beware: tea tree oil can be toxic for dogs and cats…

Update: click on the link, for more information about tea tree oil and other essential oils for pets

I just found this out because cici suddenly has a large red blotch on her neck today… she may have scratched herself… her ear infection seems to be back and I was going to put tea tree oil in her ears. I put some aloe vera on her neck straight from the plant and her neck seems better. I asked a few associates, one a healer, and she told me that she had put a lot of tea tree oil on her dog and her dog had a very negative reaction…

I cannot imagine why anyone would put tea tree oil on an animal’s skin …  seems much too intense and can cause a burning sensation.  so common sense would tell me not to do this … and yet I was going to put some in cici’s ears…

am glad that I did not listen to this person back in January, she said that she did not know this info then and just found out herself…

here is info I found online…

The oil is is rapidly absorbed both through the skin or when eaten and can be toxic to cats and other animals in higher dosages.

Symptoms of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning

Tea Tree Oil poisoning have been reported in both cats and dogs when applied to the skin at too high a dose. If your cat is going to have a reaction to tea tree oil, you will usually see it within 2 to 8 hours following application. Symptoms include:

  • loss of muscular coordination
  • lethargy
  • weakness
  • shaking and tremors
  • a change in behavior

cici has finally figured a way to chew up one of her new toys… she grabbed a very small one out of her new doggie bag, one of the toys that I did not give her, and she managed to chew it up… not totally…

oh dogs, can always seems to find a way to get into mischief in new creative ways…every single day… who me, mom? she looks so innocent and sweet…  I’m a good girl, and so cute, yeah, woof woof woof…



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Filed under all you need is a dog, animals, belly rubs, Dalmatian, dogs, holistic healing for animals, itchy red ears, mutts, pet care, toxic tea tree oil

44 responses to “beware: tea tree oil can be toxic for dogs and cats…

  1. Cristina

    I think that aloe vera might be toxic to cats. It may be worth it to check this link:

  2. In the old days, people used kerosene oil in the very same manner and for the same reasons as Tea Tree Oil. Bought some for grandchild bug bites and found it even Smelled like
    kerosene oil.
    My daughter swears by it and it did help the baby’s bites.
    Thanks for the info about using it on animals – probably would have done so at some point in the future.

  3. Tea tree oil is toxic to cats. An average cat weighs seven to 12 pounds, and if toxicity were based solely on weight, all things being equal, somewhere between 3 1/2 to 6 teaspoons of tea tree oil would be lethal to 50% of cats given that dose.

  4. Tea tree oil is toxic to cats. An average cat weighs seven to 12 pounds, and if toxicity were based solely on weight, all things being equal, somewhere between 3 1/2 to 6 teaspoons of tea tree oil would be lethal to 50% of cats given that dose. Before you go putting tea tree oil on your cat or dog, please read this.

    Warning for dog and cat owners

    But in cats all things are not equal, and their liver is not capable of processing even smaller amounts of tea tree oil. Poisonings are frequent.

    Because of this cats should never be treated with anything more than about five drops of tea tree oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. The same thing applies to small, and some medium-sized dogs.

  5. Destiny

    Did they not dilute it? I find this hard to believe..

  6. james beane

    I noticed the link to the toxicity info for pets is missing, but you can also find out about the safety of tea tree oil and its dangers to pets at

  7. Skippydoodle

    Be careful of Tea Tree oil. It has some wonderful properties, but at full strength it can be quite harmful.

    Tea tree oil is never meant to be used full strength. If it isn’t extremely diluted it can be harmful to humans and animals. The most I have ever used is a tiny bit of Tea Tree essential oil applied with a Q-tip to my husband’s gum next to an infected tooth. I did that to dull the pain and to minimize the infection until he could get to a dentist.

    I use Tea Tree oil for my 2 small dogs, but I only use about 5 drops in an entire bottle of shampoo. It helps to repel fleas.

    I do not use Tea Tree oil for my cats at all. I understand they are less able to tolerate any toxins and I just don’t think it is worth the risk for them, but many people claim it works well for their cats if highly diluted.

  8. Super post. Interesting read. I read something similar yesterday but for the life of me I can’t remember what the site was though. It’ll come to me – it must be old age 🙂

  9. Chris

    Can you use eucalyptis oil on a dog for fleas?? I understand that it is not to be used full strength but can it be used at all as a flea repellant?

  10. puddintang

    I hate the internet sometimes. There is so much conflicting information and just flat out wrong information it makes me want to scream. At least, to put it in print – real print – the original writer and everyone who follows has to be able to back up what they claim. Not so for the internet.

    “Harmful” = exactly what?
    To me, toxic means death or darn near close. If it causes a mild irritation to certain areas – what areas? Mild irritation does not call for a skull and crossbones label. You have to weigh the benefit against the risk. If your dog has a serious problem like sarcoptic (sp?) mange, and tea tree oil can kill the mites, but the vet thinks it’s “just an allergy” and you don’t have $2000 to plunk into the vet like a dang slot machine until they finally get it right and you KNOW you are right about the mange because it’s destroying your marriage and sanity – yes I know dog scabies can’t complete their life cycle on humans but they can bite humans and suck their blood for 3 days before they die, by which time fido has given you a new crop of them to live another 3 days. In such a case, It’s worth the risk!

    Our vet keeps claiming it’s an allergy but never does a skin scraping – I think she does not know how or maybe doesn’t know what to look for. She gives the dog a $75 injection of steroids and the dog is not any better. He runs around yowling and digging and scratching (fleas are not the problem here), he throws himself down, exhausted and moans.

    I found some tea tree oil – not pure – at the grocery store and put it on the areas that seemed to be driving him mad. He instantly calmed down and was himself again. He kept it on over night and had a nice bath in the morning. He felt great again. And best of all, we don’t have to treat him like a leper anymore.

    • Pauline

      I undertstand how you feel. Our puggles does the same thing. She has had her skin tested and nothing was found. But she is driving us nuts. I will try the tea tree oil. Thank you

    • at

      I have had a few bad experiences with using t tree oil on dogs. two of my dogs have collapsed after being bathed tree , they lost the use of their back legs. I did not make the connection until one of the dogs did it a second time within an hour of being sprayed with grooming spray , she could not stand and was crying , as soon as I washed it off she returned to normal.

      T tree supresses the neurological system , one of my dogs already had spinal / brain disease ( that incidently causes intense scratching so if your dog is a yorkshire terrier , griffon , or toy spaniel/king charles that could be a cause) so that is probably why she reacted so badly to it.. I would never use it again on any of my dogs having seen what it can do

    • Rebecca

      I used tea tree oil after the insistence of one of my friends that it would help my dog’s fleas. Stupidly I did not check this information first and I did not dilute the oil. HORRIBLE. I feel so terrible. My pit bull/lab mix went berserk, actually screaming and generally freaking out. It was awful. And it didn’t help the fleas. I would advise finding a different natural remedy at all costs. (And I’ve had mange myself from rescued strays so I know the difficulty that presents but nothing is worth risking a reaction like this in your pet.)

  11. hannah

    i have a little jack russell called lady.
    she had fleas and i needed to get rid of them soon.
    so my boyfriend asked his sister what is safe on dogs and kill fleas.
    she said tea tree oil .
    she said she used it all the time on cats and dogs.
    she said it was so safe an not to worry.


    i didn’t have a clue at the time
    but my boyfriend had got the tea tree oil.
    and put it on my lady.
    i come back from work and she was same old lady.
    running around playing and she is only 12months old.
    the day after i woke up and lady was in the living room.
    now when i wake up she rushes to me everyday.
    but this day she never so i thought she was sleeping.
    so i went in my living room and lady was on my sofa rapped up worm.
    and she just looked at me trying to get up.


    she couldn’t do anything at all.
    i tried standing her up and she just fell straight back down.
    that’s when my boyfriend told me he used it on her.
    i wanted to kill him but all i cared about is lady.
    i rushed her to the vets.
    everything was fine she had test’s done.
    anyway only one came back wrong she had blood Poisoning.
    thought the tea tree oil.
    i was heart broken she had to stay at the vets over night.
    well they give her treatment.
    well it ended up 3 weeks in my vets she was in for.
    i had visits from R.S.P.C.A and everything.
    but i did nothing wrong
    well apart from i was waiting for my money to go in the bank.
    to treat her for the fleas.
    its not better to do thing the cheap way.
    it cost my boyfriend 3 pounds for the tiny bottle.
    and cost me 2000 pounds in vet treatment.
    but then again she was there 3 weeks.

    so please do not use tea tree oil on your pet.


  12. emma

    We gave our cat aloe vera juice and within minutes she was suffering a severe allergic reaction, couldn’t breathe and later died in hosital approx 20 minutes after we gave it to her.

    We didn’t realise aloe vera can prove toxic to some cats, the only reason we gave it to her was on the advice of a well meaning alternative pet healer and she was shocked to hear what had happened. Apparently apart from Saponins the ingredient in the plant proving toxic to some cats, there are also salicylates in aloe vera too, aspirin like compounds that can prove toxic to the sensitive.

    We are totally devastated at our loss and were so surprised something ‘natural’ could kill an animal. For us our cat was obviously in the percentage who are allergic so i think if i knew there was a risk in the first place i would never have given it. Has anyone else had any problems with aloe vera juice in cats? I think people should think twice before giving it to their pets as sadly if it goes wrong, and you only know once you have given it, there is little turning back if the pets allergic.

  13. michele

    Does anyone know any natural treatments for mange or mites??

  14. Daizee

    Tea tree oil should always be diluted for humans and animals or it is not safe. 36oz of water only needs about 6 drops. I have successfully used it with both my cats and dogs as a topical spray for fleas, ringworm and minor scraps and bug bites. Do not use for large wounds or in the ears or orally.


    Hi i have a puppy and he is losing his hair please help i wont give him Sheep dip it can kill him. Please can you sent me an email asap. Thanks

  16. Anna

    My dog has chronic ear infections and I was looking for an alternative to always putting her on antibiotics.. Folks.. Tea Tree Oil and Animals DO NOT MIX..Here is my experience with tea tree oil and my shih tzu. I put ONE drop of tea tree oil in her ear.. After two hours she started to be lethargic and get what I call the “slow shakes”. Then she started to show hind leg weakness.. I took my dog and immediately washed her ears out with mild soap and water.. then repeated .. then gave her a bath. She seemed to perk up once the TTO was off her skin. I also gave her one charcoal tablet..I then called the aspca poison control center.. paid my $65 for the call.. then told them what happened.. since it was 4:30 am I could not find a vet. When I called them and they said I did the right thing by calling them because the vets take direction from them when you bring them in to the office. So there direction was give the dog a bath..wash the oil off.. which I did.. she didnt like that I gave the dog charcoal.. but it was already done. Then advised I take the dog to the vet in the morning to get blood tests for Liver. So I did just that.. in my case it was just one dose.. I caught it and now I just have to monitor her .. because the situation should resolve on its own. This was an expensive lesson and that God that she is ok now.. so moral of the story DO NOT USE THE OIL ON YOUR PET!

  17. Nancy Mazy

    I bathed my dog with Paul Mitchells tea tree oil shampoo made for humans thinking it would sooth her itchy skin. Almost immediately she was lethargic but I thought it was just the stress of the bath and her arthritis. By the next day she moved very reluctanly and seemed distressed. I still didn’t make the connection, I thought it must be an arthritis flare, she had an active day and had been running alot before her bath. She’s 12 years old and 45 lbs.

    Long story short, she got worse, and before I got her to the vets I had a flash that it might be the shampoo. I checked it out on the internet and some very reliable web sites cautioned against tea tree oil toxicity in dogs. Her blood tests showed some abnormalities but not too bad and the vet agreed her symptoms fit the description. They bathed her and gave her fluids, and I’ll pick her up later today. But this was not even full strength and she had quite a severe reaction.

  18. Joanne

    Our golden retriever rolled in dead fish last night while on a walk, and the smell was the worst thing EVER. We could hardly get him home in the back of a truck, the smell was so bad. Needless to say, we were very thorough in bathing him…vinegar, dishsoap, oatmeal shampoo, then drops of tea tree oil on his fur while showering him. We used a LOT of tea tree oil…it was mixed with water, but according to what I’m learning now from all of these forums about the repercussions of using TTO on animals, it was waaaaay to much. Today, 24 hours later, it occurred to me, out of the blue, that I should have read up about it first…and when I googled it, I got very scared! I got my retriever back into the tub, power washed him, rubbed him down with dishsoap to quickly cut through the oil, and scrubbed and scrubbed, praying the whole time that we didn’t kill our poor Kirby. He has had no real symptoms…maybe a bit lethargic today but not much….but I’m wondering if I should still be worried?? Is it possible that 24 hours later he still hasn’t reacted? It seems from everyone else’s accounts that the TTO poisoning happened quickly. But he’s wagging his tail and eating and drinking like normal…even more so now that I’ve washed him.
    Anyone know how long it could take for TTO poisoning to set in? Am I likely in the clear since it’s been 24 hours? I’m not going to sleep tonight, for fear of him developing symptoms in the night….

    • am not a vet, if your dog develops symptoms, take him to the vet asap… otherwise, he’s probably ok. my cici developed symptoms right away from being washed with a human shampoo with tea tree oil in it and she had bumps everywhere on her skin… I took her to the vet and she was fine after getting an allergy shot.

  19. Aromatherapist

    I am a qualified aromatherapist but obviously not a vet. I need to point out here that all essential oils are highly concentrated and even though it’s great people are using these natural remedies, it is scary how much misinformation there is and how little people are willing to read about the oils before using them. There are a few eo:s you can use on an ADULT HUMAN BEING without diluting first and even then in TINY amounts (such as one drop of tea tree or lavender on an acne spot). Except for a couple of safe oils in tiny amounts, essential oils should ALWAYS be diluted before you use them on the skin. A typical dilution (for adults) is 1-3 drops into 5 ml (=a teaspoon) of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, sunflower, olive, jojoba. This means it is a 1% – 3% dilution.

    If you were to pour undiluted tea tree oil on your own skin, you would probably get a reaction. This doesn’t mean it’s deadly, dangerous or toxic, it just has to be diluted. Many shampoos and creams for animals contain tea tree oil but it is in very small amounts, probably less than 1 % in the whole bottle. I can’t believe someone would use undiluted essential oils on a dog’s skin! I don’t know if tea tree oil itself is dangerous to dogs or cats since so many dog bath products contain it, your vet would be able to answer; but you need to dilute it and probably dilute even more than when using on humans.

    Essential oils do not dissolve in water, they’ll float on the top. You can add a few drops (a few! 4-6 maybe) to a human’s bath and mix them well with the water and you’ll be ok, but even then if your skin is sensitive you might get a reaction (itching or tingling in the bath). I mix eo:s into base oil (almond, jojoba, see above) even before adding them to my own bath. So if you’re going to use them in a dog’s bath, it would probably be enough to add a drop or two to some shampoo and NEVER rub it undiluted on the dog’s skin.

  20. chloe

    Please right back ASAP my mom put tee tree oil on our baby kitten we found in my grandmothers garage he has been acting strange and wont eat do u have or know anything that could help
    And this is chloe mohn i am ten years old and i need to know ASAP thx

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  24. Used tea tree oil (100%) on a few raised skin bumps on his back. Jones is 9. Anyway, he immediately licked the back fur that he could reach and then
    started to drool, only then did I think that tea tree oil could be toxic. (Should have googled first….). I then bathed him with antibacterial liquid soap and poured a small glass of water down his throat.
    At present, he is under my bed drying himself by the heat register.
    I am waiting for the 5 or 6 hour time before the symptoms of toxicity begin.
    Hopefully, I didn’t kill him.
    Should I do anything else??

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      • Terra

        Please no one ever use tea tree oil on their pets. I used it on my dog and she is at the vet because she can no longer walk! I was an idiot for taking the advice from posts

  29. Terra

    I beg that people never put tea tree oil on their beloved pets. I made the mistake of putting it diluted with olive oil on my 70 pound dog last night and had to rush her to the vet at 2 am because she couldn’t walk using her hind legs. The vet placed her on IVs all day but couldn’t make me any promises. She came home but she is trembling next to me now, which is another indication of poisoning. I am so scared for what is going to happen to her knowing that I caused this! I hate myself and wished I wouldn’t have taken the advice I found on the internet to use it on my four legged friend. I just assumed it was safe because adults can use it for all sorts of issues. Please spread the word to at least one other person to prevent others from going through this horrible experience.

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