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Using tea tree oil for your dog’s skin infections
Posted by PetMeds Pro on October 19, 2011
Filed under PetMeds Spotlight

Lula loves Be Soothed Shampoo from 1-800-PetMeds.com

Did you know that allergies can be as annoying and painful for dogs as it is for some people? Experts estimate that as many as 1 in 7 dogs suffer from allergies. And those allergies often cause symptoms such as itching, irritation, and inflammation.

Dog allergies fall into four categories and can be caused by the following things:

  • Fleas and other biting insects
  • Irritants that come in contact with the skin
  • Inhaled allergens, such as dust mites, molds, pollens, grasses, and molds
  • Foods, drugs, and supplements

In the case of skin infections related to allergies, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication, depending on the symptoms and severity of your dog’s skin infection. In some cases, mild to moderate  skin infections may be effectively managed with over-the-counter, topical products. However, if left untreated  such mild skin infections can develop into hot spots, which are extremely troublesome  for pets.

What is tea tree oil and how can it help skin infections?

Pet guardians should be aware that pure tea tree oil (as well as other pure essential oils) is  considered toxic for pets and should never be used in its pure undiluted or “raw” form.

Tea tree oil is a natural essential oil with curative properties that help soothe and protect dogs’ skin. When used correctly and in a diluted form on pets, tea tree oil can be very effective in treating and preventing topical bacterial and yeast/fungal infections. Tea tree oil  is an excellent anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce skin inflammation that can lead to itchiness and irritation. It also has great antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties that can help prevent and treat a whole host of skin problems.

Due to its effectiveness, tea tree oil is found in many pet grooming products in varying diluted concentrations.

How should I administer tea tree oil to my dog?

Tea tree oil must not be ingested, and should be applied externally only, and only in its diluted form.  Products such as Be Soothed Spray and Be Soothed Shampoo contain a diluted amount of tea tree oil. While the percentage of tea tree oil in these products is proprietary, rest assured they are well below the level considered toxic to dogs and puppies (over 8 weeks of age.) As with any new product, always seek the advice of your veterinarian before applying to your dog.

Tea tree oil should not be used on cats. Use caution when applying tea tree oil if you have cats in the house.

*Article updated October 17, 2013

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33 Responses to “Using tea tree oil for your dog’s skin infections”

  1. Beth on 26 Jul 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    I think this information is not correct; tea tree oil can be equally toxic for dogs and cats, and can result in temporary paralysis!

  2. brooke on 10 Sep 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    BEWARE!!!!! TEA TREE OIL IN ANY AMOUNT IS TOXIC TO DOGS AND CATS. MINISCLE AMOUNTS CAN CAUSE DEATH, as well as liver failure, central nervous system failure, seizures, paralyisis, tremors, and body temperture problems. Call pet poison control asap if you use this product or any tea tree oil product on your animal.

  3. Al on 15 Sep 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    The replies above are correct. My Two Jack Russels are in the vet hospital this very moment because of severe poisoning from tea tree oil spray. I used it in heavily diluted form as a topical treatment.
    How I wish I had researched this further.
    Please, please, do not use this stuff in any form, no matter what anyone else says.
    Just knowing that I have poisoned my two best friends is overwhelming.

  4. Dot on 22 Dec 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    My 3 yo lab has been throwing up for over a week after a treatment with T trre oil. She can not kep any thing in her stomac and only wants to eat grass which craates vomiting.

  5. boreddesigns on 30 Jan 2013 at 4:08 am #

    Do not use tea tree oil on dogs! Two days ago I put about two drops of tea tree on a sore on my Boston terriers neck. This was evening time. In the morning he woke up with paralyisis in his rear legs and was shaking. Took him to the vet who x rayed the spine but couldn’t find anything wrong. He said it must be a back injury. I couldn’t believe this as he was fine the night before. I decided to read up more about tea tree. Phoned the vet straight away but he thought it was still a back injury. Brought the Boston home and gave him milk thistle and plenty of plain yoghurt. This morning he is running around as if nothing happened. I’m 90% sure this was caused by tea tree so will never use it on dogs again.

  6. c hart on 20 May 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    I have used tea tree oil on all my dogs,cats,horses. for over 30 years. In total 47 animals. never used meds they all lived and are still living no problems. people are so addicted to meds its sad.

  7. mary on 28 Jun 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    maybe if you use the tea tree oil in concentrated form could be harmful to our pets. I’ve been using a shampoo that has tea tree oil for a year and a half on my dog and he has no health problems.

  8. LT on 20 Jul 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    My Boston Terrier had itchy flaking dry skin and a dull dry coat. I tried changing to “the best” foods, expensive foods, shampoos and such. A few drops of tea tree oil in his Johnson’s baby shampoo bottle cured the problem after one bath (2 washes, 2 good rinses). Since bostons don’t need baths a lot, every 2 weeks I dilute a cup of water, one drop of tea tree, one drop of peppermint and wipe him down real good all over. He feels better, looks wonderful -shiny, healthy and NEVER GETS SICK IN ANY WAY.

  9. Dianne Darwood on 15 Aug 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    My daughter put a couple of drops of tea tree oil on her German shepherd mix and her rat terrier/hound mix. Both of them experienced paralysis. Fortunately, they live near Michigan State university Veterinary Emergency clinic and their dogs were successfully treated. Why risk your dog’s health and life?

  10. alex on 16 Aug 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    this is scary. my little dachshund is scratching and biting his body. I bought tea tree oil thinking that I could dilute it and wipe it over his body, but after reading lots of the horror stories I really am scared of using it and causing him harm and maybe death.

  11. Richard Hawkins on 23 Aug 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Tea Tree Oil is highly toxic to dogs, especially small to medium sized. It paralyzes their muscles just with a topical application of this poison. Flea combs are the safest and most effective treatment for fleas. Just make sure you rid your carpets and other items in the house of fleas.

  12. john on 29 Aug 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    it seems everybody has put tea tree oil on little dogs. it clearly states in many forums i read that only to be put on medium or large animals.

  13. Eric on 23 Sep 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Why not just be safe rather than sorry all together… find another holistic alternative, I’ve been using tea tree soap on my dog for baths for years with no visible reaction, but guess what… now that I’ve done the research and know both sides of multiple stories . . . . I’M NOT USING IT ANYMORE !!!!

  14. Stephanie on 28 Sep 2013 at 1:05 am #

    On another note: One medication may be applied often to an animal throughout its life and for what ever reason (Age, Post environmental effects such as surgery, etc) may have a negative affect after one application. And just as in people, due to individuality, age, gender or what ever, medications often effect each person or animals in different ways. Example: benadryl (Diphenhydramine) 25 mg has no effect on my sister, but will cause me to sleep for an entire day.

  15. Tammy on 09 Oct 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I USED TEA TREE OIL ON MY BLACK 2year old lab and i didnt add water to it BIG MISTAKE i wasnt thinking and she got poisoned thankfully i only used 2 drops on her or she could have died becareful when using tea tree oil on your pets

  16. Kamrie on 15 Oct 2013 at 11:43 am #

    You have to DILUTE tea tree oil.

    You should not be using it directly on anything with out diluting it – even on humans….

    It is very strong and potent in it’s bottles form.

    I usually dilute it with coconut oil, look up how to use Tea Tree oil before blindly using it.

  17. JoAnn on 18 Oct 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I didn’t realize how dangerous Tea Tree oil is to animals. I’ve been using Tea tree oil straight from the bottle on my arms, due to some allergy/rash condition for a couple days. It really is working better than anything else I’ve tried. So then I started thinking about putting it on my mom’s little dog because he really suffers from allergy/rash skin problems. I am so glad I read this first! Thanks.

  18. Nick Campbell on 19 Oct 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    DO NOT USE TEA TREE OIL ON YOUR DOG!!!

    I diluted 1/2 tsp tea tree oil in a cup of water and applied it to my 25 pound dogs skin. She has paralysis today and is trembling and acting ill. I have to shave her due to skin issues so it gets absorbed directly in the skin.

  19. Jeniffer Wrensey on 23 Oct 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    No need to be dramatic, tea tree oil is considered toxic. Its been reported in this article. It depends on your animal and what they are allergic to plus i have been using it on my dogs for years, about one drop per quart of water is the amount I found to be affective. Talk to your vet if you are uncertain. This is a great article: states precautionary information along with helpful information. Save your dramatic responses for facebook and allow professionals to post in blogs like this without the dramatic responses. Great and informative article.

  20. Brenda Lopez on 28 Oct 2013 at 3:13 am #

    What I am reading over and over again is the effects of tea tree oil to dogs because of \excessive amounts\ being used. Never apply tea tree oil right from the bottle to your dog The excessive amount is what is causing the paralysation in your pet. 3 cups of water to 3 drops of tea tree oil is the safe effective amount needed. DO NOT use more than the 3 drops to 3 cups of water, that is why so many of you are harming your dogs!! I use this once a week on my dog with no problem. I also add lavender oil to it…very easy to mix and pour it into a spray bottle and spray your dog. Again here is the info for mixing it… 3 cups water, 3 drops tea tree oil and 6 drops lavender oil, mix well, pour into spray bottle and use once a week. Very safe.

  21. Sue on 06 Nov 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Okay people, let’s get the facts straight, please! First, tee tree oil must NOT be ingested (even when diluted) by your pet. It is ALWAYS toxic when ingested. So do not allow your dog to lick where you have applied the oil.

    Second, NEVER, EVER put tea tree oil in its pure form onto your dogs skin. It MUST be diluted first. Dilute one or two drops (no more!) in 1 cup of water. Stir, soak a cotton ball or a bit of paper towel and apply to the affected area on your dog. Then use whatever means necessary to make sure your dog will not lick at this spot. I use a ProCollar (that looks like a blowup pool toy) around my dogs neck. It is much better than an Elizabethan collar (commonly known as an e-colloar) and keeps the dog off the the affected, treated area.

    Third, make sure any cats in the house will not lick at the treated area on your dog. Cats are a whole different animal and you must never use tea tree oil in any way on your cats or let them come in contact with it.

    When use appropriately, tea tree oil is safe and effective. Just be educated and use good judgement. Any treatment can be harmful when not used properly. There is no need to fear this treatment, just use it appropriately.

  22. Elaine on 21 Nov 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    I’ve used tea tree oil shampoos on my dogs many times with no ill effects. My English bull terrier was prone to staph infections and I gave her weekly tree tree oil shampoo baths. It really helped calm her skin and allowed the antibiotics to work. She hasn’t had any infections since. It also helped clear up her toe nails which were brown with yeast. As long as the shampoo is not consumed it should pose no problems to your dog.

  23. Sally D on 25 Nov 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Australians have used tea tree on themselves, their children and their animals (excluding cats) for more than 100 years. There are a few really important things to know:
    First, pure tea tee oil will oxidize if it is exposed to sunlight, and lab tests have proven this makes it toxic. IF your tea tree EO is in a clear glass bottle throw it out!
    Second, nobody uses tea tree EO neat except sometimes on human cuts or sores to keep them antiseptic. There are several US patents in process right now where tea tree has been used successfully on scabies and other human skin dramas…but thats another story…
    Third, ALWAYS dilute tea tree oil . its an ESSENTIAL oil – most of those get diluted to make them manageable.
    Last – its really unfortunate that so much media disparaging the benefits of tea tree oil has mindlessly quoted one report on the apparent toxicity of tea tree oil on 3 cats. I finally read the original report: the cats were covered in open sores and doused with THREE BOTTLES of NEAT tea tree oil of indeterminate age. Two cats went into shock but were revived, and one of those died later from unrelated causes – thats what the report actually says. Here’s the link. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9576358 As a journalist it totally irks me when other writers don’t fact check their source material and so many sites have perpetuated the myth that, in this case, tea tree killed a cat. That said, a cat has specific digestive and nervous system issues which suggest that many things that work on dogs should be kept well clear of felines – including tea tree. BTW I really found the original PetsMeds article on tea tree informative and useful.
    Right then!

  24. Tasha on 30 Dec 2013 at 5:54 am #

    It is very drying to human skin and isn’t supposed to be used neat hence on any good bottle will tell you to dilute it with another oil or water.

    I use it on my bullmastiff who needs regular baths due to us living in the middle of the countryside and him getting filthy. I already use a tea tree shampoo but I also add 4-5drops into each one and shake it then use and he’s been fine for 2 years doing this.
    It’s a life saver for us because of all the insects, ticks other stuff he rolls around in. Even the tick and flea jab from the vets didn’t stop him getting them until during the summer last year I used a cotton ball soaked in water and a drop of tea tree, rubbed all over and he hasn’t had any bugs since.

    A lot of people having problems seem to have small dogs so you may many to only use 1drop or just a mild t tree shampoo.

    At the end of the day he’s an animal and doesn’t need fancy smelly shampoos and baths, regular check ups and teeth whitening. My dogs not an accessory he’s a family pet and I use natural remedies used for hundreds of years with water. If you want to take them to the vet then go for it but look into what your doing first before you use these things on your pets because that’s where the problem lies. People looking for a quick fix to save money will actually cost you more in the if you haven’t looked into what can be harmfull in large doses.

  25. Kim on 03 Jan 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Tea Tree is NOT toxic to dogs, however using an excessive amount can cause problems. Do NOT add it neat directly to the skin always dilute. There is a misconception about tea tree oil if you feel uncomfortable using it by all means do Not use it…

  26. JennyP on 28 Jan 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    As an aromatherapist, I am only aware of it’s properties and use with humans not animals, however, for those who are diluting it, it should not be diluted in water as they are not 100% soluable in water. Any oil – grapeseed/almond/olive etc should be used. If you try to dilute in water you will get globules of the pure essential oil on the surface.

  27. justin on 21 Mar 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    i’ve been tormented by my poor dog’s incessant scratching for one sleepless night and two days. yesterday i couldn’t bare it anymore. applied pure teatree oil to a couple spots on her and i haven’t seen her itch once since. screw you people who want to rant about how this stuff is awful. it was THE ONLY THING THAT HAS PROVED EFFECTIVE. all those opposed, sit and spin. cheers:)

  28. Kate on 31 Mar 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Coconut oil either topically and/or ingested works wonders. My staffy had bad skin allergies (scratching all day & night etc). Coconut oil cleared it up. His coat is so shiny, his skin soft – no rash, no itch. He loves his teaspoon of coconut oil on his food every day. The vet was amazed as he thought it only helped to regrow dogs coats. Had no idea it had other benefits.

  29. ian on 11 Apr 2014 at 2:22 am #

    Well this is a crazy site. I’m guessing all the negs on tea tree oil is by vet and other medical people wanting your money. Tea tree oil is a natural antibiotic that kills many form of bacteria. From pimples to ear infection to allowing your immune system to run better. Yes its toxic as well as alcohol is. I wouldn’t recommend anyone drinking it. But it can cure canker a cold sores thrush if diluted and rinsed. I use it for my dog as well. And I tell you it works. Better than the route my vet said. Change his food give hive meds if all these don’t work we will give steroids. Get out of town. There r many old school remedies that work just fine. We should probably learn then. I’m sure in time medical antibiotics will not work. Just like penicillin only works for one bacteria now. It used to be the cure all. Do your research.

  30. maherb on 25 Apr 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Clearly those who had a negative reaction are doing something wrong… But how bout instead of bashing an effective safe treatment you take responsibility for your actions and not blame an oil for your bad judgement call. I use it diluted on my 110lb lab mix for tick prevention and on my 40lb beagle for his itchy skin. Don’t ever use a oil full strength.

  31. Erin on 21 May 2014 at 12:24 am #

    I put 3-5 drops in my dog (white WestHighland terrier) shampoo and gave him a bath just on Sunday 5/18/24. It’s diluted enough that it hasn’t harmed him in any way. His fur is whiter and shofter. He hasn’t shown any signs of it being harming.

  32. Eleanor on 10 Jun 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    I find there is very little point in diluting an essential oil in water, ideally it needs to be mixed appropriately with a carrier oil such as olive, coconut or almond oil. Water and oil doesn’t mix, so essentially you are dabbing your pets with water sodden cloths that will have trace amounts of neat oil on them…?!

    Teatree is the only essential oil that can be used neat on humans, but it is still rarely recommended especially to someone who doesn’t understand the potency of such oils.

    Please, if you want to use essential oils on your pet, dilute with a carrier oil and do your research! Stop wasting your time (and risking your pets health) diluting with water.

  33. Dee on 29 Jun 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    I’ve used TTO on my dogs (10-15lbs) for years. I’ve use shampoo, conditioner, undiluted oil directly on them (away from their faces) and diluted in a carrier or water. I haven’t had NOT ONE incident occur where they were even lethargic or any bit not their usual selves. They sneeze once or twice and get crazy running around the house and rubbing on everything just as they do when they finish having a bath.

    Every dog is different, therefore the tolerance and allergies will vary as they do in humans. I will continue to use TTO rather than a potent mix of chemicals on their skin.

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