This reminder came in from a member of Sheltie Nation, Momo’s Mom. 

TeaTreeMaybe you all know this already, but I just learned it the hard way:  TEA TREE OIL IS POISONOUS TO DOGS AND CATS.  My dog Momo is okay now, but I STUPIDLY put some tea tree oil on his paws and a few hours later, he could not stand up.” 

“We rushed to the vet ER and he required IV flushing, activated charcoal, discussion with Poison Control, overnight monitoring, and an extreme bath.   It is SOMETIMES it is used in very diluted amounts in dog shampoo and as a flea or tick repellent;  but, I would urge you to research it before using it IN ANY AMOUNT.  (That is what I should have done!)  It is just as dangerous when it is absorbed through the skin as when it is ingested orally and causes NEUROLOGICAL REACTIONS and can cause LIVER DAMAGE.”

“THANK GOD there was a good doctor at the ER that night to make up for my own idiocy.  Anyway, I hope this will prevent this from happening to everyone elses pets….Oddly enough, it is not included on any of the lists of things that are toxic to dogs.”

Momo’s story is a good reminder to us all to review possible toxic substances and our dogs.

The fact is, tea tree oil, like other essential oils, is graded on an LD 50 basis. What this means is: when tested on laboratory animals, the lethal dose needed to kill 50% of the animals is measured, and the results reported as LD50 at a certain number of grams or milligrams by weight.

Tea tree oil toxicity ranges between 2 and 5 g/kg body weight.  This is why, it is common for folks who are uninformed or who have received bad information, poison their own pets -particularly small cats and dogs.

So remember, just because it’s natural, an herb, used in aromatherapy, or has potential health benefits, does not meanit’s safe for all uses.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  This is 24 hour a day hotline.  (In some cases a consultation fee may be charged to your credit card.)

Next: 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

73 Responses to “Did you know? Tea Tree Oil is toxic to dogs.”

  1. LorettaA

    Last night, I washed my Pomeranian with newly purchased dog shampoo with tree oil. This morning she vomited a lot of blood. The vet said it was tree oil shampoo.

    The bathed her, gave her fluids thru IV and she is now on antibiotics. I pray she recovers.

    I had no idea of the effects of tree oil and dogs. I notified, where I purchased the shampoo who apologized and said they will refund my $8. I asked them to remove the shampoo from their stock.

  2. Amber

    I’ve read that TTO is toxic if not diluted to less than 15% of the over all solution. So it makes sense that rubbing it directly on your dogs paws would be harmful, that’s bare skin directly to the end of his capillaries. I use TTO in VERY small amounts and it seems like a great natural ingredient as a pesticide, including lice and fleas.

    Almost anything in larger amounts than recommended is toxic, be it chocolate or dairy.

  3. Bianca

    After reading this thread, I now realize that TTO is toxic to both dogs/cats & should not be used to treat skin issues. (I am so glad I did not go through with idea to use it on skin irritation for my Bostons.) – However, I am having a separate, unrelated issue in the home for which I am using TTO. (It is not anywhere that they can come into direct contact with it.) But my question is,- are the FUMES also toxic to dogs??? Could exposure to such also cause neurological issues???????? – Anyone know?

    -Thanks in advance for any helpful info.

  4. Dawn

    I learned the hard way too a few years ago. Our GSP/Brittney has horrible skin allergies especially in the fall. I used tto on her back side just above her tail where she would gnaw her skin raw. I dabbed a bit on a cotton ball and applied it to the almost bald area. A few hours later she was unable to stand on her back legs, we took her to the vet and found out that tto is not a good thing to use on dogs. It can cause paralysis. It is also deadly to cats. $500.00+ later and we have learned our lesson.

  5. Roberta

    In light of the danger of using tea tree oil at all, I have decided to toss the bottle I just purchased. My Boston Terrier is troubled with allergies, and developed a staph infection on her skin, so my vet put her on antibiotics and steroids for 3 weeks. Her skin was actually worse after finishing the prescriptions, so I looked up all of her symptoms and I now believe she is suffering from a yeast infection. Since my vet is not into homeopathy, I searched online for natural remedies. Many websites suggested tea tree oil shampoos and rinses.
    So thank you all so much for taking the time to post your comments. I am sorry to read of all the sad experiences many of you had to live through, and also appreciate those who posted that they were successful with a dilution. For me, it’s just not worth the risk.

  6. Bridgette

    I read something on the new on how to get the black stuff off my dog’s lags and back and his hair was not growing back. I read good storys on how Tea tree oil and peppermint oil helped this one dog and the pic’s look good, so my boyfriends mom was rubbing it on my dog 2 or 3 times. And within 2 weeks my dog died. DO NOT USE TEA TREE OIL ON YOUR DOG. (PLEASE) I would hate to see this happen to you. It has devastated me.

  7. Dean Leatherman

    Attention: 100% Tea Tree Oil is incredibly toxic to just about everything on the planet. That is why it is so effective when used in even the smallest amounts

    That is why . . . you have to dilute 100% oil by at least 1 part in 125 solvent or 1 part in 250 solvent. Please note that a 1:125 solution is still incredibly strong. Which is why everyone is poisoning their pets by using anything close to a pure oil.

    To make a solution you can use water as the solvent and an incredibly small amount of surfactant (soap) like sodium lauryl sulfate or other anionic surfactant. For surfactants it is common to only use a 1:500 ratio or higher. Which is really too much but will make the solution mix better.


  8. Alisa

    A friend showed me this site after finding out that I used TTO on my puppy (16 lb bichon frise) after the failure of Temaril-P and his refusal of fish oil (and changing his diet to 100% grain free). I only used a tear drop sized amount with his shampoo last night and he finally slept through the night, no biting on his paws or anything and seems a lot happier today than usual. I haven’t had any side effects but, some of these stories are flat out scary. Upon reading them, I called my vet’s office who recommended against it so I’ll be making an appt for my Twitch for his continued itchiness.

  9. Kalyn

    I just have my dog a bath with tea tree oil. I poured some in and then washed her with some dog shampoo. I just searched up and see its toxic! I washed her again with warm water and scrubbed her down . I definitely don’t have money to take her to the vet if anything happens :( is there anything I can do??

  10. Jen

    Who would think a natural product applied to an animal’s skin could be so toxic?

    I recently purchased TTO, and after reading about the benefits (not thinking I should read up on what it would do to my dog; and I now feel like a complete idiot) I thought I would try it on my 2 year old Lab’s hot spots. Shortly after I applied it my hubby looked it up, and after reading the side effects I quickly washed him off. 6 hours later his back legs were completed paralyzed. I called my vet and he asked if I washed the dog, and I said yes and he told me my little buddy should be just fine. Berkley’s condition didn’t improve… so I bathed him dried him smelled the location I placed the TTO and it still smelled like TTO, so I bathed him again (with dishsoap) then dried him and he still smelled like TTO… so I used a cleaning agent we have for Berkley’s ears, and finally the oil was gone.

    I read the horror stories and about liver damage so needless to say I didn’t sleep a wink last night, every hour I was giving Berkley a ounce or two of water with a turkey baster, and carried him outside to pee twice through the night.

    Once he was able to get-up on his own I felt like he had improved… so after 2 hours of sleep he nudged me awake as usual and went for a shorter then usual morning walk, he ate his breakfast and is now curled up in his usual spot on the window seat. I will take him to the vet for blood work this morning (once they open). But I think he should recover from this.

    I wish there were warning labels… I know maybe guidelines don’t require companies to disclose the effects on animals, but I think enough people have poisoned their animals assuming a natural product is safe to use and something needs to be done (especially when the side effects are so serious)

  11. Andrea

    Oh my, i am shocked at how many people are implying, by their responses, that they are using tea tree oil straight on their pets skin! Never never use essential oils in their fully concentrated form! Oils can be very toxic unless they are diluted. Tea tree oil in a spray or shampoo is completely different than applying the oil directly to skin

  12. Liz

    I wonder if anyone has any knowledge about whether or not tea tree oil is dangerous if just sprayed around the house….I have a 10lb dog, and I don’t want to accidentally poison her. Having researched the effects on dogs, I’m not planning on applying it to her, no matter how diluted it is. If I spray it in the air, or on a carpet, however, is there potential for harm? Will the fragrance in the air be enough to cause damage?

    I’m using a dilution (a strong one, mind you, of about 20 drops pure tto in 12 oz of water) to keep centipedes away, and so far, I’ve only sprayed it in rooms that my dog never enters, but she has free reign of the area near these rooms, and I’m wondering if I need to restrict her to a different part of the house for a few days after my spraying routine. Am I being too paranoid? Might it be safe to spray it all over the house, or is there a risk of her licking any potential residue off the floor, or something?

  13. Lisa

    I’ve read this thread over and over again trying to find the answers to the questions of what to after the scary incident and about possible long term effects. It’s so encouraging to read story after story of a dog getting back to normal after a few days; thank you for sharing. (It’s also a discouraging to read comments from people who are critical and judgmental. I don’t think a single person that would ever want to harm their beloved pet; it’s the last thing any one would ever do. My dog’s a CGC and I take extremely great care of her, but I made a mistake; check, I’m still human. Besides, who needs others to say that you made a stupid even harmful mistake; when you already feel awful, and yes, stupid enough as it is.)

    Like others, I read somewhere that TTO was helpful, but didn’t see the warnings until after the damage was done. My pooch is only 21 lbs. and I rubbed it undiluted on her skin, but the awful smell made me doubtful and within 5 mns. I was giving her a bath. I don’t think she licked it, though it’s possible, but 12 hours later, she was barely moving and walking like a drunk. Three baths and $150 later, I’d taken her to the weekend emergency clinic where they injected her with an IV for hydration; no way I could afford to leave her there overnight, so off to home we went. I’m taking the day off tomorrow to keep watch and if necessary go to her regular vet. Should I run blood work? Any long term-effects? A few things I learned (aside from the big No-No, Never Again):

    1. Dawn would have been the best thing to have handy for a bath that gets rid of the oil (as opposed to the oatmeal/aloe vera shampoo that I’d used).
    2. The emergency vet also recommended 10mg. of famotidine (Pepcid original) to help with possible gastric issues though she hadn’t shown any.

    Live and learn…I hate it when the lessons are at the expense of an innocent creature who depends on you entirely for its health and well being. Sigh. I only want her to be back to her normal happy self again. Again, thank you for your great stories; they’re keeping me hopeful.

  14. Robin

    Wow, I just went through the ringer with my 15 lb. dog. We believe she accidentally drank some tea tree oil mixed with olive oil (a treatment my daughter was using for her head lice). I found her at night laying on the ground, still, and cold and lifeless. I scooped her up and ran her to the emergency vet who immediately put her on fluids and ran a blood test. At the time we were not sure what had happened, but they ran some blood work. Her white blood cell count was non existent, so she was definitely fighting for her life.

    It took us a couple of days to figure out what she may have gotten into and it made sense. This dog will eat anything she finds on the ground, and the mixture had been left on the bathroom floor. $3,000 later after many different tests to find out what was wrong with her, we brought her home. Each day she got better, and after a week she was bouncing around like normal.

    We thought we were out of danger when suddenly about 3 weeks after her emergency room trip she had some sort of seizure. She came up the stairs outside and began to walk sideways. Then her back legs gave out and her body started quivering, including her face. It scared me to death and we made another trip to the vet.They ran blood tests to find out her blood sugar had dropped very low, which could cause the tremors. We still do not know what cause these symptoms, and I am wondering if they are residual effects from her tea tree oil episode the month before.

    Is it possible to have permanent neurological damage from tea tree oil?

    Thank you

  15. Rachel

    I’ve used diluted tea-tree oil on myself and my dogs for years and never had a problem. It’s the best thing I’ve found for minor cuts to paw pads, for example, much more effective than any products the vets have sold me. It is a staple in my medicine cabinet – but I treat it as a medicine, with care. Aspirin will kill you if you take too much, and over-the-counter skin creams such as hydrocortisone can be very dangerous if used excessively or ingested. Tea tree oil can kill humans if ingested – it’s an essential oil, so it’s very strong stuff. If you get hold of some concentrated nicotine or alcohol – 0.5mg/kg of nicotine can kill a human being, and just putting couple of drops of pure nicotine on your skin can kill you.

    As a comparison, here’s the LD50 for some substances you may use yourself every day, all tested in lab rats:

    Tea-tree oil – 1900 mg/kg
    Mint oil – 1240 mg/kg
    Garlic – 1360 mg/kg
    Menthol – 3300 mg/kg
    Caffeine – 192 mg/kg
    Eucalyptus – 2480 mg/kg
    Lavender – 4250 mg/kg
    Orange – 4400 mg/kg
    Distilled white vinegar (5% acetic acid) – 3310mg/kg
    Lemon – 2840 mg/kg
    Salt – 3000 mg/kg

    (I got most of these figures from the Material Safety Data Sheets available on

    So yes, tea tree oil is toxic to dogs – and humans – but only if you abuse it by giving a huge overdose. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and should never be used undiluted. Work out what an appropriate dosage is before putting it all over your dog’s skin, just as you would with any medicine.

  16. Katy

    I am sorry but my reaction to about 70% of these comments are “OH MY GOD, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!?!?!” Really people? WHY would you put PURE essential oils on a dog?!?!?! Why???? ALWAYS dilute it, always! Dont even put 100% non diluted essential oils on yourself! Think about it. Your dog usually weighs about 1/5 less than you or more. So you need to super, super, super dilute the solution. I am just so shocked that people put it straight on their dogs. Even on a human those amounts are very large. Be careful people. Tea tree is safe but its so concentrated. Just think of how much is needed to create that small amount of oil. Please, do a lot of research on essential oils before using them. It is not something to just take a poke at without studying first. Even when I find recipes online for things, I dilute it even more just to be sure. Better safe than sorry.

  17. Linda

    My bouvier des Flanders is spending the night at the animal hospital due to exposure to TTO. It only took a drop or two applied topically to a 90 lbs dog to cause a severe reaction. A neighbor offered the idea (not knowing any better) to stop her from scratching a scab on her head. Little did we know how toxic it is. she could not stand up or walk the next morning and we eventually figured out the problem, several hundred dollars later. Wished I had read this blog sooner. Just glad that our big baby will be ok.

  18. Kim

    Mine is similar to many others on here. We had a scare today with my little 19 pound pug when I treated a sore on her neck with a tea tree oil ointment MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR DOGS. We’d never used the product before and will never use it again.

    I put a small dab on the sore last night around 8pm. By 7am, she hadn’t moved from her bed, wasn’t able to stand up to walk outside and was trembling like it was -30 degrees. I immediately washed the area on the back of her neck with warm water and mild hand soap for a solid 5 minutes. I gave her a Benadryl and put some food and water down for her. She ate (thank goodness) and followed me outside… slowly. I left to take my children to school and when I returned home she was showing slight signs of improvement.

    When my vet opened at 9am, I called them and told them what had happened. They saw her right away and were pleased with her responses to their neurological tests. They prescribed Prednisone and cuddles.

    Now more than 24 hours after exposure, she’s doing well. Back legs are working fine, no more shivering and seems back to normal. My vet couldn’t stress enough that fast response is critical and our speed in taking action did save her life.

    I really wish I had googled “tea tree oil dogs” before using this product.

  19. granola.cruncher

    i’m glad i came across this. i wouldn’t have put it directly on my pets’ skin but i made a natural carpet deodorizer, baking soda and tea tree oil. i locked the pets (2 dogs, 2 cats) up when i used the deodorizer but i stayed in the room while letting it settle on the carpet. i got very dizzy, almost fell over and it was out of no where. i hopped on my laptop to see if there were any dangers with inhaling tea tree oil and came across this. i’ve since vacuumed the carpet, twice and i now have everyone out while the scent airs out just a bit. it was just 4 or 5 drops in about 2 cups of baking soda so i don’t think there’s enough residue on the carpet but i am worried about the scent lingering.

    i was really, really surprised to find this post. my one cat LOVES tea tree oil. he climbs all over an area if i’ve used it. last time i saw him lick the cap of the bottle. that bit him badly so at least he didn’t keep doing it but he just can’t get enough of it. i’m really only concerned about the other cat b/c he’s 16. i think he’s going to have to stay locked up until the morning just to be safe.

  20. April

    I researched home remedies for treating ear infections in dogs & found a website that recommended a mixture of 1 drop of TTO with 1/4c olive oil & put it in my 20lb dog’s ear & both of my 120lb dog’s ears. This dose caused no problem for either dog, but the 2nd dose I mixed about 5 drops & it did not affect my large dog, but my 20lb dog had the same symptoms many described above. He acted like he was poisoned, shaking, panting, couldn’t use his legs & seemed to almost loose consciousness.

    The ER vet doubted that the TTO did this & I felt sure it was the cause. So when he consulted with 3 other vets in surrounding counties, 1 didn’t know anything about it either, 1 knew it was toxic but had never treated it, and one had treated a case by flushing with IV all night, but he said he didn’t know the outcome for the dog.

    But I felt some better when he ran blood test & it came back there was no damage to any organs. And my dog was acting more alert. Today is the 2nd day & he has been lethargic all day, but has been happy & even barked when someone knocked on the door. It looks like it will be awhile before he is back to his normal self.

    I really wish the Home Remedy sites would stress how important the amount is. And I found out the hard way.

  21. Jenny Walicek

    I found this post when googling “tea tree oil dogs” because my 37-lb Border Collie mix was clearly having a terrible reaction to the few drops I had just put on a tick bite for antibiotic purposes — symptoms same as all other posts above — suffice it to say that I have just returned from a night at the ER vet, where I slept on the floor beside her in an exam room and paid $500 to learn this valuable lesson. The people who are using this product (as I was, in ignorance) — including the vet who thought it was “mostly toxic to cats” — are misinformed and need to be contacted. My dog will be all right, but it was touch-and-go.

  22. Teresa

    I use tea tree oil in my dogs shampoo and I have done this for many years now and she has never had a problem.

  23. Stacey

    I don’t know if anyone else wrote this already, but whether or not you choose to put tea tree oil on your dog (this is up to you), the first thing to remember with any essential oil is to ALWAYS DILUTE in a carrier oil(olive oil for example).
    Never apply them neat/straight/without a carrier!!!
    This goes for animals and humans.
    You can cause sensitization even if you don’t have a reaction.
    Learn about essential oils before using them, they are super concentrated and need diluting.

  24. Brewser's Mom

    My dog has suffered from allergies his entire life (8 years). We are constantly going to the vets for antibiotics, ear medication etc. Our dog gets allergy medication daily too. Last year he had surgery on his ear for a hematoma and that was miserable for all of us. We clean his ears out at least once a week as maintanence, and we clean them out twice a day when they are really bad. We started researching ways to care for his ears at home rather than running him to the vet every time he gets an ear infection. And don’t get me wrong, we love our dog and would spend any amount of money on him to keep him happy and comfortable, but if there was something we could do at home to keep his ears “at bay” that would be awesome. We found that tea tree oil and rosemary were recommened for ear infections in dogs. We ordered some online and researched how it should be diluted and made a solution of a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of rosemary, diluted by a 1/4 cup of olive oil. we dipped a cotton ball in the solution and rubbed it on to his ears and massaged it down the canal. Then my boyfriend suggested rubbing it on his feet because he sometimes chews on them. We went to sleep that night, and our dog was whinning a little and seemed agitated so we let him outside to use the bathroom, but we didnt have any lights on, it was dark. Then we wake up in the morning and when I go to clean his ears out I notice that his ENTIRE body is covered in hives. And you can tell that he is so aggitated he won’t sit still. I immidiatley gave him benadryl. It wasnt until then that are started researching toxitiy from tea tree oil in dogs (it never occured to me before that this would be toxic, so stupid of me). I feel awful right now that I have essentially poisioned by own dog!! I don’t think I will use TTO in any concentration at this point. It would make me worry that it is causing some sort of poisioning over time. He didn’t show any other signs of lethargy etc. Just the hives. My boyfriend is working from home today to be with him. I hope it doesnt get any worse than just the hives. Lesson learned!!

  25. Farrar

    Tea Tree Oil – Was Toxic to My Maltese!!!!!! I noticed a red bump on my dog when I was bathing her. So I poured 100 percent TTO on the bump behind her head while she was wet. Maybe a Table Spoon more or less. Lilly is 2 yrs old, about 9 lbs. She was fine for a while . Then she layed down. I had to pick her up. She couldn’t stand up. In about 4 hrs she Began to shake violently. Would not eat, drink or go to bathroom. Took her to pet hospital and tried to say it was a pancreatic disease common to Maltese breed. Even after I told vet what I saw online. They finally gave Lilly loose charcoal. Bill was $180. Today, 20 hrs later Lilly is walking n jumping again. I prayed God would heal her in Jesus name!!! The bump is also gone but very scary lesson learned. Never again will I use TTO in that way.

    • Susie MadsenScottiesthree

      Thank you for your post. I am praying for my little one too in Jesus name. Also asked God to forgive my stupidity. I honestly thought teatree oil would be safe because it is “natural”

      • Mr. Michael

        Amen Sister! I just put TTO on my little Pommy, thinking that it would be great for his itch. To my surprise he was in a spell,shaking profusely, his mouth was locked and foamy my wife and I were devastated, we gave him a soap bath, wrapped him up, kept him warm and sang praise worship music. After about 45 minutes he started responding, walking, and eating. Thank you Jesus! and forgive me for my ignorance. Never ever will I use TTO on my coocoo bear again.

  26. Liz Sullivan

    I sprayed a natural soothing spray(for humans from Vitacost) on my dog.It didn’t say not to use it and it said cruelty free. Having used it beforewith great results, I did again. She was having a reaction to flea bites. Their were many natural things TTO being the main ingredient,witch hazel, rosemary to name a few. My dog did stop biting and chewing but with in a few days she started with odd behavior walking differently on the leash then I noticed she was walking with her head down alot, then bumping into things, stumbling on the stairs, I thought she had an ear infection after much research. I called the vet. $122 got me..1 CBC test_ results normal, temperature (doggie fever of 103.9) ears were fine as well, pain shot/anti inflammatory, drops for ear wax,and some fluids. They said her vision was fine though her eyes were unresponsive when checked. 2 days later i took her back as recommended if she didnt improve. She was still whimpering occasionally,acting odd, stumbling into things just not herself. (The lights were on and no doggie was home so to speak). In between the time I made the 2nd appt and went, I found the info on the tea tree while trying to figure out what we had done to her during the past week and a half as this started and worsened. I called them with what I suspected and took her in and the spray for trip 2 $112 …more blood work and xrays. They forgot to take the temperature Ugh.. but everything else was normal. I am left believing and that she has had a major reaction to this spray. Though none of you mentioned the unresponsive eyes. (staring off into space) Sorry if I rambled it’s late I’m exhausted. Thanks for all of you postings. Praying for a full recovery for my girl who is only 4 and weighs about 40lbs.Still not herself :(

  27. Heather from Florida

    Yesterday I bought a small bottle of 100% pure Australian Tea Tree Oil. I was thinking of diluting it and using on my dog. Before that I put my finger on the bottle and put in on some of my acne on my face. I dabbed a little on my nose and near my mouth. In seconds I was tasting it in my mouth felt like I couldn’t breathe and had a hard time swallowing. The smell and taste was intense . I had to go outside to get fresh air to relax, because I started to panic a bit. I’m not going to use it on my dog or myself after this. I’m afraid if she licked her paws the same thing would happen. In the past I’ve used have used tea tree oil shampoo on myself and my dog with no problem, but the problem is buying the “real pure thing”. Even though I used just a dab of it yesterday, it was super strong. I kept washing my hands and couldn’t get the oil of my fingertips. Be careful guys and just because you see people on the internet making their own homemade natural remedies, doesn’t mean it’s always safe!

  28. chihuahua puppy

    I ve got a little chihuahua puppy, she does nt even weigh 1kg, I found out that she has a bad case of demotex, I saw on the internet that a perfect way to get rid of the skin disorder is TTO I applied a couple of drops on cotton wool and gently rubbed it on the infected areas, my dog started running around and scratching herself when I noticed some spots of swelling and redness on her skin, I searched the internet again to see what side effects this product has when I saw that its poison to dogs, I grabed my puppy put her under cold water rinsing her off and then rushed her to the vet!! I’m still waiting now to see if my loving doggie will survive, my heart is shattered!! I did nt know and really thought that this will do good…. I love her so much and never thought or intended to hurt her in any way….

  29. OMG

    There is a reason they sell products that are designed for DOGS, even if they have tea tree oil in them it is extremely diluted. This is why you don’t give things that have not been made specifically for dogs to dogs. Don’t give human aspirin etc. Tea tree oil is fine if in a product designed for dogs and tested for toxicity. Stop buying things from the human store made for humans and giving it to your dogs.

    Use common sense.

  30. Debbie Gilbert

    I’m glad I found this thread! My dog has itchy summer skin issues, and I have been using a tea tree oil spray called “Be Soothed” sold by 1-800-PetMeds. The product description says it is all natural and “has no known side effects,” so I had been applying it liberally to Daisy’s skin for the past few days. She’s been licking at it, but I thought there was nothing to be concerned about because it’s a “natural” product, right?

    Now I am horrified. Have I damaged my dog’s liver? And how can 1-800PetMeds sell this spray specifically for dogs if it is toxic?

    I won’t use it anymore, but I’m worried that I may have caused permanent harm to my dog.

    (P.S. Yesterday, before I learned about the tea tree oil being toxic, I took Daisy to the vet for treatment of her skin problem. The vet prescribed antiseptic wipes, Panalog, and Clavamox for infection. I hope none of these medications will exacerbate any liver damage that may have been caused by the tea tree oil.)

  31. Marty

    I am so thankful I decided to investigate tree tea oil. One of my rottie babies has a nail fungus and I applied a little bit of tto to the nails as a tropical treatment (also treating inside out). How shocked I was to start reading that tto was toxic to dogs. We are thankful she shows no signs of distress. A lesson well leaned!!

  32. Sharon


  33. Animal Lover and Vet Tech

    Also please tell me what the outcome was of your dogs! I am so worried, did they end up with any type of liver damage!

    • Anna-Marie

      my Boston seems fine after her ordeal w/ TTO but my vet wants to run a blood test on liver and kidneys in 10 days…i have never felt sooo bad , thinking that I did this to her.

  34. Animal Lover and Vet Tech

    I too am going through the same thing with my dog. I simply used a small amount of oil on the flap of my dogs ears and the next morning he couldnt walk, could barely lift his head and was crying in pain. We had been camping the last few days so i thought he hurt himself. I am a vet tech so i called one of the doctors i work with whom also thought it was back pain and had me give him some pain medication and antiinflammatory. The next day he was still a little wobbly but walking, and by the that night he was normal again. I figured the meds helped alot. Well lo and behold i put more on his ear last night, not realized that had caused the problem, this morning he cant walk again and is just like he was before! Thats when the light bulb came on and i realized how the two incidents were related with the Oil. He already has a compromized liver so he cant take any more damage to it! Spent the morning at the vet and the bloodwork showed his liver enzymes were elevated much higher than previously. He is on fluids to help flush it out of his system, and I can only pray no serious effects have been done to his liver.

    My question is: Has anybody tried to contact the company about this problem. I am a VET TECH, and every other tech and dr. at my clinic had absolutely no idea about the toxicity! I think this needs to get out and be known!

    • Anna-Marie

      I am absolutly stunned that every vet and tech that I have talked to had no knowledge of the toxic effects of TTO..not even my established 78 year old vet !! My Boston was digging at her paw , I put some diluted TTO on once in the morning and once at night , she began to exibit the same symptoms everyone else is [email protected] 8:00 afterhours I called my vet..the tech answered and told me he didn’t think it was a problem,and to give her a dose of benydryl that possibly she had an allergic reaction to the TTO and that if I felt she was getting worse that he would call my vet..about 15 min. later I called him back and said please call my vet and have him meet my at the clinic…after my daughter and I said we had Googled TTO and think this is the prob. he and the tech Googled it and immediately began emergency efforts to save my baby , the whole nine yards charcole,anti inflamitories and an IV flush ,they kept her over night and flushed her again the next day…she is fine now but I am possitive had I not gotten her to the vet that night she would have died , and I would have never forgiven myself for my stupidity … I threw everything that had TTO in it in the dumpster and washed all the throw rugs and mopped the entire house …

      • Deanna

        We have a Vizsla, and she runs the bush twice daily. I noticed two small bloody lumps beneath her fur. I peeled them off to check for ticks. Negative for ticks,so we figured it must have been fly bites (they are bad in the area we live) but she was scratching the area. So I put a few concentrated drops of TTO on my finger and rubbed it into her fur to prevent further insects bites and act as a natural antiseptic….the next day I noticed she had small bumps everywhere I rubbed the TTO. I brought her into the vets and he had no concerns with the TTO, but thought it was a dermatitis of sue sort and really had no clue . So he prescribed her antibiotics…..I wasn’t satisfied and brought her for a second opinion. The 2nd vet thought it was Dermodex Mange…..Did anyone else get small bumps on the skin affected with TTO? Our Dog is 40lbs, should I get a blood work up to check liver enzyme levels? I shaved area, wahed it and treated with peroxide and topical antibiotics. It seems to be clearing up thus far.

        Any feedback would be appreciated,


  35. Granola Girl

    I wanted to thank all of you for your stories. They saved our family a lot of money and worry. Our cat had to be put down due to a persistant condition of mites. Shortly there after, we noticed the dog had a small patch on her back. We wanted to attack the issue quickly due to the cat’s troubles. I administered tea tree oil to the patch. We have used it on the dog before and added it to shampoos, but apparently the 8-10 drops on her back were too much. She lost use of her back legs and had minor tremors in her legs too. She was bathed, Neem oil was applied instead and she slept. She wouldn’t eat or drink or anything. Her heart rate was fine as was her temperature, and breathing. She was lethargic, but still aware of her surroundings. I was still terrified I’d killed our family dog and my son would lose both pets.

    We debated taking her to the ICU, but we truly don’t have the money. When I found your website and read the responses of others it helped significantly. We waited until early the next morning and made an appointment with the local vet hospital. By 9:30am she was up, eating, and even went for a walk. She happy and peppy again, though still favoring one of her hind legs a little. Easily 85-90 percent better. We have her on extreme observation, but she appears to be much better.

    We received a call after we canceled the appointment (it was for 11am). They want to run over 200 dollars worth of liver tests. A call to a family friend who is also a vet recommended milk thistle to help cleanse and revitalize the liver if we do not think she is in direct danger.

    Milk thistle is available most places and does not have damaging side effects if given in proper dosage. Apparently many vets prescribe it in instances like this where they think there could be toxic poisoning, but don’t really feel it is causing imminent danger.


    Our dog is a 40-60 pound Doberman. She licked the place only once or twice because it was very hard for her to reach. Apparently it was through skin absorption and a depleted immune system from the mites.

    • Angela

      Granola girl, Does your dog still have problems with her legs or did it eventually go away? I am currently dealing with the same thing with my dog. It’s been 5 days and I’m wondering if she will always have some leg trouble, or if it goes away over time?

  36. Peter

    I had a dog that had a bad case of ichy skin. After several trips to the vet and years later, I researched his problem and felt he had scabies. The ear flaps indicated scabies.The vets said he had allergies. In a website TTO shampoo was suggested so we had some and gave it a try. The next day he was even more ichy so I took him to the vet. The vet insisted that he does not have scabies, but administered Revolution just in case. She said that if he has scabies he will be really ichy the next day from them critters dying. Well he was not ichy the next day or ever after, so it appears the the TTO shampoo is what did the trick. He did not have any negative side affects. So as long as pets cannot ingest the oil or have diluted amounts, it may be OK, considering the alternatives. But that also may depend on the animal, some may have toxic effects from it, or perhaps a combination of TTO and other things.

    • DD

      Do you know if a bit of tea tree oil is okay in a toothpaste? The ingredients call for calcium carbonate, glycerin, water, THEN tea tree leaf distillate, sodium coco-sulfate, carrrageenan, and sodium bicarbonate.

      My sheltie is about 19-20 pounds, 5 1/2 years old. Thanks!

  37. Mark

    The majority of the problems I am seeing is when the dog is allowed to lick full strength oil ie. on paws. I do not think there would be a problem if used judiciously by the dogs owner, like diluted in shampoos and ear treatments. I know it has worked wonders for my own scalp.

  38. Sim P.

    Wow, I really didn’t know that Tea Tree Oil can be toxic for dogs. To be honest, I have never tried it on my dog, it would sound like a good idea though. Like readers have mentioned before, it probably depends on the concentration. I guess if you dilute it with water or an ointment it should be fine.

  39. Val

    I think that Pam is right, it seems to come down to concentration. It seems that the dogs that have had really strong reactions have all gotten straight Tea Tree oil. Super-diluted seems to be okay (though I might still be hesitant with a small dog).

  40. Pam Dailey

    We too tried TTO on our Yorkie Poo and had similar results with lethargic spells. After giving her an activated charcoal capsule and water she seemed to come back to life. Thankfully we learned to use the TTO in diluted portions only. It works with the fleas if you spray it on them night and day for a time and less until you notice the fleas disappear. I believe the key to TTO is in dilutions only. We use 6 drops to about 6 oz of water. Think of all the toxins that our other flea solutions offer.

    • Huey

      Hi Pam
      Thanks so much for posting this. I used diluted TTO on my shih-tzu and he had the same reactions. Probably after dilution it was still potent.
      I gave him a charcoal tab, and hope and pray he recovers soon.
      I had no idea that TTO is a NO-NO for dogs….GOSH!!!
      Now I have learnt my lesson….
      Once again…thanks.

  41. Brenda

    I got on-line to try to find ‘natural’ things to treat my small cocker spaniel with, to get rid of fleas. I got tea tree oil, which was recommended, and started using a few drops in the rinse water….that seemed okay, except the fleas kept crawling on him. I decided to apply the oil to his collar, and see if that would deter the fleas. I let it dry for a few hours; then after I put the collar on him, he began to throw up; then he had a seizure and was unable to stand for awhile. He just curled up and shook uncontrollably. He was totally out-of-it for some time, and I knew that the oil on the collar was the only ‘new’ thing I had done. I took it off him immediately, and this morning he seems okay, but I am still nervous about what happened to him. I felt that I had nearly killed him, using that oil. How is it that it’s recommended so highly for dogs, but then it has affected mine so severely? I don’t use chemicals on him for fleas, and had sought natural remedies with confidence. Now, I am not sure what to do. Brenda

  42. Sandi

    The same thing happened to me and I am so glad to know that I am not the only one! My Jack Russell Terrier had some sores on the tops of his paws that seemed to be itching him. In an effort to help him I place some drops of tea tree oil on them and we went to bed. About 7 hours later I woke up to find that he was still in the same spot that he had fallen asleep at the night before. I called to him and all he could do is crawl to my direction. I picked him up and put him on the floor to see if he could walk and he just sat their trembling. I felt so sorry for him because I knew he was trying, but just could not. I was so scared and sad, all I could do was frantically wash his paws with soap and rush him to the vet. They called poison control who said that the tto was poisonous especially to small dogs. The vet charged $85 for the call to poison control and $25 to wash his paws (which I had already done) plus the emergency fees, adding up to $225. They wanted to keep him on iv fluids and monitoring all day, but not having an extra $1,000 sitting around I decided to take him home against their recommendations. They said that my dog was really shaking, which he always does when he is scared of new places. Another reason for taking him home is that they mentioned that they would give him valium to calm him down which I was not in favor of. After bringing him home I gave him lunch and water and he was able to walk enough to go outside to pee. Afterwards, I brought him to bed with me and he fell peacefully fast asleep.
    That was 24 hours ago and now he is able to not only walk, but run and jump up on my bed. He is eating and drinking well and seems to be better again. The vet said the tto could cause liver damage and I am hoping that that is not the case.
    My dog weighs about 20 lbs and I am so grateful that he is still alive.

    • Pat

      I am in the same situation, I put tea tree oil on my dogs ear as it is always scaling. This morning, he can barely walk. I called the vet and they said the same thing. To bring him in, there is not much that they can do. Supportive treatment. As I realize that I have poisoned my pet, my companion, I sit and cry that I may have seriouly injured him. Then I read your not and you have given me hope. I pray my baby get better too.

    • Al

      As I write this message, my two Jack Russels have been hospitalized because of treating them earlier today with a diluted spray of tea tree oil. They both started acting drunk and had trouble walking. They were both obviously sick and had tremors.
      I learned about this from a video on You Tube that recommended this for a natural flea treatment. How I wish I had researched it further.
      For all who may be reading this, please, please, do not give your dogs tea tree oil in any form. It’s not worth the risk. My dogs have been severely poisoned from a topical use in considerable dilution. They are now getting I’V flush in hopes to save them.
      Worth repeating: DO NOT USE TEA TREE OIL ON A DOG!
      Al Powder Springs Georgia

    • Lynn

      I want to share my experience re: Sammy, my 9 lb. Snoodle. He has terrible skin allergies (expecially flea bites). For the past few months, I have been using Be Soothed Tea Tree Oil Shampoo w/Aloe Vera and the Be Soothed Tea Tree Oil Skin Relief. At first, they worked will. Lately, Sammy has had awful skin redness, itching, pimple like bumps, etc. so I have been using the TTO spray at least 2x daily in addition to Bendryl and Predisone.

      Today, after giving him another bath w/the TTO, I wondered if he could be having a reaction to the TTO. So, looked up the side effects to TTO. AM I GLAD I DID! I am convinced he is having a reaction to the TTO so in the morning I will be taking him to the vet. He has not had any issues w/walking, but his skin is hot and I do feel he is slowly being poisoned by this product. THANK GOD our cats do not lick him. AND THANK GOD for those of you who have posted the negative side effects to these products. I am sure you have saved my Sammy’s life…he surely would have just gotten worse and would have had more side effects like some of the others. Bless you!

  43. Kym

    I too used TTO on my new dog. She had the worst case of demodex I had ever seen! I almost put her to sleep after weeks of treatment (under a vets care) and no results.
    She was getting worse and I was at my wits end. By this time she was one big bloody, oozing,mess. She was so painful I could barely touch her.I started doing research and with nothing to lose I started using a tea tree product I had for my horse. Within DAYS her hair started growing back,the scabs were disappearing,her skin was healing! She actually started to play!! She still has a way to go but this was her key to life! Just use common sense before dousing your dog!

    • Carter

      I’m having a problem with one of my Shelties. She’s a Sheltie/Collie mix and has horribly irritated skin on her back, always scratching and chewing and the oatmeal shampoo doesn’t seem to help. I was thinking of trying TTO and this comment helps. It’s, of course, common sense to seriously dilute such a product! I’m just looking up recipes for a shampoo since sometimes the skin on her legs also irritates her. Thanks for the info.

  44. mwilson

    I have a 110 pound american bulldog who had allergies to our carpet due to high dust from a neighboring lumbermill. One night, thinking that the itching and sores on his tummy seemed bad, I used about 6-10 DROPS of tea tree oil on several cotton balls (a total of 6-10 drops in all spread over several cotton balls). I rubbed his paws and his belly and he went to lay down beside my daughter, which was common. In the morning we woke and found it odd that he was in the same location and would barely lift his head when we called to him. He seemed to struggle as we encouraged him to get to his feet to go outside. It was obvious that something was wrong and he was unable to get up on his own. I phoned the vet who looked it up and said it could be seriously toxic to the dog and that we should ‘make him comfortable’ as he was not likely going to live. I was not in a position to pay $1000 in vet bills, so we gave him water and just pet him and did our best to comfort him. A few times he tried to stand to go outside to pee, but he wabbled like he was drunk out of his mind, and there was no semblence of balance at all. He could not get up the steps, and would come in and literally fall back down. Later that night, we noticed he started to walk a little better and late that night, he actually got up and walked and even chased a ball.
    I believe that TEA TREE OIL is EXTREMELY TOXIC to dogs. The vet told us that he assumed the reason our dog lived was that he was 110 pounds — had he been a smaller dog, or a cat, he would likely have died.
    I have told other vets about our experience and we no longer use this on any animal.

    • Sassy

      If anyone puts undiluted tea tree oil on there dog after reading your story you should be shot! Mwilson, I am totally not judging you and think it great you have shared your story. All the people who keep saying – I’ve been doing it for years and there is no problem. Well you may just be killing your animal slowing.

      Go speak to someone who actually knows what there talking about. Educate yourselves! Its so easy to make this mistake when all your trying to do is the best thing for your little friend. People need to realise that there different to us. There livers cant process the same things ours can. There smaller in body weight than most humans and yet we would apply the same amount as we would a human.
      Allot of people also don’t realise that burning oils in a oil burner can also affect animals especially cats! If you burn oils inside and your cat is also inside, you should make sure there is allot of air flow.
      No oil should be ingested, and what do dogs and cats do to clean themselves??? Enough said. Use some commonsense people.
      Please learn from others mistakes!

    • Toni

      Do not EVER use tea tree oil in an undiluted form on humans or pets. Apparently deadly to dogs or cats, but it also can have severe reactions in some people when undiluted. Always dilute and use a small amount – not sure the dosage – however i do know it is a quite a bit more carrier oil or water then tea tree oil. I use it mostly as a head lice deterrent on my child – but only about 2-4 drops per one whole bottle of spray in conditioner. I don’t know about animals and was looking into it for my dog, I am undecided yet how i feel due to the high negative response and the amount of issues involved from others experience, I am leaning towards not using it. Do your research well prior to applying to humans or animals.

    • bridget

      i agree i own mastiffs and a lab and two of my dogs had the same experince has yours i would NEVER use tea tree oil on them again.

  45. Fiona

    I’ve used tea tree oil shampoo on my dog since he was puppy up to 2 1/2 years old with no problems. I also used it as a flea repellent when i ran out of drops and again– no problem experienced.

  46. ruckusluvr

    As a dog groomer tea tree based shampoos are what we recommend for skin irritations. The vet also recommends it, and we use it alot. Some on dogs as small as 3 lbs (yorkies) and have never had an issue.

    • Bo Tamaki

      I have been using it for my dogs for quite a while. Nothing negative to report.

    • Cynthia

      I also use melaleuca oil on my dog and he does great with it! I put one drop of doTerra brand oil into his shampoo. Maybe he does so well with it because that particular brand is so highly purified that it can even be taken internally (for humans – I wouldn’t try that on the dog).

      Just like humans, dogs can have bad allergic reactions to a myriad of things. Also, with essential oils, it’s important to remember that they are HIGHLY potent. Even on a non-sensitive human, you can actually give yourself a chemical burn with this oil, if you were to soak a band-aid in it and apply constantly to the skin even just for a few hours (I had a friend inadvertently burn a perfect square onto his skin, so I know this is true).

      I say dilute dilute dilute and try a small test patch first.

  47. Katherine

    Would the amount in a topical shampoo be dangerous to shelties? I had thought about getting this shampoo, but now I’m concerned.

  48. Stephanie

    Hmm, interesting. A few weeks ago my dog suffered a skin allergy from a change in food. He developed scabs in his one ear. I applied tea tree oil to the wound and it went away in a few days. My dog could be happier when I applied it to his ear. I would just apply it to a q-tip and swab his ear. I believe it’s natural healing properties are better than any other drug. Of course a little goes a long way. He also had skin peeling on his belly and we rubbed the tea tree oil on it and it went away.

    • sandra

      I agree with this person I have used tea trea oil on rash and iritants, knowing it is toxic to animals but I would not put it in an open wound or in an ear for ear infections as I have read that it is good, but I also only put it on the tip of my finger and rub it on the irritated skin, I have knowledge of how to apply it only moderatly not pour it on just put it on your finger and rub it on my girls iritation they forget about the itching and leave it alone because it smells strong. Know what you are doing it works but not for everything.

  49. Kelly

    Thanks for the catch Dan. I have clarified. The toxic level ranges between 2 and 5 g per kg body weight.

    • Angela

      Hi, I know your post on Tea Tree Oil was posted a couple of years ago, but I just found it when I was googling “tea tree oil on dogs”. First off, I want to thank you so much for your post because this was the first thing I saw to know I needed to take my dog to the vet right away.
      I unknowingly put tea tree oil on my dog Sunday night, (on her front paws)I noticed she layed in the exact position I placed her on the bed and didn’t move, which wasn’t like her. I googled, tea tree oil in dogs, and learned from you first, and other sites, that it was toxic. It was 3am and my vet was closed and I didn’t know of an ER for pets in my area. I washed her paws with dish soap, and I ran to the 24 hour pharmacy and got some activated charcoal. She was not walking; her two front legs were limp. I did not put any tea tree oil on her back paws so they seemed fine. I wasn’t sure how much activated charcoal to give her and didn’t want to make things worse, but didn’t want to do nothing so I gave her half a capsule of activated charcoal that was marketed for humans. She seemed like she was happier and started walking around but her two front legs were still a little weird when she walked. We waited for our vet clinic to open and took her in first thing Monday morning. The vet said I did everything right by using dish soap and activated charcoal. They took blood and they gave her fluids via IV. They said she would be ok, and I took her home after a few hours. She is ok, but it’s been a few days and she still sometimes walks funny with her front legs. It’s as if they are numb. It only happens when she has been laying for a while, and then she gets up, and it seems like she notices they aren’t right by the way she looks at her legs like she’s not sure what’s wrong with them. After she walks around for 5 minutes or so, she is normal again, until the next time she sleeps and gets up again. She isn’t old, and she hasn’t had this happen before the tea tree oil. I told my vet about this and she said tea tree oil is mostly deadly to cats, and my dog should be ok. I’m wondering if this is permanent damage where she will always wake up that way or if it will go away over time. Does anyone have any experience with having permanent damage done to a dog with tea tree oil? I’ve read a lot about dogs being saved, but nothing about the quality of life after they survive it. Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the original post! I think it saved my dog’s life.

      • bridget

        Hi Stephanie, i hada really bad experincewith tree tree oil, i own 4 mastiffs and a labrabrador and i applied tea tree oil on all of them, 2 of my mastiff had a very bad reaction there ears, around there eyes and mouth went vey red, there ears felt like they were on fire, there back legs became paralized, i was so scared and in tears, so i bathed them and gave them some benedell ofr the reaction, and kept massageing and working out threre legs that were paralized thank god by the next day they were back to normal happy and playing.

  50. Dan

    I don’t understand … is this article saying that in order to achieve a 50% chance of killing a 15lb dog, I have to give it 30 teaspoons of TTO?

  51. Andi

    Oddly enough, “Melagel” (tea-tree oil in a gel form)is marketed for use on animal wounds as a lick deterent and aid to healing. We use it at our practice for some animals in place of elizabethian collars. Of course the volume we use is less than the volume of triple antibiotic ointment you put on a wound.

    • Patti Ann

      I have a 14 year old assie,She was itchy,soI bought some sergeant’s fur so fresh med. sham.with tea tree oil.
      iwashed her really working it in the back area, next thing I know her whole back was raw.I figured she must have knawded herself .I took her to vet he treated her with antibiotics,then my friend told me her old dog had a reaction to tea tree oil an almost died.Now I realize what happened to her and I’m very up set! Iwas just planning to wash her again. So glad I found out!

      • Ahisha

        Oh my god I almost bought some teatree oil today for my dogs because their skin was dry I am sooo glad I decided to look it up first. Thank you for posting this information. I would have been heart broken and glad your dog is OK


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