Tea tree oil can kill fleas on dogs and cats. However, high doses are poisonous to pets, so it needs to be used correctly. It can harm the nervous system and lead to confusion, nervousness, and disorientation. Liver damage is also likely, since tea tree oil’s active compounds are metabolized in the liver. Additional symptoms include skin irritation, vomiting, and hypersalivation. Always check with your vet before using any kind of essential oil.
When it comes to holistic remedies, tea tree oil is an all-star. It is known for its powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. From acne to cuts, tea tree oil can treat a variety of pesky skin conditions.1
It can also kill hair lice. But what about fleas? If you have a cat or dog, you might be wondering if tea tree oil can help your furry friend.
In short, yes. But there’s a right way to do it. Using tea tree oil incorrectly can be extremely toxic for an animal. If you’re not careful, your pet’s life will be in danger. Here’s what you need to know.
Tea tree oil is safe for pets at very low concentrations. For example, a 2004 German study found that a 10 percent tea tree oil cream can treat canine dermatitis. The researchers didn’t find any negative symptoms.2
Some stores may even sell anti-flea products with tea tree oil. Unfortunately, this isn’t fool-proof. It’s possible for adverse effects to develop even after following the package’s directions.3
With that said, always talk to your vet first. She can recommend the best products or remedies for your pet. If she gives you the OK, use a low concentration of tea tree oil. Even then, it should still be diluted completely. Never use 100 percent tea tree oil on dogs or cats.
Possible Side Effects
Toxicity is a result of misuse. At high doses, tea tree oil will cause these five side effects.
1. Central Nervous System Depression
In both humans and animals, tea tree oil poisoning causes depression of the central nervous system. Common symptoms include confusion, disorientation, and hallucination. In cats, toxicity is linked to nervousness and trembling.
2. Liver Damage
The active compounds in tea tree oil are called terpenes. They make up roughly 50 to 60 percent of tea tree oil. Terpenes are mostly metabolized in the liver, making hepatic damage more likely.
In fact, tea tree oil toxicity has been shown to elevate liver enzyme levels in cats. It just goes to show how dangerous it can be.
3. Skin Irritation
Terpenes are easily absorbed by the skin. High levels will cause irritation, redness, and inflammation. The risk is even greater if there cuts or nicks on the skin.4
In dogs, vomiting is a common symptom of toxicity.5 It can also affect cats, who are more likely to groom themselves and ingest the oil. Keep this in mind when applying products with tea tree oil.
If your pet is hypersalivating, pay attention. It’s a tell-tale sign of poisoning. This symptom is more common in cats but may affect dogs as well.6
Remember, tea tree oil isn’t 100 percent safe for humans, either. Direct contact with concentrated oils can be dangerous for us. Keep this in mind if you want to use tea tree oil to repel fleas.
Understandably, you may want to get rid of fleas ASAP. Before using essential oils, talk to your vet. A natural remedy might put your furry friend at risk!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Tea Tree Oil. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|
|2.||↑||Reichling, J., J. Fitzi, K. Hellmann, T. Wegener, S. Bucher, and R. Saller. “Topical tea tree oil effective in canine localised pruritic dermatitis–a multi-centre randomised double-blind controlled clinical trial in the veterinary practice.” DTW. Deutsche tierarztliche Wochenschrift 111, no. 10 (2004): 408-414.|
|3, 5, 6.||↑||Genovese, Allison G., Mary Kay McLean, and Safdar A. Khan. “Adverse reactions from essential oil‐containing natural flea products exempted from Environmental Protection Agency regulations in dogs and cats.” Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 22, no. 4 (2012): 470-475.|
|4.||↑||Bischoff, K., and Fessesswork Guale. “Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil poisoning in three purebred cats.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 10, no. 2 (1998): 208-210.|