Using tea tree oil for your dog’s skin infections

Lula loves Be Soothed Shampoo from

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


  1. Beth says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says


    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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. 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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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 says

    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.

  34. Alan says

    For the last two years my small to medium size cross terrier, ex Dogs Trust, has been very bothered by an itchy spot on her tail. She rubbed a portion of her fur completely off and was continually sitting on her tail and rubbing it on furniture and other convenient objects. It was quite upsetting to see her so distressed. I did the obvious thing? took her to the vet. Four times in all, with various injections, skin scrapes, antibiotics etc It only got worse and more and more expensive. I then found, purely by chance, a bottle of GENUINE BUSH GROWN TEA-TREE OIL SPRAY. it said FOR DOGS AND CATS.

    In desperation I thought I would try it on my well loved dog. Hallelujah, after just 1 month and one small spray every other day on the troublesome, completely hairless area, hair was getting well established and her frantic rubbing and scratching had ceased.

    I will sing it’s praises for the positive effect it has had on my dog. I would heartily recommend it for similar problems. I am curious as to why my vet never once suggested this simple, but effective remedy.

  35. Linda Lester says

    Take your dog to the vet? My problem is I DID; she got prednisone; we changed her diet a dozen times, no dog park anymore for fear of infection from doggy dirt and other dogs. I have a bottle of Tea Tree Oil and I’m scared to use it. So, is it BACK to my vet so I can throw good money after bad? My vet diagnosed sarcoptic mites, fleas (never seen one on her) and allergies. Round and round we go!

  36. Kari says

    I agree with the few responses about over reacting and poor research all together. People don’t actually tend to absorb the information you are reading. 1/3 a TSP in a cup of water is NOT proper dilution. We’re talking about a few drops in like a litre of water for humans and animals! It’s not dangerous when handled properly, as with all treatments natural or not. READ AND ACTUALLY LISTEN.

  37. Steven says

    I have just used TTO on my Akita. Concentrated!! Dear god what have I done? Nothing because I have used it for my dogs for years with no ill effects. She is fine and within ten minutes had stopped scratching at a sore spot.

  38. Terra says

    Please do not use tea tree oil on your pets. I have a 70 pound Weimariner. I diluted tea tree oil and olive oil. I applied with a cotton ball to an allergic rash because I too was getting sick of all the vet bills. I listened to the advice of a regular person on YouTube. After I applied the second dose I got a bad feeling. I started researching and found it was toxic. I immediately gave her a bath but the dose from 8 hours earlier had already started to take their effect. She limped going up to bed. Than when I took her out at 2 am she was wobbly in the back legs. I knew she was poisoned and called the vet. She has been there all day now on IVs trying to flush her system. We have no idea what the repercussions will be for my foolish actions. I am not a vet or a pharmacists trying to trick people out of their money. I just want everyone aware that they should not use this stuff on thir pet unless it is found in a product designed for pets. Those shampoos etc. have only about 1% tea tree oil.

  39. Ilana says

    I used yesterday TTO on my 1.5 yo Shiba Inu, I saw he was scratching his leg and there was some redness . This morning he could not stay on his back legs and I run to the vet. Nobody knew the reason. Just now , after I read this web site, I realized what ” kind of favor ” I did to my dog…..

    Now…. What should I do now? Any ideas ? He is super sleepy and not very moveable now…
    As usual, he is super energetic dog…..

    Ok, thanks guys

  40. Holly says

    I just put some of this on my dachshund and didn’t dilute it. First thing I read was that it was ok to use directly. The poor dog has allergies to the dog food we bought her and I wanted to help her. Last night she kept me up all night scratching and I was worried. Not a single flea to be found yet she was digging herself raw. So I found a article on this tea tree oil. It said there was no harm in using it direct so I used a Q-tip and put it on all the hot spots. Next I then think well lets look more to make sure Im not making a mistake. I found this and panicked. Ran her to the tub to rinse it off. Dried her and read more so I took her to the kitchen sink and soaked her in dawn dish soap water. So here we are… I wait to see if she has a reaction. Im done relying on the internet. Unfortunately our vehicle broke down and our extra bank money went towards that so I was desperate to try and help her myself! Ugh. Someone ease my mind here :/

  41. Holly says

    Forgot to mention that my dog is no longer scratching and biting. Definitely see relief but hopping and praying the relief doesn’t come with negative results

  42. Christine says

    I have been using it on my dog whose allergic to everything and she is a Siberian husky with a cut on her nose she won’t allow to heal because she scratches at it. I use tea tree oil on it once a day,a little not diluted and it’s healing . Nothing had happened to her, she isn’t paralyzed so I wonder where these people got their oil from because it’s safe from my own experiences .

  43. John says


  44. Valerie says

    Thousands of things are toxic if you don’t use them right. Fluoride id a poison. Dosages for tea tree oil are 0.1 to 1% dilution.

    Tea tree oil at full strength can be fatal to both humans and animals. If you bought it in a spray, it’s already diluted, but it may or may not tell you the ratio. It should NEVER be consumed, even the tiniest amounts can cause serious reactions.

  45. Heidy says

    What I don’t understand is why someone would use anything on your pet without fully researching first. And why it is thought that an oil can be diluted in water? Oil and water do not mix. By \diluting\ the tea tree oil, it is meant diluting in another oil, a carrier oil, like coconut oil, almond oil, or even olive oil. Water does NOT dilute an oil. The oil will simply float in the water. Please research thoroughly before using anything on your pet. Tea tree oil is extremely toxic used the wrong way.

  46. Gabby says

    i use tea tree oil shampoo for my dog because of his extremely itchy skin. It is the only thing that works for him. i tried oatmeal conditioner, oatmeal shampoo and even the vet said that tea tree oil is the way to go. Obviously i won’t spray a diluted mixture of tea tree oil and water and just spray it on my dog without rinsing it. that is just crazy. the shampoo is perfectly fine if you rinse it out properly.

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