are using holistic methods to treat a number of health issues in both themselves and in their pets, but, often, they do this not knowing that some all-natural products can be toxic to animals. This includes essential oils, particularly tea tree oil. For the question: Is tea tree oil safe for dogs?, many vets and animal health experts have said that tea tree oil has the potential to be dangerous to dogs, particularly if it is ingested or if it is allowed to be absorbed into the skin.
The chief concern with giving dogs tea tree oil is the potential liver damage.
Pet parents who enjoy utilizing essential oils for their own personal health benefits should hesitate to use them on their furry pals. Essential oils, even those derived from the most organic of means, can pose a threat of toxicity to canines. This is even more important for essential oils that have been extracted from plants in the purest of methods. These essential oils are often highly concentrated, and this can actually harm pets much more than the cheaper oils that may have additives or may not be as pure.
Tea tree oil is derived from an Australian tree that resembles myrtle trees in North America. However, this tree has been introduced in Florida, and the climate of that state is very conducive to the growth of the tree. Many essential oil producers are sourcing their oil from trees grown here in the United States.
Essential oils can cause dogs to suffer from neurological issues in addition to adversely affecting the liver of the dog. At the same time, many pet parents think it is perfectly acceptable to use tea tree oil shampoo on their dogs. Some manufacturers even promote the use of these products, but the majority of vets and animal experts say that even the smallest amount of tea tree oil on a dog’s skin could be highly detrimental to their health. For the sake of your pet, use only the best dog shampoo made with safe ingredients.
Another reason that people use tea tree oil is to treat topical issues—boils, acne, and even athlete’s foot. Many times, pet parents will put tea tree oil in a vaporizer to treat respiratory issues. This is especially harmful to dogs, and pet parents should never do this in areas where the dog may roam in the house.
This is especially true for smaller dogs.
What are the negative effects of tea tree oil on dogs?
First, it’s important to know that tea tree oil may be listed on ingredient labels as melaleuca oil . In Australia, tea tree oil is categorized as a schedule six toxin. There, the packaging must state that humans using tea tree oil must be cautious. Australia also requires child-proof packaging. However, in the United States, packaging for this product is not mandated.
Dogs that absorb tea tree oil into their skin could experience liver damage as well as neurological damage. If a dog happens to ingest tea tree oil, she may experience gastrointestinal damage as well. Most animal experts agree that dogs can experience damage to their respiratory system as well. Some dogs have had seizures as a result of being exposed to tea tree oil.
If a dog has gotten an especially high amount of tea tree oil exposure, it could become paralyzed or go into a coma. However, these effects usually only took place after the dog was exposed to undiluted tea tree oil (this would be the highly concentrated essential oil that is extracted by the purest of methods; it works well for humans when taken correctly, but it can be detrimental to a dog’s health).
Some dogs exposed to tea tree oil—no matter the amount of the dilution—may experience an allergic reaction. Dogs that already have allergies or sensitivities to certain products may have a compounded reaction to tea tree oil. In fact, the purer the tea tree oil, the more likely the dog is to have an adverse reaction. Dogs that react to tea tree oil may begin to sneeze uncontrollably, and they may have trouble breathing. They may also break out in hives or in a rash, particularly if the tea tree oil was placed on their skin.
Typically, dogs who experience an adverse reaction to tea tree oil should be treated promptly by a veterinarian.
Tea tree oil contains something called terpenes. These are naturally occurring chemicals that help the tea tree oil to combat infections, bacteria, fungus, and the like. However, terpenes are toxic. Terpenes are quickly absorbed into the skin, and even more quickly if a person or dog ingests them. Because dogs will lick a wound or just their fur, it is never recommended to put tea tree oil on them in a topical way.
Why do people want to use tea tree oil on their dogs?
We’ve already talked about tea tree oil as an ingredient in shampoo. Dogs with flaky, itchy skin may be treated with a product that includes tea tree oil, as it is thought to soothe the skin and remedy the dry flakes of skin. Most humans who utilize tea tree oil do this because of flaky scalps, and they may believe that their dogs can benefit from the use of tea tree oil. However, when the purest of tea tree oil is absorbed into the dog’s skin, it can actually wreak havoc on their health.
Tea tree oil is known in holistic circles for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also known for being an anti-inflammatory, which is helpful to those with arthritis. While these are all positive aspects of this all-natural product, it can be lethal to dogs. Even as much as seven drops of a 100 percent pure tea tree oil extract can cause severe adverse effects on your dog’s health. Dogs that have just a few drops placed on their skin have also experienced toxicity from tea tree oil. Smaller animals seem to have more issues with toxicity; even small amounts of the product could result in the death of small dogs.
Another indication for which some pet parents wish to use tea tree oil is as a flea repellent. In fact, as a parasite repellent, tea tree oil works very well. Many humans will utilize tea tree oil as a pest repellent as well; however, it doesn’t have the potential to harm humans in the same way that it does dogs, at least as long as the product is applied topically in humans. However, both humans and dogs may experience poisoning when the product is ingested.
Unfortunately, some pet product manufacturers have included tea tree oil in pet products for its flea and tick repellent properties, but this ingredient can harm dogs irreparably.
What are some symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning?
We’ve discussed the possibility of paralysis, coma, and an allergic reaction, but these are only the more serious signs of a bad reaction to tea tree oil.
Pet parents may first notice that their furry pals become less active, and the dog may refuse to eat. It’s always important to make sure your dog continues to drink water, however. Dehydration in dogs can take place quickly, and it can cause the dog’s health to decline even more rapidly.
Some dogs will also vomit, which could also lead to dehydration. Diarrhea is also possible, and excess stomach upset can also lead to dehydration.
Other dogs may begin sneezing or they may break out in hives. It’s important to watch a dog for respiratory distress at that point.
It is extremely important for pet parents to understand that tea tree poisoning may actually build up over time rather than happen overnight. This is why it’s important to discontinue the use of a product containing tea tree oil.
What are treatments for tea tree oil toxicity?
Because there is no antidote for terpenes, affected pets will be treated based on the level of toxicity they are experiencing. Some dogs may need nothing more than a good bath with dish soap.
Most vets will not induce vomiting as there is a risk of aspiration pneumonia.
While some vets may opt to provide activated charcoal as a method of ridding the body of the toxins, the level of toxicity should be determined as well as the dog’s propensity for aspirating the vomit.
Most vets will also provide intravenous fluids in order to prevent dehydration as well as skin decontamination to rid the topical tea tree oil.
1. Is tea tree oil smell safe for dogs?
The smell may actually overwhelm dogs, and many vets, as well as animal experts, are recommending that pet parents not even place tea tree oil in vaporizers or humidifiers if a dog is present in the area. Dogs could inhale the mist and begin to experience the tea tree oil toxicity being described above.
2. How much tea tree oil is toxic for dogs?
To be quite forward, there is no amount of tea tree oil that dogs should be exposed to. In some dogs, a reaction or damage to organs can take place over a period of time where dogs have been exposed to tea tree oil multiple times over several weeks or months. So, as a precautionary matter, it is best that dogs never be exposed to tea tree oil in any form, fashion, or amount.
3. Can I clean with tea tree oil if I have a dog?
Most animals experts recommend that pet parents refrain from using tea tree oil anywhere their pet will be. First, concentrated tea tree oil, such as the amount one would use to clean, is particularly unsafe for dogs. If your dog happens to lick or otherwise absorb the tea tree oil, it could cause immediate problems. However, dogs may also build up in their liver an amount of tea tree oil that is toxic. So, just to be cautious, it is important to refrain from cleaning with products that contain tea tree oil.
4. How do you apply tea tree oil to a dog?
One should never use tea tree oil on a dog for any reason. It can be harmful if absorbed through the skin, and it can be harmful if your dog ingests the product.