Is tea tree essential oil safe for dogs? Short answer: Yes. Tea tree oil is safe to apply topically to your dog, provided that you avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, and inner ear. You should not let your pet ingest it, but when applied to the skin, it can give your dog some relief from dry or itchy patches.
The oil shouldn’t be applied neat, but should instead be diluted with a carrier oil, and massaged onto the irritated areas. We’ll explore some home recipes, along with safety, and other advice, in this article.
A Bit of Background on Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is made using leaves from the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), which is native to parts of Australia. It’s an oil with little color, and a strong, pleasing smell similar to that of eucalyptus. Indigenous people in Australia would utilize this plant to help alleviate congestion, painful joints, as well as a whole host of other ailments, which may have played a part in tea tree oil earning its reputation as such a multi-faceted tool in aromatherapy.
Nowadays, you’ll find tea tree oil used in a wide variety of products on the shelf. Anything from shampoos and conditioners, cleansing wipes, as well as lotions and ointments. It’s used in aromatherapy to help support a natural immune system balance and has been shown to be effective in treating topical skin irritation (Europe PMC). This is backed up by the fact that aromatherapists have historically used tea tree oil to assist the body’s immune system in fighting off infection and irritation.
What is Tea Tree Essential Oil Good For?
As mentioned, tea tree oil has often been used for an array of ailments, including fungal infections, coughs, colds, and even acne. Going forwards, we’ll look at some ways you can safely use tea tree oil to help your dog with a few different issues, and we’ve even included some helpful recipes that you can safely use at home!
Fleas are a common issue amongst pets. They cause irritation, and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious issues. Along with this, if your dog has a flea problem, they can end up scratching their skin raw, which obviously presents its own issue. Fortunately, tea tree oil will help you prevent those pesky critters from pestering your pooch. Fleas strongly dislike the smell of tea tree, and will usually stay away from your dog if the smell is present.
Something to consider, however, is that your dog’s nose is also very sensitive. Dogs have roughly forty times more smell receptors than humans, so what might smell like a weak dilution to you could end up being a little overwhelming for your pet. Bearing this in mind, rubbing a diluted solution on areas of your dog where fleas seem most prevalent can help to prevent the issue from happening again in the future.
Tea tree oil can also be used to repel fleas in and around the home since fleas hate the smell. You can treat your carpets, furniture, and bedding with a tea tree solution to help repel these pests, and stop them getting too comfortable in your home.
Another great way to help prevent fleas from making themselves at home on your dog is by scrunching a few drops of tea tree oil into your dog’s bedding and leave it for half an hour to fumigate. Afterward, when you wash the bedding, add a couple of drops of the oil to help keep the fleas away from your pet’s sleeping area. This is an important step to take in your war on fleas, as bedding can be a great spot for these bugs to hide and multiply.
Cuts and Abrasions
Dogs are naturally curious, excited creatures. Anyone who’s been around a dog for any significant amount of time will know this already. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to your pet being a little too carefree. Sometimes they’ll acquire a small cut, or a scrape whilst on their adventure through life.
When your dog suffers a cut or a scrape, the first thing a lot of pet owners will worry about is infection. With an animal as inquisitive as a dog, you can’t keep them safe from the chance of picking up germs unless you keep them in a sterile cage all day, and nobody wants that for their canine friend!
This is where tea tree oil can benefit you and your pet yet again; as previously mentioned, tea tree oil has been shown to help healthy skin and has been widely used by aromatherapists to support the body’s immune system to reduce inflammation and infection. Applying a tea tree solution around affected areas on your dog’s skin will help to calm down discomfort in the area, and thus will help your pooch feel a little more at ease. Just be sure to not use the solution directly on open wounds.
Other Types of Infection
Since tea tree has historically been used for infection, this oil can be an amazing tool in your arsenal. If you notice your dog is having trouble urinating, or you notice blood in their urine, they may have a water infection. Obviously, if you’re concerned that your dog might have contracted any infection, It’s important that your pet sees a vet soon. In the meantime, however, tea tree oil will help to support your dog’s natural immune system. A 1% dilution applied on the paws and back of the neck can help give your pooch some relief whilst you arrange a visit to the vet.
On a slightly less serious note: Doggy dandruff. If you’re noticing your dog has an abundance of flakes in their fur, it could be a sign of something called scurf. Scurf is a fungal infection on the skin, and it will cause more flaking and dandruff. Luckily, tea tree oil is a great way to help your dog get some relief.
As with any infection, it’s still important to arrange a check-up with your vet if your dog is experiencing abnormal amounts of dandruff. In the meantime, though, adding tea tree to their washing routine can be a great way to support your dog’s immune system, and help reduce dandruff. We’ll show you a recipe later in the article that will be great for this issue. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your dog’s shampoo to give the same benefits
Ticks can be another serious issue and can carry harmful illnesses such as Lyme disease. Many people may confuse ticks and fleas, or even think that they’re the same thing. This isn’t the case, as they’re different from one another, and both, unfortunately, pose their own issues. If your dog has been bitten by one (or a few) of these nasty pests, you might be concerned for your pet’s health. Whilst tea tree oil can’t keep the ticks away (they don’t mind the smell as much as fleas do), it can help with the remaining bite marks.
After you or a vet has removed the ticks from your dog, you can apply a diluted solution to the area surrounding the bites. This will help support your pet’s immune system if it’s fighting off a potential infection.
Diffusing Essential Oils Around Dogs
Diffusing essential oils is a great way to freshen up the atmosphere in your house. Tea tree oil can be especially useful if you’re worried about germs in the air since it gives great support to both you and your animal companion’s natural immune systems. Perhaps you’ve got kids coming back home from nursery, and you’re worried about germs. Maybe you’ve just got the sniffles. Either way, diffusing tea tree oil in your home is a great way to give you and your pets some natural immune support so that you feel great again in no time!
Just ensure that your dog has a way to leave the room and/or house if they wish, as the smell may become overpowering for them. (Remember, they have a much stronger sense of smell than you do). Also, dogs can have preferences for smells just like we do, so try to check if your pet likes the smell of tea tree before diffusing it. A great way to do this is by leaving an open bottle near them and watching their reaction. If they have a negative response, it’s likely they’re not a fan, and so you may want to take care when and where you diffuse this oil.
You can diffuse this essential oil for up to two hours, but after that point, we’d recommend you (and your pet) take a break for at least half an hour. Even human noses need a break, so your dog definitely does too.
General Essential Oil Safety for Tea Tree Oil
Before we go on, it’s important to note some things about the safety of using essential oils. Whilst tea tree oil is safe for your pets, it’s still important to make sure you know what you’re doing.
The main precaution you should take with tea tree essential oil (or any essential oil, for that matter) is the dilution. We’d recommend a solution made up of 1% tea tree oil, and a carrier oil. (If this sounds complicated, don’t worry, we’ve got some recipes for you in the next section!). You should never apply essential oils neat to the skin.
As always, when introducing something new to the home, keep a close eye on your animal companions. If you’re noticing new symptoms in your pets - such as difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, or unusually watery eyes, firstly, take your pet outside. Usually, these symptoms occur with over-exposure to the scents, and taking them outside for some fresh air will help them. If it does not, contact your vet immediately, as symptoms like these may be a sign of poisoning.
And, as we mentioned, when diffusing, please take care to ensure that your pets have a way to leave the room, or house if they wish, as their noses are a lot more sensitive than yours! New smells can overwhelm anyone, so it’s important to follow this precaution for the sake of your animal friends.
Lastly, if you’re concerned your dog has an infection of any kind, it’s important they see a vet. Whilst tea tree can be very helpful to your dog in these matters, the vet will be able to assess what’s going on, and provide other treatment if necessary.
Safe DIY Recipes For Dogs
Massage Oil for Dry or Irritated Skin
- 1tbsp sweet almond carrier oil (Prunus dulcis)
- 3 drops tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 1 drop lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Method of use: Massage on or around affected area of your dog’s skin.
Safety: Not suitable for pregnant dogs? Don’t apply to open sores/wounds.
Doggy Dandruff Massage Oil
- 1tbsp coconut carrier oil
- 2 drops tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 2 drops myrrh essential oil (Commiphora myrrha)
- 1 drop patchouli essential oil (Cogostemon cablin)
Method of use: After washing your dog, apply to areas where dandruff seems to be appearing most.
Safety: Don’t apply to raw, or cracked skin
Natural Flea Repellant
- 1tbsp jojoba oil
- 3 drops tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 2 drops lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Method of use: Massage on the back of your dog’s legs, and behind the neck
Safety: Don’t use on open sores. Not suitable for use on a pregnant animal.
In conclusion, tea tree essential oil is safe for dogs. Just make sure you follow the guidelines we’ve given. It’s an amazing tool to keep in your home, as it can help with a variety of issues your pet may face, and having this oil to hand can help give you some extra confidence when dealing with your pup’s problems.