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What is Tea Tree Oil Poisoning ?

Tea tree oil is derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. The leaves of the tree, which is readily found in Australia and other subtropical climates, produces the oil that is used quite readily in various infections in skin disorders. People use tea tree oil to treat nail fungus, athlete’s foot, allergic reactions on the skin, stings, bites and other conditions. It is a topical solution; it should never be taken orally. Tea tree oil poisoning in dogs may occur when dogs consume this potentially toxic oil.

Tea tree oil is also used to help with parasites. Many dog owners have used tea tree oil on their dog’s skin to prevent the infestation of fleas and ticks. There are some sources that say tea tree oil, when diluted properly, is safe to use; however, it is important to always consult with your veterinarian when wanting to use any type of holistic approach, such as any essential oil, to keep your dog free of parasites or for other maladies. Even in certain shampoos and your cleansers for dogs, very small amounts of tea tree oil may be an ingredient. If tea tree oil in diluted form in these products is used on your dog it is important to be sure your dog does not lick his fur immediately after use.

Tea tree oil poisoning in dogs is a result of a dog orally ingesting tea tree oil in copious amounts or in concentrated form. Tea tree oil poisoning in dogs, while treatable, can be mild to severe and can cause harsh symptoms, including organ damage.

Tea Tree Oil Poisoning Average Cost

From 70 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Dogs

Depending on how much tea tree oil is ingested, it can have detrimental effects on a dog. Symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning are:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Drooling
  • Collapse
  • Depression
  • Skin rashes
  • Seizures (in severe cases)
  • Pneumonia (from inhalation)

Types

Tea tree oil can come in different mixtures and forms, and can also be an ingredient in various veterinary formulations used for a variety of ailments. It is considered an antimicrobial substance and is used as shampoos or topical ointments. Tea tree oil can be also referred as these common ingredients or product brands:

  • Cineole
  • Ascaridole
  • Australian tea tree oil
  • Bogaskin
  • Burnaid
  • Melaleuca alternifolia Hydrogel
  • Oil of mela-leuca
  • Tebodont
  • Teebaum
  • Ti tree
  • Polytoxinol
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Causes of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Dogs

The cause of tea tree oil poisoning in dogs is due to the ingestion of tea tree oil. This usually occurs when the tea tree oil is applied to the dog’s fur or skin and is licked by the dog. Tea tree oil should only be used in certain dilated quantities and only under the supervision of your veterinarian. Causes of sickness include: 

  • The rapid absorption of the chemicals into the skin, causing burns or rashes
  • The rapid absorption of the chemicals if taken orally, causing burns or mouth ulcers
  • The chemicals of the essential oils are metabolized through the liver
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Diagnosis of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Dogs

As with any essential oil ingestion by dogs, is important to receive rapid treatment. The quicker you can get your dog to the veterinarian will prevent your loved one from developing severe toxic effects. Your veterinarian will ask questions pertaining to how much tea tree oil your dog consumed and he will also want to know how much time has passed since he ingested this essential oil. The veterinarian will begin to treat your dog immediately based on his symptoms.

Blood work will be performed in order to take a closer look at the liver and kidneys and to see if they are functioning properly. A biochemistry profile will also alert the veterinarian to organ function. Based on his clinical signs and on your history of usage of tea tree oil on your dog’s skin, a diagnosis will be made and treatment will begin.

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Treatment of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Dogs

Treatment will depend on the severity of the toxicity in the clinical signs that your dog possesses. Treatment methods of tea tree oil poisoning may include:

Intravenous Fluids

IV fluids will be given to hydrate your dog so he may respond better to treatment. IV fluids given to the dog also encourage urination.

Medications

The veterinarian will choose which medications to give to your dog. Anti-vomiting medications may be given to prevent aspiration, medications may be given to protect the liver and stomach, and antibiotics may be given. Every dog is different, and every toxic dosage will vary, depending on the quantity of dilution in the amount ingested.

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Recovery of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Dogs

With rapid and proper treatment, your dog has a good chance of recovery. Once you take your dog home from the veterinarian or animal hospital, it will be important to keep an eye on your loved one for any behavioral changes or new symptoms. The veterinarian will give you instructions on how to continue caring for your dog, and how to administer any medications. Your veterinarian may want to see your dog again so he can continue to monitor his progress. If you have any questions or concerns once you are home with your dog, it is very important to contact your veterinarian. For prevention, keeping tea tree oil (and all essential oils) away from your dog is very important. Always consult your veterinarian if you choose to use any type of holistic treatments in the form of essential oils for any of your dog’s ailments.

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Tea Tree Oil Poisoning Average Cost

From 70 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Tea Tree Oil Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Labadoodle

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One

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

We put pure tea tree oil in my dogs ear. Did we make a huge mistake????

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Pure teat tree oil is probably quite irritating to the delicate skin inside the ear canal, and there are products that are much more gentle. It would probably be a good idea to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they can look in the ear canal and see if the tissues are inflamed or infected, and give you safe cleaner or medication, depending on what is needed.

Oct. 9, 2020

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Chihuahua mix

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Red Glaze Eyes Ad Sneezing

While opening a bottle of 100% tea tree oil... it spilled all over the carpet, chair, my arms, legs, etc. the smell blew me away. Of course my chihuahua mix Georgette was in the same room and ran over to me. My friend was on the phone with me when this happened and told me tea tree oil is toxic in small dogs. So of course I am on high alert and extremely concerned. She probably walked through it while running over to me. Her eyes are glazed over and red. This happened around 10pm. She is walking ok. I got dressed and brought her out of the house to my car. I’m not sure how concerned to be or

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If you were able to get her away from the fumes and decontaminate the area, she should be okay. It would be a good idea to monitor her closely for any signs of trouble breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, or strange behavior, and have her seen by your veterinarian if you notice any of those signs. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 15, 2020

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Bebop

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Corgi

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Swelling
Mild Head Shaking

I was reading online the Teatree oil could be used to help relieve ear mites. I soaked cotton ball in a solution of maybe 1/8 to maybe 1/4 of a teaspon of tea tree oil mixed with fractionated coconut oil (maybe half a teaspons worth?) and squeezed out the excess, and proceeded to wipe the inside and base of my corgi’s ears with it. Immediately after, I researched further (wish I’d done that first) and discovered the suggested ratio at which point I googled the toxicity and then treatments. I wiped his ears out as thoroughly as I could using a cotton ball and wet rags with dawn dish soap and water solution until the smell was gone. Total time solution could have sat on was est 10 minutes.. I think less? His one ear is very pink and looks visibly irritated.. I’m fearing chemical burns..his other seems fine. He is alert but his ear seems uncomfortable. Some head shaking. Pet poison control suggested monitoring for lethargy, he seems alert, willing to eat and play, but it’s well past bedtime. I’m concerned about his eardrum and ears based on other comments

Sept. 21, 2018

Bebop's Owner

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Jason

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Possibly Lethargy

So my dog had/has fleas (we’re not entirely sure they’re gone yet. Anyway, about two days ago we were bathing in him in almost everything we could find online that was ok to use on dogs and would kill fleas. Because my mom was freaking out and not really doing much research like we were, (and decided we can’t afford to take him to the vet) she got the bottle of tea tree oil and put a ton of it all over him. (I don’t know how much exactly since i wasn’t there at the time). Afterwards she kept him in the bathroom (to try and contain the fleas) and even I was shocked at how much the bathroom smelled like tea tree oil. There was so much in the air it was almost hard to breathe. No one had thought to open the window wider (which was barely open at the time) so I did and I tried to give him as much air as possible. Like I said before, I’m not exactly sure how much tea tree oil was put on him and I don’t know if me ingested any by licking himself. He is a cavalier king charles and is turning 3 in october. I hope this information helps. Please respond as soon as possible.

Aug. 16, 2018

Jason's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Tea tree oil poisoning can be fatal in some cases, I know money may be tight but only a few millilitres of 100% tea tree oil can cause death in a dog or cat so you should visit a Veterinarian immediately regardless of cost. The Veterinarian will do a blood test to check liver function to determine the severity of any possible poisoning (symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning don’t present immediately). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/tea-tree-oil/

Aug. 16, 2018

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Lily

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Chihuahua and Rat Terrier

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8 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomited, Not Eating

I made a natural flea repellent by adding six drops of the essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree to a cup of water. I used a spray bottle to apply the solution to my dog Lily's coat last night and this morning. About two hours later this morning she vomited, seems tired, and weak. I then read about tea tree oil poisoning and bathed her is dishwashing soap to remove the oil. She seems a little bit better but has not eaten. Should I take her to her vet?

July 28, 2018

Lily's Owner

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0 Recommendations

This is a common problem were owners read a website and make their own products without doing research on reputable websites; it is good that you have used a dish soap to remove any oil from the skin/fur and that Lily is improving, keep an eye on her and ensure that she is drinking and eating. If there is no further improvement or you have any concerns you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Mollie

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Teacup Poddle

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11 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I use tea tree oil on my face every night before I go to bed. I don't use a ton but I just put it on small areas of my skin to help with acne and dry spots. I am mostly concerned with my dog breathing it in. Would that be toxic? She is a small teacup poodle. She sleeps in the bed but more towards my feet. I just want to make sure that I'm not harming my dog by having the smell of tea tree oil in the air for a little while.

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Wolfie

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Staghound x Greyhound

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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None Yet

I just applied a few drops of 100% tea tree oil onto a tissue and rubbed it into my dogs fur, as he had a bunch of fleas and I don’t have any current treatment. I then read this and I poured water onto a towel and have rubbed it onto him multiple times. I’m worried it might make him sick while I’m away. He’s sleeping at the moment, as it’s 9:30, but should I worry about him through the night?

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Roca

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Yorkshire Terrier

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Lethargy
Elevated Liver Enzymes
Ataxic

My wife noticed roca scratching his ear a lot very aggressively for a few weeks. So, she decided to mix some tea tree oil with olive oil and drip it on and in his ear. I am not sure of the dilution, but definitely strong than “safe”. After a few days roca began being lethargic and would yip on walks. He went from running a mile to barely walking a half mile. We thought he was experiencing PTSD from fireworks, but a visit to the vet showed elevated ALT levels. His kidney function is normal, as is his white blood cells. The vet can not figure out what is wrong and believes that most cases of poisoning would cause other system failures as well, not just the ALT. His behavior has an orthopedic surgeon thinking he may have compacted a disc in his spine, but that doesn’t really explain the ALT levels. It’s been almost 6 weeks now with little improvement. And all the vets we have seen seem to be chasing their tails trying to figure it out. I can’t find any information on what types of symptoms would show up on a blood test from tea tree oil poisoning. Could the increase in only ALT be explained by the tea tree oil?

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Fiona

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Border collie mix

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9 Weeks

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

No Symptoms Yet

A friend put 7 drops of tea tree oil on our 9-week old Border Collie mix’s collar to help with fleas. I discovered this 2-3 hours afterwards, looked up “tea tree oil & dogs” online, and then my husband rushed to bathe her, making sure to wash her neck area thoroughly. This just transpired and we have seen no symptoms yet. We love our puppy so much and this was just a dumb, but honest mistake. We have limited funds, so please, if any vets or vet techs read this, please tell me what we should do??

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Gideon

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Body Movement In Bed

I washed my bedding and added a cap of tea tree oil in the wash. He went to bed with me tonight and after a few hours was agitated and had a drink. He came back to bed and I noticed his body ticking/jumping every 1-2 seconds which was making him even more anxious and agitated. This continued for 20 minutes or so before he went to a different bed where he is currently. I haven't heard him for ten minutes so I think he is sleeping again. This happened maybe three months ago and I thought it was possonly an under ripe apricot he ate. But now I am thinking the bedding? He is fine otherwise, temp, skin, appetite. I am not going to wash with tea tree again and see if it stops.

Tea Tree Oil Poisoning Average Cost

From 70 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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