Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, can be used for multiple purposes. Some people use it on themselves, their dogs, and even when cleaning their houses. This raises the question, is tea tree oil safe for dogs?
What Exactly is Tea Tree Oil?
It is an essential oil made from the melaleuca tree, which has antiparasitic effects and is an antifungal and antibacterial oil. It has been used mainly for medicinal purposes for decades.
You can find tea tree oil in multiple antiseptic products, insect repellents, and hand sanitizers. Its purposes include fighting nail fungus and acne. It also assists in wound healing.
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs?
No, it is not. Veterinarians say it is toxic to dogs when absorbed through the skin or ingested. It is also suspected that it causes liver damage in dogs as well as gastrointestinal problems.
Like most essential oils, tea tree oil is highly concentrated, and these amounts can be harmful, especially to small animals. There are also reports that ingesting the oil causes neurological damage resulting in seizures and loss of balance and coordination.
In severe cases, dogs might become paralyzed or go into a coma, resulting in death. This occurs mainly when the oil is used in its undiluted form.
Tea tree oil can also cause allergies in dogs prone to allergies or sensitivity issues.
Symptoms that signify an allergic reaction include:
- Breathing difficulties
A dog exhibiting any of these symptoms should get veterinary care immediately.
Related: What Essential Oils are Bad for Dogs?
Can You Use Tea Tree Oil as a Flea Repellent?
Some dog shampoos and care products contain tea tree oil, which is diluted to reduce the chances of harming dogs. However, you will still be exposing your dog to the adverse effects of the oil if you use it on them often. The toxins can accumulate gradually, and the dog may not show any symptoms until it is too late.
The earliest symptoms you might recognize of tea tree oil toxicity are loss of appetite and lethargy. By the time you see these symptoms, it might be too late, and your pup might be suffering from major organ damage.
Other signs of tea tree oil poisoning include:
- Low heart rate
- Low body temperature
- Hind leg paralysis
- Elevated liver enzyme levels
- Inability to walk
What are the Dog-Friendly Essential Oils?
You can opt to use dog-friendly essential oils that will not endanger your dog’s life. Examples of such oils are frankincense, thyme, and lavender, which have antifungal and antibacterial properties that will prove helpful. You will, however, need to dilute the essential oils when using them on your dog.
Related: Is Lavender Safe For Dogs?
Despite its numerous health benefits to humans, do not use tea tree oil on dogs. It is highly toxic, and even a small amount can put your pup at risk. Contact poison control or your vet if you see any adverse effects on your dog after using tea tree oil.
If you have tea tree oil-based shampoos or doggie care products, moderate their use. The oil is dangerous even when diluted as it accumulates in their skin, leading to devastating results. Keep tea tree oil away from your dog to be on the safe side.