Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs? A Big NO!!
Essential oils have gained popularity in the recent times. And it is natural for something so good to have a mass reach. There are more than 90 types of essential oils with its unique smell and use. Practitioners use them in natural and alternative health practices, such as aromatherapy and naturopathy. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It is. Some examples of essential oils and their applications are as follows –
Rose Oil – Used for healing stress, anxiety, joint pain and stiffness.as well as to promote hair growth
Lavender oil – It is relaxing and rejuvenating used for curing insomnia
Sandalwood oil – Popular for fragrance, it helps to relieve anxiety and improve sleep.
Jasmin oil – A sweet-smelling oil is used as a stress-reliever with the potential to help to treat dry skin, inflammation and prevent signs of ageing.
Peppermint oil – Along with mood lifting property, it is used for headaches and stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
Basil oil – It is an essential herb to ease a cough, enhance mood, and soothe sore muscles.
What is Tea tree Oil?
This article is for Tea Tree Oil and its benefits and safety for dogs. Let us understand tea tree oil first. Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil that comes from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree. Tea tree oil is available as an oil and in many over-the-counter skin products, including soaps and lotions. It is very effective to treat fungal infections and boosting immunity. It is an extremely potent elixir in the treatment of acne and blemishes as it reduces acne-causing bacteria present on the skin and dries out active acne. Tea tree oil is even suitable for oily skin.
Benefits of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree finds various applications including –
Acne. Research suggests that a treatment gel containing tea tree oil might be effective at relieving acne.
Dandruff. A regular use of tea tree oil shampoo has been proven to be effective at removing dandruff
Athlete’s foot – Symptoms of athlete’s foot can be cured using tea-tree oil cream
Lice – It can be used in combination with lavender oil to treat lice eggs
Nail fungus – Toe-nail fungus has been treated with this oil along with some anti-fungal therapies
Hand Sanitizer – It kills several common bacteria and viruses responsible for causing illness. Hence, making it a natural hand sanitizer
Insect Repellent – Effective mosquito and pests repellent, it has shown significant reduction in pests and fleas on animals
Deodorant – The sweat gets its odor from the bacteria on the skin. The anti-bacterial properties of tea tree oil makes it a perfect natural deodorizer
Anti-Septic – Tea tree oil can be used to treat and disinfect minor cuts and abrasions by killing bacteria caused in open wounds
Mouth-wash – We all know the benefits of a mouthwash. Now imagine the same without any chemicals. That’s tea tree for you.
We might feel that if the Tea tree oil can provide such benefits to humans, why not use them on dogs to help them extract the same benefits? But before doing that, we must answer questions like, is Tea tree oil safe for dogs? If yes, how to apply and how much?
The answer is No. It is not quite safe for dogs.
Is Tea tree Oil safe for your dog?
Looking at the benefits of tea tree oil which includes getting rid of lice, tea tree oil is often promoted as a natural ointment for fleas in pets. Products with low concentrations of tea tree oil are usually not harmful to pets. But a concentrated one, i.e., pure tea tree extract when applied on pets is a very serious harm to dogs.
Why is Tea Tree Oil bad for Dogs?
Tea tree oil contains a type of chemical called terpenes. These are the chemicals that give the oil its power against bacteria and fungi. But unfortunately, for pets are a toxic agent. Terpenes are rapidly absorbed into the body whether taken orally or on the skin. In Australia, 100 percent tree tea oil is categorized as a schedule 6 toxin. A 10-year-long veterinary study of tea tree oil toxicity in pets found that 89 percent of owners who used 100 percent oil assumed that it was safe. The culprit here is the marketing agents which provide inadequate or misleading information on the packaging that makes the owners believe it is safe.
Signs and Symptoms of discomfort due to Tea tree Oil on Dogs
The following are the symptoms of exposure to tea-tree oil to dogs –
Low body temperature
Low heart rate
Inability to walk
Elevated liver enzyme levels
Hind leg paralysis
These symptoms will be visible after 2-8 hours of exposure. Some of these might look minor like weakness or low body temperature but there are some severe neurological problems associated with the use of tea-tree oil.
So, if your dog is vomiting, has seizures, or becomes unconscious, head straight to the ER.
Treatment for Tea-Tree Oil poisoning in dogs
There is no such antidote for the toxic agents – terpenes. So, the treatment will have to be decided based on the level of severity. Mild illness may only require skin decontamination with dish soap bathing. You may think that making the dog vomit would remove the toxins if ingested but it won’t work and will probably lead to more problems. The neurological effects of the terpenes, as well as the thick quality of the oil, increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia if vomiting is induced. Skin decontamination and support therapy with intravenous fluids is the standard treatment. The vets will probably use IV fluids and medications and will keep the dog under observation for the next 72 hours.
We know that there are several products available in the market which promote tea tree oil and its benefits. This is because it is believed that the oil used in very low concentrations can actually benefit the dogs. There may be some benefits but looking at the risks, the risk-to-reward ratio is very much unfavorable. And there is also a high chance that the dog will lick the oil off the skin. If that happens, it can be fatal.
There are other oils and solutions available which can help extract similar benefits with much lesser or no side effects. So, we recommend not to experiment with the life of your loved one and be safe rather than sorry. Use it for your skin and extract the benefits there.
Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Licks to you!
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