Is Tea Tree Oil Bad for Dogs?

Tea Tree oil is a very popular essential oil used in all sorts of products and for a variety of purposes. It has natural antibacterial properties making it an effective solution for treating minor infections of the skin for humans, but what about the use of tea tree oil for pets? Using tea tree oil on dogs and cats has been linked to toxicity, but some pet products still include the essential oil in trace amounts, which is actually believed to safe. So is tea tree oil toxic or is it safe? We hear both narratives now and again, but it basically boils down to how its used and how much of it is used on pets. Toxicity can occur if tea tree oil isn’t used with plenty of caution, but veterinarians assert that tea tree oil used in pet products, in very trace amounts (.1% – 1%) is actually safe.


What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea Tree Oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil that comes from the leaf of the Australian tea tree. The oil is often applied topically to the skin to treat a variety of skin infections. Its antibacterial properties allow it to kill bacteria and fungus and heal certain skin issues. It can be effective in treating acne, nail fungus, athlete’s foot, other fungal infections and even lice. Tea tree oil, for the most part, is safe for humans, but should never be taken orally, as it can be toxic when ingested. Although it’s totally safe to be used topically on humans, tea tree oil, can sometimes cause minor skin irritation, stinging, redness, burning or dryness.


Tea tree oil has been used in certain products for pets, like topical ointments and even tea tree oil shampoo to treat skin irritations the same way it does for humans, but many wonder if it’s safe for pets in any amount.


Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs?

When diluted correctly, tea tree oil can be safe for dogs. The recommended amounts of tea tree oil deemed safe for dogs is 0.1-1.0 percent strength. If it’s present in a topical pet product, it’s usually intended to treat minor skin irritations, hot spots or bug bites and stings. However, tea tree oil becomes dangerous and toxic for dogs when used in high concentrations. High or pure concentrations should never be used on dogs or other pets, even though humans can usually use it with no glaring consequences. With its growing popularity, consumers are more likely to purchase 100 percent tea tree oil and attempt to dilute it on their own; often times the oil isn’t actually properly diluted and can be harmful to pets’ skin, and especially dangerous if a cat or dog licks it off of their skin. Tea tree oil is extremely toxic to both humans and pets if ingested.


How is Tea Tree Oil Toxic to Dogs?

There are certain natural chemicals in tea tree oil called terpenes. Terpenes are the chemicals that give tea tree oil its antibacterial and antifungal properties, but they are the elements that can cause tea tree to be toxic. When terpenes come in contact with skin, they absorb very quickly. So if tea tree oil is close to pure or applied to skin in high concentrations, it can result in the same toxicity as if it were directly ingested. For this reason, many pet owners decide to completely avoid the essential oil all together.


Side Effects of using tea tree oil on dogs

If a dog accidentally consumes tea tree oil, or if a dog’s skin has come in contact with too much tea tree oil, he or she may experience minor side effects like drooling or vomiting. More severe cases of ingesting and/or absorbing tea tree oil can cause dogs to have difficulty walking, or have symptoms like seizures or tremors. If your dog experiences any of these side effects from tea tree oil toxicity, symptoms could last up to 12 hours, and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.


What to do if your dog experiences tea tree oil toxicity

In mild cases of toxicity with tea tree oil, a dog’s skin can simply be washed with mild soap to eliminate irritation and further complications. If a dog experiences severe toxicity from tea tree oil, we recommend consulting a veterinarian or a poison control center right away.


What is Natural Dog Company’s take on tea tree oil for dogs?


Some of our all-natural balms for dogs used to contain one tenth of a percent of tea tree oil.


Because the amounts used in our formulas were so miniscule, they never put dogs at risk. However, we eliminated the use of tea tree oil in 2017 because many of our valued customers were concerned about the ingredient affecting the health of their dog. So, as always, we listened to the feedback and removed it from all of our formulas.



Key Takeaways

  • Undiluted tea tree on dogs is never recommended
  • Natural Dog Company removed tea tree oil from our formulas in 2017 as customers expressed concern. None of our products contain tea tree oil.
  • Tea tree oil isn’t the only essential oil that can treat minor skin issues on dogs; Natural Dog Company products contain several other premium, organic ingredients that soothe, heal and protect dogs’ skin

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