What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is a highly potent oil extract from the tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia) found here in Australia.
Terpinen-4-ol is one of the main active ingredients. It reduces swelling in inflamed tissues. Tea tree oil is also a broad spectrum antimicrobial (anti-infection agent) in even very tiny doses.
This is fortunate, since toxic reactions ranging from mild to potentially fatal are common when tea tree oil is ingested to any extent. Cats and dogs have died from tea tree poisoning.
Tea tree oil must be diluted before application to the skin. Apply to a small area first before mass application in case of reaction. It should never be taken internally. Remember dogs and cats lick themselves and can easily ingest too much oil. Ideally avoid using the essential oil that you dilute yourself, and instead used products made for pets, which are diluted for you.
Why recommend administration of tea tree oil to my pet?
Tea tree oil has been used externally to relieve muscle, joint and tooth pain; and to repel fleas and other external parasites, including sarcoptic mange. Internally, the oil has been used for treating parasites, asthma, bronchitis, and sore throat. However, for safety reasons, tea tree oil is best used externally and should never be taken internally.
The most common use of tea tree oil in veterinary medicine today is as a topical anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. In humans, it is also commonly used to treat superficial fungal and yeast infections, sarcoptic mange, and bacterial infections.
"The most common use of tea tree oil in veterinary medicine today is as a topical anti-fungal and anti-bacterial."
Specific activity of Tea tree oil against Malassezia, a yeast that is a frequent cause of ear and skin infections in dogs, has been demonstrated.
Tea tree oil can be found in small amounts in some animal shampoos, and can also be used diluted in ear cleansers as a highly effective anti-microbial. We would be pleased to advise here. Using neat tea tree oil can be dangerous. Please do ask!
Not only does tea tree oil appear to be a highly effective germicide, but it often relieves the itch and swelling that can attend yeast and bacterial skin and ear infections.
How much experience is there with the use of tea tree oil in pets?
Tea tree oil may be effective in treating mild topical infections, such as ringworm and moist pyoderma. It also appears effective in the management of yeast and bacterial ear infections in dogs.
What species of animals are being treated regularly with tea tree oil?
Dogs and cats have been treated. However, only diluted preparations should be used. When excessive amounts of oil are applied to the skin undiluted, a hypersensitivity (allergic) reaction may occur, resulting in the appearance of hives all over the body, and excess topical oil and ingestion can lead to death.
How much research has been conducted on this supplement?
Research demonstrates the antimicrobial efficacy of tea tree oil, as well as its potential toxicity. Clinical experience in pets shows tea tree oil to be effective in the management of ear and skin yeast and bacterial infections.
How can my pet benefit from tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil can be used as a natural substitute for conventional medications for mild skin infections, but best done in communication with us.
How safe is tea tree oil?
Like other essential oils, tea tree oil can be toxic if ingested. Since the maximum safe dosage has not been determined, most veterinarians recommend using it only topically in dilute form. Tea tree oil is so potent in its antimicrobial effects that even a 1:250 dilution is routinely effective and yet quite safe for use as an ear wash. Tea tree concentrations in anti-fungal shampoos for dogs and cats are often even lower.
Never apply tea tree oil directly to the skin without diluting it, especially to areas that the animal can lick.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Use with caution in similar situations in pets.
Tea tree oil can result in a fatal toxicity in cats when ingested. Some holistic vets prefer not to use tea tree oil in small dogs and cats to guard against any potential toxicity.
Where do I obtain tea tree oil and do I need a prescription?
Please talk to one of the vets in the practice. We would be pleased to help guide you in the choice and use of tea tree oil products. A prescription is not required.
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